How to Study in Canada for International Students (4 Steps)

Canada is one of the prime destinations when it comes to higher education. After all, it is home to some of the best universities in the world – with the University of Toronto, McGill University, and the University of British Columbia soaring high in the top 50 global rankings.

If you want to revel in Canada’s excellent educational system, high quality of life, and a beautiful culture – then here’s everything international students need to know about studying in Canada.

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Steps to Studying in Canada as an International Student

  1. The most important step is planning on how you are going to finance your education in Canada. There are multiple ways, including getting scholarships, working part-time during the semester and full-time during breaks, or simply just out of your pocket.
  2. Once you figure out how to finance your education, you should prepare to meet the application requirements of Canadian universities. In this article, we have listed the general application requirements.
  3. Then, you should apply to universities in Canada!
  4. Once you get accepted, the last step is to apply for a student visa.


1. Financing Your Education in Canada

For international students to be able to study in Canada, you need to shell out about $22,500 (CAD 29,714) a year.

The minimum rental fee for apartments in the city center costs about $969 (CAD 1,037) while it will cost you only $795 (CAD 1,080) should you decide to live outside the city.

Utilities cost about $115 (CAD 157) monthly, while internet services start at $56 (CAD 76). Other expenses that you need to consider include food and transportation.

As mentioned in the section above, you can reduce this cost by getting scholarships, working in Canada, and/or out of your own pocket.


2. Prepare to Meet the Application Requirements of Studying in Canada for International Students

If you have your sights set on studying in Canada, then you need to start working on these requirements:

General Language Requirements (Undergraduate)

Canadian universities differ in language requirements. Some may require proficiency in French, and such is the case with the University of Montreal. Because it is a French-language institute, you need to take a French oral and written exam. However, you may be exempted if you possess any of these tests or diplomas:

  • TFI = threshold of 650, 785, or 850
  • DELF = B2
  • DALF = C1 to C2
  • TCF = B1, C1, or C2
  • TCFQ = B1, C1, or C2
  • TCF DAP = B1, C1, or C2
  • TEF = B1, C1, or C2
  • TEFaQ = B1, C1, or C2
  • TEF Canada = B1, C1, or C2

Although this is the case, some universities are good with just English proficiency. Generally speaking, if you wish to enroll in an undergraduate program in Canada, you need to have an IELTS band of at least 6.5. For TOEFL, you should have a score of 90 to 100 for the internet-based test, at least 580 for the paper test, and a minimum of 237 for the computer-based exam.

At the University of Toronto, non-native English speakers need to meet a 6.5 IELTS band, and a TOEFL iBT score of more than 100. The university also accepts Cambridge Assessment (C1 or C2), and the Canadian Academic English Language Assessment, among many others.

Because of the varying requirements when it comes to language proficiency, you should check your university website for the complete details. However, IELTS or TOEFL is sufficient for international students to study in most universities in Canada.

General Language Requirements (Graduate)

Similarly, graduate applicants need to meet the English and/or French proficiency requirements set by his/her respective university. For example, the University of Toronto has a lower TOEFL iBT requirement for graduate applicants (at least 93). However, it requires a higher band for IELTS (7).

At McGill University, the same IELTS band is required but it prefers a minimum TOEFL iBT score of 100 or at least 600 for the paper-based test.

Again, score cut-offs differ per school so you need to check with the admissions website for further information.

Application Requirements (Undergraduate)

As with most countries, the primary requirement at Canadian Universities is a certificate of secondary education. However, if you come from the United States, you may need to submit a good SAT or ACT score as well.

For some schools such as McGill University, recommendation letters and personal statements are required as well.

You may also need to take a certain course (Math, Chemistry, Physics, etc.) depending on your program of choice.

As always, make sure to check with your prospective university regarding its complete list of admission requirements. This is very important for international students to check individual university websites in order to be able to study in Canada.

Application Requirements (Graduate)

Should you wish to pursue your master’s in Canada, you need to submit a copy of your bachelor’s diploma. Likewise, if you want to apply for a doctorate program, you should have a Master’s degree.

Apart from having a diploma from a recognized institution, you should also have a good GPA since grades matter for many institutions.

Take the case of Simon Fraser University, where the minimum admissible GPA is 2.5. Meanwhile, at the University of British Columbia, the minimum GPA to be considered is 3.3.

GRE is optional for some programs while the GMAT is necessary for MBA applicants.

Other additional requirements for graduate applicants include reference letters, a statement of interest, and a criminal record check as necessary. Requirements may change from time to time, so you need to visit your university’s website for more info about their admission policies.

3. Know the Application Process in Universities in Canada and Apply!

Time is of the essence when it comes to applying at Canadian universities, so you need to be aware of the deadlines as these usually vary from school to school. Once you have done steps 1 and 2 of this process, applying to universities in Canada should be one of the easiest steps for studying in Canada as an international student.


Canadian universities have two terms: Spring and Fall. Most schools start during the Fall semester (August), while some programs start in Spring (late January).

No matter what schedule you choose, it is best to send your application at least a year before the start of the semester. To be sure, coordinate with your admissions officer regarding the deadlines for your program.

To give you a bird’s eye view of the process, the deadline for applications is usually January 15 at the University of Toronto. However, it may be extended to February and April for certain programs.

At McGill University, most programs have a February deadline, except for Music, which accepts applications only until January.

Apart from meeting the deadline, you also need to pay the application fee. Prices range from $58.50 (CAD 79.50) to $92 (CAD 125).


Graduate admission deadlines are usually set earlier for international students to give the university officials ample time to decide. As such, you need to check with your university regarding its intake schedule.

At the University of British Columbia, deadlines run as early as December 1 to as late as April 31. Meanwhile, at the University of Alberta, international students are given multiple schedules. You have up to July for September admission, November for January admission, March for May admission, and May for July admission.

Application fees for graduate students are more expensive, as they can cost anywhere from $88 (CAD 120) to $125 (CAD 169).

4. Apply for Student Visa!

Once you get an approval letter from your university of choice (or a Certificat d’acceptation du Québec if you wish to study in Quebec), you can start to apply for a student permit. What’s great about this procedure is you can do it online.

Applying for Student Visa is very easy when you’ve received your letter of admission. Also, the university that you’ve gotten accepted to will definitely help in this process. So, this final step of studying in Canada as an international student should be a breeze.

According to the Canadian Government website, you need to submit the following documents upon applying:

  • Proof of identity, including your passport and 2 recent passport-size photos
  • Proof of financial support (bank account, Guaranteed Investment Certificate, loan, etc.)
    • The minimum is $7,358 (CAD 10,000) with a monthly fund amount of $613 (CAD 833). If you wish to live in Quebec, you need to have a higher amount of show money – $8,094 or CAD 11,000.
  • Letter of explanation (why you want to study in Canada)

Studying in Canada is a dream for many. You are indeed lucky once you get accepted. With that being said, you should do your best to succeed in your studies as it’s the best investment you could give yourself.

I hope that this article on studying was helpful! If you are interested, visit the Canada Scholarships Page!