How to Study Nursing in Canada for International Students

Canada has one of the best education systems in the world, with nursing being among the most popular fields of study offered by universities in the country. Every province has a regulatory body that sets the standards of the profession and requirements that must be met by applicants. One thing worth noting is that the Canadian health department is highly dependent on the nurses. These professionals spend more time with patients than the doctors themselves.

A registered nurse can either work at hospitals, clinics, or nursing homes. Like any other country, the COVID-19 pandemic has overwhelmed the healthcare industry in Canada, hence a huge demand for nurses. As such, it is an attractive destination not only for students but also for professionals looking to work abroad. In this article, we will look at how you can study nursing in Canada.

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What Degrees are there for Nursing in Canada?

To become a nurse in Canada, you’ll either start with a diploma or go straight to a degree depending on your qualifications. The available undergraduate degrees from which you can choose your option include Bachelor of Science in Nursing – integrated and accelerated courses. With this degree, you can join the workforce immediately.

However, you may also choose to advance your knowledge with a Master of Nursing program by applying to institutions such as the University of Alberta. Another university offering graduate programs is McGill University, which has a Ph.D. program in Nursing at the Ingram School of Nursing.

Cost of Studying Nursing

Studying nursing in Canada is more affordable than countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom. On average, you’ll need between C$20,000 and C$30,000 per year to cater for your tuition fees. Of course, this will vary with the level of studies and the institution in which you are enrolled.

Before your application is approved, you’ll need to prove that you can afford all the annual expenses. Remember, this goes beyond the tuition fees as you will need more money for accommodation and other basic needs. If you decide to live off-campus, an apartment will cost you at least C$1,000 per month. Food and transport are approximately C$500 and C$150 respectively. All these values will depend on the city in which you choose to live.

International students are allowed to work while studying nursing in Canada. However, you are only eligible for this privilege if your study permit includes this condition. As such, you may not need to acquire a work permit to be employed on-campus or off-campus. The money you receive here could be used to pay for your monthly expenses.

Requirements to Study Nursing

If you want to join a diploma or undergraduate degree program in any Canadian university, the first thing you’ll need is your high school certificate. English, Mathematics, Biology, and Chemistry are the main subjects required by the likes of Ryerson University, but Physics could also be advantageous. Generally, the average high school grade required is a C, but this may vary with the admission year.

Other requirements include recommendation letters from your former school, writing samples, and a statement of intent. English tests are also compulsory, especially if you are from a non-English speaking country. The IELTS, Pearson, and TOEFL test scores will vary depending on the university you select. Therefore, make sure to visit the respective institution websites and confirm before you prepare to study nursing in Canada.

In What Languages Do You Study Nursing in Canada?

The main instructional language in most Canadian institutions of higher learning is English. For instance, at the University of Alberta, most courses are taught in English, which is also the language used across all departments. However, there are a few courses that are also instructed in French or both. Make sure to confirm the details of a given course in the respective university website so that you can plan yourself beforehand. Either way, you will still need to familiarize yourself with the English language for both educational and social purposes.

Best Nursing Schools in Canada

1. University of Alberta

Famously known as the U of A, the University of Alberta is a public research institute that was established in 1908. It offers comprehensive programs across various fields, from arts to healthcare. The U of A hosts about 40,000 students of over 150 nationalities, which makes it one of the most diverse institutions in the world. Its physical size and academic strength are what have built the university’s reputation and prestige over the years. The University of Alberta is considered to be the best nursing school in Canada.

Are you interested in enrolling to one of the nursing programs at the U of A? The institution offers Bachelors, Masters, and Ph.D. courses across various nursing disciplines. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing, for instance, is a course that runs for four academic years. The main reason why the U of A ranks among the best is because of its tech-focused learning. In nursing, hands-on training is done a futuristic patient simulation technology. As an international student, you also have an option of studying a bilingual program that is instructed in both English and French.

2. McGill University

Another popular university to study nursing in Canada is McGill University, which accepts both domestic and international students. In fact, the latter makes up 29% of the total student population. This public research university was founded in 1821 in Montreal, Canada. The institution prides itself on over 300 fields of study, including engineering and healthcare. However, it is also one of the most selective Canadian nursing schools because it has the highest admission requirements in the country.

The Bachelor of Science in Nursing program offered at McGill University prepares you thoroughly for future career opportunities. The knowledge acquired from this course nurtures the student’s innovative skills that are fundamental in nursing. The school demands that you complete 106 credits – 3 years of study – before you can be eligible for graduation. However, if you’re coming straight from high school, there will be 30 additional credits, which extend it to a 4-year course. Make sure you confirm all the details on the university’s website before finalizing your application.

3. University of Calgary

Founded in 1944, the University of Calgary is one of the best public research institutions in Canada. It has five campuses, four of which are in the Alberta region while the fifth is located in Doha, Qatar. This Canadian nursing school enrolls just over 30,000 students across various fields of study. If you are interested in advancing your nursing career in Canada, then this should be one of your main options. The University of Calgary is an attractive destination for many international students seeking to study nursing in Canada.

Nursing programs at the institution are geared towards empowering the future of nursing both within Canada and all over the world. The innovative nature of its courses ensures that students graduate with the necessary knowledge and skills to serve patients with the utmost care. Most programs, especially the undergraduate ones, are designed to offer the necessary practical skills when working in a healthcare facility.

4. Western University

Western University is another Canadian nursing school worth mentioning in this list. It was founded in 1878; it has since grown into a world-class institution not only academically, but also in terms of infrastructure. The university’s advanced learning system has put it on the global map, hence the ever-increasing number of annual applicants. Currently, Western University hosts about 4,000 International students, which accounts for 14% of the total population. Western University offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree (BScN) course, which is a collaborative program between the university and Fanshawe College.

The BScN degree program is a four-year course covering various nursing disciplines. It’s also a prerequisite for registering with the nurses’ association in Canada. The same is also accepted in a few other countries depending on government policies. Given the stature of the university, you can expect a very competitive admission process. Applications for this program are submitted via the school’s website.

5. McMaster University

The final candidate in our list of top nursing schools in Canada is the McMaster University. It joins this list of the best Canadian universities because of its unique role in the healthcare industry. Founded in 1946, McMaster University is based in Hamilton, Canada. Since its first nursing program in the mid-1940s, the institution has advanced its learning system to meet the new changes in the nursing department.

The current student-centered and problem-based learning methodology ensures that students acquire the necessary knowledge to solve today’s societal issues professionally. McMaster University is internationally renowned for its innovation in the health industry; therefore, you will be able to secure a job both within and outside Canada after the successful completion of this program.


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