By law, secondary education in Canada is compulsory. There is no single national system: education is overseen by provincial and territorial governments. Schools within a certain area are also managed by local school boards.

Students in every Canadian province must attend school up to the age of 16, except for Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick, where the compulsory age is 18, or until a high school diploma has been achieved.
Stage of EducationGradesAge
Pre-elementaryKindergarten4-5
Elementary / Primary1-86-14
Secondary / High school9-1215-18
Students can choose to study in English, French or two official languages. Both public and private schools now accept international students. The curriculum in these institutions is the same within a certain province or territory. But in private ones, the class sizes are usually smaller.
There are private boarding schools (with on-site accommodation), IB-schools, alternative and specialized sports programs or schools for students with learning disabilities.
Please note that special rules apply to minor children studying in Canada[0].
Education in Canada is one of the highest quality and most prestigious in the world. While studying students are given unique opportunities to gain practical experience in Canadian companies, which significantly enhances their further employment in any country. Upon successful completion of the program, a talented graduate has every chance to immigrate to Canada without major obstacles from the government.
  • Quality education. Canada is a recognized global leader in research and innovation. Canadian universities provide the opportunity to learn from the best: 2 out of 5 university professors hold at least one international degree[1]. According to the QS, the country ranks 5th among the strongest higher education systems[2].
  • Lowest tuition fees among English-speaking countries. Education in Canada is on average 30% cheaper than in the United States, Great Britain or Australia, while in no way lagging behind them in quality.
  • Employment opportunities. Degrees awarded by Canadian universities are recognized worldwide. University of Toronto, University of Waterloo, University of Alberta, and McMaster University are in the top 50 of QS Graduate Employability Rankings[3]. Fresh university graduates are in demand both in Canada and abroad.
  • Cultural diversity. Over the past century and a half, more than 15 million people from various countries immigrated to Canada. Respect for other people's cultures and traditions is part of the Canadian mentality. It is not surprising that from 2010 to 2018 the number of international students in the country increased by 154% and is now estimated to be about 600,000 people. 60% of those are planning to make Canada their permanent place of residence[4].
  • Good living conditions. Canada is a calm country with a high standard of living. According to statistics, 82% of residents feel safe going outside at night[5]. Accommodation, food, and transportation in the country are cheaper than in the United States. Here are 5 of the top 100 best student cities - Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, Quebec[6].
  • High cost of training. Canadian education is considered the most affordable among English-speaking countries (the US, the UK, and Australia), though it is still quite expensive. The average tuition fees for international undergraduate students are almost 30000 CAD per year.
  • Lack of a national education system. Canada includes 10 provinces and 3 territories. The language of instruction, the duration of study, the requirements for admission vary, depending on the region. For example, in the province of Quebec, graduates of a school can enter a university only after graduating from a pre-university college (CÉGEP). Canadian universities are also largely autonomous in admission criteria, so an applicant may not be able to send the same set of documents to several institutions.
  • Intense training. In addition to the excessive learning loads during classes, a student at a Canadian university has to spend a lot of free time on enhancing knowledge in many areas. Results from the National College Health Assessment at the University of Calgary reveal that over 40% of students experience severe stress because of academic performance, 60% of students have some sleep difficulties and 12% contemplated suicide[7]. To address this problem, many Canadian universities have launched programs providing students with 24/7 mental health support.

Cost and structure of education in Canada

Type of studyAgeDurationMin. costAvg. costMin. language levelExams
Summer Camp6-171-4 weeks150 CAD/week2500 CAD/weekA1-
Language School16+2-24 weeks150 CAD/week4000 CAD/weekA1-
Secondary education6-1811-12 years8000 CAD/year11000 CAD/yearB1IELTS 5.0-5.5 / DELF B1
Foundation16+1 year10000 CAD/year25000 CAD/yearB1IELTS 5.0-5.5 / DELF B1
Colleges17+1-4 years2000 CAD/year10000 CAD/yearB2IELTS 6.0-6.5 / DELF B2
Bachelor’s17 +3-4 years20000 CAD/year2700 CAD/yearB2IELTS 6.0-6.5 / DELF B2
Master’s20+1-3 years10000 CAD/year17700 CAD/yearC1IELTS 7.0-7.5 / DALF C1
MBA20+2 years39000 CAD/year52800 CAD/yearC1IELTS 7.0-7.5 / DALF C1
Doctoral20+3-6 years10000 CAD/year15000 CAD/yearC1IELTS 7.0-7.5 / DALF C1
ExpensesAverage cost
Language test195 CAD
Evaluation Service150 CAD
Study permit 150 CAD
Flight from Mumbai / Beijing / Los Angeles1180 / 1440 / 270 CAD
Accommodation5000 CAD per year
Health insurance700 CAD per year
Food350 CAD per month
Public transport100 CAD per month
Study materials1200 CAD

Options for admission to Canadian universities

Education in Canada

Admission and entry requirements at Canadian universities


Higher education in Canada is provided by two types of institutions: universities and vocational colleges. International students can apply to both immediately after school, in case they have an equivalent of Canadian high school diploma (12 grades). As for graduate or postgraduate studies, students will normally need to have a degree from the previous stage of higher education - bachelor’s or master’s. Applicants are entitled to consider only those universities and colleges that are included in the list of designated learning institutions.
There are two main intakes at Canadian universities: in September and January. Some universities offer a third intake in May, July or October. Application procedure usually begins a year before classes start. Students get official replies from educational institutions one or two months after submitting an application. Please note that most universities process applications as they arrive and within a certain quota, therefore an early submission of documents significantly increases your chances.

Academic credential evaluation


An important step before entering a Canadian university is academic credential assessment and recognition. Each educational institution has the authority to independently decide on the recognition of a candidate's qualifications, but not all universities in Canada have the capacity to assess them. In this case, students can call on external services which can be provided by six members of the Alliance of Credential Evaluation Services of Canada (ACESC). The application fee is about 150 CAD.
It is usually required to provide scanned copies of government-issued identification (ID) and academic documents. The latter may include:

  • Diploma(s) or degree certificate(s);
  • Transcript(s) / mark sheets / index;
  • Detailed course outline(s).
The complete list of required documents depends on the country and is available on the websites of the organizations. Any documents that are not in either English or French must be translated and certified.

Foundation programs in Canada

If a student does not meet language proficiency requirements, he is advised to enroll in a foundation program for up to 1 year. The main goal is to help international students in adaptation and learning the language. Some Canadian universities offer their own preparatory courses for foreigners, but there are also independent programs.
Admission requirements for a foundation year are similar to those for college or university. The only difference is that the language criterion is much lower. The minimum level of English or French is B1 (Intermediate/Intermédiaire).

College in Canada - Vocational education

Unlike degree-granting universities, colleges grant mainly diplomas, certificates and in some cases, bachelor’s degrees. Colleges focus more on specific employment skills, career training, and trades. They provide students with practical learning in a variety of technical and professional fields such as agriculture, business, engineering, information and communication technology, health, hospitality management, language, social services, and arts and design.

University colleges also offer degree programs where a student can take courses and earn credits that can be later transferred to a university. However, college-level education is already enough to get a job that does not require an in-depth four-year study.

Bachelor’s in Canada - Undergraduate

Bachelor's degree is the first stage of classical university education, which takes 3-4 years to complete, depending on the province. Students can get here directly after graduating from school (11 years) or Canadian college. For foreign applicants, it is also possible to spend the first year of study in a separate institution - an international college - followed by admission to the second year of undergraduate studies. An academic year usually runs from September to May, divided into two semesters, some universities also offer a summer one. In addition to compulsory subjects, bachelor students have the opportunity to choose additional courses that are not related to the program. In the learning process, the main emphasis is on seminars and independent study of the subject, which requires a student to have a high degree of interest in the chosen program. In order to graduate from a Canadian university, you need to get a certain amount of credits, which is individual for each university.
Most universities in Canada provide students with practice (1-2 months) in a Canadian company, which usually becomes a significant advantage for further employment.

Several universities in Canada offer cooperative education options. Co-op students combine study with work, for which they can get up to 50 percent of credits. Such programs usually take about 4.5 years to complete.
Each university sets its own admission requirements for undergraduate programs. Those may include:

Quebec’s educational system is in many ways unique to the rest of Canada. For example, it is the only province where secondary education requires 11 years of study. However, that is not enough to be qualified for university admission. The boundary between secondary education and higher education in Quebec is pre-university college CÉGEP which usually lasts 2 years.
Foreign applicants also need to have at least 12 years of study. You can make up for the missing training by enrolling in any Canadian college or by completing one or two years of undergraduate studies in your home country. In some cases, the latter option would save a significant amount of money.

Master’s in Canada - Graduate / Postgraduate

Master’s degree, in contrast to undergraduate studies, involves a narrower subject focus. An applicant can choose between two types of master's degrees. Research-based master’s programs emphasize conducting original scientific research, while professional master’s programs focus more on applied education, offering a set of courses in a particular subject area. Duration varies from 1 to 3 years.
Most programs include a dissertation that makes up a large proportion of the course’s credits. Upon completion of training, students can also take a comprehensive examination, including both written and oral parts. Each of them is assessed on a pass/fail basis. Due to its size, the exam can be administered in several days.

Some Canadian universities offer co-op programs which enable students to gain hands-on, paid experience in placements related to their field of study. Internships are usually between 2 and 4 months. They are often used by employers for getting to know potential employees.
Basic admission requirements are the following:

  • A minimum GPA score for an undergraduate degree (3.0 / 4.0 or its international equivalent);
  • A graduate entry test score GRE or GMAT;
  • Proof of language proficiency: IELTS, TOEFL or DELF / DALF.
In addition, you may need:

Doctorate in Canada - Postgraduate

As in many other countries, the highest level of academic qualification a student can achieve in Canada is doctorate. In addition to the traditional academic PhD, professional doctorates are also available. Those include DBA and EdD. Most programs require 3 years of full-time study, but some may be extended up to 6 years.
Unlike the United States, doctoral studies in Canada are research-based from the outset. In the first year of study, students complete general courses focusing on techniques and methodology of research, teaching, presentation or publication, sit a comprehensive exam, and then move on to write their thesis. As for professional programs, they include a lot of practice and case studies also ending with doctoral thesis.
Some Canadian universities offer a collaborative route to PhD involving students studying for some time at another international institution within cotutelle programs. Unlike other joint PhDs with ongoing partnerships between universities, cotutelle arrangement is usually specific to each student’s project.
Basic admission requirements:

  • A minimum GPA score for a master’s degree (3.0 / 4.0 or its international equivalent);
  • A graduate entry test score GRE or GMAT;
  • Proof of language proficiency: IELTS, TOEFL or DELF / DALF.
You will also normally need to provide the university with the following:
In most cases, a master’s degree is required in order to gain admission to a PhD program. However, some universities offer doctoral stream Master’s routes for those holding a bachelor's degree. Such programs begin with one or two years of additional training, making up for the lack of master's education.

You can start your academic career in Canada already at the stage of obtaining a doctorate as a graduate teaching assistant, or instructor. Holding this position assumes a certain amount of teaching (usually at the undergraduate level) and significantly enhances a CV. In return, a PhD student either gets paid a salary or has some of his doctoral fees waived by the university.

Those who have already earned their PhD can be considered for the positions of Graduate Research Associate, Postdoctoral Instructor, or Junior Researcher. It is also possible to become an Assistant Professor. Unlike European countries, there is no limit to the number of people holding higher academic ranks within a university in Canada. Therefore, competition is much lower. The most important criterion affecting career advancement is scientific research. Besides, almost all academic staff typically spend from 6 to 20 hours a week teaching.

After a probation period (usually 6-7 years), the Assistant Professor may be promoted to Associate Professor and receives tenure. And after another 5 years, based on continuing accomplishments in the areas of teaching and research, the candidate may be promoted to Full Professor.
Salaries typically depend on the budget of the university itself. On average they would be 8000 CAD for Assistant Professor, 10300 CAD for Associate Professor, and 13100 CAD for Full Professor. At the same time, the average wage in the country is much lower - about 4000 CAD.

Scholarships and grants at Canadian universities

Capable students at all levels of training have a chance to receive financial aid in the form of scholarships and grants for academic, sports or subject-related achievements. Scholarship funding is always limited and very competitive. Therefore, it is important to apply as early as possible. You can view a selection of scholarships offered by the Canadian government, individual universities, and other organizations here. Provincial governments also provide scholarships, which are usually advertised on their websites[8].

Student visa to Canada

To study in Canada for six months or more, each student must obtain a Canadian study permit. The application fee is 150 CAD. Generally, you should apply for it before you come to Canada.
A study permit is not a visa. A student may need a visitor visa or electronic travel authorization (eTA). Typically, a study permit is valid for the entire length of your study program, plus an extra 90 days, which can be used to decide on further actions. In case of moving to the next stage of education, you must apply to extend your stay as a student. This can be done without leaving the country.
To be eligible for a study permit, an applicant must:
  • Be enrolled at a designated learning institution in Canada[9];
  • Prove financial viability during your stay in the country;
  • Have no criminal record and get a police certificate;
  • Be in good health and get a medical exam;
  • Submit a complete set of documents.
Those who wish to study in Quebec will need to obtain an additional document from the provincial government - a Certificat d'acceptation du Québec (CAQ - Québec Acceptance Certificate).
Please note that each province and territory decides the age of majority. A person under this age at the time of admission is considered a minor child, and therefore must either arrive in the country with a parent (legal guardian) or have a custodian In Canada. The process of applying for custodianship may delay getting a visa for another two months.
Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan18
British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Yukon19

Work while studying in Canada

According to a study permit, an international full-time student may be able to work on- or off-campus, without a work permit, which can significantly reduce the cost of staying in the country. During regular school semesters, a student is allowed to work up to 20 hours per week, during winter and summer holidays - full time. It is also necessary to get a Social Insurance Number (SIN), which provides students with a right to work and get government benefits and services.
The minimum wage of an international student depends on the province and can be 11-15 CAD.

Opportunity to stay and immigration to Canada

Upon graduation, international students have the right to temporarily work in Canada with a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). It can be valid for 3 years, provided that the training program was more than 2 years. In other cases, a PGWP is issued for up to the same length as a study program completed. The cost of a PGWP is 255 CAD.
To be eligible for this opportunity, a student must have completed a PGWP-eligible program:
  • At a designated learning institution (DLI)[10];
  • That was at least 8 months long;
  • That led to a degree, certificate or diploma.
A student is strongly advised to apply before his study permit expires. The processing time is about 3.5 months. During this period, applicants can work full time if they:
  • Had a valid study permit at the time of submitting an application;
  • Completed a study program;
  • Was eligible to work off-campus without a work permit while studying and did not work more hours than was allowed to.
The experience gained with PGWP can help you qualify when applying for immigration through Express Entry. Both federal and provincial programs are available. To participate, you will need to submit your profile in the online system. Then you will be ranked in a pool of candidates using a points-based system. Those with the highest scores will get an invite to apply for permanent residence within 90 days.

Employment prospects


  • In Canada. Immediately after graduation from a Canadian institution, a person has an opportunity to get a PGWP and stay in Canada for up to three years for the purpose of finding a job. In the future, provided he has an extended contract, a candidate is eligible to receive a residence permit under one of the immigration programs.
  • In America. Canadian qualifications are in no way inferior to the American ones, and the higher education systems of the two countries are very similar. Therefore a graduate can easily find a job in the United States.
  • In other countries. A Canadian degree is recognized worldwide. It serves not only as proof of excellent English language proficiency but also as an indicator of advanced knowledge in a certain field.

Canada - General information
RegionNorth America
CapitalOttawa
LanguageEnglish, French
CurrencyCanadian Dollar
Population35,158,300
Students1,015,000
Foreigner students11.9%
Statistics - Education
Indicator
Popularity rating in the world8
Ranking of universities in the world6
Academic Reputation 7
Employer Reputation 6
Quality of teaching 13
International Faculty 5
International Students 6
Citations per Faculty 5
Statistics - Universities
Universities in top 100 4
Universities in top 200 8
Universities in top 500 21
Universities in top 1000 27
Universities in top 5000 78
Cost of living in Canada
Expenses - USD/Month.Min.Med.
Accommodation 294 376
Food 239 416
Transportation 54 144
Communications and utilities 81 89
Clothing 19 71
Sports and leisure 23 84
Total7111,179
Accommodation in Canada USD/Month.
Shared room outside of centre297
Shared room in city centre380
1 bedroom apartment outside of centre539
1 bedroom apartment in city centre690
Location on map