BP101: Studying in Canada

Why Should International Students Study in Canada?

Why you should study at one of Canada’s world-class educational institutions and immerse yourself in the multicultural country.
Written by: BorderPass Corp.
Last updated:  
April 2024

Dive into all of the reasons why Canada is an extremely popular destination for international students. This article breaks down why you should study at one of Canada’s world-class educational institutions and immerse yourself in the multicultural country.

With safety, opportunities for post-study work, and pathways to permanent residency or citizenship, as well as Canada’s rich cultural heritage, there are boundless reasons why you may want to study abroad in Canada.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • How the Canadian education system works
  • Six key reasons to study in Canada as an international student
  • How to go about choosing a Canadian university
  • What you’ll need to apply to a university in Canada
  • Everything you need to know about finances for studying in Canada
  • Three things about living in Canada as an international student
  • Guidelines for visa and immigration requirements
  • Your employment and career opportunities post-study in Canada
  • Frequently asked questions

Ready to get started? Let’s go!

The Canadian education system

You may find that the Canadian education system is somewhat different from what you’re used to. However, if you’re looking to pursue a change in a globally renowned country for education, this study destination could suit you exactly, whether you’re from India, the Philippines, Ireland, the U.K., Germany, or beyond.

Canada’s reputation on the global academic stage

Canada has an esteemed reputation for excellence on the global stage, with its top universities consistently placing very highly in international rankings, such as the QS and Times Higher Education annual lists.

The University of Toronto, McGill University, and The University of British Columbia all rank within the top 35 universities in the world. After this, the next 6 best universities are all in the top 300 globally.

No matter where in Canada and its provinces you want to study and explore the lifestyle, you have a range of choices. For example, other top universities in Canada include:

Common pathways to college and university in Canada

In order to study at either a College or University in Canada, you will need to achieve at least either:

  • A high school diploma, or
  • The equivalent in a General Education Development (GED) test.

Because there are a variety of different degrees you can study, this prerequisite will differ.

While you only need a high school diploma or GED for a bachelor’s degree, master’s degrees require a bachelor’s degree, and PhDs require both a master’s and a bachelor’s.

Depending on the college you go to and the qualification you are pursuing, this prerequisite may also differ.

Additional requirements and eligibility depending on the program will be made clear to you through official channels such as the college’s website, or through direct liaison with their offices.

Different types of Canadian post-secondary schools

Post-secondary school study in Canada isn’t restricted to just universities. There are a number of other options to suit you and your circumstances, including technical colleges and distance learning institutions.


Universities offer opportunities to become qualified in a multitude of different fields through a variety of different degrees. The three types of degrees on offer at universities are:

  • Bachelor’s degrees
  • Master’s degrees
  • Doctoral degrees

If you are able to fund your education, this could make acceptance and transfer at your selection easier.

Costs will vary, and if school fees are outside of your budget, you may be able to apply for an in-university subsidiary or bursary.

Be sure to contact your chosen university for details and steps you need to take to apply.

Colleges and polytechnics

Colleges and polytechnics in Canada can be either public or private, and offer more hands-on learning compared to universities to make a student career ready for jobs and business in a relatively short period of time.

Both predominantly offer diplomas and certificates, although some colleges may offer bachelor’s degrees.

Private career colleges (PCCs)

Exclusively private colleges offer a smaller, more dynamic learning environment for students looking to specialize in a specific area.

PCCs are able to get new courses approved by the Ministry of Education and training quickly, allowing for greater growth, meaning they are consistently at the innovating end of the education sphere.

Indigenous institutes

Indigenous institutes are Indigenous-governed and operated, offering opportunities for students to learn in a culturally responsive learning environment.

While primarily aimed at indigenous students who haven’t had the opportunity to learn about their own culture from community elders, there are also a number of environmentally focused workshops and classes, putting the care of the earth at the center of learning.

If you come from a non-indigenous background and are considering an indigenous institution, you may want to read up on Canadian indigenous culture in books and documents by indigenous authors, as well as consider whether you should take up space in an environment not designed for you.

Indigenous institutes are able to independently confer degrees, certificates, apprenticeships, and diplomas to their graduates.

Online and distance education institutions

If you are immigrating to Canada with a spouse and children, or have a full-time job (especially if you’ve already completed your bachelor’s and are considering a master’s or PhD), you may want to consider further education that can be done online and at a distance.

Whether a graduate has completed their education in person or online is no longer a barrier to future employment, especially considering if that graduate has transferred to a new country and is learning in a language different from their native tongue.

Luckily, some schools in Canada operate exclusively online, such as Athabasca University which has integrated into their core distance education learning, making them Canada’s largest institution for distance learning.

Other institutions of a similar nature are:

While there are some specialized online learning institutions, many other universities also offer the option to integrate study from a distance, such as at Concordia University and Simon Fraser University.

Keep in mind that fee and course content catalogs will vary between each institution. It’s important you visit individual universities’ website pages and get in touch with their admissions offices for more detailed information or updated course news.

Interested in learning more about the different types of Canadian post-secondary schools? We’ve got you covered with our comprehensive guide to studying higher education in Canada.

Why study in Canada as an international student?

If you’re an international student, applying for a visitor visa and study permit to study in Canada is a great opportunity to experience another country, especially if you’re considering immigrating and becoming a resident.

Those with language skills in French and English, such as prospective students from France, Nigeria, and Iran, will find it easy to adapt and enjoy living in a country where you’ll be able to speak the languages you know — with some regional differences!

Bear in mind that in order to study in Canada, you may be required to pass a test from the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) for English-taught courses to ensure that you are eligible (some courses may also be French-taught, especially in Quebec).

If you have questions about this, you can talk to your chosen post-secondary education institution or your BorderPass legal representative.

Quality of education

It’s undeniable that a Canadian education can set you on the path to success on your journey.

Many Canadian post-secondary education institutions have been the recipients of global awards, and are welcoming to all, no matter their passport’s visa status: citizens and residents, those on student visas, and refugees looking for a fresh start and further education.

World-renowned universities and institutions

Multiple prestigious Canadian universities have international acclaim and recognizable logos.

Whether you’re looking to study law, business, or the arts, a certification or degree from any number of these institutions will make future employers pay greater attention to your resume and LinkedIn profile.

Research opportunities and innovations

Canada’s universities contribute substantially to the international research community.

In fact, the University of Toronto is recognized as both the country’s top research university and one of the world’s best. After this, McMaster University is a very research-intensive university, attracting impressive amounts of private-sector funding.

Acceptance into one of these schools is a signal to future employers that the graduate is researching in a top university, as well as has experienced, is specializing in, and is pursuing a degree in a field worth paying attention to.

Canada’s areas of innovation include (among others):

  • Forestry
  • Mining
  • Communications
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Public policy
  • Transportation
  • Marine Biology
  • Green Technology

Not sure what you want to study but know you’d like to do it in Canada? Check out our comprehensive guide on the best courses to study in Canada.

Accredited programs and recognized degrees

International students have a vast number of designated learning institutions (DLIs) to choose from when planning their studies in Canada, all of which offer accredited programs and recognized degrees.

Cultural diversity and inclusivity

Canada is extremely diverse and inclusive, and the study experience reflects that!

Multicultural campus communities

Canada is an extremely multicultural country, and its schools are no different.

To begin with, the largest bilingual school in the world is the University of Ottawa (French and English).

Canada’s most diverse city is Toronto, with immigrants making up nearly half of the city’s entire population, and this diversity is reflected to some degree on campus at the University of Toronto.

Vancouver is also widely known for its multiculturalism, with a large Asian population. The University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, has a student population of which visible minorities make up 65%.

Embracing international students and their cultures

Canada currently allows more international students in to study than at any other point in its history. In 2022, it welcomed in 550,000 international students, surpassing the 2021 tally by over 100,000.

Canada has committed to embracing international students as a part of its growing communities.

Opportunities for cultural exchange and learning

Many Canadian universities offer dynamic and far-reaching exchange program opportunities to their students, which international students are more than welcome to participate in.

Affordable education and financial support

While post-secondary education can be expensive, you may find that Canada has more affordability and financial support available to you than in your home country.

Comparison of tuition fees with other major countries

Tuition fees in Canada are on average lower than those in the US, Australia, New Zealand, and England.

Scholarships and financial aid for international students

If you need it, there are many good opportunities for international students to gain either a scholarship or other types of financial aid to assist their studies.

Don’t rule out studying in Canada just because you can’t afford it out of pocket!

Work-study opportunities and internships

One of our top tips? International students are able to work up to 20 hours a week in Canada to offset their expenses.

As a BorderPass member, you can apply for a work permit affordably, with the confidence that your application will be reviewed by Canadian legal experts.

Internships and co-op work are also available from institutions such as colleges and polytechnics for a chance to learn through practice.

Safe and welcoming environment

If safety is a priority for you then it’ll give you peace of mind to know that it is in Canada, too!

Safety on campus and in Canadian cities

Canada is one of the safest places for international students to study and work, being listed as one of the safest countries to live in the world.

Friendly locals and welcoming communities

As well as having a reputation for being one of the safest countries in the world, Canada is also one of the top 10 happiest countries in the world.

The stereotypes of overly polite Canadians may be a bit far-reaching, but there definitely are elements that ring true!

Support services for international students

Learning institutions in Canada very often offer services such as:

  • Health centres
  • Mental health Support
  • Immigration advice
  • Travel assistance
  • Legal aid
  • Emergency loans
  • Study skills support
  • And many more

Opportunities for post-study work and immigration

So, what happens once you’ve completed your studies? There are ways for you to stay in Canada if you choose to, and even to obtain permanent residency and citizenship.

Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) Program

The PGWP Program allows students who have graduated from designated learning institutions (DLIs) in Canada to obtain work experience, which assists graduates in applying for permanent residency should they wish to.

In order to qualify, you need to meet some eligibility requirements but are permitted to work while a decision is made on your application as long as you:

  • Held a valid study permit when you made your application
  • Were enrolled as a full-time student at your DLI
  • Were authorized to work off campus without needing a work permit
  • Did not exceed the hours you were permitted to work

Pathways to permanent residency and citizenship

International students often wish to make their move to Canada permanent after completing their studies there. In order to do this, a permanent residence application must be approved by the Canadian government.

BorderPass offers comprehensive support to international students from initial study permit to work permits, to eventual permanent residency.

Thriving job market for graduates

International students have very good opportunities to find work in Canada upon graduating, thanks in part to Canada’s thriving work economy.

If you need assistance with finding work, the PGWP Program may be able to provide you with help for your post-study job search.

Immersive cultural and natural experiences

Canada is a beautiful, natural country, with plenty of rugged and picturesque land to explore. Not only that, it has a rich culturally diverse history, which you can only immerse yourself in and learn about by living in the country.

Exploring Canada’s diverse landscapes and natural beauty

The world’s second-largest country is a top destination for travelers from all over the world, who come to see awe-inducing mountains, sprawling prairies and tundras, and captivating forests.

Engaging in cultural festivals and events

Canada is home to a seemingly endless amount of cultural events and festivals, such as:

Learning about Canada’s rich history and heritage

Before the arrival of European travelers on its shores in the 15th Century, Canada already had a rich and complex history, starting with the land’s indigenous people, or First Nations people.

What better place to learn about this history than Canada itself?

How to choose a school in Canada

Selecting a school in Canada shouldn’t be made lightly. You’ll need to consider what you’d like to study and future employment plans, as well as if there’s a particular area of Canada you’d like to study in.

Canada is a large country with a varied climate, so this could affect your choice significantly!

The importance of making an informed decision

The application process relies on your ability to make an informed decision about the university you would like to attend in Canada.

Make sure you don’t rush this part of the process, because it is arguably the most important thing you will do.

How to apply for Canadian universities

Ready to apply for a Canadian university? With our top tips and advice, you’ll be ready to get started!

Requirements for study in Canada

To study in Canada you must have:

  • Proof of financial security: International students need to have at least CAD $20,635 plus one year of tuition (as of December 2023)
  • An English proficiency test
  • A letter of acceptance from a DLI
  • A Canadian study permit: you can apply for yours with BorderPass

Language Requirements and Tests

Universities will need to see a PTE or other recognized English or French proficiency test in order to grant an international student’s acceptance.

The minimum PTE score required by Canadian universities is 60 overall, with at least 60 in each subsection.

Some colleges also have prerequisites in terms of language proficiency and may require a PTE score.

Financial aspects of studying in Canada

Drawing from our experience, arguably the most important part of studying abroad is how you’ll finance your education. While there may be provisions for you if you’re scholarship-eligible, or subsidiaries, you should still be aware of how much you’re on the hook for.

Tuition fees in Canada

International student tuition fees at universities differ depending on whether the course is at undergraduate or postgraduate level.

On average, undergraduate courses cost $36,100 CAD per year, while postgraduate courses cost around $21,100 CAD per year.

Financial aid and support for international students

If you can’t afford your study outright, don’t panic! There are many good opportunities for international students to gain a scholarship and other types of financial aid.

Most DLIs will have support in place to help international students financially, such as emergency loans, immigration advice, and legal aid.

Living in Canada as an international student

Let’s not forget that there are financial and other considerations outside of university life, which you should be prepared for.

Cost of living in Canada

International students who go to colleges in Canada can expect to pay from $800–$2,000 CAD per month in living expenses. This number is the same for those who opt to go to universities.

This number is comprised of accommodation costs, plus expenses such as food, utilities, and various other expenses.

However, keep in mind this number is dependent on where the college or university you are going to is located.

Student accommodations and housing

Based on our observations, student accommodation often acts as a cheaper alternative to flatting independently or with flatmates.

Student residences can cost between $250–$625 CAD per month, whereas renting with flatmates can cost between $300–$700 CAD per month.

Visa and immigration requirements

As an international student, you’ll need to pay close attention to your visa and immigration requirements. These requirements are set out by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Failure to do so could have your visa delayed, denied, or canceled part way through your study.

Canadian study permit (student visa) requirements

In order to obtain a study permit in Canada, you must be someone who:

  • Is enrolled in a DLI
  • Is able to prove your identity
  • Is able to prove you can financially support yourself and any family members who come with you.

Application process for a Canadian study permit

When applying for a Canadian study permit, BorderPass makes it easy with an online platform, guidance from Canadian legal experts, and fair, transparent pricing.

Post-study work opportunities and immigration

The Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWP) allows a student who has graduated from a DLI in Canada to obtain work experience. They may also be able to assist a graduate who has applied to IRCC for permanent residency.

Employment and career opportunities

Once you have graduated, you’ll be able to look for employment and career opportunities in Canada, if you wish to do so.

Remember to make sure that your visa allows you to do so!

Job prospects in Canada for graduates

International students have very good opportunities to find work in Canada upon graduating, and the PGWP Program can assist with your graduate job search.

Key takeaways

If you’re an international student considering post-secondary education in another country, Canada could be the choice for you!

Not only are there a vast number of universities, colleges, polytechnics, and more, but the internationally recognized education system includes world-renowned institutions. A great addition to your CV!

As an international student, you may be attracted to the multicultural aspects of the country, not to mention that education in Canada is relatively affordable, especially when compared to the US, England, Australia, and New Zealand.

Following study, if you choose to, the PWGP Program may offer international students opportunities to stay in Canada and enter the job market, streamlining permanent residency applications. Even if you’re not eligible for this particular program, there may be other ways to live and work in Canada and put that new education to use helping to improve the country’s economy.

Bear in mind that there are a number of visa and immigration requirements for international students to consider when applying to study in Canada, including completion of an English or French proficiency test.

Ready to start your application for post-secondary education in Canada? Signup to BorderPass and let us help you today! We’ll work with you every step of the way, from application for your study permit, to post-graduate work permits!


Are Canada’s qualifications recognized worldwide?

Yes, qualifications gained in Canada are typically recognized worldwide.

Can students work during their studies in Canada?

International students are able to work during their studies in Canada. However, there are certain requirements that must be met. Here are the ins and outs of working off campus as an international student.

How to get permanent residence after studying in Canada

As an international student, there are several permanent resident categories you may fit into. Some of these categories require eligible Canadian work experience. After studying in Canada and graduating from a DLI, you may be eligible to access the Post-graduate Work Permit Program.

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