How to Apply to Universities in Canada

Canada is a unique country that combines American entrepreneurship with French and English exquisiteness. For this reason, many young people from across the world go there every year to start their university studies. However, before coming to study in Canada, you first have to secure admission to a local university. Here is how to do it in several easy steps.

1. Applying to a Canadian University as an undergraduate student

In most of Canada’s provinces, including Ontario, the process of university enrolment begins in October each year, when most applications are accepted and reviewed.

We suggest that you start searching for and get in contact with a university of your choice at least several months before that.

Some of Canada’s top universities are the University of British Columbia, the University of Toronto, and McGill University. Of course, you may pick one that is not listed here. In any case, we advise you to get in contact with at least three universities in Canada and check out their programs.

When you have narrowed your choice, make sure that the selected university, or universities, has been approved by the regional or provincial government to accept international students. If the university has not been listed as a Designated Learning Institution, you may not be able to obtain a student visa or, as the Canadians call it, a study permit.

Depending on the university, these requirements may include language competency certificates, GPA from your secondary education or Bachelor’s Degree (for example, many university programs in medicine are only available to postgraduates), etc.

The most important of these documents is a copy of your secondary education diploma, translated into English or French and apostilled. Depending on the program you are applying to, you may be required to fill in a specific online form.

You may also be required to write an Application Letter to the university that you have chosen. Some Canadian universities ask applicants to record themselves on camera answering specific questions, and also send a short essay via email in which they explain their decision to apply to that particular university. The short videos and the essay comprise the Applicant’s Profile.

In addition to the essay you may have to write as part of your Applicant’s Profile, you may also be required to submit a Letter of Intent, where you are supposed to further motivate your choice of university and program.

Regarding the language certificates I mentioned earlier, you may be required to submit your TOEFL or IELTS results for English, or DELF, DALF, TEF, or TCF for French.

When you apply for a study permit, you have to submit proof that you have sufficient funds to finance your studies in Canada. Also, you will have to produce a certificate of a clean criminal record. Before applying for a study permit, you need to wait to receive an offer from the university or universities you have applied to.


2. Specific requirements for Applying for a Master’s Degree in Canada

To apply for a Master’s Program in Canada, you will need to submit two academic references from the university where you earned your Bachelor’s Degree. Most universities require that the candidate have a minimum GPA of 3 out of 4.

Also, if you have earned your Bachelor’s Degree outside Canada, you will have to go through a process of Educational Credential Assessment (ECA), before you can start your Master’s Program. Each province has its own ECA equivalent.

The purpose of ECA is to determine the Canadian equivalent of your post-secondary education. You will have to pay a certain fee to have your credentials assessed unless you submit an international credential evaluation report by an independent third party.

All Master’s Degree applications are first assessed by a central body that selects only the candidates that meet the minimum admission requirements. Next, the selected applications are forwarded to the particular school or faculty for assessment of the applicant’s academic achievements in relation to the program they have applied to.

The requirements concerning the language competency of Master’s Degree applicants overlap with the ones for undergraduate students that I listed above, and so do the requirements and the necessary documents for a study permit application.

Specific to Master’s Degree candidates is, however, the requirement that they should submit a detailed Curriculum Vitae, where their academic path is clearly outlined. The academic CV should be accompanied by one of two letters of recommendation from the candidate’s Bachelor’s Program tutors.

The successful candidates are granted a Letter of Admission, with which they apply for a study permit.


3. Specific requirements for Ph.D. students in Canada

First, you have to search for an advertised Ph.D. project and file an application. Alternatively, you may apply for a university’s Ph.D. program with a research project of your own. In this case, it is your responsibility to find a thesis supervisor and submit a research proposal.

Depending on the kind of Ph.D. program you apply for, you may need to provide the university with the following documents:

A detailed academic record, including a transcript of your Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees, plus a GPA of your Master’s Program. These documents may need to go through ECA as well. If you apply for a sponsored Ph.D. program, you will be required to write a personal statement of your academic goals and ambitions.

Your application should also be accompanied by two letters of recommendation from your graduate and postgraduate tutors, plus any international certificates of your current level of English or French.

Specific to Ph.D. candidates is the requirement to provide scores from two specific comprehensive exams, and namely the Graduate Records Examination (GRE) or Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT).


Listed above are some of the key steps one has to take so as to apply for an undergraduate, Master’s, or a Ph.D. program in Canada. The candidates who complete them successfully will be sent a Letter of Admission, with which they can begin the process of Study Permit application.


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