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Study in Canada

Canada Quick Fact

  • World’s 2nd largest country (by area)
  • 8 million people in 10 provinces and 3 territories
  • Stable parliamentary democracy
  • High quality of life that is safe and secure
  • Canada is the top Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) country in spending per student on public postsecondary education
  • Ethnically diverse - Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver are home to large immigrant populationCanada Quick Fact

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Did You Know?

  • Canada regularly ranks among the top 10 countries in the United Nations Quality of Life Index.
  • Canada’s universities are among the world’s best. In 2015, 4 Canadian universities ranked in the top 100 of the ARWU (Shanghai Ranking) and 20 in the top 500; 3 ranked in the top 50 of the QS World University Rankings and 20 in the top 500; and 4 ranked in the top 100 of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.
  • Canadian students perform well in reading, literacy, maths and sciences, top among English and French speaking countries according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Program for International Student Assessment (PISA).
  • Canada’s educational institutions have long been incubators for innovation. The BlackBerry, flat screen technology, SMART boards, voice compression applications for cell phones and computers, and IMAX film are among the many revolutionary technologies invented and developed by men and women who studied in Canada.
  • Canada is the home to world-class collaborative research and development. Projects include the innovative NEPTUNE ocean floor laboratory, the Canadian HIV Vaccine Initiative, ArcticNet, a revolutionary approach for studying the effects of climate change, and Canada’s Advanced Research and Innovation Network (CANARIE Inc.) which facilitates research and development around the world.

Cost of Study in Canada

Cost of studying in Canada is very affordable when compared to Cost of Study in other developed countries like United Kingdom and United States. The term, ‘’Cost of Study” means all expenses resulting from the institution tuition fees and living expenses in Canada i.e. accommodation and feeding cost, transportation cost, books, and Insurance cost usually per year. As a guide, you should expect to spend approximately C$19, 000 to C$36,000 Canadian Dollars annually for tuition and living expenses. However, this is just an approximate figure, as the actual cost will depend on institution you are enrolled into, the province or territory, the programme of study as well as the lifestyle of student.


Tuition fees in Canada for international students vary across institutions, provinces and programmes. The table below shows the average tuition fees for international students in different field of study.

However, tuition fee is not the only cost that will be associated to your cost of study in Canada. In addition to your tuition fees, you should also make provisions for living expenses in Canada that covers, housing, transportation, books, insurance, etc.

University Tuition Fees for Full-time International Students (in Canadian dollars)

Field of Study Undergraduate Graduate
Social Sciences C$ 19,650 C$ 13,633
Engineering C$ 22,623 C$ 15,315
Medicine C$ 32,168 N/A
Dentistry C$ 47,562 N/A
Pharmacy C$ 34,424 C$ 14,325
Education C$ 16,250 C$ 12,620
Business C$ 19,423 C$ 18,156
Executive MBA N/A C$ 46,705
MBA N/A C$ 34,424
Computer and Information sciences C$ 22,672 C$ 14,618
Architecture C$ 19,782 C$ 16,315
Nursing C$ 18, 426 C$ 13,632

Cost of Living in Canada

Cost of living in Canada is one of the cheapest when compared with the likes of United Kingdom, United States, and Australia. In addition to tuition fees, students are required to budget certain amount of money to cover their accommodation, feeding, transportation, books, insurance and miscellaneous expenses. However, the cost of living varies across provinces and also will depend on whether a student is staying in a residential hall or a private apartment.

To study in Canada, international students are required to have at least C$10,000 available to cover living expenses for a year. Also in a situation where the student is accompanied by a spouse an additional C$4,000 must be added to the C$10,000. However, it is an additional C$ 3,000 per accompanying child or dependent.

Admission Requirement

Canadian universities admission requirement vary from institution to institution, and also depend on programme of study as well as level of study i.e. undergraduate or graduate programme.

Undergraduate Programme in Canada

To study at undergraduate level in any university in Canada, you must have completed your 12 years of education (WAEC/NECO) or any equivalent to Canadian High School Diploma. In addition to this, and because the main language of instruction in Canada is English Language, you are required to have achieved an acceptable level of English Language Proficiency. For undergraduate programmes, the required grade is usually IELTS Overall Score of 6.5. This is just a basic minimum requirement as some universities and programmes may require additional specific documentations. Thus for Nigerian students, you need the following documents below for undergraduate studies in Canada:

  • Application Fee (minimum of C$100)
  • Completed Application Form
  • WAEC/NECO Result (If available at the time of application)
  • Secondary School Transcript (SS1, SS2, SS3 1st & 2nd Term)
  • International Passport Data Page
  • Personal Statement/Statement of Interest
  • Two (2) Recommendation Letters
  • IELTS or TOEFL or PTE Academic Result

Graduate/Masters Programme in Canada

The minimum general requirement for graduate studies in Canada is a four-year post-secondary institution degree honours or equivalent. In other words, you must have completed a four-year degree or HND programme. Also you should have an acceptable level of English Language Proficiency usually a 6.5 Overall IELTS Score. This is just a basic requirement as many institutions and graduate studies departments have their specific additional requirements. However, for Nigerian students, you will be required to provide the following below for graduate studies in Canada:

  • Application Fee (minimum of (C$100)
  • Completed Application Form
  • Transcripts (Degree/HND transcripts)
  • WAEC/NECO Result
  • International Passport Data Page
  • Personal Statement/Statement of Interest
  • Recommendation Letter (s)
  • IELTS or TOEFL or PTE Academic Result
  • GRE or GMAT (if applicable)

The major course start dates in Canadian universities and colleges are Fall Term (September) and winter term (January). Although, some universities, colleges, and pathway providers run summer term (May), most Canadian universities don’t have summer start dates.

More so, to study in Canada, students are encouraged to apply as early as possible, at least six (6) months before your programme start date to allow enough time for university application and visa processing.

Study Permit Requirement

In Canada, the government requires that students studying longer than 6 months obtain a study permit. The permit is issued once a student has an official Letter of Acceptance from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) or an approved educational institution like a college or a university. In order to apply for Study Permit, the following documents are required:

  • Two passport photographs. Signed, dated and taken in the past six (6) months. Ensure that your name and date of birth is written on the back.
  • Original International Passport of student. Passport should be accompanied with a copy of the passport bio-data page (i.e. the page with the name, photo, place of birth, date of issue, etc. Also have a minimum of two blank pages.
  • Previous International Passports showing travel histories.
  • Original and a copy of the Letter of Acceptance from the university or college in Canada stating:
    • Unconditional admission, or if conditional, you must show you can meet the conditions
    • Course title and level of study
    • Duration of study
    • Start date and latest possible date of admission
  • Academic documents: originals and one copy each of:
    • Transcripts (up to date academic standing)
    • WAEC/NECO Results
    • Post Secondary School Transcripts (if applicable)
    • All certificates and diplomas. You must provide evidence of all current and past education, including the street name, address of all previous educational institutions that you attended
    • NYSC Certificate (if applicable)
  • Proof of sufficient funds for tuition and Cost of living for at least one year in Canada. In addition to tuition fees, you should have at least C$10,000 available for cost of living in one year. Also you should have an additional C$4,000 if going with a wife or a husband, then C$3,000 for any accompanying dependent child. Evidence used to show proof of fund:
    • Original and a copy of the student’s or sponsor’s Stamped Bank Statement showing past six (6) months transactions including the submission month or ending one month prior.
    • More Financial Documents: more bank statements or proof of income or property documents showing you have enough money to support your academic programme.
  • Scholarships: any financial assistance from the school or government must be presented on an official letterhead stating the full amount of scholarship, its duration, contact details of awarding body and any conditions attached to the scholarship.
  • Proof of Tuition Fees Payment: receipts of any tuition fees paid to date should be presented. Although fees are not required prior to application, proof of payment may be required before visa is finally issued.
  • Official Fee Schedule: Statement of fees or official fees schedule which includes tuition, accommodation and meal plans, miscellaneous expenses like medical insurance, books, memberships
  • Original Police Clearance Certificates obtained from C.I.D. Headquarters.
  • Self-addressed Pre paid return courier envelope to return your passport and documents.
  • Reference letter from your sponsor. The letter must indicate their current employment; their occupation; their relationship to you; their number of dependents and full contact details.
  • Reference letter from your sponsor’s employer. Employer’s contact details and full street address of business location.
  • If self employed, Proof of Business. Provide business registration certificate, tax clearance certificates, any trade certificates, licence and bank statement. Stamped Bank Statement showing six (6) months transaction up to the submission date.
  • Proof of Employment. Employment Letter from current or past employer and payslip (last 3 months) indicating occupation, job description, position, salary, allowances, dates of employment, and authorized leave dates.
  • Birth Certificates.

Working while studying in Canada is possible in as much as a student has a valid study permit. A student can work either on-campus or off-campus while studying in Canada.

Working On-Campus while studying in Canada

You may work on campus at the institution where you study without a work permit if:

  • You are a full time student at a public post-secondary institution, such as a college or university.
  • You have a valid study permit

You must stop working on-campus on the day you no longer meet the above eligibility requirements (e.g. if you are no longer a full-time student.)

Working Off-campus while studying in Canada

International students holding study permits in Canada will gain work experience by working off campus while completing their studies. The study permit allows the international student to work off campus without a work permit. During regular academic sessions, students are allowed up to 20 hours per week. However, they can work full-time during scheduled breaks like the winter and summer holidays or the spring break. To qualify to work off campus with your study permit in Canada, you must meet the following requirements:

  • have a valid study permit
  • be a full-time student
  • be enrolled at a designated learning institution at the post-secondary level or, in Quebec, a vocational programme at the secondary level, and
  • be studying in an academic, vocational or professional training programme that leads to a degree, diploma or certificate that is at least six (6) months in duration.

International student must stop working on the day they no longer meet the eligibility requirement (e.g. if they are no longer a full-time student during an academic session), unless otherwise authorized to do so by having applied for a work permit.

The following international students are not eligible to work off-campus:

  • students enrolled in an English as a Second language or French as a Second Language programme
  • students taking a general interest course or programme; and
  • visiting or exchange students at a designated learning institution.

Working as a Co-op or Intern in Canada

For some courses and academic programmes, work experience is part of the course work. International student whose academic programme include co-op or internship programme must apply for a work permit as well as a study permit. To be eligible for the Co-op or Intern work permit, international student must meet the following requirements:

  • Have a valid study permit
  • Intended employment must be an essential part of their programme of study in Canada
  • the employment must be part of their academic, vocational or professional training programme offered by a designated learning institution, certified by a letter from a responsible academic official of the institution.
  • The Co-op or internship employment cannot form more than 50% (percent) of the total programme of study.

One of the major advantages of choosing to study in Canada is that international students are able to stay back in Canada and work after graduation from the university or post-secondary institution. To work in Canada after studies, international students must apply for Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PWPP).

In an effort to retain international students, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has recently made changes to the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP) to make it more flexible and responsive to the needs of foreign students. The program now permits international students to obtain three (3) years Open Work Permit after graduation as well as to work for any employer in any industry.

Also a work permit under the PGWPP can also be issued for the length of study but not exceeding three years. The post graduation work permit cannot be valid for longer that the student’s study program and to be eligible for the Post Graduation Work Permit, the student must have studied for a minimum of eight months in length. For example, if a student graduates from a four-year degree programme, he/she will be eligible for a three-year work permit. But if a student graduates from an eight-month certificate programme, he/she will be eligible for eight months work permit.

Eligibility Criteria for Post Graduation Work Permit

To qualify for a Post-Graduation Work Permit, international students must:

  • have studied full-time at a university/college or any government approved post-secondary educational institution for at least eight months.
  • Apply for a work permit within 90 days of receiving a written confirmation your university/college that they have met all the requirements of their programme of study.
  • Have completed and passed their programme of study and are now eligible to obtain their degree, diploma, or certificate
  • Have a valid study permit when applying for the work permit

International student should also note that:

  • the course of study must be a minimum of two years for the graduate to obtain the three year work permit. However, if the programme was less than two years but longer than eight months, the graduate can still obtain a work permit for the same duration as the programme of study.
  • While a student must have been studying full time in the eight months preceding the date of application for a work permit, an exception is make in the case where a student fulfils all the requirements except full time study in the last sessions of their programme. For example, if a student only needs two courses in the final session to complete the programme but all previous study has been full time, the student still can apply for the Post-Graduation work Permit programme.