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Masters Study in Canada - A Guide for 2018

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Considering a Masters in Canada? The country's reputation for friendliness, pristine wilderness and world-class universities has led to Canada becoming one of the world’s most popular destinations for international postgraduates, with numbers rising steadily each year.

If you’d like to know more about studying a Masters in Canada, this page covers essential information on Canadian universities, applications and visas. Alternatively, you can take a look at our guides to fees and funding in Canada as well as postgraduate life in Canada.

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Postgraduate opportunities in Canada – what’s on offer for 2018?

Home to nearly 190,000 international students, Canada is a major global player in higher education. Its popularity with overseas students comes as no surprise – famously tolerant and with several genuinely world-class universities, Canada makes a lot of sense for postgraduates seeking an outstanding country in which to study a Masters.

Here are some of the best reasons to think about a Masters in Canada this year:

  • International outlook – Over 200 nationalities are represented by the student body in Canada, and Canadian society is one of the most diverse in the world.
  • Investment in education – Tertiary education in Canada enjoys high levels of government spending, putting it near the top of OECD countries in terms of state backing for higher education.
  • Bilingualism – With two official languages (English and French) and a multicultural population, Canada offers the chance to learn a new language or to improve your existing skills.
  • Post-Masters opportunities – If you’re keen to stay in Canada after finishing your studies, you might be eligible for a post-graduation work permit, allowing you to work in the country for the same duration as your programme.
  • Quality of life – The standard of living in Canada is extremely high, and the nation as a whole is a safe and stable environment in which to study.

Masters Study in Canada - Key Details
Universities 96
Oldest University Université Laval (1663)
International Students 189,573
Course Length 1-2 years
Average Fees CAD $13,000-20,500 (USD $9,930-16,430)
Academic Year September to April

Canadian universities

Canadian institutions educate around 1.7 million students annually. They perform 40% of Canada’s research and development, and represent a total turnover of CAD $35 billion, generating economic wealth in communities across Canada.

The Canadian higher education sector is characterised by its diversity; Canadian universities vary greatly in size, history and their portfolio of programmes and specialisms.

Provinces and territories are responsible for all levels of education, including universities and higher education. There is no federal ministry of education or formal accreditation system.

Universities tend to subscribe to provincial government charters and quality assurance frameworks as well as using the resources provided by the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials to ensure that Canadian qualifications are recognised worldwide. There are also many organisations that accredit professional programmes in subjects like Law and Engineering.

Throughout Canada's 13 provinces and territories, there are 96 universities. These are mainly public universities but private institutions exist and are accredited by the province’s authorities. Universities Canada maintains a list of Canadian higher education institutions by province.

Canadian university cities

Canada is the second largest nation in the world by landmass, and its terrain is appropriately varied. From densely-populated urban areas in Southern Ontario to the Arctic tundra and the lush rainforests of Pacific Northwest, Canada offers boundless possibilities for travel.

Within this enormous country, there are plenty of vibrant university towns. From glitzy Toronto and bohemian Montreal to outdoorsy Vancouver, you’re spoilt for choice.

Canadian university rankings

Canada has a world-class reputation for higher education, and this is reflected by the performance of its institutions in the three main global ranking tables. Six Canadian universities feature among the top 150 in the world, according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

For more information, read our guide to Canadian postgraduate rankings.


Top 10 Canadian Universities in 2018
University THE 2018 QS 2018 ARWU 2017
University of Toronto =22 31 23
University of British Columbia =34 52 31
McGill University 42 32 67
McMaster University 78 140 66
University of Montreal 108 130 151-200
University of Alberta =119 =90 101-150
University of Calgary 201-250 217 151-200
University of Ottawa 201-250 =289 151-200
University of Waterloo 201-250 152 201-300
Western University 201-250 =210 201-300
Information in this table is based on the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings, QS World University Rankings and Academic Ranking of World Universities. Visit their websites for more information.

Do rankings matter for Masters degrees?

International rankings use all sorts of metrics to assess universities and they aren't all equally relevant to postgraduate study. That's why we've put together a guide to university rankings for Masters students.

Course types

In Canada, Masters degrees (also known as 'grad' programmes or simply 'grad school') generally come in the form of a Master of Arts (MA) or a Master of Science (MSc). Like the UK, there are also specialist Master degrees in a range of subjects, such as the Master of Fine Arts (MFA), the Master of Engineering (MEng) and the Master of Business Administration (MBA).

Canadian Masters programmes usually last between one and two years (there might be additional internships or placements).

Along with traditional lectures and tutorials, your programme is likely to include interactive teaching such as site visits, projects and group work. Most Masters include a dissertation (sometimes replaced by a consultancy project, depending on your subject area), which makes up a large proportion of the course’s credits.

The academic year tends to begin in September each year, but some universities have several start dates for their Masters programmes. After a Christmas break, students return to university and study until the exam period in April.

Co-operative education programmes

Several Canadian universities offer Masters programmes through the ‘co-operative education option’.

Co-op enables current students to gain hands-on, paid experience in placements related to their field of study. These opportunities are available in all disciplines and provide valuable work experience and contacts. Employers involved in the co-op programme get highly qualified and motivated students to undertake specialised projects. Many of them also use it as a recruitment tool, allowing them to really get to know potential candidates and their abilities. For Masters students these internships are usually between two and four months.

To become part of the programme you register as a co-op student – there may be additional requirements at the point of application (such as a high GPA) as well as attending compulsory training sessions. Once you have been accepted, you will receive notifications of opportunities that are developed by your institution’s co-op coordinator. Many employers will be 'repeat' placement providers.

International students who require a study permit have to apply for a co-op work permit and universities will be able to help with the administration for this.

Search for a Masters in Canada

Ready to start looking for your ideal study abroad opportunity? Browse and compare Masters degrees in Canada on FindAMasters.com.

Masters fees and funding in Canada

Tuition fees for international students in Canada are relatively affordable compared to those in the UK and America, with most programmes costing somewhere between CAD $13,000 and CAD $20,500 (USD $9,930-16,430). Arts and Humanities subjects will be at the lower end of this scale, with Dentistry, Architecture and Business nearer the top. Domestic Canadian students generally pay tuition fees at around half the rate paid by foreign students.

There are several funding opportunities for international students in Canada, as well as scholarships offered by individual universities designed to attract talented overseas postgraduates.

Masters fees and funding in Canada

Looking for more information on the cost of studying a Masters in Canada and the kind of postgraduate loans and scholarships available? Check out our full guide to Masters fees and funding in Canada.

Applying for a Masters in Canada

Academic requirements

You’ll be expected to have a minimum GPA (often a 3.0/4.0 or its international equivalent such a UK upper second class bachelor) for your undergraduate degree.

Depending on your subject area, you may be asked to provide a graduate entry test score such as a Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

Language

If English is not your first language you’ll have to give evidence of proficiency through an English language test such as TOEFL or IELTS. Similar requirements will apply in French if you apply for a bilingual programme or a course delivered entirely in French.

Application process

The application process is similar to that of other countries. You’ll have to submit the following as part of your application:

  • A completed application form, which is often submitted online
  • A certified copy of your qualifications and transcripts
  • A curriculum vitae
  • Proof of English and / or French proficiency, depending on the programme that you are applying for
  • References / recommendation letters
  • Letter of motivation / personal statement

If you’ve completed post-secondary education outside of Canada, you might have to undergo an evaluation to determine the Canadian equivalent of your qualification and to verify the academic documentation that you’ve submitted. You’ll have to pay an international credential evaluation fee, unless you already have a third party international credential evaluation report.

Your application will generally be assessed by a central office to ensure you meet all the minimum entry requirements. It is then sent to the faculty / school, which will assess the academic quality and suitability of your application for your programme of choice.

If you’re successful, you’ll receive a letter of admission, which you’ll need to be able to apply for a visa or scholarship (if relevant) and to complete your enrolment before registration.

Masters student visas in Canada

To study a Masters in Canada, you’ll need to get a study permit. This will serve as your student visa and allow you to live and study in Canada for the duration of your course. You can apply for a Canadian study permit online, or through a visa application centre at a Canadian embassy in your own country.

Before applying for a study permit, you’ll need a firm offer from a Canadian university (as shown by your letter of acceptance on a Masters programme). You must also have no criminal record and be able to demonstrate that you’re in good health.

You’ll also need to provide proof of financial support, such as bank statements and scholarship award letters, to show that you can afford:

  • Your tuition fees
  • Living expenses, including for family members who will be going to Canada with you
  • Return tickets or resources to secure a return journey to your home country

For a detailed list of requirements, you should contact your nearest Canadian consulate or embassy, or visit the Canadian government's immigration page. Certain provinces might have additional requirements. In Québec, a certificat d'acceptation du Québec (CAQ) pour études, issued by the Québec Government, is needed as well as a study permit, and is issued by the Government of Canada.

Next steps

Employability and employment is at the heart of Canadian higher education and postgraduate degrees are designed to prepare you for the job market.

Remember also that Canada’s economy has been relatively stable and work opportunities are available with plenty of global and local companies.

Working in Canada after you graduate

Canada offers a number of opportunities for work after graduation and the country’s immigration policy is geared towards retaining international talent.

Completing a Canadian Masters degree could make you eligible to apply for a post-graduation work permit, which allows you to work in Canada for a period equal to the length of your study programme.

Once you have at least 12 months of full-time skilled work experience (or the part-time equivalent) in Canada, you can then begin your application to immigrate to Canada as a skilled worker under the Canadian Experience Class. Please note that any work experience gained while you were a student won’t count towards this amount.

There is also a range of temporary work visas aimed at people in specific industries and professions, which you might be able to apply for.

For more information, visit the Canadian government’s guide to working in Canada after graduation.

Search for a Masters in Canada

Ready to start looking for your ideal study abroad opportunity? Browse and compare Masters degrees in Canada on FindAMasters.com

Last updated - 04/04/2018

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