top of page

International Students Special: The Benefits and Opportunities of Attending Graduate School in Canada


Table of Contents:


Higher education in Canada

Benefits of Studying in Canada

Admission requirements and deadlines

Student Accommodations

Obtaining a Canadian study permit

Cost of living in Canada



Canada flag


Are you considering pursuing a graduate degree in Canada? Whether you're a Canadian student or an international student, this article is for you. As you may know, the process of applying for graduate school in Canada can be both exciting as well as daunting, and it's essential to be well-informed before making such an important decision.

In this article, we will discuss the various aspects of attending graduate school in Canada, with a special focus on international students. We will cover topics such as the benefits of studying in Canada, the application process, financial matters, and the support available for international students. 

Whether you're drawn to Canada's top-notch universities, diverse and inclusive culture, or stunning natural landscapes, this article is here to provide you with the information you need to make the most of your graduate school experience in Canada. Let's begin!

Canada's Higher Education System

The higher education system in Canada comprises a wide range of institutions, including universities, colleges, and technical institutes. Universities in Canada offer undergraduate (bachelor's degrees) and graduate (master's and PhD degrees) programs in various fields of study, and are known for their high-quality education and research opportunities. A bachelor's degree typically takes four years to complete, while a master's degree can range from one to two years, and a PhD program can take around four to six years to finish. In Canada, universities can be public, private, or a combination of both, with public institutions being the most common.

International students are an integral part of the Canadian higher education community, with a significant portion of graduate students coming from abroad. Universities and colleges in Canada offer various support services tailored to the needs of international students, such as orientation programs, language assistance, and multicultural events. Additionally, Canadian universities often have international student associations and cultural clubs to help integrate international students into the larger community and provide a supportive network during their time in Canada. Overall, the higher education system in Canada welcomes and supports the integration of international students into academic and social life.

The academic year

The Canadian academic year for graduate students typically follows a two-semester system. The first semester usually begins in early September and runs until mid-December, followed by a winter break. The second semester typically starts in January and ends in late April or early May.

While this structure applies to most institutions and regions in Canada, there can be variations in specific dates and durations between different provinces and individual universities. Some institutions may have slightly different start and end dates for the academic year, and the length of the winter and summer breaks can also vary.

Pros of Studying Graduate School in Canada

When it comes to pursuing a graduate degree, Canada has become an increasingly popular destination for both domestic and international students. With its diverse and inclusive society, high-quality educational institutions, and opportunities for research and career development, Canada offers numerous benefits for those who seek to continue their education. Here we have summarized the key reasons why you should choose to explore this option.

Global rankings

Canadian universities consistently rank among the top institutions in the world. According to QS World University Rankings 2024, the University of Toronto, University of British Columbia, McGill University, McMaster University, University of Alberta, University of Montreal, University of Waterloo, University of Ottawa, University of Calgary, and Western University all feature prominently.

You should definitely check these rankings when applying to graduate school, and specifically if you are an international student unfamiliar with the Canadian education system. In this way, you will have a real overview of the academic excellence, research opportunities, and overall reputation of the institutions I have listed. 

University of Toronto
University of Toronto

Tuition fees

Tuition fees for graduate school in Canada are generally lower than in other countries such as the US, Australia, and the UK, which makes them an attractive option for both domestic and international students. In addition, the cost of living in Canada is also relatively lower than in other popular study destinations.

For international graduate students, there are various scholarships and aid options available to help offset the cost of tuition. These can be admission-based, awarded upon acceptance to the graduate program, or application-based, requiring students to submit a separate application for consideration. There are also specific scholarships and funding opportunities specifically aimed at international students to help make studying in Canada more affordable.

Canadian lifestyle

The Canadian lifestyle is characterized by the values of pride, belief in equality, human rights, and diversity, and respect for all individuals. Canadians take pride in their country and its achievements, and they strongly believe in treating everyone with respect and dignity. Diversity is celebrated, with people from various cultural backgrounds, religions, and ethnicities coexisting harmoniously. 

In this melting pot, international students are welcomed and encouraged to share their unique perspectives and experiences. If you are an international applicant, Canada's open minded landscape may make it easier for you to integrate into your university life, feel a sense of belonging and build a net of support in moments of struggle.


Admission requirements and deadlines

The main admission requirements for applying to grad school in Canada, whether for a Master's or PhD program, typically include a bachelor's degree in a related field, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and a strong academic record. For international students, proof of English proficiency through language tests such as the TOEFL or IELTS is also usually required. Some programs may have additional requirements such as a portfolio for arts programs or specific prerequisite courses for certain fields.

The timeline for applying to grad school in Canada can vary depending on the program and university, but generally, applications for the fall intake open around October or November the previous year, with deadlines typically falling between January and March. For international students, it is important to start preparing the necessary documents well in advance, at least a year before the intended start date. This includes obtaining transcripts, securing letters of recommendation, and preparing for English proficiency exams if required.

Many Canadian universities have early and regular deadlines for graduate school applications, with early deadlines often offering priority consideration for scholarships and funding opportunities. It is recommended for both domestic and international students to keep track of these deadlines and submit their applications as early as possible to maximize their chances of admission and funding.

Finding a Student Accommodation

A crucial aspect of attending graduate school is finding a good accommodation. In this regard, there are various options for student housing in Canada. These include on-campus housing, homestays, and private rentals. On-campus housing can be convenient and provide a sense of community, but it may also be limited in availability and have high demand. Homestays offer the opportunity to live with a local family and immerse oneself in Canadian culture, but may come with certain restrictions and lack privacy. Private rentals offer more independence and flexibility, but require more effort to find and may come with higher costs.

It is important for both Canadian citizens and international applicants to start the accommodation search as soon as acceptance into the university is confirmed, as availability can become limited especially in high-demand areas. There are various resources and platforms, such as,, and, that can be used to find student accommodations in Canada. These resources provide a range of options for students to explore and find the best fit for their needs and preferences. Whether it's on-campus housing, homestays, or private rentals, you will have a variety of options to choose from.

Obtaining a Canadian study permit

If you are an international student interested in attending graduate school in Canada, you will need to obtain a Canadian study permit. The first step is to ensure you have a valid passport, a letter of acceptance from a Designated Learning Institution, and proof of financial support.

Once you have all the necessary documents, you can either apply for the study permit online or obtain a paper application from the nearest visa application center. Be sure to submit the required documents and application fee along with your application.

Lastly, let's not forget about one important procedure that you may use when applying for a study permit. The Student Direct Stream is a special option for students from certain countries, which allows for a speedy application process. However, you may need to provide additional documents and certifications as requested. 

Canada & the Cost of Living

The cost of living in Canada varies depending on the city and region. In major student hubs like Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal, the average cost of rent for a one-bedroom apartment ranges from $1200 to $2000 per month. In smaller cities like Victoria, Halifax, and Kelowna, the average rent is slightly lower, ranging from $800 to $1500 per month.

For food, the price ranges for basic items are as follows:

  • Milk: $1.50 to $2.50 for a 1-liter carton

  • Potatoes: $2 to $4 for a 5 lb bag

  • Bread: $2 to $4 for a loaf of bread

  • Apples: $1 to $3 per pound

Transportation costs also vary by city, with monthly public transit passes ranging from $90 to $130.

For international students, it's important to factor in the cost of health insurance coverage, which can range from $600 to $1500 per year depending on the province and coverage.

Overall, the cost of living in Canada for graduate students can range from $1500 to $3000 per month, depending on the city and lifestyle.


You have reached the end of this article. Today, we have discussed the benefits of pursuing graduate education in Canada, including a diverse and welcoming environment and high-quality academic programs. We have also highlighted some practical details about moving into the country, such as finding housing and understanding the living cost. 

In conclusion, attending graduate school in Canada is a truly rewarding experience that has the potential to offer several opportunities for personal and professional growth. I hope this article has inspired you to pursue your dreams of graduate education in Canada and that now you have a clearer idea of the academic and practical benefits that this experience can bring you. Good luck!

View of Toronto
View of Toronto

49 views0 comments


bottom of page