ip target image
You are currently browsing our site with content tailored to students in your country

Our cookies

We use cookies to offer you a better browsing experience with personalized content, relevant ads and enhanced functionalities. By allowing all you agree to the use of cookies as per the cookie policy and remember you can manage your preferences anytime.
The basics
Canada: Applying to University - Must read

Applying to study in Canada

How do you apply to a Canadian university? What is the process? Read our full, step-by-step guide today.

Student applying to university abroad

Canada frequently tops the list of desirable study abroad destinations, which is not surprising considering the high-quality institutions and student lifestyle on offer. It’s critical to get to grips with the application process if you’ve got your eye on a Canadian institution. We’ve taken a closer look at all the details of what you’ll need to do in order to apply and pursue your studies in the country.




It goes without saying that doing your due diligence on the programme or degree you wish to undertake is essential. It’s worthwhile making sure that you understand the entry requirements of both the institution and course.  This includes elements like English language proficiency levels, grades and qualifying subjects.  As part of your planning you will need to take into consideration the rules and regulations of applying for a study permit for example.  A general rule is to try and kickstart your planning at least one year in advance so that you’ll have enough time to lodge your application and check that all your documentation is up to date.


Application overview


In Canada, you’ll need to apply directly to the institution. Knowing what subject/s you want to major in prior to application is also essential, although you can switch this later during your studies in certain cases. There is no intermediary or central application system in Canada. However, as a result of each province and territory in Canada being responsible for education in that region, you may find a central provincial system that accepts applications to universities, such as the OUAC (Ontario University Application Centre).  You should also ensure that you have checked that the institution you’ve selected has the relevant accreditation, known in Canada as a designated learning institution. Only institutions with this stamp of approval are able to accept and admit international students.





Language proficiency


As an international student you will be required by Canadian institutions to provide evidence of your English language proficiency. You will find that certain programmes and institutions may differ on the minimum standards that are required and institutions generally prefer the IELTS test certificate. However, TOEFL and Cambridge English: Advanced scores are also accepted.  With Canada being a dual language country, you are also able to provide evidence of your French proficiency in the event that you will pursue your studies in the language. Accepted tests include TCF, DALF, DELF, but most institutions prefer the TEF exam.




Once you have shortlisted the universities of your choice, have your documents and qualifications in order, it’s time to lodge your application/s. The majority of applications require you to pay a non-refundable fee of between CAD 50 – 150. However, in cases where you’re applying to multiple universities it may be easier to use a provincial application system, where a flat fee is paid. Depending on your nationality, you may need to have to undergo a medical examination by an authorised medical professional to show you are of good health though this isn’t usually essential.


Always take time to read through your application carefully and include all the necessary information. Try to apply well in advance, ideally in the October of the year before you wish to study. The closing date for applications is usually in January/February depending on the programme and university. Applying early means you’ll have more time to sort out issues like funding. This is especially important as the Canadian government requires you to be able to demonstrate that you have the required financial backing or funds to study in the country.


You should get a response shortly after your application if the university adheres to a ‘rolling admissions’ policy, which evaluates applications as soon as they are received. In cases where an institution follows a ‘competitive admission’ system, you’ll need to wait for the application deadline to pass before the university evaluates your submission. You should factor in about a seven week wait for the application to be dealt with.


Study permit


If your application has been successful you will receive an offer from a university. Once this offer has been made you can move to the next step of the application process which is to secure a study permit. The study permit process is conducted by Canadian immigration services with an officer assigned applications. The application can be made online or through an accredited visa application provider. To avoid any hiccups during the process you must include your university acceptance letter, passport as well as evidence of your financial eligibility to study in Canada. If you are granted your study permit you will only be able to travel to Canada from the start date of the permit and not before. Once it has been confirmed you can book your tickets and gear up for a new chapter in your life.