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The basics
Canada: Destination Guides

The ultimate student guide to Edmonton

Edmonton is the largest city in northern Canada, offering students the opportunity to study in a bustling metropolis set among thousands of kilometres of breath-taking wilderness.

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Edmonton is the capital of the Canadian province of Alberta and is the second-largest city behind Calgary. It offers visitors access to some of the best natural landscapes and national parks on the continent, as the Rocky Mountains stretch across the land under a blanket of trees and thick winter snow. It’s not just a winter wonderland, however, as Edmonton also enjoys its status as one of the sunniest cities in the country, with up to 18 hours of daylight in the summer!


The city is constantly growing and changing, with new developments like the huge ICE sports and entertainment district and a brand-new stadium, Roger’s Place. Festivals and events take place all year round, so you’ll never run short of things to see. Tradition and tech come together across Edmonton, with older neighbourhoods like the university district and Strathcona offering classic architecture. There's also a warm community atmosphere and a vibrant nightlife.


Edmonton is a regional hub for economic activity, providing students with great access to internshipsplacements, and employment opportunities. University courses at institutions in the city are also developed with graduate careers in mind.


Edmonton is a paradise for outdoor lovers, with warm summer days providing the perfect backdrop for country hikes or riverside walks in the city, while in the winter, there are opportunities for skiing, snowboarding or hot drinks indoors can be found in every direction.


Find out why Canada is such a popular destination for international students


What is Edmonton like?


Location and demographics

Edmonton is at the heart of the province f Alberta. It’s about 500km north of the United States border and is on the western side of the North American continent. 300km to the south is the city of Calgary, while just over 800km to the south-west is Vancouver. Edmonton is a multicultural city with a population of more than one million people, with communities originating from Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.  


Culture and history 

The area in which Edmonton is built has been inhabited for thousands of years by Indigenous people, originally as a seasonal hunting settlement. After European settlement, the town grew as a regional trading post for the fur industry and then as an agricultural centre before becoming the city of Edmonton in 1906.


Today the city is a hub for agricultural activity, manufacturing, and other industry, as well as quickly growing as a tech and administration centre. Edmonton is now one of Canada’s major cities, with an impressive skyline and a cosmopolitan urban community enriched by migrants, both from Europe and around the world. Migration during the 20th century has allowed the city to develop a vibrant multicultural community.


What universities are in Edmonton?


Edmonton is an increasingly popular choice for students looking to study abroad in Canada. One of the top reasons is the variety of centrally located universities that call the city home.


The University of Alberta (UAlberta) was established in 1908, and is rated 110th in the world, according to the QS World University Rankings 2023. It’s an international institution, with its students benefiting from hundreds of research and teaching agreements made with universities around the world. UAlberta is known for its teaching excellence and strong research output.


MacEwan University has been operating for over 50 years and is a competitive medium-sized university that attracts students worldwide due to its small class sizes and teaching quality. Excellent facilities and recreation options make this a great choice for Edmonton students.


Concordia University of Edmonton offers students the benefits of a small university campus experience with courses in the arts, sciences, and management of international quality. With a 14:1 student-to-staff ratio, you’ll find a supportive and personalised learning environment.


You could also look into courses covering a range of subjects at other institutions in Edmonton, including the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology and King’s University College.


Discover more universities in Canada


What does Edmonton offer students?


What is transport like? 

Edmonton is an easy city to reach due to its international air connections, and you’ll find it quick and stress-free to get around once you’re there. Edmonton’s light rail network connects 15 different points around the city, while frequent buses mean you’re never short of options for your journey. There are also electric scooters, more than 200km of cycling paths and many scenic walking trails to take.


What are the entertainment and food like?

Edmonton has been a rising star for city entertainment, with new areas like the ICE District offering up 25 acres of sports events, shops and boutiques, restaurants, bars, and hotels for you to explore. On the other side of the city, older neighbourhoods like Whyte Avenue are home to all sorts of classic diners, theatres, and the famous Edmonton Fringe Festival.


Discover the top five things to do in Canada


Is there student accommodation?

There are many accommodation options for you to choose from once you’ve received an offer of study from an Edmonton university. On-campus accommodation will suit those looking to stay close to their classes and university social scene, while private rented living options might allow you to save money and get the full experience of life in Edmonton. Your university can support you in finding accommodation off-campus, which ranges from high-rise apartments to smaller blocks or rooms in shared housing.


If you need financial aid, why not review the top scholarships in Canada?


How much does it cost to live in Edmonton?


General cost of the city

Edmonton is one of the cheapest Canadian cities to live in and is only a little more expensive than Montréal while being significantly cheaper than places like Vancouver or Toronto. As a result, you’ll be able to have a great student experience for less and take your budget further.


Discover more about the cost of living in Canada


Student budget

As a single international student living in Edmonton, you might typically spend an average of between CAD 275 and CAD 700 per week. This includes rent, utilities, food, transportation, and other living costs. Your budget will vary depending on your living arrangements, lifestyle, activities, and where in Edmonton you live.


Find out what tuition fees in Canada cost


Financial requirements

The Government of Canada asks international students to demonstrate that they can access a minimum of CAD 10,000 per year before starting their studies in Canada. This is equivalent to CAD 833 per month.


Explore how to find a graduate career in Canada and the top five graduate jobs


What are the main attractions in Edmonton?


There are plenty of things to do in Edmonton, whether you’re looking for vibrant nightlife or easy access to some of Canada’s most impressive national parks.


As the capital of the Alberta province, the city is home to its leading galleries and museums like the Art Gallery of Alberta and Royal Alberta Museum, with thousands of pieces of art and historical artefacts between them.


With more urban park areas than any other city on the continent, Edmonton is endlessly explorable. From strolls down the North Saskatchewan River Valley to the epic glass pyramids of the Muttart Conservatory, the city is a haven for plant life and green spaces despite its reputation for cold weather.


The natural treasures you’ll find as a student in Edmonton don’t stop there, however. The nearby Jasper National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, providing visitors with more than 11,000 square km of stunning vistas, blue water lakes and the jagged peaks of the Rocky Mountains.


It’s possible to overlook Edmonton in favour of Canada’s larger cities, but this rapidly growing city draws ever-larger numbers of international students due to its strong universities, affordable and fun urban lifestyle, and unbeatable access to the country’s western national parks. Explore more study options in Canada with our course matcher tool

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