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Canada: Subject Guides - Must read

Canada’s most popular degrees for international students

Canada remains a very popular destination for international students. If you've been wondering which degrees top the priority list for students, we have the answer with our in-depth guide.

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Canada has come to the fore in recent years as a perennial favourite destination for international students. In fact, over the past decade the number of international students who have chosen Canada for their study abroad adventure has increased three-fold. Almost 650,000 students from around the world attend Canadian institutions, which places it in the top five study destinations globally alongside the likes of the USA, UK and Australia.


A significant number of international students cite the education quality, post-study work options and Canada’s multicultural society as the primary reasons for choosing to study there.  With seven institutions rated in the top 200 in the world in the QS World University Rankings 2021, it’s not hard to see the attraction. You’ve no doubt given studying in Canada some thought and have also probably wondered what degrees have proven to be the most popular among international undergraduate and postgraduate students. We’ve run the numbers, examined the results and verdict is in on the top qualifications your fellow students are selecting.


Top five undegraduate degrees


1. Medicine


You’re probably not entirely surprised that degrees in medicine sit atop the chart of the most in demand qualifications for international undergraduate students. Medicine is always well subscribed and a popular choice for students looking for good career prospects, including earning capacity and the potential to work across the world. In fact, graduates from the field who work in Canada can expect a median salary of about CAD 130,000 per year, depending on their area of expertise. Some of the top institutions for undergraduate medicine programmes in Canada are:



2. Nursing


Nursing qualifications continually attract the attention of international undergraduate students. The subject offers particularly good employment prospects with an over 90 per cent of nursing graduates finding work after their studies. Nurses working in Canada can also earn a median salary of CAD 79,000 per year. Further, there is the added bonus of having skills that make you attractive to employers in Canada or globally, depending on where you want to go. A career in nursing is often very rewarding as you are able help and assist people on a daily basis in a variety of specialised areas. Top institutions for undergraduate nursing degrees (QS World University Rankings 2021) in Canada include:



3. Civil and mechanical Engineering


International students continue to show a keen interest in pursuing engineering degrees in Canada. This is particularly true of the civil and mechanical engineering specialisations. The skills developed during these programmes, such as problem solving and decision making, coupled with the practical nature of the degrees means there’s always a demand from employers globally. Civil engineers can earn a median salary of about CAD 60,000 with mechanical engineers earning in the region of CAD 71,000. Careers in these fields can be both interesting and diverse with graduates being able to fill a number of roles. Some of the institutions who offer engineering courses in Canada include:



4. Sociology


If you’ve always had an interest in the way in which society functions and people’s behaviour therein, studying sociology may be right for you. It’s certainly a popular choice for international students in Canada. Equipping you with both empirical research skills and critical analysis competencies, the subject can set you up to work in a variety of fields including the charity sector, human resources and teaching. If you’re equipped with a bachelor’s degree in sociology you may earn up to CAD 50,000 after establishing yourself. Universities in Canada offering programmes in the field include:



5. Business studies


International students with their eye on Canada often place business studies on their priority list. The qualification develops some key skills that businesses and employers like graduates to have. These include financial acumen, communication skills and analytical abilities. With a business studies undergraduate degree, you can also go on to specialise in other areas of business, finance or commerce making it a flexible option. In addition to this, armed with a business studies qualification you can expect to earn an above average starting salary. Some of industries you may find yourself working in include marketing, insurance, banking, human resources and financial services. Canadian universities who offer the subject include:



Top five postgraduate degrees


1. Medicine


Mirroring the undergraduate demand for medical degrees, international postgraduate students place it atop the list of most desired qualifications in Canada. Postgraduate medical degrees are designed for professional development, research and the honing of skills in a medical specialisation. This can be everything from clinical oncology to biomedical research. There is little doubt that having an advanced degree in the medical field bolsters your career prospects and in some cases is mandatory for being able to practice in certain medical fields. Some institutions you may want to check out for postgraduate medical courses include:



2. Psychology


International postgraduate students have shown a keen interest in postgraduate qualifications in psychology. One of the primary motivations is that an advanced degree in the subject is often a pre-requisite for being professionally certified and being able to practice as a psychologist. An advanced degree in the subject fine tunes critical thinking and analytical skills. Although you may wish to practice as a psychologist there are numerous other fields where your skills may be applied such as in business, social work and even market research. Universities offering postgraduate psychology programmes in Canada include:



3. Accounting


Advanced accounting qualifications remain popular with international students. Not only do they enhance your professional skills, candidates in possession of these degrees are desired by employers. You’ll be able to increase the scope of your work prospects with the applicability of this knowledge in various professional contexts and industries. With a significant real-world focus programmes are geared towards professional practice. Three of the more prominent universities in Canada offering postgraduate accounting programmes include:



4. Civil and mechanical engineering


Students aiming to enhance their professional skills or specialise after having taken a general undergraduate engineering degree or a programme in a related field, favour the specialisations of civil and mechanical engineering. With a demand for skills in these fields, it’s a good career move and enhances your employability. These courses may also count towards or are critical for your certification and accreditation as a professional engineer. The top three universities for engineering courses in Canada are:



5. Public health


Rounding out the top five most popular postgraduate programmes in Canada is public health. Students who pursue this qualification are exposed to a degree with an international focus that attempts to address critical global health matters.  You’ll learn a variety of analytical skills and also be exposed to information from various other subjects, such as economics, international relations and politics. These degrees can open up opportunities for work in the aid sector, with governments and in international organisations like the UN. Make sure to take a look at some of the more popular universities offering this course:



Now that you know what other international students are looking to study in Canada it may have given you some ideas and could be the right time for you to start your research. You can also have a look at some of the most popular subject and degree choices globally. Don’t forget you can use our new course matcher tool to find a great programme and university that matches your preferences.

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