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Canada: Subject Guides - Must read

Why study a master's degree in Canada?

Are you looking to match your postgraduate academic ambitions with an ideal study destination? Canada could be what you’re looking for. We investigate why studying for a master’s degree in Canada is a great choice.

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Canada maintains a strong position in the top five most popular study abroad destinations. There are multiple reasons for its popularity, from the favourable lifestyle to reasonable tuition fees. The options for postgraduate master’s degree students are also attractive, with high-quality degrees and top-ranked institutions. We explore why studying for a master’s degree in Canada may be the right choice for you.

 

Why study in Canada?

Why a master's degree in Canada?

What are the top universities for master's degrees?

How much will tuition cost?

What are the living costs in Canada?

What are the post-study career options?

 

Why study in Canada?

 

There are several good reasons you would want to consider Canada as your study abroad destination of choice. To start, Canada has a reputation for being a friendly and welcoming society. Canadians are often noted for their distinct hospitality and liberal society. One little known fact about Canada is that over 50 per cent of the population do not speak English as their first language.

 

However, English is widely spoken in the country. It is also used as the language of instruction at most universities in Canada, apart from some institutions in the state of Quebec. Many of the major cities in Canada are known for their multiculturalism and diversity, including:

 

Toronto

 

Recognised by the United Nations as the most diverse city worldwide, more than half of those living in this famous Canadian city were born outside of the country. You’ll hear over 180 languages spoken and meet people from more than 250 different cultural backgrounds.

 

Vancouver

 

The city is known for its sustainable, inclusive, and integrated design. People from all around the world call Vancouver home. In recognition of this, several key official government documents and websites are available in languages other than English. There are also numerous programmes and initiatives encouraging cultural engagement and diversity.

 

Montreal

 

Montreal has a multinational heritage as the fourth largest French-speaking city globally. One-third of the city’s residents were born outside of Canada, leading to a dynamic cultural landscape focusing on restoring indigenous history and increasing access for all.  

 

These three Canadian cities are also highly rated for students, offering a high quality of life and some of the top universities in Canada. All three feature in the top 20 top student cities, according to the QS Best Student Cities 2022 ranking. Montreal is rated 9th in the world, Toronto 13th and Vancouver at 18th.

 

Quality education

 

One of the reasons Canada continues to attract international postgraduate students is the quality of education offered. Not only is the Canadian higher education system rated in the top 10 globally by Universitas 21, but the country has five institutions in the top 100 worldwide as per the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2022:

 

  • University of Toronto (18)
  • University of British Columbia (37)
  • McGill University (44)
  • McMaster University (80)
  • University of Montreal (88)

 

That’s not all. The QS World University Rankings 2022 also has an additional three Canadian universities rated in the top 200 globally:

 

 

Naturally, you’ll wonder what sort of graduate outcomes master's degree students enjoy. The good news is that Canadian institutions hold their own internationally, with five institutions in the top 100 for graduate employability as per QS. Don’t forget that in Canada, postgraduate study is referred to as graduate education or graduate studies.

 

If you’re considering studying for a postgraduate degree like an MBA, Canada would be a good choice. According to the QS World University Rankings Full-Time MBA: Global 2022, six institutions are rated in the top 100 globally for this much sought-after degree. Some of these top universities include:

 

  • Queen’s University
  • Ivey Business School
  • York University

 

When researching your options, you won’t be short of choice, with over 97 accredited universities in Canada. Many are known for high-quality research, which is a significant plus point for any master’s degree student. There is also notable government support for research in areas, including healthcare, agriculture, and environmental science.

 

 

Affordable and a great student lifestyle 

 

Canada offers several excellent plus points for international students. Firstly, tuition fees and the cost of living are cheaper than in other popular destinations such as the UK and the USA. Postgraduate programmes in the UK cost between GBP 16,000 and GBP 25,000 per year, while in Canada the equivalent cost is between 40 and 60 per cent cheaper. This goes for the cost of living too. You’ll need an extra GBP 15,000 for living costs in the UK, while in Canada, this would be about GBP 9,000.

 

It's difficult to find another destination that offers the same quality of life as Canada. According to the U.S. News & World Report Quality of Life ratings, Canada comes out at number one worldwide. The rankings use indicators including education, healthcare, employment, and security. Canada is also rated in the top 10 on the World Peace Index, making studying in the country a relaxing and safe experience.

 

Canada is also a country that offers up exciting, diverse, and engaging experiences. It caters for students with many different interests, from adventure sports to cultural festivals. There is also lots to see, from national parks to Canada’s famous landmarks like Niagara Falls. You’ll also have many food options to choose from, and if you enjoy the nightlife, you’ll be well served, including the world-renowned Montreal International Jazz Festival. While Canada is a large country geographically, it’s not too difficult to travel around to take in all on offer. 

 

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Why a master’s degree in Canada?

 

With almost one hundred universities offering master’s degrees in Canada, you won’t find it too difficult to find a subject area that suits your interests, needs and budget. The majority of international students choose to study in Ontario, with British Columbia and Quebec in second and third place. Each of these provinces offers a wide range of universities to choose from.  

 

As an international student, you’ll also not feel so alone as over 150,000 international students choose to take a postgraduate degree in the country. You can gain many useful insights from other international students who have started their university paths in Canada. 

 

Having personal recommendations from other international students is the best way to help you decide if Canada is the perfect destination for you. Here are some international students talking about their reasons.  

 

 

Some of the reasons include:

  • Prestigious teaching staff
  • Quality programmes
  • Low cost in comparison to other destinations
  • Quick application process 
  • Easy application process with a helpful online information guide
  • Excellent provision for practical, hands-on lab experience
  • Great university culture

 

Canada also has top-ranking universities offering master’s degree programmes which can be cheaper than other popular study destinations such as the UK and the US, but more on that a little later.

 

The Canadian government invests a great deal of money in higher education. This accounts for almost 50 per cent of university funding, allowing universities to charge lower fees than universities in other destinations. It also means that universities have more money to invest in research and development; recent statistics show that this increased to over CAD 14 billion and quality laboratories, equipment and technology. 

 

This funding also means that university professors are paid an average base salary of over CAD 110,000 per year. The quality of a university’s faculty is vitally important to a university’s reputation and ranking. 

 

Another reason why you should consider a master’s degree in Canada is the three periods of admission onto master’s courses. 

 

  • Apply in June to begin in September
  • Apply in November to begin in January
  • Apply in February to begin in April / May

 

Each university has its own deadlines for each of the application periods above so make sure that you check their websites for these key dates. 

 

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What are the top universities for master’s degrees? 

 

There are different rankings from which to gather information on studying in Canada. The Times Higher Education World University Rankings (THE) is based on 13 key performance indicators, while the QS World University Rankings uses six key metrics to assess the performance of 1,300 universities around the world.

 

 

THE Ranking 2022

QS Ranking 2022

University of Toronto

18

26

University of British Colombia

37

46

McGill University

44

27

McMaster University

80

140

University of Montreal

88

111

 

Each of these universities offers a wide range of master’s programmes from which to choose. To make the best choice possible, it’s important to consider your post-study career options both back home, should you wish to return or worldwide. 

 

If you’re interested in staying in Canada and making a future for yourself there are a wide range of professions to choose from with the top five graduates jobs being: doctor, nurse, dentist, engineer and a career in the pharmaceutical industry. Degrees in these areas are also, unsurprisingly, among the most popular degrees for international students in Canada.  

 

The top-ranking universities all offer a range of master’s programmes, potentially leading to a successful career in these fields. Below are some examples of the kinds of master’s programmes on offer at top-ranking universities: 

 

Subject 

University of Toronto

Medicine

Master of Health Science in Laboratory Medicine

Dentistry

Master of Science in Dentistry

Engineering

Master of Engineering (M.Eng) in Chemical Engineering

 

Subject 

McGill University

Nursing

Master of Science, Applied (M.Sc.A.) Advanced Nursing

Dentistry

Doctor of Medicine & Master of Surgery

Engineering

Master of Engineering (M.Eng) in Civil Engineering

 

These master’s degrees generally take between one and two years to complete, and possibly more if there are placement programmes or internships included.

 

How much will tuition cost?

 

Of all the financial considerations that come with applying to university, especially if you’re studying abroad, one of the biggest is certainly your tuition fees.

 

In Canada, the tuition fees are set by the university, so vary quite a bit when comparing two institutions. Things that are taken into consideration include what course you wish to study and whether you’re a domestic or international student.

 

For those looking to study for a master’s degree in Canada, you will be pleased to know that these courses are often much cheaper than their undergraduate counterparts.

 

University

Cost for domestic student

Cost for international student

York University

CAD 2,871

CAD 12,550

University of Calgary

CAD 3,464 – CAD 8,183

CAD 8,081 – CAD 19,634

University of Victoria

CAD 6,155

CAD 7,763

Concordia University

CAD 2,044 – CAD 6,379

CAD 12,563 – CAD 21,150

University of Ottawa

CAD 6,367 – CAD 7,798

CAD 16,334 – CAD 27,519

*Based on 2021-2022 academic year

 

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What are the living costs in Canada?

 

How much will studying in Canada cost you as an international student? The answer is – it depends. It depends on the province you choose to live in, the city, the university you choose and the course you apply for. It depends on the type of accommodation you choose and your lifestyle and habits. 

 

This answer is incredibly frustrating, we know. So, to better help you to understand the actual cost of living in Canada, first, we will need to think about everything you will need to pay for, these include obvious costs and some you may not have considered. Here’s a list of the costs to bear in mind:

 

  1. Accommodation
  2. Utilities – gas, electricity, water – private rental
  3. Food
  4. Books
  5. Equipment
  6. Travel – around Canada and return home flights
  7. Transportation – student discounts apply
  8. Health insurance – some provinces and territories include international students in free healthcare. 
  9. Travel insurance
  10. Mobile phone contract
  11. Fun – cinema, gym, eating out, going out
  12. Clothes

 

In terms of travel, you need to consider how often you’ll want to travel back home for the holidays and factor those travel costs into your budget. If you decide you don’t want to or can’t travel back home for each holiday, you should consider the cost of travelling in Canada

 

You will want to explore all the amazing things this vast country offers. Again, budget for these when you’re considering the cost of studying in Canada. To help you decide whether studying in Canada is going to be financially possible for you, here are some examples of costs for some of the things mentioned above:

 

Accommodation

 

Living on-campus can be a cheaper option as the cost includes all utilities and internet connection. Private rental is more expensive if you choose to live alone, but if you share a house or a flat with others, this could be a better option. Sharing the cost of rent and utilities makes private rentals more affordable for many students. 

Living with a host family is also a good alternative to on-campus or private rental. Homestay costs can include all meals and utilities, and you have the added benefit of living in a family environment. 

 

Accommodation

On-campus

CAD 250-625 per month

Private rental

CAD  750 –2200 per month

Utilities

CAD 200 per month*

Homestay

CAD 800 –1200  per month

*Depends on the city. Above-average cost for Ontario.

 

Other living costs

Here’s an overall view of other living costs you should consider. As above, these costs vary from city to city. It’s a good idea to apply for an International Student Identification card as this may give you additional discounts on your university student card.

 

Cost

Average Cost per month

Notes

Food (19–30-year-old)

CAD 269 – 308

 CAD 3,230 ­- 3,700 per year

 

Transport pass

 CAD 84 – 128

cost varies depending on the city

TCC - Toronto; Winnipeg;

Mobile phone contract

CAD 28 – 55

With the leading network providers in Canada – Fido, Koodo, and Virgin.  

Health insurance

CAD 75

Example of health plan cost at British Colombia University

Eating out

CAD 20 - 35

 

Gym  membership

CAD 15-49

 

Cinema ticket – one adult

CAD 11-13

 

 

 

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of the costs you need to consider. If you feel that these costs are out of reach for you, there may be scholarships you can apply for.

 

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What are the post-study and career options?

 

A significant reason why many international postgraduate students choose Canada is the post-study opportunities on offer in the country. Canada is considered to have one of the most favourable post-study work permit schemes of any major study destination. You can qualify for a three-year stay in the country if you have graduated from a designated learning institution with a recognised qualification. To qualify for a post-study work permit (PGWP) you must meet the following criteria:

 

  • A valid study permit. You should apply for a PGWP within 180 days of completing your qualification.
    • If you are unable to apply in time, you can apply for a visitor record or apply for your PGWP outside of Canada.
  • Submit the details of your programme, including the name and length, and where you studied it.
  • Your course or qualification must have been longer than eight months.
  • Your qualification must have led to a certificate, diploma, or degree.
  • You must have maintained full-time study status.

 *Allowances have been made for studies affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • You must graduate from an institution authorised to award degrees, known as a designated learning institution.
  • You may still be eligible for a PGWP in cases of distance learning, accelerated programmes, university transfers, or have taken leave from your studies.

 

While a PGWP is the most common route for international students to take after graduation, there are other work permits that you may qualify for. These are open work permits or employer-specific work permits. Both have specific terms and conditions attached to them. The Canadian government has a useful quiz that you can take to see if you are eligible for either of these permits.

 

When it comes to finding work in Canada, much will depend on what you have studied for your master’s degree. Helpfully, the Canadian government has compiled what is known as the National Occupation Classification system that helps identify specific jobs and roles. These are based on the level of skill required to undertake the work. Higher skilled work is much more likely to lead to full-time employment opportunities and a route to immigration. The classification system is as follows:

 

Skill Level

Description

Role examples

Type Zero

Management roles

Restaurant manager, store manager, operations manager

Level A

Professional job

Doctor, engineer, dentist

Level B

Technical skills and trades

Plumber, builder, electrician

Level C

Intermediate work/service

Drivers, food processing

Level D

Labour intensive

Cleaning, agriculture

 

Canada is always looking for eligible graduates with Level A and Type zero skills. This forms part of the Skilled Worker Programme that can assist in fast-tracking immigration if you are looking to stay in Canada after studying. Some of the key industries and roles that are in demand include:

 

  • Healthcare management 
  • Dentistry 
  • Medical doctors 
  • Nurses 
  • Healthcare professionals
  • Information technology specialists 
  • Agricultural experts 
  • Finance and banking 
  • Business analysts and managers 
  • Architects 
  • Statisticians 
  • Veterinarians 

 

As you can see, there are many disciplines that you can choose to specialise in for your master’s degree if you’re interested in working in Canada. Further, long term economic prospects for the country look good, with the economy predicted to grow at between four and six per cent annually over the next five years. 

 

Armed with your new knowledge on postgraduate study in Canada, you can find the right master’s degree using our course matcher.

 

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