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Studying in CanadaHow to Choose a University in Canada

How to Choose a University in Canada

There are a lot of aspects one should consider before finding the right tertiary institution in just any country abroad. Leaving your home and moving to an unknown environment might be quite of a challenge. The process of picking a university should be accompanied by a lot of research and recommendations, therefore this article will be your rescue door and include the must-taken steps on how to find the right university in Canada.

The good news is that Canada boasts a range of undergraduate and postgraduate programs and you will easily get to pick your major.  If you already know your preferred major, then it will not be a problem for you to start hunting for the proper university. 

Here’s what you need to know on how to choose a university in Canada: 

Tuition Fees 

When you are looking to enroll in a Canadian university, you will face differential fees, which means there is a difference between the tuition fees of domestic and international students. The cost of studying in Canada will also have some differences depending on the provinces. 

International students generally have to pay differential tuition in any country, so Canada is no expectation. The universities of Canada have put a higher tuition fee for international students since they are publicly funded by taxpayer dollars and the domestic tuition is subsidized for citizens and PRs. International students have the opportunity of working part-time, which is a bonus when it comes to paying for books, living expenses, and housing.  

The overall average of tuition fees for international students differs from one program to another. You can check the table below that shows the average tuition fee (in Canadian dollars) of the few most frequented programs for international students. 

The Average International Tuition Fees by Field of Study

Field of Study  Undergraduate Graduate
Humanities $28,676 $13,667
Education $20,875 $15,764
MBA $30,400 $38,950
Engineering $33,703 $19,301
Medicine $32,450 N/A


Yet another important aspect of choosing a university in Canada is its location. The North of America is a broad region, and you have to narrow your choices. First, make sure to decide in which province would you have to relocate yourself. Check the map online and see where you’re going to head to and where exactly is the campus of the university. It is more than possible that universities in Canada have more than one campus. Additionally, make sure you have looked for accommodation. If it’s far from campus, you will have to calculate the cost of transportation or maybe consider student residences on the campus.  


Many of the universities in Canada will offer international students the chance to virtually visit campuses. Each campus will have its own vibe and culture, and you will just see if your values align with those of the campus. Being part of a campus that hosts a cafeteria and a library will enhance your study experience. Libraries are a must, as you will be spending most of your time with books and other study materials. A vital tip is to ask people you’ll encounter across the quad or better make an appointment with an alumnus and discuss the insights of the conditions and activities of the campus.

Scholarship Opportunities

If you are an international student on the hunt for scholarships to study in Canada, you will find numerous scholarship opportunities. Most of the scholarships are offered by Canadian governments, foreign governments, non-governmental organizations as well as international organizations. If you intend to apply for a university scholarship, it is best to contact the financial aid office of that Canadian university. It is important to recall some of the key requirements, as most scholarships are based on academic merit. However, you should do plenty of research to find out what kinds of scholarship programs are offered. 

Program Curriculum

Consider the whole curriculum of your program before you end the process of the university application. The lessons and academic content offered in a specific study program will follow you down the completion of the study semester or even the study year. When you read the study program, you will understand what knowledge and skills you will be expected to learn. 

As you go through it, you will get familiar with the learning standards as well as learning objectives. In many cases, you will get a clear understanding of the books, materials, videos, presentations, and readings you will need in a course. In a curriculum, you may also understand the school’s academic requirements for graduation, such as the courses you have to pass, the number of credits you must complete, and other requirements.

Hands-on Experience 

Learning theory is one thing, but being able to practice the knowledge you have gained is proof that you have acquired that knowledge. When picking a university, check if it offers internships, workshops, or co-ops. There are some universities that have designed programs to prepare you for a successful career. Through hands-on learning, you will also gain valuable practice handling real-life situations and be able to make precise and appropriate decisions. Since ancient times, we have learned the importance of experience, as Caesar’s famous quote goes “experience is the best teacher”. 

Accommodation Options

Housing is one of the most important aspects that you as an international student should deeply consider before choosing a university. It will predetermine the social activities you will engage in, among other things. 

University halls of residence will make a budget-friendly accommodation option since the university will be around the corner so you won’t have to worry about commuting for lectures. Other types of accommodation will ask you for a bigger budget, for example, if you want your own living space outside the context of the university, a private house or private halls will be the appropriate choice. In case you pick any of these last two options, it is important to find out what is included in your rent. Another less widespread option is family stays, where you will live in a vacant room which is offered by local families. 

Student Population 

The student population is closely related to the university’s prestige, in fact, the more and better students an institution can enroll, the more its prestige grows. Before you decide on a university make sure you have checked the university’s student population. It is a strong indication that the university stands out from the rest and is the chosen one. Additionally, if the student population is diverse, you will be guaranteed a multicultural setting, a place where you can challenge your beliefs, and become more open-minded. Having a large and diverse student population indicates that the institution values the variation in the student body as well as local demographic characteristics.

University Ranking 

There are many reasons that lead you to choose a good university, one of them is being highly ranked. However, this is said in terms of comparing one university to another. It’s a personal responsibility of each student to investigate deeper about the university, besides its ranking. You can also consider how many alumni donators they have or how do other institutions perceive them. One of the advantages you get from the university’s ranking is that you understand which programs are the most selected and prestigious. When you come across a university ranking system you have to look out for the methodology used when listing universities. That university ranking should be just an initial factor when it comes to finding the right fit for you. 

Student Reviews 

Reading reviews is one of the most reliable practices when it comes to finding out which is the best option, for almost anything. The same practice should be followed by anyone who wishes to pick the best university and the program that suits them. Searching out and reading reviews written by students and graduates will play an essential role in helping you decide on the university and study program. International students reviews that you will read on different portals are all personal assessments that students and alumni have left. Such reviews are done through star ratings and text descriptions. The reason why student reviews are so important is that information put out there tends to be realistic and those students have really been sincere. Thus, leaving you with confidence when picking a university. 


After you have narrowed down the list of prospective universities, there comes the admission process and university requirements in Canada. The first and most important requirement for direct entry to a degree at a university in Canada is proof of language proficiency. Universities in Canada continue to ask international students for a number of documents, here are some of them: 

  • Excellent Academic Scores
  • Study Permit
  • Scanned Copy of Passport 
  • English Language Proficiency Exam Score
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Resume 

Before choosing your university in Canada, make sure you have checked the requirements of the program you wish to study at that university. It is essential that you meet the requirements set by the university in order to gain admission, which is what makes this such an important part of your search for the perfect university in Canada.

When to Start Searching?

As the high school years go by, you surely have thought about the field of study that you wish to pursue. You have nothing to lose if you start the searching process a bit earlier, even if you are at the beginning or middle of your high school years. Just bear in mind that picking a college is a lifelong choice and it has to be well and thoroughly thought out. Make it a habit to visit and read the university’s website, check the deadlines, and follow their requirements as soon as you have decided on a specific program. You have to be fully committed to high school and getting the best from it, meaning achieving high grades and meeting the required criteria for admission to future Canadian colleges.

How to Prepare for Application?

Preparing your application to study in Canada seems like a full-time job, as you have to follow detailed instructions and submit the application on time. Learning the steps on how to apply for college in Canada will get you near the end of this process. Depending on the academic degree you want to achieve, you are asked for different documents. However, some of the most general ones are proof of language proficiency, academic transcripts, and proof of funds, among others. 

Related: A complete guide on how to prepare for application to study in Canada.

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