Every year, thousands of students come to Canada to study in a variety of postsecondary and higher-education institutions. They acquire valuable skills and knowledge, as well as the enriching experience of living and studying in a new and different environment. When they return home, these students expect that their newly acquired skills and knowledge will be recognized for purposes of further study or for practising their chosen profession or trade.
Ensuring that the Canadian program or institution you select will meet your objectives will help you to avoid a potential loss of time and money. Before seeking admission to a Canadian university, college, school, or other type of postsecondary or higher-education institution, it is important to have answers to a number of questions:
- Will the studies I would like to pursue at a Canadian institution allow me to reach my goals?
It is advised that you enquire with the competent authorities (e.g., professional organizations, higher-education institutions, government bodies, regulatory agencies governing professions) about the recognition of foreign studies in your country or in the country where you intend to continue your studies or to practise your profession. While no authority can guarantee acceptance of a foreign degree or credentials, it is a good idea to verify the probable value of such a credential before seeking admission to a university, college, or school (in Canada or elsewhere).
- How do I find the program/institution that interests me?
A number of provinces and territories, as well as membership associations, maintain databases of the programs offered by their institutions. Some provinces also provide a centralized on-line registration system for prospective international students. We list all such resources at http://www.cicic.ca/679/postsecondary-programs.canada.
Our Directory of Universities, Colleges and Schools in the Provinces and Territories of Canada, at http://www.cicic.ca/395/directory-of-universities-colleges-and-schools.canada, lists Canada's recognized, authorized, registered, and licensed institutions, with links to their Web sites, program listings, and information for international students, when available.
The Imagine Education au/in Canada Web site, a joint initiative of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC), and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), at http://www.educationau-incanada.ca/, contains information about study programs, visa requirements, and more.
The nearest Canadian diplomatic mission (embassy or consulate) in your country can also assist you in your search.
- Is the institution/program I chose recognized in Canada?
What is recognition? In Canada, education is the responsibility of provincial and territorial governments. Provincial legislation gives universities the right to operate as degree-granting institutions and regulates the establishment of colleges.
To verify whether an institution is recognized or authorized to grant degrees, diplomas, or certificates, consult our Directory of Universities, Colleges and Schools in the Provinces and Territories of Canada, at http://www.cicdi.ca/395/directory-of-universities-colleges-and-schools-in-canada.canada.
Which are the best universities in Canada? There is no formal ranking of universities and colleges in Canada. In fact, it is widely recognized that, across the country, postsecondary programs are remarkably uniform in quality. For a more in-depth study of recognition and accreditation procedures in Canada, see our publication Quality Assurance Practices for Postsecondary Institutions in Canada.
Designated learning institution for international students: To apply for a study permit on or after June 1, 2014 for programs of study of six months or more, you will need to identify a designated learning institution. Read about changes to the International Student Program before you apply for a study permit.
Distance education: Many Canadian universities and colleges offer courses and programs on-line. This means you can get a head start on a Canadian education before coming to Canada by taking one or two on-line courses. If you are not able to come to Canada, you can earn a recognized Canadian degree, diploma, or certificate without leaving home. More information about on-line and distance education is available at http://www.cicic.ca/668/online-and-distance-education.canada.
- What do I do once I have decided to enroll in a program at a Canadian institution?
IMPORTANT: The admission application process can take considerable time; you should start at least one year in advance to compile the necessary information and documentation.
How to get your credentials assessed: Once you have decided which universities or colleges you wish to apply to for admission, you should write directly to the institution's office of admissions (for undergraduate and college programs) or office of graduate admissions (for graduate programs) and ask for detailed application information and forms. The office of admissions will inform you of the documentation, translation, and visa requirements. The institution's decision is usually announced four to six months after the application deadline, although this can vary from one institution to another.
In some jurisdictions, applications can be submitted electronically. Visit the following Web sites for more information:
Alberta: Alberta Learning Information Service - Electronic Application Service
British Columbia: Post-Secondary Application Service of British Columbia (PASBC)
Ontario Universities Application Centre: http://www.ouac.on.ca/
Ontario Colleges Application Service: http://www.ontariocolleges.ca/
Montreal region: http://www.sram.qc.ca/
Quebec City region: http://www.sraq.qc.ca/
Saguenay/Lac St-Jean region: http://www.srasl.qc.ca/
Language requirements: Most institutions in Canada require demonstration of proficiency in their language of instruction (either English or French), usually through the achievement of a certain minimum score in a standardized language test. You should confirm the details of the language requirement with the office of admissions of the university or college to which you are applying.
Study permits: It is advised that you contact the nearest Canadian visa office (embassy or consulate) in your country for information about entry requirements. You can obtain information about student authorizations on Citizenship and Immigration Canada's Web site, at http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/study/index.asp. To apply for a study permit on or after June 1, 2014 for programs of study of six months or more, you will need to have a letter of acceptance from a designated learning institution. Read about changes to the International Student Program before you apply for a study permit.
Cost of education: The Imagine Education au/in Canada Web site, a joint initiative of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC), and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), at http://www.educationau-incanada.ca/, will help you to calculate the cost of studying in Canada. It also contains information about study programs, visa requirements, and more.
- Financial assistance
You should contact the government of your country of citizenship or the financial aid office of the university or college you wish to attend to obtain information about scholarships and other award opportunities. You can find more information about academic exchange and financial aid programs for permanent residents and foreign students at http://www.cicic.ca/389/student-financial-assistance.canada.
Working while studying in Canada: You may be able to work on or off campus in Canada while you are here as a student. There may also be limited employment opportunities for graduate students, such as teaching assistantships or research assistantships; if you are studying for a master's degree or a Ph.D., you may be able to work at your institution as a teaching or research assistant. You should enquire about this possibility when you apply for admission. Consult the Studying in Canada: Work permits for students site, at http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/study/work.asp, for details.
The Canadian Experience Class: Once you have graduated from a Canadian postsecondary institution, you may apply to stay in Canada permanently. Consult the Canadian Experience Class: Who can apply – Requirements for graduates Web site, at http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/immigrate/cec/index.asp, for more information.
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