International degree-seeking students prefer globally acknowledged universities mainly because of their high-quality education system. But apart from that alone, students often choose institutions that offer study programs lectured in their preferred language of instruction. Students across the globe prefer English-taught degree programs favoring institutions belonging to Anglosphere countries. As one of the core countries, Canada is among the favorites of international students. Despite being an English-speaking country, Canada has two official languages: English and French. Particularly in the province of Quebec, French is the primary language and, at the same time, the medium of instruction in education. Hence, this bilingual country attracts more students worldwide.

In addition, these universities and institutions offer a massive selection of study programs from a broad spectrum of academic disciplines. The number of international students enrolling at the postgraduate level rapidly increases yearly. As a result, admissions to master’s programs have become more challenging. Student aspirants and professionals considering higher education in the country, especially for industry-specific study programs, must have an outstanding student or professional portfolio to have a high chance of admission.

All international students have to go through a particular admission process, and there is no really easy way to get admitted. This article has narrowed down some essential pointers for applying for a master’s program in Canada. The following guidelines and necessary information will help students plan for their postgraduate studies.

Master’s Degree Admission Requirements

In applying for a master’s program in Canada, entry requirements vary. Academic and admission requirements will depend heavily on the student’s chosen study program. But as a general ruling, universities across the country will ask for standard requirements common among students. Here are some essential documents to acquire when planning to pursue a postgraduate study in Canada.

A bachelor’s degree is the most important document an international student must obtain upon applying for a master’s program. In Canada, however, an undergraduate degree does not mean that students are automatically admitted to a postgraduate program. Since the country is famous among international students, Canadian universities are often flooded with many applications coming from around the globe. As a result, international students have to undergo a steep admission process. A bachelor’s degree backed with above satisfactory grade score will have a high chance of admission.

Aside from the academic requirements, another essential requirement a foreign student must possess is to provide proof of English proficiency. The majority of universities and institutions only accept the two widely preferred certificates: IELTS and TOEFL certificates. For students who choose to study in French, proof of language proficiency will be required aside from the English language certificate.

Language Proficiency Tests Needed for Master’s Studies

English and French are the official languages in Canada. In higher education, the medium of instruction used in major parts of the country is English, while the French language is used mainly in Quebec.

Quebec’s schools are primarily French-language institutions; however, a few select schools offer degree programs entirely lectured in English or combine English and French languages. The same applies in some schools outside Quebec, where a handful of study programs are taught in French and English. The student’s preference for the medium of instruction will significantly depend on the university’s location and their fluency in the language.

One of the top Canadian universities that warmly welcomes international students is McGill University. It is one of the few renowned universities located in Montreal, Quebec, that offers study programs lectured in English. Students, however, can be allowed to submit their thesis and research papers in the French language upon certain requests. Since it is an English-language university, non-native English students must provide proof of language proficiency as part of the entry requirements. The university only acknowledges three certificates: TOEFL with a minimum score of 86 and requiring a score of 20 points or more for each of four components, IELTS with a minimum band score of 6.5, and the institution’s own McGill Certificate of Proficiency in English. The scores stated are only minimum standard accepted scores. This may vary depending on the study program.

The Université de Montréal is ideal for francophone students to continue a postgraduate degree. It is an internationally recognized university and highly ranked institution in Canada. This French-language university offers a wide range of master’s degree programs ranging from Law, Life Sciences, Social Sciences, Information Technology, and Arts and Music. Since most of its study programs are lectured in French, students need to provide proof of proficiency in the language, such as TEF (French Evaluation Test) or equivalent. Some courses are taught in English or another language, so students also need to demonstrate a good command of the required language.

Check Also: Canada Programs for International Students

Master’s Degree Application Process

Applying for a master’s program in Canada can be demanding. Many international students are coming in and out of the country, and it is gradually increasing every year. Prospective students are encouraged to plan and prepare the necessary documentation ahead of time to avoid unnecessary shortcomings.

Here are the following important steps in applying for a postgraduate program in Canada.

Step 1. Choosing the Right Master’s Program and University/Institution

Canada has countless study programs and globally acknowledged universities and institutions. International degree-seeking students are encouraged to do thorough research when looking for a suitable school and master’s program. Students can check the Designated Learning Institution List (DLI) for the list of schools that are legally allowed to operate in Canada.

Moreso, students enrolled in master’s programs are usually working professionals. It is essential to check if the chosen school has the option to study full-time or part-time. This is also a rather important point to ensure since many postgraduate students pursue completing a postgraduate program while working.

Step 2. Planning Your Study and Living Costs and Scholarship Opportunities

Studying abroad can be costly, especially in a developed country like Canada. But surprisingly, study costs in the country are more affordable than in other anglosphere countries, and even living costs are within the student’s means.

While most postgraduate students are working professionals and can afford to finance their studies, many students still need financial assistance. Fortunately, the Canadian government and universities are generous in awarding several scholarships to remarkable international students.

There are many scholarship opportunities for non-Canadian students. Some of the recognized scholarships are listed here. These grants will help fund qualified international students.

Step 3. Applying for a University and Institution of Choice

Once students have found a suitable degree program and university in Canada, the next essential and crucial step is to apply to the university of choice. Remember that every school and study program will require a different set of admission requirements, so contact the school’s Admission Office for additional information.

Furthermore, it is important to apply in advance, provide complete requirements, and meet the university deadlines to avoid disqualification.

Step 4. Apply for a Study Permit (If Applicable for International Students)

Admitted international students will receive a letter of acceptance from the university they have applied for. Once the school has formally accepted them into their program, students must check if they need to apply for a student permit to Canada. A detailed process can be viewed here.

Generally, most foreign students must apply for a student permit; however, certain individuals are exempted from applying. Students who are family or staff of foreign representatives to Canada, a member of foreign armed forces, registered Indians in Canada, and temporary residents taking French language and culture courses are not required to apply for a student permit.

Aside from the standard student permit requirements, it is compulsory for international students enrolled in any Quebec institution to submit an additional Quebec Acceptance Certificate. The local government will provide such a document.

Step 5. Apply for a Visa and Prepare Necessary Documentation Before Arrival in Canada

Not all foreign students are required to apply for a visa. It is advised to check in with the Canadian embassy where the student is currently residing if necessary to obtain such.

International students must carefully plan and prepare essential documents before coming to Canada. Be sure that accommodations, health insurance, flight itinerary, important documents, and cash must be planned out accordingly. In addition, students must be mindful of travel information before flying out to Canada to avoid unnecessary dilemmas.

The University of British Columbia has a very straightforward admission process for international students. Assuming students have chosen a study program at the university, the next step is to check if they are eligible for the program. Students are responsible for checking if they meet the following criteria: minimum requirements (bachelor’s degree and maintained average grade score), English Proficiency Test, and other tests required by the program such as GRE, GMAT, etc. Once eligible for the study program, they can now apply through this website. Students must submit complete documents before the application deadline to avoid disqualification. Upon completing the application, all documents will be assessed and evaluated. Since the school receives many applications, prospective students are requested to be patient and refrain from frequently asking for their application status. Decisions are usually made during February and March.

Another renowned university that offers a wide range of postgraduate programs to international students is the University of Alberta. The application process for their graduate programs is simplified into three easy steps. First, students must decide which master’s program they will pursue. The next step is completing the application requirements and contacting the department handling the study program. It is important to contact the department for additional information, such as the application deadline and other program-specific requirements. And lastly, apply online. Students should ensure that all details in the online application must be completely filled up and all documents are submitted. A non-refundable application fee of 135 Canadian dollars will be collected upon the application process.


We hope that this article on how to study Master’s in Canada was helpful! Make sure also to check out the Available Programs for International Students!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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