First of all, this article is a guide for students interested in undertaking Postgraduate (Masters, Research and PhD) studies in Canada. General survey has proven that one out of every three graduates in Africa desire to study in Canada which necessitated this article.
Ranked amongst the top 10 countries since 2004 in the Quality of Life Index by the United Nations, Canada is known for its excellent education institutions, multiplicity of top quality education programs in various streams and an innovative economy that welcomes international students with open arms.
Canada is a territory of diverse people, lifestyles and majestic landscapes, and is one of the safest destinations for pursuing education. It’s bilingual nature makes it a multicultural country with easy access to education and affordable living, it’s no wonder thousands of international students flock to Canada each year to study in Canada.
Why Study in Canada?
Canada boasts of having high academic standards and rigorous quality controls which means that a candidate will be gaining top research skills and quality education that will benefit their career over the long term. It has also been ranked #1 by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for its achievements in higher education.
More than 150,000 international students troop in year after year to study graduate programs in Canada, looking to take advantage of the country’s reputation for high quality teaching and reasonable tuition costs. A Canadian degree, diploma or certificate is globally recognized as being equivalent to those obtained from the United States, UK or any European country.
Moreover, a number of Canadian institutions are involved in international research partnerships to study and address major world issues.
An added advantage of studying in Canada is the ‘Walk Safe’ programs that help people access public transportation during late hours.
In Canada, higher education is the responsibility of provincial and territorial governments, unlike other countries which make education a centralised affair with a Ministry of Education body. In each province and territory there are laws, policies and procedures that govern the operation of post-secondary institutions.
Postgraduate degrees last between one and three years to complete. Masters degree usually lasts for one year while PhD lasts for three years to five years. Different types of higher education providers in Canada include: community colleges; technical, applied arts or applied science schools (which grant certificates, diplomas, associate’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees); or universities (which carry out research and provide both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees).
How to apply for Masters: You can apply to study in Canada from one year before the start date. You should apply by March at the latest for the September intake, although if you’re applying for a popular course, apply earlier than this to optimize your chances of success. There’s usually a second intake in January or February of each year.
There are two important requirements for international students applying to study in Canada: language proficiency and sufficient finances. Both English and French are spoken in Canada, with the latter being the official language throughout the Québec province, and Canadian universities offer courses in both tongues. If you’re not a native speaker, you may need to submit proof of proficiency in the language you intend to study in.
How to apply for PhD: Although the admissions process vary between Canadian universities, there are very fundamental steps to take to apply for a PhD. As an international student, decide which PhD course you’d like to apply for, identifying your supervisor and chosen research topic. You may also be required to outline what you want to research, and why it is a worthwhile project. Then apply online, providing the necessary documents including Language Proficiency results. Some Canadian universities may also ask you to attend an admission interview.
Once accepted, the next step is to apply for your study permit, which acts as your student visa for your stay. You should also take out health insurance, and check your university’s website for orientation advice.
A study permit is not needed if you want to take short-term courses or programs of study of six months or less. You may enrol in short-term programs at any learning institution, regardless of whether or not it is designated. To study in Canada for longer than six months, you’ll need to gain a Canadian study permit. This will be your visa for the duration of your stay. Depending on your nationality, you may also need to obtain a temporary residence permit, which can be processed at the same time as your study permit application.
Whether or not you need a permit, everyone must provide:
- Acceptance from a university or educational institution in Canada.
- Ability to pay tuition fees, living expenses and return fares to their home country.
- Satisfy health requirements.
It is normally also necessary to demonstrate that you have adequate study abroad travel insurance, which you must buy before you travel.
In general, tuition fees in Canada are less expensive compared to other major Anglophone destinations (the US, UK and Australia), but still higher than most other countries. Average Program fees for postgraduate degree in Canada vary but are often between CA$10000 – $15000. Medicine and other related courses are understandably more expensive.
The Commonwealth scholarship is one source of funding for Canadian universities at the post-graduate level (for Masters in Canada) but is restricted to a very limited number of students of exceedingly high intellectual promise who live in Commonwealth countries. There are different forms of funding for study in Canada.
A large number of scholarships are offered for PhD and Masters study in Canada. Many of these scholarships are provided by the government. The Canadian government funds researches, PhD and Masters scholarships. Other sources of funding is from universities and public institutions:
- Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships: The Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships program funded by the Government, provides funding of $70,000 per year to the very best postdoctoral applicants, both nationally and internationally, who will positively contribute to the country’s economic, social and research-based growth.
- CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars Programme: The CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars program provides funding of $100,000 and support to help early career researchers build networks and essential skills to position them as leaders and agents of change within academia and beyond. Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, a Canadian-based global organization, brings together more than 400 researchers from 16 countries who are pursuing answers to some of the most difficult challenges facing the world.
- Visiting Scholarships for Students in India and Commonwealth Countries in Africa: The Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarships (www.queenelizabethscholars.ca) aim to activate a dynamic community of young global leaders across the Commonwealth to create lasting impacts at both home and abroad through inter-cultural exchanges encompassing international education, discovery and inquiry, and professional experiences.
- University of Winnipeg President’s Scholarship: University of Winnipeg scholarships are given to international students who are entering any of the University’s divisions for the first time – Undergraduate, Graduate, Collegiate, Professional, Applied and Continuing Education (PACE) or English Language Program (ELP). Applicants must be involved in activities that demonstrate leadership.
- Québec Government Canada Doctoral Research Scholarships: The Doctoral Research Scholarships Program for Foreign Students (DE) of the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et les technologies (FRQNT) aims to stimulate international student’s interest in beginning or pursuing doctoral studies in Québec and provide financial support to leading international Ph.D. candidates in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering fields.
Working and Living in Canada
For Part-time work, all full-time students with a valid study permit are allowed to work part-time on or off campus for up to 20 hours per week during university semesters and full time during semester breaks. However, some courses may stipulate that students don’t work for more than 10 hours per week during term time – particularly if said student has been granted funding to study in Canada. It’s also important to consider that your PhD will take up a considerable amount of time and challenging work, so you might prefer to focus entirely on your studies. Also, it’s not advised to rely on part-time work to fund your living expenses.
After graduation, a student may apply for the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP) which allows one to stay and gain valuable work experience for a maximum of three years. To become a permanent resident, this post-graduation work experience helps you to qualify to apply for permanent residency in Canada via Express Entry.
You’ll need a Social Insurance Number to work in Canada and to receive any government services. You can apply for a SIN by submitting your application to a local Service Canada Centre after arriving in Canada. To work in the French Province of Quebec, a Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ) may be needed from the Quebec government.
Some positions although they do need a work permit, do not need confirmation from the HRSDC.
Living in Canada is in many respects the same as living in other Western countries, with a very high standard of living. However it is relatively cheaper than countries like the US and UK.
The Canadian currency is the Canadian Dollar. 1 USDollar is equal to 1.35 CADollar.
Universities in Canada and their location
Not all universities in Canada offer a wide array of Graduate programs in a number of academic areas to international students. Here are well-known universities which provide graduate/research degrees to international students, listed with their provinces:
- University of Alberta
- University of Calgary
- University of Lethbridge
- DeVry University
- University of New Brunswick
- Universitie de Moncton (French)
- Dalhousie University
- Saint Mary’s University (Halifax)
- McGill University (English)
- Concordia University (English)
- University of Montreal (French)
- University of Manitoba
- University of Winnipeg
- Universite de Saint-Boniface
- Canadian Mennonite University
- Algonquin College
- Brock University
- Carleton University (Ottawa)
- McMaster University (Hamilton)
- Mohawk College
- Queen’s University (Kingston and Herstmonceux)
- Ryerson University (Toronto)
- University of Guelph
- University of Ottawa
- University of Toronto
- University of Waterloo
- University of Western Ontario (London)
- University of Windsor
- York University (Toronto)
- Wilfrid Laurier University
- Simon Fraser University (Burnaby/ Vancouver/ Surrey)
- University of British Columbia (Vancouver)
- University of Victoria
- Royal Roads University (Victoria)