Studying in Canada: A Guide for International Students

By:Kathleen Legris

Each year, more than 130,000 international students enroll in Canadian high schools, colleges, and universities. With one of the most respected education systems in the world, new opportunities to gain work experience during and after studies, and permanent immigration options for international students who have graduated from post-secondary programs in Canada, the numbers are expected to rise over the next decade.

Secondary Schools: There are numerous public, private, and independent high schools in Canada that offer specific programs for international students. Students can choose to study intensive English, an integrated English and academic program, or with strong English language skills, an academic program that leads to a Canadian high school diploma.

Colleges and Universities: In the Canadian education system, which varies from province to province, colleges are geared towards individuals seeking applied careers, such as a chef or hotel management, while universities prepare individuals for more academic careers, or for entrance into graduate school or a professional program such as medicine, dentistry, pharmacy or law. The government subsidizes almost all Canadian post-secondary institutions, so entrance to some professional programs is limited to Canadian citizens or Permanent Residents.

Admission to any Canadian university or college requires completion of a high school diploma, such as the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD), or the foreign equivalent. Generally, students wishing to enter a Canadian university or college should have completed the course of studies that would make them eligible to enter university or college in their home country. Students whose first language is not English will also have to present results of an English Language Proficiency exam. Acceptable tests and scores will vary from institution to institution, so students should refer to individual colleges or universities for specific language requirements.

Master or Doctoral: As with other parts of the world, post-graduate schools in Canada are restricted to universities. Entrance to post-graduate programs will vary from university to university, and from department to department within each university. Masters and doctoral candidates should refer to the Graduate Studies Office of universities of interest for specific information.

There are numerous resources for international students thinking about studying in Canada. Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the agency responsible for issuing Study Permits and Work Permits, has a comprehensive website for international students. Organizations such as the CEC Network offer information and resources for students including costs, admission and Visa requirements, and cultural adjustment. Additionally, many schools, governments, and educational agents promote Study in Canada throughout the world through local visits, educational fairs, and internet campaigns.

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