Two young women holding hands next to Canadian flags in the mountains in Whistler, British Columbia

Top 5 steps to study in Canada

Want to join the hundreds of thousands of international students that have made Canada their study destination? We’d love to welcome you! Whether you’re studying in person or online, here are the five steps to get started.

On this page:

Step 1: Find a world-class school or program

Canada is a land of endless possibilities. Start by doing your research to find the schools or programs that are the right fit for you. Consider where you’d like to live in Canada’s provinces and territories. Across the country, you can choose from small, welcoming rural communities and large vibrant cities.

You can search college and university programs in Canada with our search tool or find information about:

Each province and each school in Canada sets their own admission requirements. For more information about programs and admission requirements, contact the school directly.

Step 2: Make a budget and find out how to pay for your studies

Studying in Canada is an affordable option. School fees for college and university are generally lower than fees in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.[1]

You can use our search tool to search and compare tuition and living costs for different college and university programs across Canada. Depending on where you choose to study, your costs will be different. To help prepare your budget, use the search tool to get cost estimates for:

  • food
  • housing
  • transportation
  • health insurance

There are different ways to help finance your studies, such as:

Learn more about study costs for international students in Canada.

Step 3: Apply to a school

When applying to your chosen school, be sure to provide accurate information and the requested documents. Your school will tell you which documents you need and the next steps to follow. Keep in mind that the application fee will vary for each institution. Be sure to apply well in advance.

Your school or a designated third party may check your credentials and qualifications. You may be asked to provide documents such as your:

  • report card
  • transcripts
  • academic credentials

Step 4: Apply to study in Canada

Once your school gives you your letter of acceptance, you will need to find out:

  1. if you need a study permit from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)
  2. if you can get your study permit faster through the Student Direct Stream
  3. how to get your documents ready and apply online with IRCC

Note: If you will be studying in Quebec, you may also need to get a Quebec Acceptance Certificate from the government of Quebec before you apply for a study permit. 

Once IRCC approves your application, they will ask you to send them your passport. They will send it back to you with your permit along with a letter of introduction.

When you travel to Canada, bring this letter with you and show it at the Canada Border Services officer. If you have been approved, the officer will then give you your study permit.

Alert: To limit the spread of coronavirus in Canada, travel restrictions are in place across all border crossings. Before making plans to study in person:

If you’re unable to come study in person, online learning may be the right choice for you. Many Canadian schools offer strong online and distance learning options. You can still study top programs, connect with teachers, make friends and grow your network.

Step 5: Get ready to come to Canada

We’re looking forward to welcoming you! Now, prepare for your journey:

  • Arrange your housing and accommodations
  • Find out what kind of travel and health insurance you need
  • Book your flight(s) and find out about baggage limits and customs rules
  • Bring a small amount of Canadian or US cash
  • Download the ArriveCan mobile app and provide mandatory travel information before your flight
  • Make sure you have all documents you need to bring with you, such as:
    • the letter of acceptance from your school
    • medical and immunization records
    • any documents your school asks you to bring

Find out what else you need to do in the going to Canada checklist.

[1] QS Top Universities