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.

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EduCanada: Five Steps to Studying in Canada

Are you interested in studying in Canada, but don’t know where to begin? 

Here are five easy steps you can follow to make your dream a reality. 

Step one: Find a world-class school or program.

At EduCanada.ca, you can find key information to help you decide which of Canada’s world-class schools and programs you’d like to choose for your studies.

Our website has information about elementary schools, high schools, colleges and universities, and language schools. 

Before you choose a school, think about where you want to live while you study.

Do you prefer small, welcoming rural communities or large vibrant cities? Maybe something in between?

Once you know which schools or programs interest you, contact each school for more information about their program and admission requirements.  

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

Studying in Canada is an affordable option compared to other countries where school fees for college and university are often higher.

At EduCanada.ca, you can use our "Search colleges and universities" online tool to find programs across Canada and to compare school fees. 

This tool also gives you an idea of the cost of food, housing, transportation and health insurance.

These costs will vary depending on where you choose to study in Canada.

We also have a database of scholarships, fellowships and other opportunities to help you find ways to pay for your studies.

Another way to cover some of your education and living expenses is to work.

Remember that while you’re studying full time in Canada, you may also be able to work up to 20 hours a week and on your school breaks. 

Step three: Apply to a school that interests you.

When you apply, the school or a designated third party may check your qualifications.

They may do this by looking at your report card, or academic transcripts, academic credentials, or skills.

They will tell you which documents to send them and what to do next.

Step four: Apply to study in Canada.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (or IRCC) is a government department that handles immigration to Canada.

This includes permits and visas for international students. 

When you receive an acceptance letter from your school, you may apply to IRCC for a study permit.

Visit the IRCC website to find the application package.

If IRCC approves your application, they will ask you to send in your passport.

They will put a visa in your passport and send it back to you, along with a letter of introduction. Keep the letter in your passport.

When you travel to Canada, show your passport and letter of introduction to a Canadian Border Services officer. If the officer accepts the documents you present, you will receive your permit at the border.

Canadian Border Services Agency (or CBSA) is a government department that handles border control, immigration enforcement, and customs services in Canada. 

Before you enter Canada, be sure to find out from CBSA what the requirements are to travel to Canada and to cross the Canadian border. 

Step five: Get ready to come to Canada.

Now that you have done most of the work, it’s time to pack your bags!  

Here’s a checklist to help you prepare for your journey: 

Check travel information about entry into Canada.

Buy your airline ticket to your Canadian destination. 

Check how many bags you are allowed to bring and what the rules are at customs.   

Find out what kind of travel and health insurance you need.

When it comes to your important documents, be sure to make copies to leave at home, scan documents to send to your email address, and bring original documents with you. This includes: 

  • the letter of acceptance from your school, 
  • any documents your school asked you to bring, 
  • and your medical and immunization records. 

Also bring a small amount of Canadian cash. Consider setting up a Canadian bank account and credit card as soon as you arrive.

Decide whether you want to live on-campus or off-campus. Your school can help you find accommodation options. 

Congratulations! You’re all set for your adventure. We look forward to welcoming you as you begin your studies in Canada.

For more information about studying in Canada, visit educanada.ca.


EduCanada: Five Steps to Studying in Canada

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