Study in Canada: Process, Requirements and Costs

Canada is one of the most welcoming countries for immigrants. So much so that more than 20% of its population was born in another country. But Canada is not only an open country, it also boasts some of the most reputable educational institutions in the world and a lifestyle that is certainly an example for many countries.

These and many other reasons make Canada a perfect country to study in. And yes, it is true that studying in Canada is not as easy as studying in an EU country, but this guide will show you how to study in Canada and work, whether you want to study languages or at university. All without forgetting that the economic requirements can be a problem for a Spaniard, so some tricks to save money, how to apply for scholarships to study in Canada or accounts for people without borders looking to send or spend their money in another country, as is the case of Wise, will be unraveled.

How to Study in Canada

If you are looking to improve your English or attend a Canadian university, you should make a plan with enough time to achieve those goals. First of all, you should ask yourself what is driving you to study in Canada. It may be that you are a university student and want to do an exchange program for one or two semesters; that you want to study a degree, master's or doctorate there; or simply that you are looking to improve your English level and at the same time discover the Canadian culture.

Depending on your aspirations the entry requirements will be different, from the almost non-existent for language courses to the more demanding for some masters or doctoral programs. If you find a specific program that you would like to study, it is very likely that you will be required to have a good level of English, so in many cases it will not be possible to go with a beginner's level, especially to study at the university.

This demand in requirements also translates into economic requirements, since you will need sufficient income to pay the tuition of the courses and pay for your stay in Canada, something that will not be cheap at all. That is why in many cases one of the best options is to try to apply for a scholarship to study in Canada.

The education system in Canada

In Canada, education is compulsory in most provinces from the age of 6 to 16, although most students attend school until the age of 18 when they finish the course called K-12, because it is the 12th school year, and graduate from high school. As in Spain, the school year runs from September to June.

Although there is private education in Canada, more than 90% of the students study in public institutions, which are very independent from the state and have a lot of freedom in their programs. As for universities, there are more than 100 Canadian universities, many of which are among the most prominent in the world and are characterized by offering flexible programs with 3 to 4 year degree programs and 2 to 3 year graduate programs.

The exams are graded between 0 and 100 points. In order to pass it is necessary to obtain at least 70 points, the equivalent of a C grade, although great importance is given to classroom activities, reducing the importance of exams compared to models such as Spanish.

Requirements to study in Canada

The requirements and documentation needed to study in Canada depend largely on whether or not you are pursuing higher education studies.

Common requirements to study at a language school or university:
  • A passport valid for your period of stay.
  • Apply for a visa and pay the fees if you are studying at a university or your course lasts more than 6 months.
Requirements to enroll in a Canadian university (except in cases of university exchange):
  • Motivation letter about what motivates you to study.
  • Transcript of grades, degree or diploma
  • Certificate of sufficient financial resources to support yourself
  • Study one of the recognized courses at a Canadian university in one of the so-called Designated Learning Institutions (DLI).
  • Many universities require you to pass a test in the language of your classes (English or French), so you will need to take the IELTS, Cambridge English: Advanced or TOEFL for English language courses or the TEF, DALF, DELF, or TCF for French language courses.
  • Some universities may ask you to take additional general reasoning tests such as SAT, ACT or subject-specific tests, although this is rare.
  • Pay the registration fee of each university you apply to, which ranges from 100 to 250 Canadian dollars.
Study English in Canada

Although in the province of Quebec French is spoken as the first language and it is a perfect place to learn this interesting variety of the language, the main language of the country is English. If you want to visit Canada to study its language, one of the advantages is that if you take a course of less than 6 months you can enter with a tourist visa, although you will not be able to work to pay your expenses, contrary to what happens with the student visa.

Although 6 months are enough to get to know the country and improve your language skills if you study and practice enough, you can enroll in longer courses, although you will need a visa. To qualify for a visa you need to choose from one of the more than 225 institutions accredited by the Canadian government. Many online agencies will help you find a school and a job for an additional fee.

You can also learn English while doing farm work or other activities in exchange for room and board if you visit WWOOF, Workaway or HelpX. This will help you reduce expenses and also make it easier for you to interact with other Canadians or foreigners while helping local communities.

Studying at university in Canada

If you are currently studying at a Spanish university, it is very possible that they have an agreement to do an exchange program and study in Canada at a university for one or two semesters. In this case, it is best to go directly to the mobility section of your university.

If what you are looking for is to enroll directly in a Canadian university, you can consult the careers that you can access from the Canadian government website and find an undergraduate, graduate or master's degree program that fits your interests. Many of the selection requirements you have already been able to check in the requirements section of this guide, but the website of each institution or program of study should have the specific requirements and dates of enrollment for each course.

Although the level of education in Canada is high, its price is somewhat more reasonable than that of its American neighbor, since tuition for a semester is usually around 10,000 CAD, or about 20,000 CAD per year, although in the case of graduate and master's courses it can go much higher, depending on the type of studies.

Scholarships to study in Canada

In general, most scholarships to study in Canada are aimed at graduate students, although there are some exceptions. Most scholarships are awarded by the universities themselves, which you can check on the Scholars4dev website.

Here are some examples of scholarships to study in Canada at university:
  • Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship: a Canadian government program for graduate students that awards scholarships of 50,000 CAD per year for 3 years to top students.
  • Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships: scholarship awarding 70,000 CAD per year for 2 years to top students in health, engineering, natural sciences, social sciences or humanities.
  • York University Scholarships: York University offers current and prospective students financial aid that varies depending on the program of study.
  • Own programs: if you are enrolled in a Spanish university, check if they have an agreement with a Canadian university to be able to opt for exchange in this program with additional financial aid.
There are many more, so it is advisable to visit the universities' websites to see what financial aid they offer to students.

What are the advantages of studying and living in Canada?

Canada is a country with an outstanding level of education at a relatively competitive price whose inhabitants are friendly and welcoming to international visitors. Their quality of life is among the highest in the world and so are their salaries in case you need to work to cover expenses.

Moreover, if you decide to stay longer than a few months or a year in Canada, you will enjoy a long-term welfare state that guarantees assistance in the unlikely event that you cannot find a job, as well as a quality health service. And all surrounded by an environment of unparalleled beauty.

Although you have seen the possibilities to visit Canada as a tourist or with a student visa, there is also the popularly known as Working Holiday Canada, although its official name is International Experience Canada (IEC), which allows Spaniards between 18 and 35 years old the possibility to live in Canada for a year and work for as long as they wish. This will allow you to learn English, French, work or simply travel for 12 months to get to know the country and its culture. You have all the information about the Working Holiday Canada in the blog.

Tips to make the most of your studies abroad

Open an account to make and receive payments.

Although Canada has almost 100 different banks across the country, there are 5 major banks that dominate the sector: RBC, TD, Scotiabank, BMO, and CIBC. As in many countries, having a key sector dominated by so few banks makes pricing uncompetitive, especially in key transactions for foreigners such as currency conversion.

One of the best alternatives is Wise, which with its borderless account allows you to open an online account before leaving Spain with very low fees and an exchange rate with no hidden surcharge unlike most banks, which will greatly reduce the cost of fees. In addition, Wise has local data to receive deposits in Canadian dollars, US dollars, Australian dollars and other currencies such as pounds sterling and euros.

In any case, with Wise you will be able to convert between more than 50 currencies with the same good commissions in a totally safe way as it is a regulated service, so you will only have to worry about how to spend your money, not the cost of high commissions as with other services.

Get a local phone when you arrive

Although many people can get by without making any phone calls, many services today require validation through a phone number. In addition to this, it is also a useful service for doing all kinds of errands. Not to mention the need for more and more people to be permanently connected with a data plan.

That's why you probably want to hire a phone service that helps you stay connected and allows you to use a phone number when necessary. Currently the best priced plans and features are offered by Fizz, which gives 8 GB with unlimited calls and messages for 40 CAD and Public Mobile with 10 GB instead of 7 for 50 CAD. There are other operators that offer interesting plans from time to time, but they are generally more expensive. Such is the case of Virgin Mobile, Fido and Koodo.

If you have doubts, the Planhub website can help you find a plan that suits your interests.

There are also groups for university students and even for specific schools or universities (which you can search for once you know your destination institution):
  • New Immigrants in Canada
  • #Canada International Students
  • Canada international students community
Look for reasonably priced accommodation

If you are studying at a university and you have sufficient financial resources or your scholarship includes accommodation, it is best to opt for on-campus housing. These are well-appointed accommodations in a good location with restaurants on or near the premises. They are also perfect places to make new friends, although in some cases at the cost of sacrificing some privacy and freedom.

In the case of off-campus housing, besides posting an ad in a Facebook group or using the marketplace, websites such as Kijiji, PadMapper or Craigslist (by selecting the city where you want the accommodation) are good options to find shared accommodation or even houses for yourself.

Many Canadians claim that Canada is the best country in the world, or as their anthem says, the true North strong and free that becomes a home. With these tips you are ready to make Canada your new home and live in, without a doubt, one of the best countries in the world.