How to Apply to Universities in Canada?

Are you gearing up for the upcoming admission sessions in Canada, eagerly anticipating the September and January intakes? Canada stands as a global education hub, hosting a substantial number of international students in its colleges and universities. To help you navigate the application process smoothly, we present a comprehensive guide on how to apply to universities in Canada for the 2023 academic year.

Step 1: Choosing the Right Institution

The first crucial step in your study abroad journey is selecting the right Canadian university or college that aligns with your academic and personal preferences. Whether you’re eyeing a Bachelor’s, PGDM, or Master’s program, consider factors like your field of study, interests, and academic achievements. Here are some renowned institutions to get you started:


  1. McGill University
  2. University of Toronto
  3. University of British Columbia
  4. University of Alberta
  5. Université de Montréal


  1. Centennial College
  2. Durham College
  3. Humber College
  4. Seneca College
  5. Sheridan College

Pro Tip: If you’re torn between a university or college, check out our guide on Should I study in University or college in Canada?

Step 2: Application Process and Eligibility Criteria

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, it’s time to dive into the application process. Most Canadian universities allow online applications through their official websites. However, each institution has its unique guidelines, deadlines, and eligibility criteria. Some provinces may have centralized application processes, while others require individual university applications.

Eligibility typically involves submitting good secondary school scores, English language proficiency (IELTS, TOEFL), and, for universities, entrance exams and academic certificates.

Insider Tip: For a smooth SDS Visa process, a mandatory IELTS score of 6.5 overall is required. Learn more about the SDS program here.

Step 3: Document Submission

Prepare to submit essential documents such as mark sheets, transcripts, and, if applicable, degree certificates and transcripts for postgraduate programs. Ensure that all documents are translated into English if not originally in that language. While many submissions are online, carefully review guidelines for hard copy submissions, as some institutions do not return original documents.

Step 4: Language Proficiency

Demonstrating language proficiency is integral to your application. Depending on the institution, you may need to prove your proficiency in English or French. Most students opt for tests like IELTS or TOEFL, but some institutions may offer alternatives.

Note: SDS Visa applicants must adhere to specific IELTS score requirements. Explore more about SDS here.

Step 5: Deadlines and Fees

Timing is key! Keep a close eye on application deadlines, which vary by institution and intake. Aim to start preparing your application and gathering documentation eight to ten months before your intended intake month. Be aware of application fees, which are often non-refundable. Once accepted, you may need to pay a confirmation fee.

Need more details? Check out our guide on Intakes in Canada.

Step 6: Apply for Study Permit in Canada

Upon receiving your acceptance letter, the next crucial step is applying for a Canada Student Visa. Depending on your eligibility, you might opt for the streamlined SDS process or the traditional study permit application. Ensure you apply at least three months before your planned departure.

Uncover the SDS process details here.

Step 7: Arrival, Study, and Work Opportunities

Congratulations on making it to Canada! International students studying for more than six months no longer require a separate work permit. You can work part-time during study sessions and full-time during breaks. Obtain a Social Insurance Number (SIN) before starting work. Depending on your course, you may qualify for up to three years of stay back in Canada for further studies or job opportunities.

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