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How to apply for university in Canada? Everything you need to know

Updated on: Jun 11, 2024
How to apply for university in Canada? Everything you need to know
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Every year, over 800,000 international students visit Canada for higher education. It is a widely preferred study destination with ample opportunities for a remarkable career. Applying to a university in Canada plays a vital role in your study abroad experience, but it’s important to understand and follow the necessary steps required to apply.

From researching educational institutions and programs to readying your documents and submitting an application, there are various factors to consider when applying to universities in Canada.

This guide will provide a comprehensive overview of how to apply for a university in Canada, including the necessary steps, required documents, and tips for a successful application.

Table of Contents

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Also read: Top universities in Canada for international students

Documents required for Canada university application

When applying to a university in Canada, applicants must prepare several documents to support their application. While the required documents vary depending on the university and program, here are some common documents required by educational institutions.

  • Application form
  • Academic transcripts
  • English language proficiency tests
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement or essay
  • Resume or CV
  • Portfolio
  • Financial documents
  • Passport
  • Visa

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Application form

Applicants must complete the university's application form, which can typically be found on the university's website or through a centralised application system, such as the Ontario Universities Application Centre (OUAC) or the ApplyAlberta portal.

Also read: Why study in Canada

Academic transcripts

Applicants must submit official transcripts from all previously attended schools, including high school and any post-secondary institutions. Transcripts must be in English or French and include the applicant's grades and overall academic performance.

English language proficiency test results

For international students, proof of English language proficiency is required. This is typically demonstrated through standardised tests such as the TOEFL or IELTS.

Also read: Is it safe to study in Canada?

Letters of recommendation

Many universities require letters of recommendation from teachers, counsellors, or other professionals who can speak to the applicant's academic abilities and personal qualities.

Personal statement or essay

Applicants may be required to write a personal statement or essay outlining their academic goals, achievements, and reasons for wanting to attend the university.

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Resume or CV

Applicants may be asked to submit a resume or curriculum vitae (CV) outlining their academic and professional experience, extracurricular activities, and other relevant achievements.

Portfolio

Some programs, such as art, design, or music, may require applicants to submit a portfolio of their work to demonstrate their skills and abilities.

Financial documents

Applicants may be required to provide financial documents that prove they have the funds available to cover tuition fees and living expenses while studying at the university. These documents can include bank statements, sponsorship letters, or income tax returns.

Passport

A valid passport is mandatory for admission. The applicant must make sure that the passport is up to date, as it will determine their legal status in Canada.

Visa

Provincial or federal governments may require that you obtain a visa to study in Canada. This must be done in advance, and it is recommended to apply for a student visa as soon as you receive your acceptance Letter from the university.

Also read: Post-graduation courses in Canada

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Documents required for applying to Canadian universities for different study levels and programs

DocumentDocuments required for applying to universities undergraduate canadaDocuments required for masters in canadaDocuments required for MBA in canada
Application form
Academic transcripts
Entrance exams (GMAT, GRE, SAT, or ACT)
Proof of work experience-
English language proficiency tests
Letters of recommendation
Personal statement or essay
Resume or CV
Portfolio
Financial documents
Passport
Visa

Data updated as of January 2024

What are the documents required for an MBA in Canada?

Here are the standard documents required to pursue an MBA in Canada.

  • Application form
  • GMAT scores
  • Proof of work experience
  • Academic transcripts
  • English language proficiency tests
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement or essay
  • Resume or CV
  • Portfolio
  • Financial documents
  • Passport
  • Visa

Don't miss these proven Statement of Purpose (SOP) templates. Download now for free!

How to apply for university in Canada

Applying to a university in Canada is a multi-step process that involves researching universities and programs, meeting admission requirements, and submitting an application. Here are the necessary steps to apply for university in Canada.

Research universities and programs

Before applying to a university, it is essential to research the available programs and determine which ones align with your academic and career goals.

Make sure to consider your interests, budget and entrance requirements, including English language proficiency tests, as each university may have different requirements. Canadian universities offer a wide range of programs, from traditional academic disciplines to professional and vocational training.

Meet admission requirements

Each university and program has its admission requirements, which typically include academic transcripts, English language proficiency test results, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement or essay.

It is essential to review the admission requirements carefully and ensure that you meet all eligibility criteria.

Apply online

Most Canadian universities accept online applications, where students send their applications through the official website or a centralised application system.

A centralised application system for Canada includes the Ontario Universities Application Centre (OUAC) or ApplyAlberta. The application form typically requires personal information, academic history, and program selection.

Submit required documents

Applicants must submit all required documents, such as academic transcripts, English language proficiency test results, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement or essay. It is essential to ensure that all documents are submitted by the application deadline.

Pay application fee

Most universities require applicants to pay an application fee, which varies depending on the institution and program. The fee can typically be paid online through the university's website.

Wait for the admission results

After submitting the application and required documents, applicants should wait for the admission decision.

The timeline for admission decisions varies depending on the university and program, but most universities notify applicants of their admission status in the spring or early summer.

Accept the admission offer

If accepted, applicants must review the admission offer and accept or decline the offer by the deadline. Some universities may require a deposit to secure a spot in the program.

Apply for a study permit

International students must apply for a study permit to study in Canada. This process will involve completing various forms and providing evidence of funds to support your stay in Canada for the duration of your studies.

Plan your housing and expenses

After accepting the admission offer, applicants must plan their housing and finances. Many universities offer on-campus housing options, and scholarships and financial aid may be available to eligible students.

Prepare for the move

Finally, applicants must prepare for the move to Canada. This includes obtaining a study permit, arranging for travel, and ensuring that all necessary paperwork is in order.

Also read: 

University admission requirements in Canada

Before applying for a program in any institution in Canada, make sure you satisfy the eligibility criteria before submitting your application. While the admission requirements differ with every university, here are some standard criteria to study in Canada.

Eligibility criteria to study in Canada

Eligibility factorStandard requirement
Educational qualificationUndergraduate degree: An international student from a required subject stream with a score of at least 60%. 
Postgraduate degree: An undergraduate student with a related specialisation in their field of study.
Work experience2 years (for postgraduate courses)
Entrance examsGRE: Above 300 GMAT: Above 550 MCAT: Over 124 LSAT: Above 160 SAT: Above 1100
English exam requirementIELTS: 6.5-7.5 TOEFL: Above 100 PTE: 65
Student visaCanada Student Visa

Data updated as of January 2024

Also read: What’s student life like in Canada?

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Tips to submit a successful application to a university in Canada

Submitting your application is the most crucial part of an international student’s study abroad journey. They should ensure the application has zero flaws and impresses the admission committee. Here are some tips to help you submit a successful application to a university in Canada.

Research universities and programs carefully

Take the time to research the universities and programs you are interested in. Look into their admission requirements, program offerings, campus life, and other factors that may impact your decision.

Start early

Give yourself plenty of time to complete your application and gather all the necessary documents. Many universities have early application deadlines, so it's best to start the process as early as possible.

Ensure to meet admission requirements

Ensure that you meet all admission requirements for the university and program you are applying to. This includes academic transcripts, English language proficiency test results, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement or essay.

Also read: How to work in Canada after graduation?

Submit a strong personal statement or essay

Your personal statement or essay is your chance to showcase your personality, goals, and achievements. Be honest and authentic, and highlight your strengths and accomplishments.

Provide strong letters of recommendation

Ask for letters of recommendation from individuals who know you well and can speak to your academic abilities and personal qualities. Provide them with all necessary information and deadlines, and thank them for their time.

Make sure your application is error-free

Double-check your application details and documents before you submit them to make sure that everything is correct and accurate. Certain errors may cause your application to be rejected.

Stay organised

Keep track of all deadlines, documents, and correspondence related to your application. This will help you stay on top of everything and avoid missing any important deadlines.

Follow up if necessary

If you have any questions or concerns about your application, don't hesitate to contact the university's admissions office. They are there to help you through the process.

Applying to a university in Canada requires careful planning, attention to detail, and a lot of hard work. By following the necessary steps, prospective students can ensure that they meet all admission requirements, submit a strong application, and increase their chances of being accepted into their desired program.

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Frequently asked questions

What are the documents required to apply for university in Canada?

Here are the standard documents required to apply for university in Canada.

  • Application form
  • Academic transcripts
  • English language proficiency test results
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement or essay
  • Resume
  • Portfolio
  • Financial documents
  • Passport
  • Visa

What are the steps to apply for university in Canada?

The necessary steps to apply for university in Canada are to research universities and programs, meet admission requirements, apply online, submit required documents, pay the application fee, wait for an admission decision, accept the admission offer, apply for a study permit, plan for housing and finances, and prepare for the move.

Do you need to write an essay for Canadian universities?

An essay or statement of purpose is a mandatory requirement for international students to apply to Canadian universities. Ensure you prepare a strong essay to stand out during the admission process.

How to apply for university in Canada?

Most students apply to universities in Canada online. They apply through the university’s official website, upload the required documents before the deadline and submit their application.

How to choose a university in Canada?

When choosing the right university to start your study abroad journey, make sure the institution satisfies certain factors that suit your interests. Here are the things you should consider before choosing the right university.

  • If the university suits your needs
  • If the course’s curriculum is good
  • University culture
  • Student services
  • University facilities
  • Tuition fees and other expenses

Do Canadian universities require personal statements?

A personal statement or Statement of Purpose (SOP) is a compulsory requirement by Canadian institutions, so make sure you submit the letter with the other required documents.

Do Canadian universities require letters of recommendation?

Yes, Canadian universities require a Letter of Recommendation (LOR) from international students to evaluate their profiles and process their admissions.

Is a migration certificate required for admission to Canada?

Yes, a migration certificate is necessary for international students to apply for universities in Canada.

How to apply for undergraduate study in Canada?

Undergraduate students can apply to universities in Canada online. They can use the university’s official website, upload the required documents before the deadline and submit their application. Here’s how you can apply for your undergraduate program in Canada.

  • Research universities and programs
  • Ensure to meet admission requirements
  • Apply and submit required documents
  • Pay application fee
  • Wait for admission status
  • Accept admission offer
  • Apply for a study permit
  • Plan housing and expenses

When to apply for university in Canada?

The deadlines for your desired program vary with each university. But, it is always advised to apply for the course at least eight to 12 months before the deadline.

Time to kick-start your study abroad journey!

Edvoy offers the finest academic experience while applying to pursue higher education abroad. Choose your desired course and university, and apply now! Connect with an Edvoy Counsellor, and begin your journey today!

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How to apply for university in Canada
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How to apply for admission in Canada
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