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Studying in Canada vs the USA: 5 differences you must watch out for

Cassandra
Last Updated: 2 August 2021 • 6 min read

The USA and Canada are among the most popular study destinations. 

In 2019, Canada hosted about 642,000 international students, while the USA hosted over 1 million.

Both countries have excellent universities and have more or less similar entry requirements, so if you are just looking for top quality education abroad, you can choose either and be sure of a world-leading learning experience. 

But many students struggle to choose between the USA and Canada as both countries have their own unique attractions and opportunities. 

If you are one such prospective student, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. 

Studying in the USA and Canada: 5 differences you must watch out for

  1. Tuition fees and cost of living
  2. Post-study work opportunities
  3. Permanent residence and citizenship
  4. Climate
  5. Language and food

1. Tuition fees and cost of living

Studying abroad is a costly affair, which is why expenditure is a major factor in students' study abroad plans. 

Though you will have to spend a solid sum of money to study in both the USA and Canada, the USA typically costs more. 

The breakdown of the average expenses is as follows:

Expense

USA (US Dollars)

Canada (US Dollars)

UG tuition fees

$6,000-$40,000

$5,000-$25,000

PG tuition fees

$11,700-$45,000

$8,000-$35,000

Doctorate tuition fees

$28,000-$55,000

$5,300-$7,500

Accommodation

$3,000-$8,000

$6,000-$7,500

Food/Other expenses

$10,000-$25,000

$11,300

Note: The figures mentioned above are just an estimate. Tuition fees can vary largely based on the university and course. The cost of living and accommodation costs can also largely vary based on your university's city.

2. Post-study work opportunities

The USA and Canada host some of the world's top brands. There are some great work opportunities available for international students in both study destinations—the real difference is the type of post-study work visas offered in each country.

Canada offers a post-study work permit (PSWP) to all its international students. If your course's duration is more than 8 months and less than two years, your PSWP's length will be the same as your course. If your course's duration is two years or more, your PSWP will be 3 years long. 

The United States of America offers optional practical training (OPT) for international students who want to stay and work. You can only apply if you hold an F1 student visa with the duration of an OPT being 1 year. If you are a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) graduate, you can apply and extend your OPT for an additional 24 months.

3. Permanent residence and citizenship

Canada is well known as one of the most welcoming countries, but both the USA and Canada serve as homes to many people from many cultures, races and countries. 

The USA currently has about 40 million immigrants accounting for almost one-fifth of the country's total population, and Canada has planned to welcome 1 million new migrants between 2020 and 2023. 

Many international students aim to move to their study destination after finishing their course. If you are one such person, this is an important factor you need to consider before choosing either the USA or Canada as your study destination.

You will need a green card to be a permanent resident in the USA. You also need to stay for a minimum of 5 years in the USA on employment grounds to be eligible to apply, and the process is often slow and long.

Canada offers many easy pathways for international students who want to become permanent residents of the country. You can even start your application process to become a permanent resident before your PSWP ends.

4. Climate

Is climate an important factor? It definitely is! It would be best to choose a place with an overall climate you enjoy or where you know you can be comfortable.

When we think about Canada, we think about freezing cold winds and beautiful white snow, and when we think about the USA, we think about pleasant temperate climates and a day out at the beach.

But both the USA and Canada are huge countries with large landmasses and varied climate conditions.

Though, in general, the USA is warmer than Canada, different places within each country have different climatic conditions. Certain parts of Canada have very hot summers, while certain parts of the USA have very cold winters.  

5. Language and food

English is predominantly spoken in the USA and Canada, but Canada also has a large French-speaking population. Even many universities in provinces like Quebec require international students to speak French fluently.

As for food, both the USA and Canada celebrate cuisines from all over the world. So, you can go out with your friends and eat any type of food you want. And in Canada, you don’t even have to worry about splitting the bill because most restaurants offer individual bills for friends eating as a group.  

And did you know that Canadians buy milk in packets while Americans get it in cartons? Why, you ask? Because packets are more environmentally friendly than cartons. 

So, which is the better study destination? the USA or Canada? Think wisely and choose the country that best fits your preferences. You can’t go wrong!

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Cassandra
Written By
Cassandra

Hi, I'm Cassandra! I write a lot of content for Edvoy as well a lot of other things.

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