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Which universities in Canada accept backlogs?

Amelia Carruthers
Last Updated: 18 November 2021 • 5 min read

Studying abroad can be a daunting, yet exciting prospect. There’s so much to consider, from new languages and ways of working – to making friends and getting used to an entirely different culture.

If you’re currently planning international study applications, backlogs may also appear on this list.

Many students worry that backlogs are a black mark on their academic career, but they really (and we mean really shouldn’t). Whilst universities in Canada do have strict academic application requirements, there are several Canada colleges which accept backlogs – so don’t despair!

Today, we’ll explore everything you need to know about universities accepting backlogs in Canada.

From how backlogs are counted for Canada, to what exactly these mysterious “black marks” are and a complete list of Canada universities accepting backlogs… look no further. Let’s get your study abroad plans for the Great White North off to the best possible start.

Universities accepting backlogs in Canada

What are backlogs?

If you’re looking for Canada colleges which accept backlogs, it’s important to understand exactly what a backlog is. Now, this is nothing complex – a backlog is simply any subject that you haven’t been able to clear (by which we mean pass) in your first attempt.

You’ll often have to retake the exam (either in the same exam period or a subsequent academic term) in order to complete your studies.

Backlogs can either be the result of absenteeism (i.e. if you were sick or in an accident on the day of your test) or exam performance. If you miss any exams for genuine reasons, it’s important to let your college know as soon as possible – as “absent” marks shouldn’t count as true backlogs.

How many backlogs are allowed in Canada?

Generally speaking, five backlogs is the maximum number accepted by Canadian institutions. There are some universities that accept ten backlogs (and sometimes even more) however. So if you’ve got a high number of backlogs – there are still plenty of options available.

Individual universities ultimately have the say on which students they accept. So if you feel that you have an exceptional case for admission, get in touch! Your overall GPA on your academic transcript (as well as letters of recommendation and extra-curricular activities) will also influence your application.

As a rule of thumb however, if you have multiple backlogs directly related to the course you’re applying for – there are higher chances of rejection.

How backlogs are counted for Canada?

Having said that 5-10 is generally the maximum amount for Canada colleges which accept backlogs – it’s important to understand exactly how these are counted!

There are two common ways of counting backlogs:

  • Some countries such as Australia and Germany view backlogs as the number of attempts taken to pass a particular exam. For instance, if you failed a single maths module and took three attempts to pass – your number of backlogs would be three.
  • The second method (used by Canada and many other countries) just counts the subject itself as the backlog. So for instance, if you failed your maths module (even if it took you multiple attempts to pass) – this would still only count as one backlog.

How backlogs are counted in Canada really benefits students that have worked hard to pass exams – even if they struggled the first time around.

Backlog Certificates

When you submit your application to a Canadian university, they will ask for a “backlog certificate” (along with all your other documents) which provides details about any backlogs you have incurred.

Some universities might also ask for a “zero backlog certificate” – so even if you don’t have any backlogs, it’s worth asking for this from your current institution to avoid any delays.

A complete list of Canada universities accepting backlogs

Whilst universities in Canada are relatively strict regarding backlogs – there are some fantastic institutions considering applicants with five and even ten or more backlogs.

Make sure to double-check you meet the university’s other eligibility criteria (such as language and subject-specific requirements) before working on your application.

Even if you’re applying to a university not listed here, it’s also worth emailing their admissions department directly to discuss your application. If you have backlogs but great standardised test scores and GPAs – they might be lenient. There’s no harm in asking after all!

But without further ado, here’s your complete list of Canada universities accepting backlogs…

List of colleges accepting backlogs in Canada: 0-5

List of colleges accepting backlogs in Canada: 5-10

If you’re thinking about study in Canada (backlogs or no backlogs!), you might also want to check out some of our fantastic Edvoy partner institutions:

Are you currently weighing up potential study abroad locations? If you’re concerned about your backlog history, take a look at our articles on universities in the USA accepting backlogs, as well as institutions within Great Britain.

Backlogs certainly aren’t a barrier to acceptance at some of the world’s best colleges – so keep that study abroad dream alive and discover how we can help you find the course and university that’s perfect for you!

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Amelia Carruthers
Written By
Amelia Carruthers

With a background in academic publishing, education and digital marketing, Amelia Carruthers is a freelance writer with a love of history, philosophy and the written word.

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