A guide to overseas universities – Canada Edition
Welcome to another edition of “how to guide” for universities. This article is a four-part series focusing on universities abroad, featuring the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. This time, we will take a closer look at the land of Maple Leaf.
First, do your research
Are you a big hockey fan? Do you love brutally cold winter? Then Canada might just be perfect for you. Before you pour some maple syrup over your pancakes, proper research is the key to success. It is advised that preparations should be done 12 – 24 months in advance.
University of your choice
There are 96 universities in Canada and many other institutions offer higher education. Universities in Canada offer more three-years bachelor programs unlike the US. Compared to the US, the tuition fee in Canada is also on average lower (more in the chapter ‘Funding’). Additionally, in Canada, the universities are managed by provincial governments. That means certain term dates and length of study may vary. Also depending on the region, certain prerequisites may exist such as a mandatory pre-university course (e.g. General and Vocational College (CEGEP)).
Canada does not have a centralized admission system like the USA, UK and Australia. You have to apply directly to the university yourself.
The recommended way to choose a university is to find a university that fits your needs and your future goals. If you are struggling to find your own path, try talking to your peers and teachers, read articles about other people similar to you, find inspirations in others. You can also check which universities in Canada are popular among Japanese students. Going deeper into this topic is a bit out of scope for this article, but there are a great deal of books and articles to get you going.
According to topuniversities.com, the average tuition fee for international undergraduate students was around CA$28,000 in 2018/19. Furthermore, an average living cost of CA$15,000 are expected. Also beware of any initial and hidden costs such as visa fee.
A good way to cover the cost is to apply for a scholarship. Check out which one you are eligible for and do your own research. Here is a list to help you get started:
If you are going to study abroad, you need the appropriate permission to do that. The student visa in Canada is called “Study permit”. The study permit is valid for the length of your study, plus an extra 90 days. The fee for study permit is CA$150.
Please beware that you are required to prove that you can support yourself financially during your stay. In addition, you also have to prove your English proficiency to the immigration with either IELTS or TEF (French) test result. TOEFL is not common in Canada and may not be accepted depending on the university.
At this point, you have decided which university you would like to study at. Now it is the time to apply for it. In general, the admission procedure is similar to the English-based program in Japanese university. This is general layout. I advise you to check out your university of choice to see the exact details for the admission.
There are 4 documents you should take special care of:
Essay (Personal statement)
The essay is an important part in the selection process because this is where you can stand out from your peers. The content is typically about your relevant background, your motivation and your future goal. One example, for the University of Toronto “Bachelor of Information” Program, you have to submit a 400-500 words essay explaining how you and your career goals fit with the program.
Some universities may ask you to submit one recommendation letter or more. Please check with your university of choice and program if that is necessary.
Certificate to prove English proficiency
In most cases, if you are not native English speakers and have not studied in a school system where English was the primarily language, you have to submit a certificate such as TOEFL or IELTS to prove their English proficiency. Depending on the university, a certain minimum score is required. Please check your university for further details.
Certificate of University Entrance Qualification
The most basic qualification is to have the “Upper Secondary School Certificate of Graduation” (Jp. 高等学校卒証明書). The few universities I have checked the certificate mentioned before is sufficient for Japanese students. Also, according to this article, “any student possessing a government-accredited high school diploma from their home country may apply for admission to a Canadian University”. Please check with your university of choice for confirmation.
Admission Period & Deadlines
The academic terms in Canada can be confusing because the exact start date, orientation week, required arrival dates differ across institutions and provinces. Although it can be said that most universities in Canada follow a 2 terms system: Fall term (Sep – Dec) and Winter Term (Jan – Apr) with a Spring/Summer break (May – Aug).
With the variable nature in the Canadian university system, it is hard to make an exact statement when deadlines usually are. Generally, one can expect 8 – 12 months before courses starts.
Prepare and go
This is the last article of the series about the admission of overseas universities. For me, it was interesting to do a research about all these countries. I think it can be said that in general the admission for universities in these English-speaking countries are quite consistent. There are few details you should take care of like which certificates are necessary or not. At the end, the best way is to research your chosen university and check what exactly is required much in advance.
Simon has worked in the IT industry for 9 years as an IT Product Manager. In 2018, he was chosen by the Swiss-Japanese Chamber of Commerce to receive the prestigious scholarship and consequently moved to Japan from Switzerland to learn more about the country and the culture. He has a huge passion to make a positive impact in people’s life which shows in his engagement in various volunteering activities.