How to Apply for Masters degree in Canada

Canada is a country with a reputation for hospitality, and world-class universities. This has led to Canada become one of the world’s most popular destinations for international postgraduates, with numbers rising steadily each year.

Canada is home to over 200,000 international students. The country is a major global player in higher education.
Its popularity with overseas students comes as no surprise. The country is blessed with several genuinely world-class universities.

Canada is a choice destination for postgraduates seeking an outstanding country to study for a Master’s degree.
This article details everything you need to know about undertaking a Masters’ degree program in Canada.

How long does it take to do a Masters’ degree in Canada

Master’s degrees require one or two years of study after completing your bachelor’s degree. In Canada, your master’s studies can include a thesis, research paper or a course-based program.

A master’s degree typically requires a year and a half, in some cases up to two years of full-time study.
To earn a master’s degree you usually need to complete from 36 to 54-semester credit load of study (or 60 to 90 quarter-credits). This equals 12 to 18 college courses. Most master’s degrees are awarded by public or state universities.

Postgraduate programs in Canada are either a course-based program or a thesis-based program for higher studies in Canada. However, some Canadian universities are offering it as a mixture of two.

Students pursuing a master’s course from Canadian universities are awarded the qualification of Masters of Science (MSc) or Masters of Arts (MA). Apart from these, students also have the option for specialist master’s degrees such as Master of Fine Arts (MFA), Master of Engineering (MEng), Master of Business Administration (MBA).

How much does it cost to run a Master’s degree in Canada


Masters fees for international students in Canada

Canada prides itself on being a historically multicultural country, welcoming students from around the world. This extends to the international fees for its degree programs.

International Masters fees in Canada are higher than those for domestic students, but they’re often lower than other major Anglophone studies abroad destinations.

On average you can expect to pay up to twice the tuition fee rate of an equivalent domestic student, with typical fees between CAD $2,500 (USD $1,955) and CAD $18,000 (USD $14,080).

The average international fee for a graduate program in Canada is CAD $17,744 (USD $13,880).

Costs will vary between individual universities and degree programs. Like domestic students, you’ll normally pay more for professional subject areas (particularly Medicine).

Tuition fees in most affordable universities in Canada

  1. Memorial University of Newfoundland – tuition fees: 2,150 – 11,460 CAD/year
  2. Athabasca University – tuition fees: 1,625 – 17,250 CAD/year
  3. University of Saskatchewan – tuition fees: 4,110 – 24,000 CAD/year
  4. Royal Roads University – tuition fees: 3,750 – 27,600 CAD/year
  5. University of Regina – tuition fees: 1,715 – 20,050 CAD/year

Even at these affordable universities, you can find several study programs that cost over 30,000 CAD/year. They are usually Master’s degrees in Business, Law, Dentistry or MBAs (Master of Business Administration). An MBA is particularly expensive, with tuition fees that go above 50,000 CAD/year.

Health insurance for international students in Canada

Health insurance is compulsory for international students in Canada. The following Canadian provinces cover international students under their normal public healthcare plans:

  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
  • Manitoba
  • New Brunswick
  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Saskatchewan

However, if you’re studying in Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island or Quebec, you’ll need to purchase specific international student health insurance, the cost of which is normally between CAD $600 and CAD $1,000 per year ($470-782).

The Canadian government’s immigration service maintains a page with details of provincial health ministries. If in doubt, contact your prospective university. They should be able to confirm your requirements and most will offer their student healthcare.

Tuition fees at top-ranked universities

  1. University of Toronto – tuition fees: 6,000 – 58,000 CAD/year
  2. University of British Columbia – tuition fees: 1,300 – 52,300 CAD/year
  3. McGill University – tuition fees: 2,230 – 58,300 CAD/year

At these top universities, some Master’s programs in Architecture, Computer Science, and Business Administration can cost over 63,000 CAD/year.

Student living costs in Canada

Living costs in Canada are a bit above average, but a high quality of life is guaranteed. You would need between 800 – 1,500 CAD/month for most provinces, such as Quebec, Montreal and Ottawa.
Vancouver and Calgary are some of the most expensive cities in Canada, where living costs can reach 2,000 CAD/month.

Accommodation costs

You’ll have many housing options to choose from in Canada, at an equal and diverse price range.

See Housing Option:

  • Student residences: 250 – 625 CAD/month
  • University-arranged homestays: 400 – 800 CAD/month
  • Rent & share an apartment: 300 – 700 CAD/month, rent prices depend on location and facilities. If you choose to rent a studio/one-room apartment, you can pay over 1,000 CAD/month.

Best universities to do Masters’ degree in Canada


Canada has a very well-organized higher education system, with rigorous academic standards and modern teaching methods.

The country attracts thousands of international students every year, who enroll in Masters courses offered by over 90 academic institutions.

Here are some of the best schools in Canada for your postgraduate programs:

University of British Columbia

The University of British Columbia (UBC) is a global center for teaching, learning and research, consistently ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world. As one of the world’s leading universities, The University of British Columbia creates an exceptional learning environment that fosters global citizenship.

McGill University

McGill University is one of Canada’s best-known institutions of higher learning and one of the leading universities in the world.

McGill University Library advances teaching, learning, research and community service by providing outstanding collections, access to the world of knowledge, excellence in service and an appropriate library environment.

University of Toronto

Founded in 1827, the University of Toronto has evolved into Canada’s leading institution of learning, discovery and knowledge creation. The University of Toronto is a leader in research and innovation, to make a significant impact both locally and globally.

Can I get a Canadian Masters’ degree online?

Yes, you can! If you want a Canadian education and you’re unable to leave home for all or part of your studies, virtual studies may be the right option for you.

Canada is committed to innovative and universal education and this commitment has made her a leader in online learning and distance education. Thanks to technology, international students have never been closer to Canadian education.

Many Canadian universities welcome international students into their online postgraduate education programs.

Accredited Online Universities in Canada:

Athabasca University

This accredited establishment of Canada offers different online programs for different academic ranks. Undergraduate and graduate programs, courses, courses dedicated to narrow professional development —meets all possible educational needs.

University Canada West (UCW)

This is an independently accredited institution that provides relevant Social Sciences, Humanities, Business, Management, as well as Art, Design, and Architecture academic ranks. So, if you’d like a Master in these spheres, this is a great choice for you.

University of Manitoba

This accredited uni also has both physical and distance education. You receive proper degree credit that’ll be recognized everywhere. Location doesn’t matter, so visit the site of this uni and look through various programs it offers.

What are the requirements for a Master’s degree in Canada

Academic requirements

You’ll be expected to have a minimum GPA (often a 3.0/4.0 or its international equivalent such as a UK upper second class bachelor) for your undergraduate degree.

Depending on your subject area, you may be asked to provide a graduate entry test score such as a Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or Graduate Record Examination (GRE).


If English is not your first language you’ll have to provide evidence of proficiency through an English language test such as TOEFL or IELTS. Similar requirements will apply in French if you apply for a bilingual program or a course delivered entirely in French.

Application process

  • A completed application form, which is often submitted online
  • A certified copy of your qualifications and transcripts
  • A curriculum vitae
  • Proof of English and/or French proficiency, depending on the program that you are applying for.
  • References / recommendation letters
  • Letter of motivation / personal statement

If you’ve completed post-secondary education outside of Canada, you might have to undergo an evaluation to determine the Canadian equivalent of your qualification and to verify the academic document that you’ve submitted.

You’ll have to pay an international credential evaluation fee unless you already have a third-party international credential evaluation report.

Best tips for foreigners who want a Masters’ Degree from Canada


If you’re going to study for a Master’s abroad in Canada, you’ll need a study permit to do so. A Canadian study permit is very similar to a student visa, allowing you to live in Canada and attend a university there for the duration of your studies.

Financial requirements

There are slightly different financial requirements for a study permit, depending on which Canadian province you’re studying for your Masters in.

If you’re studying outside of Quebec, you’ll need to prove that you have the following funds available to support yourself (and any family members with you) during your studies, in addition to tuition fees:

$10,000 per year for yourself

$4,000 per year for the first family member accompanying you

$3,000 per year for any other family members with you

If you’re going to be studying in Quebec, you’ll need the following funds (in addition to tuition fees):

$11,000 per year for yourself

$5,100 per year for the first adult family member

$5,125 per year for any additional adult family members

$3,800 per year for the first under-18 family member

$1,903 per year for any additional under-18 family members

There are several different ways in which you can demonstrate that you have the finances available to support yourself during a Masters, depending on your funding situation

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  • The previous four months’ worth of bank statements
  • Proof of a bank loan that covers your studies
  • Written confirmation from a person or institution that is sponsoring you
  • Proof from your university that you’ve paid tuition fees and/or housing costs
  • Details of any scholarships you’ve successfully applied for.

Study permit

A Canadian study permit is a document that allows you to live and study at a ‘designated learning institution’ in Canada for the duration of your Masters (with an additional 90 days to give you a chance to apply for an additional work permit if you want to stay in the country).

It’s not quite the same as a student visa, in that it doesn’t entitle you to enter Canada by itself – often you’ll also need an electronic travel authorization (eTA) or a temporary resident visa, but this will be handled during your application for a study permit.

Almost all foreign nationals will need a study permit to enroll in a postgraduate program in Canada.

Health insurance

Healthcare in Canada is the responsibility of individual provinces, so procedures and requirements depend on where you are studying. As a rule of thumb, you should reach out to your university and find out exactly what level of health insurance coverage you need and make sure you have this in place before you arrive in Canada. Many universities offer their healthcare plans for international students, although other providers exist.

Entry visas

A study permit isn’t the same as a student visa and doesn’t automatically entitle you to enter Canada. You’ll usually need a temporary resident visa (TRV) or an electronic travel authorization (eTA) in addition to a study permit, depending on your nationality. The Government of Canada will issue a TRV or eTA as part of your application for a study permit.

Applying for a study permit

Before beginning your application for a study permit in Canada, you’ll need to make sure you have the following documents ready:

  • A letter of acceptance from an accredited Canadian university, using official letterhead and detailing your tuition fees and the start/end dates of the program
  • A valid passport or travel document, along with two passport-sized photos of you
  • Proof of your ability to support yourself financially for the duration of your Masters

You can make your application online via the Government of Canada website, scanning and uploading copies of the relevant supporting documents.


After submitting your application for a study permit, you may also need to supply the Government of Canada with your biometric details (i.e. your fingerprints and a photo).

Presently, applicants from Europe, the Middle East and Africa need to provide biometrics. People from Asia, Asia Pacific and the Americas will also need to provide this information.

Language requirements

You won’t usually have to provide proof of language proficiency as part of your application for a Canadian study permit.

However, if English isn’t your first language you’ll probably have to complete an English language test as part of the admissions process for your Masters.

Medical exams and police certificates

Depending on where you’ve been living and traveling before you arrive in Canada, you may need to undertake a medical exam.

If you’ve spent six or more consecutive months in certain countries in the year before arriving in Canada, you’ll need to have a medical exam.

Cost of a Canadian study permit

There are a few fees and costs associated with gaining a study permit for Canada. When you make your application, you’ll have to pay a fee of $150. Make sure you keep hold of the receipt for this payment, as you may need to supply proof later on in the process. An eTA or TRV is included in this $150 fee.

You’ll also need to pay a biometrics fee of $85 (if relevant) and any fees related to a medical exam/police certificate.

Processing time

The processing time for a Canadian study permit depends on a few different factors, ranging from application method to which country you apply from.

In general, it’ll be quicker to apply online for a study permit rather than via post. Processing times also differ from nation to nation and could be anywhere between one and 10 weeks. This doesn’t include the time taken to supply biometrics or to attend a medical exam.


If your application for a study permit is successful, you’ll receive a ‘letter of introduction’ from the Government of Canada confirming this. You’ll also receive an Electronic Travel authorization (eTA) or a temporary resident visa, depending on your nationality.

The letter of introduction isn’t your study permit, but you’ll need to present it to the visa officer when you arrive in Canada along with the following documents:

  • A valid passport
  • An acceptance letter from your university
  • Proof of your finances

Note: If your application to study in Canada is unsuccessful, you’ll receive a letter explaining the reasons why.

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