Study in Ontario: international students
Information for international students interested in attending college or university in Ontario.
How to choose a school
Before you choose a school, you can get important information in what’s called a course calendar. This book has details on:
- the qualifications you need to get into a school or particular program
- tuition fees and other costs
- scholarships and financial aid.
You can get a copy of a course calendar through the admissions office at a college or university. You can also contact the nearest Canadian diplomatic mission for more information.
Each college and university sets its own admission standards. The standards can change from year to year. You will need to check a school’s website for the most current information.
When to apply
Application deadlines depend on the program and school. Deadlines start as early as September.
In general, you will need to apply before February 1, if you want to start school in September. The admission process can take up to 9 months, so it’s a good idea to get an application in early.
What you need to apply
In most cases, you will need to gather these documents before you apply:
Original or certified copies of your high school diploma/record and any postsecondary education records, including courses you took and grades you achieved.
Proof of language skill
Acceptable test results from a certified language test that measures your skill in reading, writing, understanding and speaking either English or French. Generally accepted tests include:
- test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
- the International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
- the Canadian Academic English Language (CAEL) Assessment.
Proof of good health
Depending on your citizenship, you might also need to pass a medical exam. The exam has to be done by an authorized doctor.
If you need an exam, it’s a good idea to make an appointment when you are accepted to an Ontario college or university. Otherwise, it could take up to three months longer to process your application.
A study permit
In most cases, you will need to apply for a study permit before you come to Canada. If you plan to stay 6+ months, you need a permit in all cases.
You can apply for a permit at the Canadian visa office in your country. Check with the local office in your area to see what supporting documents you will need.
Bring a spouse or child/children
If you plan to bring family members with you, you will need to submit additional documents. Contact the nearest international visa office for more information.
How to apply
First check each school’s website. You will either apply directly to the school or use one of two application centres:
- the Ontario Universities Application Centre (OUAC)
- the Ontario College Application Service (OCAS).
You will apply directly to a university.
Get credentials evaluated
You can have your existing credentials (degrees, diplomas, courses) evaluated through:
- the Canadian Centre for International Credentials
- World Education Services.
Public universities: you need to enrol in the University Health Insurance Plan.
Public colleges and private colleges/universities: you will need to contact the international student office at the school for more information on health insurance for international students.
Work while in school
You don’t always need a work permit to get a job while you are in college or university. It depends on where you work.
Work on campus
You can work on campus at a school without a work permit, if you:
- have a valid study permit
- are a full-time student, at a public college or university or private university.
Work off campus
To work off campus, you will need a work permit. To be eligible for a work permit, you need to be a full-time student at a public college or university.
You can apply for a work permit through Citizenship and Immigration Canada, a federal government department.
Scholarships and bursaries
You could be eligible to get money to help you pay for your college or university education in Ontario. You will need to contact the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend.
Ontario Trillium Scholarships
Each year, Ontario awards 75 Trillium Scholarships - worth $40,000 per year - to the best doctoral students from around the world to support their studies in Ontario.
These scholarships can be renewed for up to 4 years.
Each university selects and awards scholarship candidates based on merit and program criteria. For more information, you can contact a university’s office of graduate studies.
Federal government scholarships
The federal government also offers a series of scholarships for international students.
International students with study permits: you are not eligible for bank or government student loans in Canada.
Plan to apply for landed immigrant status: you could become eligible for loans once status is granted.
Emergency loans: some colleges and universities offer 1-time emergency loans for international students. You will need to contact a school’s financial aid office directly for more information.
Work after graduation
You could be eligible to get a special work permit to allow you to work in Canada – for up to 3 years - after you graduate.
Live/work in Ontario permanently
Through a program called the Provincial Nominee Program, you could be eligible to live and work permanently in Ontario.
How the program works
Ontario nominates individuals for permanent resident status to the federal government.
To be eligible, you need to:
- be a recent graduate or graduating soon
- have graduated or will soon graduate from a publicly funded college or university in Canada
- have a qualifying permanent, full-time job offer from an employer in Ontario.
Masters and PhD graduates can apply, without a job offer.