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Canada is among the most affordable of the leading study abroad nations for international students, depending on the program and institution. It has lower tuition rates for foreign students than the UK, Australia, and the US. Students can pursue their studies in a globally recognized program at one of Canada’s top schools for much less than what it would cost to attend an equally reputable program at a private US university or college.

​Still, studying abroad—anywhere—requires careful financial planning and it can be important to find out if there are scholarships or other forms of financial support available. This section will provide guidance on how to find that information.

Costs of Study

The following tables provide different ways for the agent to show students (a) how Canada compares to other leading study abroad countries in terms of affordability and (b), in Figure 2, the costs of studying at various levels of schooling in Canada.Of course tuition is not the only cost international students will need to budget for when studying in Canada; they must also factor in the cost of living. Figure 1 looks at the average cost of an undergraduate degree, including the cost of living, across leading study abroad destinations including Canada:

Source: HSBC “The Value of Education: Springboard for success,” September 2014

*The HSBC report provided all costs in USD. For convenience and consistency, the costs have been converted to CAD. The exchange rate between USD and CAD can vary considerably. The October 21, 2014, conversion rate of 1 USD to 1.12 CAD was used.  

In addition to having relatively low tuition fees, international students in Canada can often offset the costs of studying by working on- or off-campus, or by completing co-op placements during their studies. The agent will be counselling students of different ages pursuing different levels of education; this next table breaks average costs down by level of study in Canada.

The agent will be counselling students of different ages pursuing different levels of education; Figure 2 shows average full-time costs—including tuition and student fees, accommodation and food, personal and health insurance, and books—by level of study in Canada.


International students who choose to study at a Canadian college or university will notice that annual cost of studying will depend on their program and institution of choice. The same can be said for international students who choose to study at the K-12 level. Tuition and boarding fees for K-12 private schools in Canada, for example, ranges from $30,000 to $60,000. The costs for language study are based on an average tuition across 44 weeks of study; however language course tuition will vary depending on the type of course, the institution, and the number of study weeks.


Source: Statistics Canada. Table  477-0023 – Weighted average tuition fee for full-time foreign undergraduate students, by field of study, annual (dollars), CANSIM (database).

When budgeting for their stay in Canada, it is important that international students take into consideration the costs of the essential items that may need to be purchased.

The following table, Figure 4, shows typical costs for common items in Canada.



​There are many programs and funding options for international students interested in studying in Canada: particularly international students of high academic standing or, in some cases, qualified students from certain areas or countries for whom scholarships or other financial assistance is in place.

The first place to look for information is the Canadian government’s international scholarships page. This online resource allows students and agents to look up available scholarships based on their country of origin. Increasingly, Canadian provinces and territories are developing their own scholarship and award programs for international students. This is why we also recommend that students and agents visit the Ministry of Education website of their host province and continue to check for updates on

​Beyond these general search sites, most post-secondary institutions will have some sort of funding assistance available to international students, and some secondary schools will as well. Certain institutions and provincial governments may also have in place a reduced tuition rate for students studying in a particular language or in a particular field. It really will be the task of the agent and/or the student to determine if there is a scholarship or funding assistance opportunity available for the program or school under consideration. 

There are two main ways of conducting a search to see if the international student may be eligible for a scholarship or other funding:

  • By institution: In this case, the student narrows down a list of program and institution options, then the agent and/or student searches the school’s website (or contacts the school directly) for suitable funding opportunities.

  • By available government funding: In this case, the agent/student goes to, selects their country of origin, then reviews the list of scholarships for which they are eligible to apply.

Home Country Scholarships

The agent should be aware of scholarships offered by the student’s home country government for studies undertaken at recognized institutions abroad. These can be very substantial, for example:

King Abdullah Scholarship Program (Saudi Arabia): The Saudi government invests 9 billion SAR (approximately 2.4 billion Canadian dollars) in the KASP program each year, and this provides full funding for 125,000 Saudi students for both undergraduate and graduate programs abroad. Current KASP programs of study are medicine, medical science, and health sciences.

Science Without Borders (Brazil): The first phase of the Science without Borders (SWB) program was launched in 2011 with more than 80,000 Brazilian students and researchers having participated in the program worldwide to date. Canada has welcomed approximately 7,000 SWB students and is among the top three partner countries of the program. The scholarships entail up to three components—language training; studies in a Canadian institution in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics; and a short-term placement (approximately 3 to 4 months) with a research laboratory or the private sector. The second phase of the Science without Borders (SWB) scholarship program was announced in June 2014 and is anticipated to start in 2015. It is expected to provide 100,000 additional scholarships for Brazilian students and researchers to study abroad.

Bolashak International Scholarships Program (Kazakhstan): Bolashak International Scholarship was established on November 5, 1993, by President Nazarbayev to help train highly-qualified professionals capable to conduct reforms and represent the country at the international arena. The program provides full scholarships to Kazak students interested to undertake graduate studies in one of world’s 200 best universities across 33 countries. In over 20 years, 10,346 scholarships have been awarded.

President Humala’s Post-graduate Scholarship Program (Peru): In 2013, the Peruvian President launched a post-graduate scholarship program for Peruvians wishing to undertake a full masters or doctorate degree abroad in specialized fields such as engineering, health, and environmental studies in a number of eligible destination countries, including Canada.

In addition to conducting their own research, agents can find out which scholarship programs are relevant to their students by checking with the Canadian diplomatic mission in the home country or again, by conducting a search by country on The RSS feed on the scholarships website is a useful tool to get updates on Government of Canada and Foreign Government award competitions.

The RSS feed on the scholarships website is a useful tool to get updates on Government of Canada and Foreign Government award competitions.

Graduate Scholarships

There is significant funding/financial assistance available for international students of high academic standing at the Canadian graduate level (e.g., master’s, PhD, post-doctoral). This assistance may be in the form of:

  • Teaching/departmental assistantships;
  • Research funds;
  • University graduate scholarships;
  • External scholarships (i.e., scholarships provided by a third party);
  • Bursaries (awards based on financial need that are intended to supplement a student’s other funding sources).

The value of these awards will vary significantly by academic department as well as institution. For more information, agents should contact the institutions under consideration by the international student.

Government of Canada and External Scholarships

Agents should be aware of a few big Government of Canada and external scholarship opportunities for top international students applying for graduate programs:

Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships

  • Designed for students who demonstrate strong leadership skills and a high standard of scholarly achievement in graduate studies in health, natural sciences, engineering, humanities, and social sciences;
  • Open to Canadian and international doctoral students;
  • 500 highly prestigious scholarships available valued at $50,000 per year for three years;
  • On par with Rhodes and Fulbright Scholarships, from the UK and US, respectively;
  • For more information:

Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships

  • Designed for top postdoctoral researchers;
  • Two-year fellowships worth $70,000 per year;
  • Open to both Canadian and international researchers who have recently completed a PhD, PhD-equivalent, or health professional degree;
  • 70 fellowships awarded each year;
  • Criteria for selection: (1) research excellence and leadership in area of expertise or research; (2) quality of the applicant’s proposed research program; (3) institutional commitment and demonstrated synergy between applicant and institutional strategic priorities;
  • For more information:

Trudeau Foundation Scholarships (and Fellowships)

  • Highly competitive programs offering up to 15 doctoral scholarships each year for studies in social sciences and humanities, with some available to foreign students;
  • Candidates must be nominated by their university and in their first or second year of doctoral studies;
  • Can be held for three years;
  • Total value of up to $60,000 per year;
  • There are also some three-year fellowships available with a total value of $225,000 awarded to up to five fellows per year (international fellows on odd years, Canadian fellows even years);
  • For more information:

The Sauvé Scholars Program

  • Hosts young leaders aged  23–30 who want to change the world;
  • Scholars are chosen above all on the basis of initiative, motivation, vision, imagination, communication skills, awareness of international and domestic issues, as well as a strong desire to effect change;
  • Each year young leaders are offered a unique opportunity to spend nine months away from their studies, careers, or other formal commitments, for a period of reflection and self-realization while undertaking a new project in his or her chosen field;
  • Since 2003, the program has welcomed 126 scholars from 50 different countries;
  • For more information:

Mitacs Globalink

  • Undergraduate and graduate 12-week research internships under the supervision of some top Canadian university professors;
  • Internships are undertaken between May to September every year;
  • The program is currently available to students from Brazil, China, India, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Vietnam;
  • For more information:

Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarships

  • Provide opportunities for students to develop the skills, knowledge and experience to become the next generation of innovative leaders in the Commonwealth.
  • Scholarships for up to two years to undertake graduate studies in a Canadian university.
  • Available to students from Commonwealth countries currently listed on the OECD’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) list.

Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development Canada (DFATD)’s International Scholarships Program

DFATD’s International Scholarships Program, through a number of programs, offers approximately 900 scholarships annually. These programs include:

  • The Canada CARICOM Leadership Scholarships Program;
  • The Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program (ELAP);
  • The Canada-China Scholars’ Exchange Program (CCSEP); and
  • The Canada-U.S. Fulbright Program.

DFATD also administers la Bourse de la francophonie which is available to students from all 37 member countries of the Organisation international de la Francophonie. All of these awards offer student’s at all post-secondary levels, researchers, and faculty members the opportunity to undertake an academic exchange to one of Canada’s recognized post-secondary institutions.

For more information on DFATD and other Government awards, please visit

Did You Know?

International Experience Canada (IEC) is a travel and work abroad initiative of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). It is enabled by the fact that bilateral youth mobility arrangements and agreements with different countries around the world allow Canadians and non-Canadians to travel and work in each other’s countries for up to one year.

Youth aged 18–35 from countries where an arrangement or agreement exists may apply to the IEC program. Find out more about travel and work in Canada at           

The Essential Point Students should know

  • we can help international students find the approved Canadian government resources with which to apply for study and work permits and learn about immigration options. However, they must always keep in mind that their direct counselling to students must be limited to study planning; under Canadian law agents are not permitted to provide guidance on visa/immigration applications.

Four Important Points to Convey to Students

  • All international students planning to study in Canada for at least six months require a study permit. This is the official document issued by the Canadian Government that allows them to study in Canada, and is sometimes referred to by students as a student visa. Courses of under six months’ duration do not require a study permit. Students must apply for a study permit from outside of Canada. Depending upon the country of origin, students may also require a temporary resident visa.

  • All international students should consult both the web resources listed in this section as well as the Canadian diplomatic mission within their home country to ensure they are submitting the proper documentation to study in Canada.

  • While there are opportunities for international students to work while they study in Canada, students should not expect work income to be part of their income; in other words, it is not guaranteed. Sufficient funding should be organized prior to departure, with the knowledge that the priority must be study. Work that complements this priority may be applied for, but should not be expected to provide a main source of funding.

  • There is a specific immigration program created by the Government of Canada to allow skilled international students to apply for permanent residency after graduation: the Canadian Experience Class.