Ultimate Guide for International Students in Canada

Ultimate Guide for International Students in Canada

Are you an international student gearing up for a journey to Canada? It’s universally acknowledged that Canada is renowned for its diverse cultural heritage, and world-renowned educational establishments. But with such a move comes a multitude of questions and decisions. How do you tackle the cost of living? And what courses should you choose? Which universities stand out? Where do you find scholarships? What about transportation and insurance? We know that every step can be a maze of websites and advice, each offering a different piece of the puzzle. That’s where this guide “Ultimate Guide for International Students in Canada” comes into play.

This resource serves as your all-in-one platform for everything you need to know about studying in Canada, whether you are still planning your journey or already stepping onto Canadian soil. From understanding the cost of living to discovering the top universities, securing scholarships, finding the perfect place to stay, and setting up your bank account, we have got it all covered. The guide starts with the basics and concludes with a detailed packing list to ensure you are fully prepared.

Table of Contents

Average Cost of Living in Canada for Students

The cost of living in Canada for international students varies significantly by city. Each city offers a distinct experience, from high cultural diversity to natural beauty and academic excellence. Below is an overview of the monthly living expenses for international students in five major Canadian cities:

  • Toronto: Monthly expenses range from $1,200 to $2,500
  • Vancouver: Monthly costs vary from $1,000 to $2,500
  • Montreal: Students can expect to spend between $800 and $1,800 per month
  • Calgary: Monthly expenses fall in the range of $1,000 to $2,000
  • Ottawa: Monthly living costs typically range from $800 to $1,800

For specific costs related to accommodation, transportation, food and groceries, utilities, healthcare and insurance, and entertainment and lifestyle in each city, readers can refer to the following link:

Study Permit for Canada

A Canadian study permit, issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), is a vital document for international students aiming to pursue education at Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs) in Canada. It details the purpose of stay, potential work permissions, and the study program’s level. Typically, it matches the program’s duration and includes an extra 90 days for post-study preparations or extensions. However, specific scenarios, such as conditional acceptance or early course completion, might lead to exceptions.

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To be eligible, you must be enrolled in a DLI, demonstrate adequate financial support, meet legal requirements, maintain good health, and intend to leave Canada upon study completion. Responsibilities include consistent academic progress and adherence to permit conditions. Study permit exemptions exist for short-term programs and specific categories of individuals.

For those seeking comprehensive information, in-depth details, and guidance to streamline the application process for upcoming international students, you can explore the following link.

Top Universities in Canada

When considering higher education in Canada, it’s essential to not only choose a top-ranked university but also a student-friendly city that can enhance your overall educational experience. Canada’s attraction to international students lies in its commitment to academic excellence, reasonable tuition fees, and a multicultural environment that encourages exposure to diverse cultures. Additionally, one significant advantage for international students is the provision of up to 3 years of post-graduate work permits, allowing them to gain valuable practical experience after graduation. To help you make informed decisions, here are the top-rated student-friendly cities in Canada and the leading universities within them:

Top-Rated Student-Friendly Cities in Canada

Discover the table below to find student-friendly cities in Canada for international students

QS Best Student Cities 2024 RankingCities Overall Score

Top Universities in Canada

Here are some of the leading institutions in the country:

  • University of Toronto, Ontario: Known for research excellence, with strong programs in Computer Science, Engineering, and Economics. International undergraduate fees range from CAD 33,000 to CAD 58,000 annually, while postgraduate programs cost international students between CAD 8,600 and CAD 60,000 per year.
  • McGill University, Montreal: An esteemed institution with programs in Medicine, Law, and Computer Science. For international undergraduate programs, fees typically range from CAD 17,000 to CAD 45,000 annually, and for international postgraduate programs, they can vary from CAD 8,000 to CAD 45,000 per year.
  • University of British Columbia, Vancouver: Known for its stunning campus and strong programs in Computer Science, Engineering, and Environmental Science. For international undergraduate programs, tuition fees typically range from CAD 20,000 to CAD 40,000 per year. In the case of international postgraduate programs, fees can vary from CAD 8,000 to CAD 35,000 annually.
  • University of Alberta, Edmonton: Recognized for excellence in research and programs in Health Sciences, Sciences, and Humanities. For international undergraduate programs, fees typically range from CAD 20,000 to CAD 30,000 per year. In the case of international postgraduate programs, fees can vary from CAD 8,000 to CAD 23,000 annually.
  • University of Waterloo, Waterloo: Renowned for its cooperative education programs, with strengths in Engineering, Computer Science, and Mathematics. For international undergraduate programs, fees range from CAD 20,000 to CAD 30,000 per year. In international postgraduate programs, fees can vary from CAD 14,000 to CAD 28,000 annually.

If you are eager to dive into the world of Canadian universities and cities or require support with your admission process, look no further. Explore the following link for all the insights you need!

PG Diploma Courses in Canada

A Postgraduate Diploma (PG Diploma), also known as a Graduate Diploma, is a compelling option for students seeking specialized knowledge and skills in a specific field after completing their undergraduate studies. These programs typically span from 8 months to 2 years, offering practical and hands-on training. This prepares graduates to be competitive in the job market.

Best Colleges for PG Diploma in Canada

Following are some of the top colleges known for offering excellent PG Diploma programs:

1. Seneca College: Renowned for its industry-relevant PG Diploma programs in technology, business, and health sciences.

2. Centennial College: Offers experiential learning to prepare students for real-world challenges in fields like business, engineering technology, and media.

3. Humber College: Known for comprehensive programs and practical training in business management, healthcare, and information technology.

4. George Brown College: Emphasizes hands-on learning and industry connections in creative and practical fields.

5. Fanshawe College: Highly regarded for its strong industry partnerships and practical training in business, technology, and health.

6. Sheridan College: Renowned for arts and technology programs with a focus on creative and innovative learning.

7. Conestoga College: Offers programs in engineering, health sciences, and business, emphasizing applied research and practical skills.

8. Durham College: Known for hands-on learning opportunities and strong industry connections in technology, business, and health sciences.

9. Algonquin College: Provides programs in media, business, health, and engineering, with a commitment to student success.

10. Lambton College: Recognized for business, technology, and healthcare programs, with a focus on practical skills and industry certifications.

If you want to know more about PG Diploma programs in Canada and how they can lead to PR, you can refer to the linked article.

Scholarships for International Students in Canada

Scholarships in Canada make higher education accessible to international students. The country offers various opportunities, from government to private and university scholarships, recognizing academic excellence, research potential, and leadership qualities.

Government Scholarships

Government Scholarships provide opportunities for academic excellence. Notable options include:

  • Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships: Prestigious awards for exceptional doctoral students.
  • Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships: Support for top-tier postdoctoral researchers.
  • Canada Graduate Scholarships (CGS): Funding for graduate-level studies.
  • The Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program (ELAP): Promotes academic collaboration and student exchange.

Private and NGO Scholarships

Private and NGO Scholarships offer various opportunities for international students. Here are some examples:

  • Trudeau Foundation Scholarships: Transformative opportunities for doctoral candidates.
  • Lester B. Pearson International Scholarship Program: Identifies and honors remarkable international students for their achievements and contributions.
  • The Loran Scholars Foundation: Comprehensive undergraduate scholarships.

Provincial Scholarships

Provincial Scholarships offer opportunities to excel in specific regions. Here are some notable options

  • Ontario Trillium Scholarship (OTS): Attracts international Ph.D. students to Ontario.
  • Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Scholarship: Supports academic excellence.
  • Saskatchewan Centennial Scholarships: Promotes academic excellence in Saskatchewan.

Institutional Scholarships

Various universities offer scholarships to ease financial challenges and support academic excellence. Notable institutions include Humber College, York University, McGill University, UBC, and the University of Toronto, providing diverse scholarships covering undergraduate and postgraduate levels and various academic disciplines. These scholarships shape future leaders in academia, policy, and community engagement. 

To learn more and apply, refer to the linked article on Canada Scholarships for International Students.

IT Certifications in Canada for International Students

In the fast-evolving tech landscape of Canada, obtaining the right IT certifications is the key to a rewarding career. These certifications not only validate your expertise but also play a crucial role in securing jobs in various sectors. Here are some of the top IT certifications in Canada:

  • Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC): GIAC is a renowned cybersecurity certification, vital for safeguarding Canada’s technology-dependent sectors from cyber threats.
  • AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate: In a cloud-centric Canada, this certification is crucial for professionals designing scalable and cost-effective solutions on AWS.
  • Certified Information Security Manager (CISM): CISM experts manage and enhance information security systems, vital in Canada’s digital economy.
  • Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC): CRISC-certified professionals bridge IT and business risks, addressing challenges in Canada’s dynamic business landscape.
  • Project Management Professional (PMP): PMP-certified experts manage projects efficiently, crucial for various sectors in Canada.
  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH): CEH professionals uncover vulnerabilities, protecting Canada’s digital assets in a technology-driven landscape.
  • Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA): CCNA is foundational for network administrators, ensuring seamless communication and data exchange in Canada.
  • Certified Information System Security Professional (CISSP): CISSP is vital for safeguarding digital landscapes against evolving cyber threats in Canada’s diverse industries.
  • Cisco Certified Technician (CCT): CCT-certified technicians maintain Cisco networking devices, crucial for Canada’s interconnected systems.
  • CompTIA IT Fundamentals+ (ITF+): ITF+ provides beginners with essential IT knowledge, helping them navigate the technology landscape.

ISIC Canada

The International Student Identity Card (ISIC) is a versatile identification card tailored for international students studying in Canada and around the world. It not only serves as a confirmation of student status but also grants access to a multitude of discounts and benefits. Recognized in over 130 countries, the ISIC card offers global mobility, making it a valuable tool for students looking to maximize their academic journeys. This card is a gateway to reduced fares on transportation, discounted admissions to cultural sites, special offers at restaurants and shops, and even optional insurance plans for added security during a student’s time abroad. 

Eligibility for an International Student Identity Card in Canada includes being a full-time student at a recognized educational institution, typically starting at age 12, providing proof of enrollment, a passport-sized photo, and paying an application fee. The application process may vary, and ISIC cards are usually valid for one year, and renewable as long as you continue to meet the eligibility criteria.

Cheapest City in Canada for International Students

Finding an affordable city to pursue your education in Canada is a smart choice for international students. Here are some budget-friendly cities in each Canadian province, along with the total monthly expenses for students in each location:

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan: Monthly Expense $1,200
Nestled on the banks of the South Saskatchewan River, Saskatoon provides a well-rounded experience that combines education with personal growth.

Fredericton, New Brunswick: Monthly Expense $1,300
Situated on the banks of the majestic Saint John River, Fredericton provides an enriching environment for students seeking both academic excellence and a cost-effective lifestyle.

Trois-Rivières, Quebec: Monthly Expense $1,300
Situated at the meeting point of the Saint-Maurice and Saint Lawrence Rivers, Trois-Rivières provides international students with a distinctive combination of outstanding academics, cultural diversity, and a rich historical backdrop.

Kingston, Ontario: Monthly Expense $1,400
Located between Toronto and Montreal, Kingston stands as an inviting destination for international students seeking academic excellence, historic charm, and a welcoming community.

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island: Monthly Expense $1,350
Situated on the picturesque Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown offers students a unique blend of academic excellence and small-town charm.

Winnipeg, Manitoba: Monthly Expense $1,550
Nestled in the heart of Canada, Winnipeg offers international students a unique blend of academic opportunities, cultural diversity, and affordability.

These cities offer international students quality education and a cost-effective lifestyle, making Canada an attractive destination for those pursuing higher education.

How to Open a Bank Account in Canada?

Opening a student bank account in Canada is a simple process, with two main types of accounts available: chequing and savings. Chequing accounts are for daily expenses, while savings accounts are for longer-term financial goals. To get started:

  • Choose a Bank: Research Canadian banks to find one that suits your needs.
  • Check Eligibility: Ensure you meet the bank’s criteria, like age and residency status.
  • Select Your Account: Pick the account type that fits your financial requirements.
  • Apply Online: Visit the bank’s website and fill out the online application, providing personal details and info about your stay in Canada.
  • Gather Documents: Collect required documents, including a valid passport, student visa, acceptance letter, and proof of a Canadian address if available.
  • Additional ID: Some banks may need extra identification, like a driver’s license.
  • In-Person Visit: While most steps are online, some banks may require an in-person visit in Canada to finalize the account setup.

Eligibility for a Canadian Student Bank Account varies between banks, so it’s essential to confirm your bank’s specific requirements. Generally, you will need a valid passport, study permit, or acceptance letter from a Canadian educational institution, proof of a Canadian address if available, additional identification if requested by the bank, and proof of GIC purchase if applicable.

Best Chequing Accounts in Canada for International Students

In Canada, student chequing accounts are tailored for day-to-day transactions and easy accessibility, making them ideal for students. These accounts provide a range of benefits, including free and unlimited chequing, access to Interac e-transfers, and in some cases, rewarding loyalty programs. Here are the top 5 student chequing accounts in Canada:

1. Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage Plan: Scotiabank offers this plan with free and unlimited chequing, along with unlimited Interac e-transfers. Students can earn Scene+ points on their everyday purchases, which can be redeemed for various rewards.

2. HSBC Student Chequing: HSBC provides a student chequing account with unlimited free chequing and access to Interac e-transfers. It also offers free transfers to and from HSBC accounts abroad, and there’s a welcome bonus of up to $150 if you open an account by a specific date.

3. TD Student Chequing Account: TD Bank’s student chequing account offers free and unlimited chequing, access to Interac e-transfers, and perks like Starbucks stars and an Amazon.ca gift card. No enrollment documentation is needed if you are under the age of 23.

4. Simplii Financial Student Banking Offer: Simplii Financial’s offer includes free and unlimited chequing, unrestricted Interac e-transfers, and a welcome bonus of $400 for new account holders. No proof of enrollment is required, and the free chequing benefit continues after graduation.

5. First Nations Bank of Canada Student Chequing Account: This Indigenous-owned bank offers free and unlimited chequing, unlimited Interac e-transfers, and simplified account opening for students under the age of 23.

These student chequing accounts provide convenience, access, and, in some cases, valuable bonuses and rewards.

Credit Cards in Canada for International Students

Student credit cards in Canada offer young adults a great opportunity to start building their credit history while enjoying various benefits and rewards. Here are some of the top student credit cards in the country:

1. BMO CashBack® Mastercard® for Students

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Interest Rates: 20.99% / 22.99%
  • Rewards Rate: 0.5%–5%
  • Intro Offer: Up to $125

2. American Express Cobalt® Card

  • Annual Fee: $155.88
  • Interest Rates: 20.99% / 21.99%
  • Rewards Rate: 1x-5x Points
  • Intro Offer: Up to 30,000 Points

3. American Express® Green Card

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Interest Rates: 20.99% / 21.99%
  • Rewards Rate: 1x-2x Points
  • Intro Offer: 10,000 Points

4. Scotia Momentum® No-Fee Visa Card (for students)

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Interest Rates: 19.99% / 22.99%
  • Rewards Rate: 0.5%-1%
  • Intro Offer: Up to $100

5. RBC ION+ Visa Credit Card

  • Annual Fee: $48
  • Interest Rates: 20.99% / 22.99%
  • Rewards Rate: 1x-3x Points
  • Intro Offer: 12,000 Points

Before applying for a Student Credit Card, consider the eligibility criteria. The minimum age varies by province, with some requiring you to be 18, while others set the age at 19. You will need to demonstrate your ability to meet minimum monthly payments based on your income. 

Health Insurance in Canada for International Students

The Canadian healthcare system is known for its commitment to accessible and quality medical care. It covers doctor visits, hospital care, prescription medications, diagnostic tests, and preventive services. However, international students often require additional health insurance. Here are their options:

1. University/College Health Plans: These are comprehensive plans offered by educational institutions, covering various medical services.

2. Private Insurance Providers: International students can customize health insurance plans to fit their needs, considering coverage limits, deductibles, and more.

3. Provincial Health Plans: Canada’s healthcare system operates provincially, so each region has its unique approach to healthcare. Provincial plans might not cover all expenses, so many students supplement with private health insurance.

4. International Student Associations: International student associations collaborate with insurers for custom health plans at competitive rates. Join an association for convenient access to comprehensive coverage.

5. Hybrid Approach: Many students combine provincial coverage (if eligible) with private insurance to ensure comprehensive protection.

In summary, international students in Canada have diverse healthcare options, allowing them to choose a plan that aligns with their individual circumstances and provides peace of mind during their educational journey in the country.

Part Time Jobs in Canada

Part time jobs in Canada offer a multitude of benefits for international students, including financial support to cover living expenses and tuition fees, skill development that enhances time management and communication abilities, valuable work experience to bolster their resumes, networking opportunities, and cultural integration into the Canadian workforce. These part time opportunities can be either on-campus, such as research or teaching assistant roles, or off-campus, like retail or food service positions. 

The average pay for on-campus jobs ranges from $12 to $25 per hour, while off-campus jobs typically offer hourly rates between $12 and $18. However, it’s important to note that minimum wage rates differ by province, with Alberta and British Columbia having the highest at $15 and $15.20 per hour, respectively.

Finding part-time jobs in Canada as an international student is a great way to earn income and gain work experience. Here’s how:

  • On-Campus Opportunities: Check your school’s job listings for on-campus positions tailored to students’ schedules.
  • Online Job Portals: Use platforms like Indeed, Monster, Workopolis, and LinkedIn to search for part-time jobs.
  • Job Fairs: Attend local job fairs to network and learn about opportunities.
  • Networking: Inform classmates, professors, and advisors that you are seeking part-time work.
  • Career Services: Visit your school’s career services for resume and interview help.
  • Local Businesses: Inquire at nearby businesses like restaurants, cafes, and stores for part-time positions.

Student Discounts Canada

Canada is a dream destination for international students. Yet, managing the cost of living and exploring this vast country can be a concern. Luckily, Canada understands the financial challenges students face and offers a range of student discounts.

1. Accommodation Discounts

Finding affordable accommodation is a top priority for students in Canada, and there are various ways to save:

  • On-Campus Housing: Convenient and budget-friendly options.
  • Shared Accommodations: Cost-effective living with roommates.
  • Homestays: Cultural experiences at lower rates.
  • Off-Campus Housing: Discounts for student rentals.
  • Short-Term Rentals: Flexibility for limited stays.

2. Transportation Discounts

Canada’s vast size can make transportation costs a concern, but there are savings to be had:

  • Public Transportation: Reduced fares with a student ID.
  • Inter-City Travel: Discounts for city-hopping.
  • Air Travel: Special fares for domestic flights.
  • Ride-Sharing and Car Rentals: Affordable options.

3. Museum and Cultural Discounts

Experience Canada’s rich cultural heritage without worrying about the cost:

  • Reduced Admission Fees: Lower entry costs for students.
  • Free Admission Days: Explore museums for free on specific days.
  • Student Memberships: Added benefits with reduced rates.
  • University Partnerships: Special arrangements with local museums.
  • Online Exhibitions: Virtual tours from home.

4. Entertainment Discounts

While education is a priority, students also need ways to unwind and have fun. Here are some budget-friendly entertainment options:

  • Cinema Discounts: Affordable movie tickets.
  • Concerts and Performances: Live shows at reduced rates.
  • Sports Events: Cheer for your team with discounts.
  • Nightlife Discounts: Lower cover charges at student-friendly venues.
  • Cultural Events: Celebrate diversity with discounted entry.

5. Outdoor Adventures

Canada’s natural beauty is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts, and students can explore it affordably:

  • National and Provincial Parks: Enjoy nature at reduced or no cost.
  • Outdoor Activities: Discounts for hiking, kayaking, and more.
  • Wildlife Watching: Experience nature with student discounts.
  • Camping: Affordable immersion in the great outdoors.
  • Free Activities: Hike, picnic, and stargaze for free.

Canada offers a wealth of student discounts, making education and exploration accessible and affordable. Enjoy your time in this beautiful country while staying within your budget.

Transportation in Canada for International Students

In Canada, you have got some great options for getting around, and as an international student, it’s essential to know how to navigate the country efficiently. Here are the different types of public transportation available to make your student life more accessible and budget-friendly:

1. Buses: You will find extensive bus services all over Canada, perfect for both city and intercity travel. Local transit authorities manage these services, ensuring you have frequent routes and reliable schedules.

2. Subway and Light Rail Systems: Major cities like Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver offer efficient subway and light rail systems. These systems are quick and affordable, connecting important parts of the cities seamlessly.

3. Trains: Canada’s train network is vast and covers regional and national travel. Via Rail, the primary passenger rail service, even offers student discounts and passes for those looking to explore farther distances.

4. Ferries: If you are in coastal regions, you can take advantage of ferry services that link various islands. These ferry rides offer not only transportation but also breathtaking views and memorable travel experiences.

Using public transit in Canada is not only cost-effective but also environmentally friendly. It’s a fantastic way to explore your new surroundings, attend classes, and access all the amenities you need. By understanding your local transit options, making use of student discounts, and planning your routes, you can make the most of your student life in Canada while saving money for other exciting experiences.

Packing List for Canada

Before you embark on your journey to Canada, creating a well-thought-out packing list is crucial. Ensuring you have the right travel documents, clothing for the diverse climate, essential electronics, toiletries, travel gear, financial knowledge, and reliable guides and maps can significantly enhance your trip.

  • Travel Documents: Passport, Visa, eTA, Flight Tickets, Hotel Reservations, Travel Insurance, Driver’s License – Vital for a smooth entry.
  • Clothing Essentials: Pack for Canada’s diverse climate, from subarctic to temperate, to stay comfortable.
  • Electronics: Stay connected, capture memories, and navigate with essential gadgets.
  • Toiletries and Medications: Ensure a comfortable and healthy journey.
  • Money and Banking: Get informed about currency, banking, and financial tips for a seamless experience.
  • Travel Guides and Maps: Enhance your adventure with reliable guides and maps.
  • Miscellaneous: Consider comfort, convenience, and enjoyment with various essential items for your Canada trip.

As you plan your journey, these packing essentials will ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience in Canada.

Ultimate Guide for International Students in Canada: Your Key to Success

In conclusion, this ultimate guide equips international students with the essential knowledge and tools to embark on their educational journey in Canada. From understanding the cost of living and selecting the right university to securing scholarships and navigating the intricacies of opening a bank account, the guide covers every aspect of student life in Canada. As you prepare for this adventure, ensure you have the necessary travel documents, climate-appropriate clothing, and important electronics in your packing list. 

Canada not only offers top-tier education but also a diverse cultural experience. Whether you choose the bustling city of Toronto, the rich culture of Montreal, or the natural beauty of Vancouver, this guide provides you with the resources to excel and make the most of your time in Canada. Your experience in Canada is not just about education; it’s about personal growth, cultural enrichment, and lifelong memories. Embrace the opportunities, explore the stunning landscapes, and take full advantage of the diverse student discounts available. 

Other useful resources:

We believe that the “Ultimate Guide for International Students in Canada” has offered you valuable insights. If you are keen to delve further into information about Canada’s immigration, be sure to visit LooneyTooney.ca to stay updated with the latest news and insights.

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