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Canadian scholarships: What international students need to know

For students wishing to study abroad, it doesn’t get much better than Canada. It is an incredible country with endless opportunities. Study in Canada and you’ll find a rich culture, world-famous universities, and generous Canadian scholarships to help you with costs and tuition.  

It’s no wonder that the North American nation is a magnet for intelligent, international students. In fact, a Statistics Canada study of the 2018-2019 school year found that Canada hosts students from 225 countries. The study also found that Chinese and Indian students represent more than 50% of that population.  

What’s more, Canada has been attracting more and more international talent in the past decade. The number of students from abroad has tripled in the past 10 years. International students account for 57.2% of the growth in all program enrollments.    

Canada is a global leader in terms of university education. But, with more than 100 universities and 15,000 programs of study, it can be difficult to know which are the best and most reputable.  

This is a guide for people who want to study in the country. We’ll break down more about the best universities in Canada and their top programs. Most importantly, we’ll also explore ways to find a Canadian scholarship to fund your studies.  

Canadian scholarships: What to look for 

Of course, it’s important to have a plan to finance studies and the cost of living in Canada. That’s where Canadian scholarships come in. Whether you’re looking to fund your undergraduate program or you’re seeking a master's degree scholarship in Canada (or beyond), there are plenty of options.  

The Canadian government, foundations, and not-for-profit organizations all offer a number of scholarships and grants. The most common place to score scholarships in Canada though is likely from the university itself.  

Firstly, when looking for Canadian scholarships, international students need to know about the entrance scholarships. Most universities offer these scholarships, which are based on academic history. You’ll be pleased to read that entrance scholarships operate on an automatic consideration basis as part of the admissions process. This means you don’t have to apply for them.

To understand what those scholarships look like, consider what’s offered by top universities in Canada: 

The University of Waterloo

The University of Waterloo in Ontario offers 20 entrance scholarships. These are worth $10,000 and are for international students who have at least a 90% average. In addition, you must demonstrate academic excellence and be starting year one of an undergraduate program.  

McGill University 

McGill University in Montreal, Quebec is another of Canada’s best universities. It gives entrance scholarships worth $3,000 to first-time university students starting their undergraduate program. The major entrance scholarship is worth more with some students being awarded as much as $12,000. These scholarships are renewable for three or four years for students who continue to meet scholarship criteria. International students can get this scholarship but short-term exchange students cannot.

McGill’s in-course awards are awarded automatically by each faculty. Students with excellent academic merit may earn one of these after the academic year is completed.

University of British Columbia 

The University of British Columbia is another reputable school. It gives $30 million annually in grants to international undergraduate students. Study there and you could be up for its International Major Entrance Scholarship, which is renewable for three years.  

Or you might even win its Outstanding International Student Award. This is a one-time award for a student with a strong academic background and involvement in activities beyond the classroom.  

Government grants 

The Canada-ASEAN Scholarships and Educational Exchanges for Development program gives support to students from Southeast Asian nations. To be eligible you need to be studying short-term at the college, undergraduate, and graduate levels.  

They are awarded based on applications submitted by Canadian universities on a candidate’s behalf. These scholarships are part of Canada’s effort to reduce poverty and support sustainable development in the region.  

The Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship Program is for academically talented students from Commonwealth countries studying at the masters or PhD level. The scholarship is worth $10,000. This helps students pay for transportation, cost of living fees, and any expenses related to their studies in Canada.  

For students studying in Ontario, the Ontario Graduate Scholarship Program is for those at the masters or doctoral level. To qualify, you must be attending a participating Ontario university, be enrolled for at least two consecutive terms and be studying full-time. Students can get $10,000 for two consecutive terms or $15,000 if they are enrolled in three consecutive terms. This scholarship is funded by the province of Ontario and the participating universities.

A glimpse at the top universities in Canada 

One of the best sources that ranks Canada’s best universities is Maclean’s magazine. Each year, the Canadian publication surveys faculty members, senior administration, and successful business people across the country.  

The aim of the report is to find out their opinions in regards to quality and innovation at Canada’s academic institutions. The result is a published list of rankings of the best overall universities in Canada. In addition, it shares the best programs and best schools based on students’ experiences.  

In 2021, Maclean’s  to be: 

Top-ranking specialist schools in Canada 

Of the international students in Canada, 47% study in the province of Ontario. Their most popular areas of study are business and management, followed by engineering. Considering this, it’s worth looking at the top-ranked schools in those categories as well.  

After the in-depth surveying of 1,000 professors, deans, and chairs at 80 Canadian institutions, Maclean’s found The University of British Columbia to be the best school for business. The University of Toronto followed in second place. As for engineering, University of Waterloo and The University of Toronto tied for first place.

How PTE can help you apply for a Visa 

Canada’s student visa requirements for international students include proof that you have: 

  • a university placement; 

  • the financial ability to live in Canada;

  • your high school transcript and a high level of English.  

On that last point, you will need to have taken an English language test to prove your abilities in speaking, listening, reading, and writing in order to get your visa.  

PTE Academic is a trusted English language test accepted by top institutions in Canada including The University of British Columbia, University of Waterloo, McGill University, and McMaster University. PTE Academic can help students study abroad in Canada because Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) recognizes its tests as being one of the mandatory English tests for a study permit application.  

If you are planning to take a PTE Academic test to complete your Canada student Visa application, an exam center will not be far away. In Canada, centers currently exist in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Edmonton, Calgary, and Burnaby. 

Find your nearest exam center now!  

A home away from home 

There’s no doubt about it: Canada is a world-class country for getting a university education. It’s also a very multi-culturally diverse place. This means, for international students, it’s a country that offers rich experiences beyond just the classroom.  

With the recent increase in students coming from countries like India, China, and beyond, many international students find that Canada is an easy place to adjust to. It feels like a home away from home.  

Canadian universities offer not just top-quality academic institutions and programs, but also scholarships offering students a means to finance their education. That makes Canada an easy choice for furthering your education goals overseas.