Thinking about how to apply to Canadian universities? Well, you're in the right place. In this blog, we'll walk you through the entire process and give you some tips for preparing a solid application that will stand out and give you a better chance of getting admission. Maybe you're getting ready to apply for your undergraduate degree, or you're planning your path to one of the best law schools in Canada, or perhaps you are on a journey from high school to medical school. Either way, you'll find some beneficial information on applying to Canadian universities, so keep reading.
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Canadian universities can be highly competitive! This is a country that is known for its brutally cold winters, maple syrup, very polite citizens, hockey, and quality education. It is also home to world-famous institutions like the University of Toronto, Dalhousie University, and many others that attract both local and international students every year. In other words, to secure admission to a Canadian university, you need to stand out among thousands of applicants each year which can be difficult to do because the process of applying to universities in Canada can be pretty complex. That said, if you have the right tools and information at your disposal, you can get accepted into Canadian universities.
Admission requirements for Canadian universities
Before we go any further, it is worth noting that Canadian universities' admission criteria, application process, and competition level can vary significantly depending on the school, the programs, the province, and the types of students being admitted. You will need to visit your chosen institutions' websites for the most up-to-date information, and specific details about their admission criteria for the various options are laid out. However, to help you prepare, we will be going over some of the more general information that applies to most schools.
For most undergraduate programs, the two most essential criteria are the successful completion of high school and competency in the language you will be studying in (English in most of Canada, and either English or French in the provinces with bilingual institutions like Quebec and New Brunswick). As previously mentioned, Canadian universities receive thousands of applications every year, but they have limited space; so, there is competition for admission. This is why simply finishing high school and meeting the minimum average is not enough to guarantee admission. You should pay attention to the following admission requirements:
Most Canadian university applicants are local or international high school students, but Canadian universities also receive applications from non-traditional applicants. Mature students ( typically older than 25 or who graduated from high school over two years ago) will usually have the option of meeting the standard entry requirements applied to younger students. However, suppose they do not meet those usual admission requirements already but can demonstrate intellectual maturity through employment or have overcome significant hardship. In that case, they get still get admission to specific universities. You will need to verify the requirements with the school directly.
Interested in an overview of some of the key points from above? Check out this infographic:
The process of applying to Canadian universities
You've most likely noticed a trend by now: when it comes to post-secondary education in Canada, many things vary based on the institution and the program of study. When it comes to the process, you also have to consider the school's province. Seven out of ten of Canada's provinces do not have a specific process that you need to follow; instead, you need to check the school's website for the exact documents and deadlines you need to apply. On the other hand, things are a little different in Alberta, British Colombia, and Ontario.
Alberta & Apply Alberta
ApplyAlberta is an online application and transcript transfer system that can be used to apply to undergraduate programs at one or more of the province’s post-secondary institutions. Not all universities and colleges are participants of the program, so if you do not see the school you’re interested in on ApplyAlberta’s website, you will need to apply directly through the institution in question.
This centralized application system allows you to apply for multiple universities at once without having to re-enter your personal and academic history, thus facilitating the process for you. Furthermore, in order to apply to a post-secondary institution in Alberta, you need to have an Alberta Student Number (ASN). If you attended high school or did any other type of schooling in the province, you already have one. The challenge is that many students are unaware of this, so they do not keep track of this number. ApplyAlberta makes it easy to look up your ASN or request one if you have recently moved to the province or have never registered with a school.
You can create an account and log in when you’re ready to apply. You will need to enter your ASN and authorize the post-secondary institutions you will select to obtain your transcripts on your behalf, where available and required. If you did not go to school in Alberta or at a school that ApplyAlberta can request your transcripts from, you will be asked to obtain those documents on your own and send them to the school directly.
The next step is to fill out your profile and complete the application to the schools and programs you are interested in. When doing this, you must read the instructions carefully and provide as much information as possible. You will be asked for the details of your academic history, including activities and extracurriculars, and asked to answer any additional questions required by the school you’ve chosen.
Finally, you will be asked to review your application and confirm that the information provided is correct. You will then be asked to pay the institution’s application fee. The exact amount will depend on the school, but you should expect to pay between $75 and $150. The institution will then process the application and communicate with you directly regarding the status of your application.
British Colombia & EducationPlannerBC
EducationPlannerBC is a centralized application system that helps students plan, search and apply for admission to post-secondary institutions in British Columbia. It is very similar to the common app system. Most of the public institutions and universities in the province use this system. The only exceptions are private BC institutions, the British Columbia Institute of Technology, Royal Roads University, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Victoria.
When you are ready to apply, you will need to create an EducationPlannerBC account and create an application online. First, you'll need to enter your details, contact information, and academic history. Then, you'll select your intended start date, as well as the school, faculty, and program you're interested in. At this point, the system will provide you with a few more details on the program, which may include external links to the school's website itself for additional information that could be useful to you.
Depending on your choices, you will most likely need to fill out the additional information section. Some universities will ask you questions as prompts for essays in this section, similar to the common app essay section. Others may simply ask for specific information about your background. You will also be given the option of selecting a backup institution or program to apply to. We highly recommend doing this, especially if you're applying for a competitive program.
Do you need to write essays or personal statements for your applications? This strategy will impress the admissions committees:
Once you've filled out all the information, it will be time to upload the required documents and pay the application fee. The exact amount will vary by institution and program, but you should expect to pay roughly $100 per program.
Ontario & OUAC
Much like the other two, OUAC is a centralized processing center for applications for undergraduate admission to the universities of Ontario.
Students begin their application process by making an online account on the OUAC website’s service. From there, they can upload the necessary transcripts, documents, and other information required for their application. They will also be able to view information on the schools and programs that they might want to apply for, including the application requirements for those programs.
The OUAC application has several components that help flesh out your application, making sure that the schools you are applying to have a better idea of who you are. Aside from your personal and contact information, it includes a section for your academic history, high school transcripts, and sections related to the programs you’ve selected, such as personal statements, supplemental college essays, or the common app activities section. These sections are not mandatory for the OUAC, but certain programs may require them so it is important that you read the instructions carefully and fill them out if necessary.
Acceptance to a Canadian university
Whether you used one of the provincial application systems or applied to your chosen schools directly, the universities will assess your application and communicate with you directly about your admissibility. If you are applying for the fall intake, you will typically get a response in the spring, giving you enough time to prepare for your new journey as a college student.
If you are an international student, then the first part of your application is done. At that point, you will need to focus on applying for your study permit and student visa. We recommend working with an international student advisor to help you navigate this process, as it can get quite complicated, and even the slightest error can result in a rejection.
Tips for applying to Canadian universities
If you want to know how to apply to Canadian universities, you will need to thoroughly research the schools and programs you are interested in. The admission requirements and process are very dependent on the institution's location and its own admissions board. You'll be able to find all the application details on the school websites and on provincial application systems, where applicable. It can be a complex and lengthy process, but you can get accepted into your dream program if you give yourself enough time to find and work with the right information and the guidance of experts like college advisors.
1. How hard is it to get into Canadian universities?
There is quite a bit of competition to get into Canadian universities. The level of difficulty for getting in will depend on the school and program that you're applying to.
2. What can I do to improve my chances of getting accepted into a Canadian university?
You can increase your chances of admission by researching thoroughly, planning your application early, and working with college admissions consultants to strengthen your application.
3. What grades do I need to get into a Canadian university?
In Canada, universities and their respective programs have their own overall grade requirements, so you should check the school's website for the most up-to-date information.
4. Do Canadian institutions accept international students?
Yes. Not all of them do, but there are many that welcome international students. Simply check the school's website and make sure that the school you've chosen is a designated learning institution.
5. What is OUAC?
OUAC stands for the Ontario Universities' Application Centre. It is the centralized system through which applicants to Ontario undergraduate schools have to submit their applications.
6. What is ApplyAlberta?
ApplyAlberta is similar to Common App or OUAC. It is a centralized system that allows prospective students to apply to multiple post-secondary institutions in the province at once.
7. What is EducationPlannerBC?
EducationPlannerBC is a centralized resource that helps students plan, research, and apply for admission to post-secondary institutions in the province of British Columbia.
8. When should I start preparing my application to Canadian universities?
It would be best if you started preparing at the beginning of your senior year of high school. This gives you enough time to thoroughly research your schools and programs before you have to prepare and submit your application.
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