Some of the best reasons to go to any of the universities in Halifax have little to do with the actual schools. Of course, you want to choose a program that’s right for you, but why choose universities in Halifax over universities in Ottawa, universities in Montreal, or universities in Vancouver? Could it be that Halifax has one of the highest student populations in Canada with over 30,000 students living in the city? Or the breathtaking views of the ocean and the surrounding areas? The reasons are these and much more. Halifax is home to some of the most prestigious and oldest universities in Canada and, academically, can offer you everything from a liberal arts education to one of the best universities in Canada for engineering. This blog will explore more about the universities in Halifax and give you some of the best strategies for how to get in. 

Disclaimer: Please note: although we have made every effort to provide the most accurate information, admissions information changes frequently. Therefore, we encourage you to verify these details with the official university admissions office. You are responsible for your own results. BeMo does not endorse nor affiliate with any official universities, colleges, or test administrators and vice versa.

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Article Contents
11 min read

Universities in Halifax 1. Dalhousie University 2. Mount Saint Vincent University 3. Saint Mary’s University 4. NSCAD University 5. University of King’s College 6. Atlantic School of Theology How to Apply to Universities in Halifax Why Study at Universities in Halifax How to Get into Universities in Halifax

Universities in Halifax

1. Dalhousie University

2. Mount Saint Vincent University

3. Saint Mary’s University

4. NSCAD University

5. University of King’s College

6. Atlantic School of Theology

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1. Dalhousie University

Acceptance Rate: 50%

Average GPA of Admitted Students: 87%

Minimum GPA to Apply: 65-75% (program-dependent)

First Year Tuition: $10,431

Dalhousie University is well-known in Canada and the world as one of the top-ranked universities in Nova Scotia, for everything from the Dalhousie University Faculty of Medicine to its Faculty of Agriculture. The school has two campuses – in Halifax and one in Truro, which is where the Faculty of Agriculture is located. But if you choose to join any of the other 13 faculties at Dalhousie, you’ll be studying at any of the three Halifax campuses (Studley, Sexton, and Carelton). The school has one of the best student-to-faculty ratios in Canada (18:1), so you’ll get a more personalized education and have more interaction with faculty than at other schools.

The entry requirements to Dalhousie are similar to any other university, as you must have completed high school in Canada, or the equivalent if you are an international student.

Admissions are competitive and you must meet at least the following requirements:

  • Have a 65% grade average
  • Have a minimum 60% grade average for grade 11 classes

If you want to apply, you have to create an account with the school’s in-house application service, Dal Online to submit your transcripts and other application materials. You can choose to live in one of the many student residences or find accommodation somewhere off-campus. The academic offerings are also on par with a school of Dalhousie’s stature, as the school offers undergraduate degrees in various fields, but also offer skills and trades programs so you can earn a diploma or certificate in a wide-variety of different industries.

2. Mount Saint Vincent University

Acceptance Rate: n/a

Average GPA of Admitted Students: n/a

Minimum GPA to Apply: 70%

First Year Tuition: $9,111 – $9,554 (living at home); $20,166 – $20,609 (on residence); $30,507 (international students)

Mount Saint Vincent University originally started as an all-women's college and the advancement of women and girls is still a part of the universities overall mission. The school is co-ed now, but the latest class statistics show that the student population is majority female (76%), which is more than most other universities in Canada. The school has five separate degree categories:

  • Bachelor of Arts or Science
  • Bachelor of Education
  • Professional Studies
  • Graduate Studies
  • Certificates & Diplomas

While the school is non-competitive, it still has more stringent admissions requirements than other schools, as you have to have a minimum 70% grade average to apply to the most of the degree programs. The school only has three traditional Bachelor degree options (Arts, Science and Education), and its professional programs features one of the only Bachelor of Public Relations degrees in Canada.

The Professional Studies faculty also gives out Bachelor degrees in Applied Human Nutrition, and Business Administration, although it does not have a business school, or any other professional schools (law or medical school) associated with it. Given the school’s small size (only 40 acres sitting on the edge of the Bedford Basin) it also has a good student-to-faculty ratio (20:1) and one of the lowest average class sizes in Canada (23), which is not as good as Dalhousie, but Mount Saint Vincent only has 4000 undergraduate and graduate students so it is still has excellent faculty interaction. So much so that most graduates cite the faculty as the best thing about going to Mount Saint Vincent.

3. Saint Mary’s University

Acceptance Rate: 65%

Average GPA of Admitted Students: n/a

Minimum GPA to Apply: 70-72% (program-dependent)

First Year Tuition: $8,247 (in-province); $9,530 (out-of-province)

Saint Mary’s University is the other quintessential university in Halifax, as it has been around as long as Dalhousie, although it does not have as many degree programs and faculties. The school still has robust undergraduate offerings ranging from Arts to Science and Education. It is also home to the Sobey School of Business and a School of the Environment that offers various undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

There are also a wide range of professional and diploma-granting programs aimed at increasing your skills in particular areas from business writing to human resource management, if you are already a professional. The university has various locations throughout Halifax and has three on-campus residences that house up to 1000 students every year. To get into Saint Mary’s University, you need at least a 70% grade average for the Bachelor of Arts, but other programs have different requirements, and your required courses depend on the program you are applying to.

The school has an online application service where you can apply to any of the undergraduate programs. You need to apply via the school’s in-house service, but the school also accepts mailed application materials such as college essays and college recommendation letters. Saint Mary’s is also known for its many co-op programs, and you can take advantage of the many private partnerships the school has with outside industries that can help you create a network of career opportunities.

4. NSCAD University

Acceptance Rate: 65%

Average GPA of Admitted Students: n/a

Minimum GPA to Apply: 70-72% (program-dependent)

First Year Tuition: $5,969 (in-province); $6,610 (out-of-province); $14,072 (international students)

The Nova Scotia College of Art and Design is the province’s premiere art school and has three campuses throughout historic Halifax (the Academy, the Port, and the Fountain) that offer the most authentic experience of what it is like to live and study in the city. NSCAD has an undergraduate and graduate program, although it also offers several diploma programs in post-baccalaureate design and art instruction.

The school has several different application pathways for students, both Canadian and international, based on whether you have completed any art or design classes or are applying directly from high school. You can choose to apply directly from high school and then spend your first year exploring the school’s various degree programs that range from:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Art History
  • Bachelor Fine Arts in Fine Art/Film/Ceramics/Photography/Textiles and Fashion

You can also pursue an interdisciplinary degree, which combines courses from several areas or follows a plan of study that you set out. Because it is an arts school, admission is competitive, and you have to submit more than the usual, meaning more than your transcripts and supplemental application information.

For most of the Fine Arts programs, you must submit things such as:

  • Portfolio(s)
  • List of work (completed and unfinished)
  • Reference letters

The school does not require any standardized tests, so if you are wondering about how to study for the SAT or SAT test dates, you can breathe easy, although if you have taken the test and have satisfactory scores, then you can submit them if you want. If you do get in, your first year will be a Foundation year, where you will learn more about the many disciplines involved at the school and which degree program is best for you.

You can also apply as an exchange or mature student, which have their own admissions requirements, such as never having been enrolled in a post-secondary institution and are older than 22 years old for mature students. NSCAD has its own in-house application service, and you can only apply via this online platform. You can also use the service to upload your documents, such as your portfolio, transcripts, and letters of reference.

5. University of King’s College

Acceptance Rate: 70%

Average GPA of Admitted Students: n/a

Minimum GPA to Apply: 70%

First Year Tuition: $24,250 (Canadian students); $48,037 (international students)

A close partner of Dalhousie and the oldest chartered university in Canada, University of King’s College university offers four bachelor degrees (Arts, Science, Journalism, and Music), and also lets you choose a Foundation Year program, if you haven’t decided on a major yet. The Foundation Year is aimed at giving you a window into the school’s programs and academic offerings, so you can make a more informed decision in your second year about what you want to do.

The University sits only steps away from the Dalhousie campus, and this connection is important because many of the programs available at UKC use the classes and resources at Dalhousie as part of their instruction. The admission requirements for most of the programs at UKC require a high school diploma, and five foundational Grade 12 courses completed with a minimum 70% grade average.

The school has a much smaller population than other universities in Halifax (only 1000) but this is something you should consider if you want to have more faculty interaction and want a quieter more peaceful campus life. Not surprisingly, the student-to-faculty ratio is 15:1, which is one of the lowest ratios of all the universities in Halifax, and similar to the ratio at Acadia University, which is one hour outside of Halifax.

The application process to get into UKC involves using the same program as Dalhousie, since the two schools are neighbors in more ways than one. You have to create an account with the Dal Online platform, and select UKC as your institution. Even though the schools share an application service, their offerings and requirements are very different.

6. Atlantic School of Theology

Acceptance Rate: n/a

Average GPA of Admitted Students: n/a

Minimum GPA to Apply: 70%

First Year Tuition: $24,250 (Canadian students); $48,037 (international students)

The smallest of all the universities in Halifax, the Atlantic School of Theology has only 90 students in either undergraduate or graduate study and eight full-time faculty. The school has a specific mission and purpose, which is the training and education of students who want to enter the ministry, students who have already entered the ministry, or students who want to pursue diplomas associated with the ministry (missional and theological studies).

The school has only one Bachelor degree program, but, as of this writing, it is still waiting to be approved by the Ministry of Education. The Bachelor of Theology program will be AST’s first undergraduate program, as it already offers two master’s degrees in Divinity and Master of Arts in Theological Studies. The school has also degree programs offered in collaboration with other universities in Halifax, such as St. Mary’s University.

The school has its online application service that you use to submit all your documents. While the bachelor of theology degree is still pending approval, you can still apply for the program as long as you have graduated high school, completed five Grade 12 courses with a minimum grade average of 70% and upload three letters of reference.

How to Apply to Universities in Halifax 

Universities in Nova Scotia and universities in Halifax do not have a centralized application system, such as the Ontario Universities Application Center (OUAC) or Apply Alberta or EducationPlannerBC. In most cases, you apply directly to the school using its proprietary application platform. If you want to send supplemental application information, you can also send those directly to the school either by email or mail, depending on the school.

Why Study at Universities in Halifax

Many of the students at universities in Halifax are from out-of-province, which goes to show how popular Halifax is for students from all across Canada and the world. We’ve talked a lot about the natural setting and its closeness to the ocean, and there’s no doubt that many students wish to be near such stunning scenery, but the fact that Nova Scotia, and, by extension, Halifax is smaller than other cities in Canada also plays a role.

This smallness extends to universities in Halifax, as many of them have lower student-to-faculty ratios that most of the other big universities in Canada, although universities in Quebec seem to have the lowest ones. The fact that tuition rates and living expenses are also more manageable than they are in other major university centres are two of the other reasons why so many students decide to attend any one of the universities in Halifax.

How to Get into Universities in Halifax

Start Planning Early

Most universities in Halifax ask for your high school record from Grade 10, so if you want to get into a competitive program, you need to start thinking about what classes you need to take (and excel in) to get noticed. The minimum grade average to get into most universities in Halifax is 70%, but you don’t want to apply with only the minimum grade average. The average for students accepted into Dalhousie is 87%, so you should try to aim for that and complete the required courses you need to get into the program of your choice.

Review the School’s Mission Statement/Values

If you’re having a hard time deciding on one particular school, you should take a look at the school’s mission statement, facts and figures or its history to get a sense of whether it is the place you want to be. This will not only help you decide, but also give you a sense of what extracurriculars for college and other student engagement activities that will stand out in your resume or personal statements. Mount Saint Vincent started as a school for women, and it continues with this tradition in its mission, academic offerings and its women-majority student population, so maybe that appeals to you. Research is another area where many of these universities distinguish themselves, as Mount Saint Vincent, Dalhousie, Saint Mary’s University, and University of King’s College all have various research centres, institutes and on-going initiatives that you could be a part of in the future, if that interests you.

Send Optional Application Materials

If you’re worried about how to get into college with a low GPA you should take the opportunity to send additional applications materials, such as a personal statement, letters of recommendation or reference, and a college statement of interest to show the admissions committee another side of you. You can send materials such as a “why this college essay?” to show what exactly about the school appeals to you. If you’re not sure how to start a college essay, you can always begin with something personal about yourself (background, family, personal interests) and then connect your interests with something about the school itself. But make sure the school will accept these materials and write them first to ask.

Get Admissions Consulting Advice

If you are a little fazed by the process of how to apply to Canadian universities and have little idea of how to get accepted into Canadian universities, then you should seek professional advice and guidance. A college admissions consulting professional that has experience working with universities in Canada (sometimes they are former admissions committee members) can give you the advice and guidance you need. But make sure that you get help early if you are struggling so you can plan accordingly and have time to revise your letters, statements and other application essays.


1. How many universities are in Halifax?

There are six public, degree-granting universities in Halifax. 

2. What can you study at universities in Halifax?

The six universities in Halifax offer everything from liberal arts degrees in Arts and Science to professional studies classes and diploma or certificate courses in professional fields such as childcare, teaching, trades, and the hospitality sector. 

3. What are the best universities in Halifax?

Dalhousie University is the largest and most top-ranked university in Halifax, and it has the most variety of degree programs and faculties within the Halifax Regional Municipality. But the other universities in Halifax are also well-regarded and have distinct academic programs and cultures. 

4. What is the best university in Halifax for international students?

Again, Dalhousie is the most recognized university in Halifax, and it receives the most international applications, but the other universities in Halifax are building their international profiles and also regularly receive applications from international students. 

5. What GPA do you need to get into universities in Halifax?

The minimum GPA that most programs and universities in Halifax require is 70%, which is often more than the minimum in other provinces (60-65%). 

6. How do I get into universities in Halifax as an international student?

If you are an international student and you want to apply to any of the universities in Halifax, you have to meet similar requirements as Canadian applicants, but also demonstrate English language proficiency and submit testing scores as part of your application. 

7. How do I apply to universities in Halifax?

All of the universities in Halifax have their own application process and system, but all of them are online so you first have to create your account and then submit your application materials. 

8. Is it hard to get into universities in Halifax?

It is not hard to get into universities in Halifax, if you exceed the minimum requirements and submit additional applications materials, such as a letter of recommendation or statement of interest.  

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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