How To Choose The Right Canadian College Or University

Why Choose Canada?

Canada is a top destination for education among international students. The US News report, a survey that measures global perception of 78 countries, ranked Canada at No. 4 for education in 2021. With institutions such as University of Toronto and McGill University consistently ranking high on QS Top Universities, the quality of Canadian education speaks for itself. The opportunity to permanently live in Canada is also a major reason why thousands of gifted scholars around the world choose Canada. These perceptions and trends are also reflected by Canada’s economics. According to Statistics Canada, more than 6 per cent of Canada’s GDP was invested in education.


International students are integral to Canadian life. A 2019 study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that more than 16 per cent of students enrolled in Canada were international students. Many of these students gain Canadian work experience during their study period and transition into a Canadian job upon graduation. According to Statistics Canada, three out of 10 international students who landed in 2000 became Permanent Residents within 10 years of starting their studies. For Master’s and PhD candidates, the rate of transition was more than 50 per cent.

Choosing An Accredited Institution


The most important step in your journey as a student is to choose a Designated Learning Institution. The government of Canada maintains a master list of all Designated Learning Institutions. However not all institutions offer a program that is eligible for a Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP). Prospective students who wish to rely on the PGWP to get Canadian work experience can search the website and make sure their program is eligible.


Institutions have separate application portals and admissions criteria to satisfy. Students who seek the convenience of a unified portal can use ApplyBoard, a third party solution. Based in Ontario, Canada, ApplyBoard allows users to create a single application for multiple learning institutions.


Users can create a free account or sign in using their Facebook or Google accounts. Students have to enter their personal information, education history, IELTS test scores and transcripts. Thereafter, students can filter institutions by Province, tuition fee, program and eligibility for PGWP. Once the application is complete, students can apply to all their chosen programs with a single click.


Although ApplyBoard is generally free to use, there are fees for mature students pursuing undergraduate degrees or credentials lower than their recent credential. Fees also apply for candidates with visa complications.

Study Permit And Post-Graduate Work Permit

Express Entry

Once a candidate receives an acceptance from a Designated Learning Institution, the next step is to apply for a Study Permit. To this end the student has to prove they have the proof of funds required by the Province in which they intend to study. However, a Study Permit is not a visa. Depending on the student’s passport, a separate visa or Electronic Travel Authorization may be required to enter Canada.


The Study Permit allows a candidate to stay in Canada for the duration of their study. An additional 90 days allow students to leave Canada or apply to extend their stay. Students can visit their home countries at any time during their period of study. However, they need a valid visa to re-enter Canada, even if they have already attended a study program.


Successful candidates are issued a Study Permit which allows them to work up to 20 hours on and off campus. However, these working privileges will not be granted to students who apply for programs that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) does not deem to be academic, professional or vocational training.


Upon completing their studies, international students can apply for a Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP). This will allow students to work in Canada for a duration equivalent to their study program, up to a maximum of three years. However, study programs that are eight months or shorter are not eligible for PGWPs.


The PGWP is as important tool that allows international students to gain Canadian work experience and advance on their journey towards Permanent Residence. In order to qualify for the Canadian Experience Class of migration, candidates must have at least one year of Canadian experience in a type 0, A or B skill as defined by the National Occupational Code (NOC).

College Or University?


Candidates have to choose the right education credential depending on their professional and immigration goals. Possessing a Canadian education generally puts a candidate in an advantageous position in the Express Entry system. However, special immigration programs such as the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) target candidates from specific trades. Aligning your field of study with in-demand jobs in Canada will considerably shorten the pathway to becoming a Canadian citizen.


Canada has a two-pronged post-secondary education system. Universities offer students an opportunity to delve deeper into a field of study. Meanwhile, Colleges focus on equipping students with the skills to be speedily employed.


A Bachelor’s Degree, requiring three to four years of study, is the lowest credential offered by universities. A Master’s Degree gives an opportunity for students who already have a Bachelor’s to specialize in their chosen field and take about one to two years. A Doctoral Degree is the highest credential offered at a university, and takes about three to four years of study. The latter two degrees give students the opportunity to conduct research and contribute to the universal bank of knowledge.


Regulated industries such as law, medicine and education require students with relevant Bachelor’s Degree to complete further licensing examinations in order to be employed in Canada.

The Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) has special streams for Master’s and PhD graduates. A similar opportunity is available for international graduates of Manitoba and Newfoundland and Labrador through the PNPs of the respective Provinces. In Alberta, the nomination requires students who have studied in Alberta to own or operate a business in Alberta.


Obtaining a nomination from a PNP gives a candidate an additional 600 points in the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS). Keep in mind that these programs disqualify students who are bound by a scholarships or grants to return to their home countries after graduation.


In comparison, college programs generally take one to two years to complete. Graduates are awarded a Diploma or Certificate, depending on the program. Colleges have lower admissions criteria than universities and are more affordable. Their programs tend to be geared towards specific jobs or industries. These programs are ideal for students who want to enter skilled trades. In order to receive additional points in the CRS, students need to complete a program that is eight months or longer.


Skilled trades may require graduates to complete an apprenticeship or a license to practice before being employed.


College graduates can take advantage of their job-ready credential, along with their PGWP, and qualify for Permanent Residence under Canadian Experience Class. They can also apply for special programs such as the Employer Job Offer: International Student Stream.

Contribute To Canada As A Qualified Professional

The government of Canada considers international students as important shareholders to fill job vacancies created by COVID-19. A post-secondary education is an obvious advantage when entering the Canadian labour force. Among the OECD countries, Canada has the second highest in population with tertiary education. As of 2020, about 65 per cent of Canadians between the ages of 25 and 34 have a degree or diploma from a higher education institution. You could be one of the qualified professionals who are contributing to Canada’s vibrant economy.


Fill out our Study Permit Assessment and find out if you are eligible.

The information in this blog is not to be interpreted or construed as legal advice. Everyone’s immigration goals, objectives and situations are different. Please contact us to speak to a consultant for advice.

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