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Masters in Canada: A Course Guide for International Students

Sonal Vaid Sonal Vaid
Study Abroad Expert

Masters in Canada is a 1-2 year postgraduate program offered as an academic or a professional degree. Students pursuing a masters course from top Canadian universities are awarded the qualification of Masters of Science(MS) or Masters of Arts (MA). Apart from these, students also have options for specialist masters degrees such as Master of Fine Arts(MFA), Master of Engineering (MEng), Master of Business Administration (MBA), etc. 

  • A masters degree is offered as a course-based program or a thesis-based program for higher studies in Canada. However, there might be some Canadian universities offering it as a mixture of two. 
  • The average tuition fee for graduate studies in Canada ranges from 20,000 CAD to 30,000 CAD annually.
  • A Masters graduate can earn an average annual salary of 169,000 CAD. 

Why Study Masters (MS) in Canada?

  • World-class Universities- According to QS World University Rankings(2020), there are seven Canadian universities that are among the top 200 universities in the world.
  • Specialization Chances- A MS degree is offered in a number of study fields such as medicine, IT, engineering and technology, finance, management, business administration, architecture, nursing, design, etc. 
  • Affordability- Tuition fee in Canada is the lowest among the English speaking countries. Studying masters in Canada (30,000 CAD-55,000 CAD) is comparatively more affordable than pursuing MS in USA (35,000 CAD- 82,000 CAD annually) or Australia. 
  • Funding Options- Around 70% more funds and scholarships are offered to students in the form of scholarships, fellowships, etc. as compared to USA. 
  • Job Opportunities- According to the Labour force survey data, between March 2009 and March 2019, about 1.8 million new jobs were created for university graduates. Students can find some of the high paying jobs in Canada after graduation. 
  • Immigration and Visa Process- Immigration in Canada is more welcoming than other study abroad destinations. Students looking for a PR can apply for a post-graduation work permit.
  • Work-while Studying- While studying, international students can apply for various part-time employment options to gain valuable work experience and also earn to at least be able to cover the living expenses. 
  • Global Leader in R&D- Canadian universities perform 40% of R&D work spending over 13 billion CAD. Major research opportunities in Canada are in areas of clinical medicine; biology; information & communication technologies; agriculture; fisheries & forestry; earth and environmental sciences; and economics & business.

Popular Masters in Canada

MS in Canada includes not only the traditional lectures and tutorials but also site visits, projects and group work. Most of the master programs include dissertations making up most of the course credit. With several degree options, students tend to choose the most affordable universities for masters in Canada. However, they must also keep in mind other criteria such as availability of program, placement, rankings, etc. 

According to Statistica, some of the most popular master programs in Canada are depicted in the chart below with the number of international students (2017-18).

Popular Graduate Programs in Canada

The table below shows the popular masters in Canada along with some of the top-ranking universities offering those programs. 

Popular Masters ProgramUniversityDuration (in months)Estimated Full Tuition Fee (in CAD)
MBAU of T, McGill University, UWO, Queen's University, York University12-2445,000- 125,000
Software EngineeringMcMaster University, University of Calgary, Western University, Concordia University, University of Regina12-2422,000- 82,000
NursingU of T, McMaster University, McGill University, UAlberta, UBC2415,000- 70,000
Computer ScienceU of T, University of Waterloo, UBC, McGill University, UAlberta18-2470,000- 90,000
FinanceUToronto, UBC, McGill University, Queen's University, Universite de Montreal12-2030,000- 80,000

Top Universities for Masters in Canada

With over 96 public universities in Canada and 15,000+ study programs, top universities in Canada offer various masters programs. The table below shows top-ranking universities in Canada according to THE along with one of the most popular Masters program. 

UniversityTHE Rankings 2020International StudentsPopular ProgramDuration (in years)Annual Tuition Fee (in CAD)
University of Toronto (U of T)1821%Master of Law137,897
University of British Columbia (UBC)3432%Masters in Computer Science28,592
McGill University4229%MS or MEng Mining Engineering1.518,110
McMaster University7217%Masters in Economics117,093
Universite de Montreal8522%Masters in Statistics1.524,558
University of Alberta13626%MEng Engineering Management1.59,465
University of Ottawa14119%MA in Political Science225,718
University of Waterloo201-25020%Master of Mathematics214,084
Western University201-25018%MBA1117,500
University of Calgary201-25019%Masters in Electrical Engineering214,538

Applying for MS in Canada

Applying for admissions in Canada, can be competitive as the number of applicants far exceeds the actual number of accepted admissions. Academic sessions start in the month of September, however, few universities might also have several start dates. It is always advisable that international students must apply for admissions early and preferably submit their admission applications by the month of January. 

Eligibility for Masters in Canada

To be eligible for admissions in Masters in Canada, an applicant must:

  • have a minimum GPA often 3.0/4.0 (equivalent to 65- 70%) or its equivalent international UG degree in a related field of study.
  • provide test scores such as GMAT or GRE, depending on the program of choice.
  • Non-native English speakers must provide proof of English proficiency through TOEFL, IELTS, or other equivalent exams.
  • Few masters programs (such as business/ management) also require 1-3 year work experience.

NOTE: Although most masters programs are taught in English, some of them might have French as the language of instructions. This majorly depends on the province you are in (for instance, Quebec). As proof of French proficiency, students must clear TEF or DELF.

English Proficiency Requirements

International students from non-native English speaking countries are required to submit proof of English language proficiency. The minimum scores requirements of ELP test would vary depending on the program, however, the general scores at top universities offering masters in Canada are

  • TOEFL (iBT): 90+
  • IELTS: 6.5-7.0

Documents Required

As part of the application package, students must submit the following documents for admissions to MS in Canada:

  • A completed admission application form
  • Certified copies of academic transcripts and certificates from all educational institutions attended
  • CV/Resume
  • References or Letters of Recommendation
  • Personal statements/writing samples
  • Scores of standardized tests to study in Canada which include
    • GRE/GMAT scores
    • Language proficiency (English/French)
  • Payments of non-refundable application fee.
  • Copy of Passport
  • Proof of scholarship or funding

Cost of Studying Masters in Canada

The costs involved in studying abroad requires international students to estimate the financial budgets before starting the process. The cost of studying MS in Canada includes one-time payable pre-arrival costs, tuition fee as well as the living costs.

Pre-arrival Costs to Canada

These pre-arrival costs include fees for admission application, registration for standardized exams, study permit to Canada, airfare, etc. These estimated expenses are:

ExpensesCost (in CAD)
TOEFL Fee220 - 345
IELTS Fee250
PTE Fee250
GRE Fee280 - 320
GMAT Fee345
Application FeeVaries
Study Permit + Biometric Fee150 + 85
Airfare450 - 1400

Tuition Fees for Masters in Canada

According to reports by Statistics Canada, students require about 20,000- 30,000 CAD annually to cover the tuition expenses for Masters in Canada. This average tuition fee depends on various factors such as program, province, university, etc. The chart below depicts the average return on investment for some of the popular masters programs.

ROi for Masters in Canada

Cost of Living in Canada

The cost of living in Canada is around 2% lower than the USA. However, a few states might have much lower expenses. The monthly accommodation fee varies depending on the Canadian province. The average monthly accommodation cost around 850 CAD- 1,000 CAD annually.

Other living expenses include costs spent on food, transportation, books and supplies, etc. These estimated expenses are:

ExpensesMonthly Costs (in CAD)
Books and Supplies327
Food and Groceries250- 300
Transportation100- 250
Other Miscellaneous Expenses150- 300

The chart below shows the estimated minimum and maximum monthly accommodation fees at best Canadian cities for international students.

Monthly Accommodation Expenses in Canada

Scholarships for Masters in Canada

To fund their studies in Canada, students can apply for various scholarships to study in Canada. These include scholarships awarded by universities, the government of Canada, private organizations and agencies, etc. These scholarships help students to take care of the tuition fee as well as the living expenses in many cases.

The table below shows some of the scholarships available to international students:

ScholarshipAwarded toScholarship Amount (in CAD)
Ontario Graduate Scholarshipgraduate students at universities in Ontario10,000- 30,000
Graduate Entrance Scholarshipstudents enrolled in Masters in Taxation program at University of Waterloo3,500
JN Tata Endowment ScholarshipIndian students looking for studies abroad1,832- 18,315
Aga Khan Foundation Scholarshipstudents from developing countries covering tuition & living expensesVaries
Graduate Dean’s Entrance Scholarshipfull-time students enrolled in a thesis-based master’s program at UBC5,000
International Entrance Awardsstudents enrolled in an MBA program at McGill UniversityUp to 20,000
Graduate Scholarshipstudents enrolled in a masters program at University of Waterloo1,000
Hira and Renu Ahuja International Graduate Scholarshipfull-time graduate enrolled in a masters program at University of Waterloo’s Faculty of Engineering20,000
Graduate Fellowship (UMGF)full-time students of the Faculty of Graduate Studies at University of Manitoba14,000
Master's Entrance Scholarshipfull-time graduate student at UAlberta in the form of a stipend17,500 + 10,000
Innovates Graduate Student Scholarshipstudents enrolled in a research-based graduate program at UAlberta26,000

For more details on scholarships for international students, Click Here

Other Financial Aid Options in Canada

Apart from these scholarships, international students can also opt for other financial aid options, these include:

  • Education loans- Students can opt for education loans provided by various banking institutions, non-banking financial corporations, etc. Few of the popular loans to study in Canada include HDFC Credila, ICICI Canada GIC program, SBI Ed Vantage Education Loan, etc. 
  • Work-Study- International students can opt for various work-study options and can work up to 20 hours during sessions and full-time nursing vacations. Some of the options for work-study in Canada include-
    • Co-op program (co-operative education)- Several Canadian universities offer Master through co-op programs. This refers to alternate periods of academic study and work experience where students are paid for their work experience.
    • Internships- Includes paid or unpaid, work experience for academic credit or better placements.
    • Other opportunities include applied research projects, professional practicum and volunteering. 

Jobs after Masters in Canada

Friendly immigration policies and easy availability of work permit for Canada make it a popular destination among graduates looking for career opportunities abroad. The scope after completion of Masters in Canada highly depends on the choice of program.

Calgary, Toronto, Quebec, Montreal, etc. are some of the high paying cities. The table below shows the average city-wise annual salaries in Canada.

CityAverage Salary (in CAD)Top Employers
Montreal190,000CGI Group; Bell Canada; McGill University; Ubisoft Entertainment Inc.
Toronto189,000RBC Bank; Deloitte; CIBC (Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce); TD Canada
Winnipeg175,000Birchwood Automotive Group; University of Manitoba; Bison Transport Inc.; Qmetrix
Ottawa181,000Shopify; IBM Canada Ltd; Ciena Corp; Canada Post Corporation
Calgary178,000University of Calgary; Suncor Energy Inc.; ATB Financials; Alberta Health Services; Canadian Natural Resources Limited
Richmond152,000FLIR Systems Inc.; Whitewater West; Layfield Group
Brampton173,000Loblaw’s Company Limited; Rogers Communication Ltd.; Maritime Ontario; Region of Peel
Mississauga179,000Hatch; SOTI; RBC Bank; TJX Companies Inc.; Baylis Medical Company
Vancouver181,000UBC; Inc.; Telus Corporation; StemCell Technologies; Lululemon Athletica Inc.

Work Permit after Masters in Canada

Students looking for global studies are turning towards Canada for higher education. One of the important factors being friendly policies to get a work permit for Canada. Graduates from top Canadian universities are able to secure a 3 year work permit which then roles into permanent residency. With a long history targeting highly skilled immigrants, about 65% of international candidates in Canada had a masters degree in 2017.

  • Students pursuing a masters in Canada can apply for a Post-graduation Work Permit (PGWP).
  • PGWP is an open work permit, allowing students to work for any company in Canada.
  • Its validity depends on the length of the educational program. The maximum duration for PGWP is three years.
  • To be eligible, a student must apply for a post-graduation work permit within 180 days of completing their program and obtaining transcripts.

After studying and some work experience in Canada, international candidates can apply for permanent residency or PR in Canada. As a permanent citizen, candidates tend to get most of the social benefits as citizens of Canada, can work or study anywhere in Canada and can even apply for Canadian citizenship.

According to reports by CBIE (Canadian Bureau for International Education), the total number of international students has increased by 82% over the past five years. Thus, making Canada the world’s third-leading study abroad destination after the USA and Australia. According to reports, 34% of these international students were from India alone. 

Canada has a multicultural society providing ample opportunities to support young talents. If you have the requisite passion for pursuing a Masters in Canada, the country offers significant returns for all your investments, helping you to reach your goals. 


Ques: What are the admissions requirements for Indian students looking for a MS in Canada?

Ans. For entry into a masters program in Canada, Indian students are required to provide proof of 16 years of studies (10+2+4). Students with a 3 year UG degree might need to complete a 1-year diploma before applying to a masters in Canada. However, there are a few universities that also accept 3 years of UG degree. The general score requirements for Indian students are:

  • a GPA of 3.0/4.0 in a UG degree. This is equivalent to about 65-70% according to Indian standards.
  • scores of standard tests- GRE or GMAT.
  • proof of language requirements- English proficiency through IELTS (with minimum 6.5) or TOEFL (with minimum 90) or French proficiency through TEF or DELF.
  • a 1-3 year work experience (for a few programs).

Ques. Do I have to speak both English and French in order to get accepted to a university for Masters in Canada?

Ans. No. If your target province is an English speaking province, proof of English language proficiency is required while for French-speaking provinces, proficiency in the French language is required.

Ques. How long does it take to get a masters in Canada?

Ans. A full-time masters in Canada is a 1-2 year program at universities in Canada. However, part-time masters programs can take about 2-6 years and can be completed in the form of online classes, evening modules or as a distance learning program.

Ques. What is the tuition cost for Masters in Canada?

Ans. The tuition fees for MS in Canada is 20,000- 30,000 CAD annually at top Canadian universities.

Ques. Where can I look for scholarships in order to study MS in Canada?

Ans. There are a number of scholarship opportunities for international students willing to study MS in Canada. Students can apply for university-specific scholarships, government-funded international scholarships, scholarships awarded by private agencies or organizations, etc. For some scholarships for Masters in Canada, you can Click Here.

Ques. Can international students pursuing a masters in Canada work part-time?

Ans. Yes, international students can work for 20 hours a week during course sessions. Also, during vacations, they can work full time.

Ques. What are the best paying Masters in Canada?

Ans. Some of the highest paying masters in Canada are Finance (106,000 CAD); Pharmacy (103,000 CAD); Accounting (102,000 CAD); Business (100,000 CAD); Law (98,000 CAD); Nursing (95,000 CAD) ; CS (92,000 CAD), etc.

Ques. Why study Masters (MS) in Canada?

Ans. Canada is an increasingly popular study abroad destination for international students because of a number of reasons. Some of the popular reasons include- high standard of education, top-ranking universities, safety and cultural tolerance, dual language education- English & French, affordability, friendly immigration policies, etc.

Ques. Can I work after studying Masters in Canada?

Ans. After the completion of MS in Canada, students can apply for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP) to be eligible for working in Canada. The permit is valid for 8- 36 months.

Ques. What are the job opportunities for international students after Masters in Canada?

Ans. According to reports by Statistics Canada, there was a 10% increase in job vacancies in the first quarter of 2019. There were 433,000 job vacancies for students. This shows that there are ample amount of opportunities for students after their studies in Canada. In 2019, the average hourly wage in Canada was 27.83 CAD.

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