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Master of Design in Canada: A Complete Guide for International Students

Komal Yadav Komal Yadav
Study Abroad Expert

Master of Design, commonly known as M.Des, in Canada takes around 18-30 months to complete. It is awarded by only a few selected universities in Canada and costs approximately 20,000 CAD to 40,000 CAD per year. Prerequisite knowledge of design, strong sense of color and a general perception of art is considered enough for pursuing a Master of Design in Canada.

  • Portfolio plays an important role in the admission decision of a Master of Design degree.
  • Average salary of a Master of Design graduate in Canada is approximately 66,000 CAD per annum.
  • An M.Des degree is an elaboration of Masters in Fine Arts in Canada with a specialization in design studies.

Why Study Master of Design in Canada

Jobs in Canada for graphic designers and illustrators are expected to increase by 2026 to a total of 21,400, as per the Job Bank Report published by the Government of Canada.

The salary of graphic designers has also been increasing in the country by up to 4%, since 2016. Not only this, upgrading from bachelor to master's degree increases the salary of a graphic designer by 41%. Thus, more students are opting for Masters in Design in Canada.

Annual Salary in Canada

Top Universities offering Master of Design in Canada

Master of Design in Canada is offered by some of the top universities of Canada such as University of Alberta, Concordia University, etc. Students can also choose to opt for a Masters in Design with various other specializations such as industrial design, environmental design, innovative automobile planning, architectural and engineering design.

Some of the renowned universities offering Masters in Design in Canada are:

University QS News Rankings 2019Program Fee (in CAD)
University of Alberta113$21,000
Concordia University462$37,835
York University511-520$61,424
Carleton University651-700$37,674
Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD)-$28,333
OCAD University-$38,100
Emily Carr University of Art and Design (ECUAD)-$35,996

Curriculum of Master of Design in Canada

Masters in Design in Canada is a 1.5 to a 2.5-year program offered by the School of Arts of the respective universities. It combines the theoretical, practical and research approach to teach students about design studies. Students have to study certain core and elective subjects as a part of the degree.

Some of the core subjects taught in Master of Design in Canada are Design Theory, Research Methods in Design and Interdisciplinary Practices in Design. Visual Communication, Built Environment, and Interaction Design is the major focus of this program. A thesis is required to be submitted in the last year for the successful completion of the degree.

Admission Process for Master of Design in Canada

Students with a bachelor's degree in design or relevant work experience can apply for a Masters in Design in Canada.

Where to Apply: Students need to visit the online application portal of the desired university, pay the fees, and submit the requisite information to complete the application process.

Admission Eligibility Criteria for Master of Design in Canada

  • A Bachelor’s degree or a Diploma degree with a GPA greater than or equal to the cutoff specified by the university.
  • High School and Senior School Transcripts
  • A proper Curriculum Vitae or Resume showing grades, extra-curricular activities, areas of interest, the position of responsibility, work experience, etc.
  • Portfolio of creative work according to the guidelines of the university.
  • Some other documents like writing samples, statement of purpose, and preliminary research proposal (varies from university to university)
  • At least 3 letters of reference. Some universities may also ask for a minimum of 2 references from academic backgrounds.
  • Certificate showing prior learning and experience in the design field (if available). However, this doesn’t apply to all the universities as some universities also provide a one-year foundation course before M.Des to equip the students with skills required for successful completion of the degree.
  • A valid Canadian student visa obtained from the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) department.

Other university-specific requirements are as follows:

UniversityMinimum Grades Required
University of AlbertaB - grade or 78% overall
Carleton UniversityB - grade or 78% in all the courses 
OCAD University80% or B - grade overall or at least in the last 2 years of undergraduate degree 
York University B - grade or 78% overall
Concordia UniversityB - grade or 78% overall

English Proficiency Requirement

International students are required to submit IELTS or TOEFL scores to demonstrate proficiency in the English language. Minimum score requirement for some of the popular Canadian universities offering Master of Design are:

UniversityMinimum IELTS ScoreMinimum TOEFL (iBT) Score
University of Alberta6.590
Concordia University6.590
York University7.5100
Carleton University6.586
Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD)947.0
OCAD University6.584
Emily Carr University of Art and Design7.090

Admission Decisions for Masters in Design in Canada

Once submitted, the applications are scrutinized by the admissions department of the university by analyzing the GPA, portfolio, English proficiency test scores, extra-curricular activities, referral forms, CV, etc. The whole application process takes a time of approximately 2-3 months including filling up the application form, payment of fees, uploading the supporting documents, and getting the final call from the university for admission.

The decision is fully in control of the concerned authorities and may take more time in some cases. Also, in some of the universities like the University of Alberta, the students, once rejected by the university, can apply again for reconsideration of the application which may consume some additional time.

Cost for Studying Masters in Design in Canada

The whole expenditure on studies can be grouped into 3 parts: pre-arrival costs, cost of study, and cost of living.

Pre-arrival Cost

Following are the one-time expenses incurred while applying for Masters in Design in Canada:

  • Application Fees: 105 CAD (approx)
  • Visa Application Fees: 150 CAD
  • IELTS Fee: 244 CAD
  • TOEFL Fee: 235 CAD
  • Airfare: 1,045 CAD to 1,437 CAD

Tuition Fee of Top Universities of Canada

It forms the major part of the expense and costs approximately 15,000 USD to 20,000 CAD per annum in Canada.

Annual tuition fee in Canada

Other Expenses: International student’s cost of living in Canada is calculated to be approximately 14,000 CAD to 19,601 CAD per year, depending upon the province. It can be broken down as follows:

Expense TypeApproximate Cost in CAD (per year)
Educational Supplies$1,960 - $2,631
Food and Beverages$3,267 - $4,574
Utilities, Internet and Mobile Phone$6,534 - $9,800
Clothing and Recreation$1,045 - $1,306

However, the costs may vary depending on the situation and circumstances and the aforementioned costs are an average in ideal surroundings.

Masters in Design in Canada with Scholarships

To ease the financial burden on the students, a variety of awards and funds are provided by the universities. The most prominent scholarships in Canada for international students amongst them are:

Scholarship NameUniversityAmountEligibility
Alberta Graduate Excellence ScholarshipUniversity of Alberta$12,000GPA greater than 3.5 
Entrance ScholarshipNSCAD University$500 - $6,000 Student of interdisciplinary field
In-study ScholarshipOCAD UniversityVariesGraduate international student 
Concordia International Tuition Award of ExcellenceConcordia UniversityDiscount on tuition feeGraduate international student
York University Entrance ScholarshipYork University$1,000 - $4,000 depending on the Bachelor's ScoreGraduate international student

Job Prospects in Canada after Master of Design

The big sectors of the corporate world, like the automobile, architecture, interior design, robotics, fashion, industrial and aviation sector stand as potential employers for Master in Design students. Starting from a good average initial salary of 47,400 CAD per year, a graphic designer in Canada can earn upto 116,000 CAD per annum.

Three major types of jobs available for Master of Design graduates are:

  • Graphic Designer: They are responsible for creating visuals according to the brief given by clients. The purpose of the graphic designer is to convey the desired message with impactful designs and visuals.
  • Illustrator: An illustrator is usually specialized in a particular field such as drawing, photography or digital illustration. They have to create a story, message or idea on the basis of instructions given by the employer.
  • Interior Designer: An interior designer is assigned with the responsibility of designing and decorating insides of a building such as offices, private homes, restaurants etc.
Jobs in canada

The field of design is constantly changing and expanding with specializations evolving in the domain of multimedia, fashion, architecture, automobile, interior and many more. Anyone with a passion for art can build a good career in this discipline. Students can also opt for research in design after completion of masters instead of looking for a job.

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