Over the past couple of years, various countries emerged out as popular study abroad destinations among international students. Two of these acing up in the race are Canada and the USA. Though both US and Canada are dream destinations for students who aspire to acquire higher education abroad, in recent times Canada has overtaken the US. A few of the major contributing factors for which students prefer Canada over US are speedy processing times for study permits, easy immigration, and lower costs.
The controversies around US F1 visa freeze amidst of COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the ultimate hit to the number of students applying to study in the USA. Though the decision was revoked, the changes in H1-B student visa policies also affected the influx of international students to USA. Canada, on the other hand, did not experience and such a drastic change in the number of international students opting for higher education with them.
Before we dive into details of how pursuing higher education in Canada is better over the USA, let us have a look at the overall statistics for international students choosing either of the two study destinations
|Population||321 Million||35 Million|
|% of Immigrants||13%||20.6%|
|Total Number of University Students||21 Million||2 Million|
|Work Permit & Visa Types||F-1 Student Visa, J-1 Exchange Visitor Visa||Study Permit, Work Permit|
|Average Graduate Entry Level Salary (USD/yr)||60,000 to 90,000||50,000 to 90,000|
Let us discuss the reasons for opting for Canada over studying in USA.
As already known, the U.S visa application system is an extremely lengthy and complicated process that requires great scrutiny and plenty of waiting. In comparison, the Canadian visa application process is relatively simpler and shorter which encourages international students to study in Canada.
In addition, Canadian universities allow international students to stay back in Canada for employment opportunities. The Post-Graduation Work Permit allows international students to stay up to three years after graduating from a post-secondary Canadian institution, depending on their course duration. On the other hand, as an F-1 visa holder, international students in the US are allowed to stay back to complete up to one year of temporary employment directly related to their major field of study.
During Optional Practical Training (OPT), international students can get a one-year work and stay-back permit after completion of a degree in the USA.
Though the admission process and the eligibility criteria that international students need to fulfill for getting an education from the US and Canada are similar, yet there are certain major differences that make it slightly easier to get into Canadian universities than US universities.
- Years of Education Required: To pursue a bachelor's in US and Canada, you must have completed your high school and 12th with good academic scores. For masters courses, applicants must have at least 16 years of education, for studying in Canada as well as USA. This means having a four-year bachelor's education.
- Entrance Exams Required to Study Bachelors: For studying bachelors in the USA, international applicants must appear for SAT or ACT exam. However, for pursuing bachelor's courses in Canada SAT/ACT scores are not mandatorily required.
- Entrance Exams Required to Study Masters: To study for masters in the USA applicants must mandatorily have appeared for the GRE exam. Though it is not required for all the universities, most of the US universities ask for GRE scores to give admissions to international students. On the other hand, for getting admission to masters in Canada, GRE scores are not required. There are very few courses or universities that ask for GRE scores from international students applying for Canadian universities.
Costs & Expenses
The cost of pursuing education in Canada is relatively less when compared to how expensive education in US is. The two major expenses incurred by international students while studying abroad are tuition fees and living expenses. Given below is a comparison between study in Canada and study in the USA in terms of costs and expenses.
Cost of Studying: USA vs Canada
The amount of tuition fees varies from university to university. The estimated values of the cost of studying at various levels of education in the USA and Canada are given below:-
|Student Visa Application Fees||$160||$113|
Note: The costs are given in USD for both USA and Canada.
Tuition Fees in USA vs Canada for Indian Students
|Level of Education/Program||USA (INR)||Canada (INR)|
|Bachelors||4-29 lakhs||3-18 lakhs|
|Masters||8-33 lakhs||5-25 lakhs|
|MBA||up to 1 Cr.||11-59 lakhs|
|Masters in Computer Science||9-90 lakhs||9-57 lakhs|
|Masters in Mechanical Engineering||13-73 lakhs||8-29 lakhs|
|Masters in Business Analytics||14-58 lakhs||14-36 lakhs|
Cost of Living:- USA vs Canada
Apart from tuition fees, the cost of living in Canada is also much lower than the cost of living in the US. International students can gain a fair idea of the cost of living for both countries with the table given below.
|Category||USA (USD)||Canada (USD)|
|Books and Supplies||$500-$1,500||$189-$265|
|Health Support & Insurance||$700-$1,000||$227-$600|
NOTE:- Living expenses include grocery shopping, social activities, and emergency situations.
In both countries, Indian students are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week during academic sessions and full-time during vacations.
Despite the high costs of tuition and living expenses, there are various financial aid options offered to international students to make their education affordable. However, Canadian universities are more likely to offer financial aid to international students, which is quite rare in the United States.
- Tata Scholarship for Cornell University: Need-based scholarships offered to Indian UG students at Cornell University. The trust offers around 25 million USD to be awarded to selected students.
- Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholarships: The foundation offers 7.5 million USD funding each year for UG and PG education.
- Fulbright-Nehru Research Fellowships: Merit-based scholarships offered to students pursuing masters and research courses in USA. The award covers tuition fees and basic living expenses.
- Inlaks Scholarships: Merit-based scholarship offered to pursue education at some of the US colleges.
- SN Bose Scholarships
Several kinds of scholarships, grants, and bursaries are available for international students who are planning to study in Canada, at undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctoral levels.
- Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships Program: Offered at more than 20 universities in Canada, with Vanier scholarships students can avail awards of up to 37,000 USD (50,000 CAD).
- Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships: Offers recipients an award sum of over 52,000 USD (70,000 CAD).
- Canada Graduate Scholarships- Master’s Program: Offered to masters students at Canadian Universities.
- IDRC Research Awards
Searching for scholarships to study abroad? Find out here.
One of the most important reasons for studying abroad is a large number of career opportunities it opens up. In the U.S, the most popular professions with the highest salary packages are management executives, medicine, dentist, software engineer, finance, advertising, etc. While, on the other hand, jobs like program analyst, teacher, financial manager, pharmacist, nurse practitioner, and construction manager are some of the most coveted occupations in Canada.
One of the advantages Canadian international students have over international students studying in the US is that of Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). The post-graduation work permit is an integral part of Canada’s immigration system which allows overseas students to work in Canada for up to 3 years after graduation. It is also a gateway to permanent residence and eventually citizenship.
Let us compare the salaries of top and popular occupations in US and Canada to find out what is more lucrative:
|Job Role||Salaries in US (USD)||Salaries in Canada (USD)|
Though jobs in USA offer better salaries, the investment involved in pursuing education is high. Additionally, the chances of obtaining a PR and getting to stay back in USA are lower than that in Canada, which make Canada a preferred destination, irrespective of the wage gap.
Standard of Living
According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Better Life Index, Canada performs exceptionally well in various measures of well-being as compared to other countries.
- The average household net adjusted disposable income per capita is $30,854 per year, which is lower than the OECD average of $33,604 a year.
- When we talk about employment, 73% of people between the ages of 15 to 64 have a paid job, above the OECD employment average of 68%. Around 76% of men are in paid jobs, compared with 71% of women.
- Quality education and work-related skills are prerequisites for finding work in Canada. Around 91% of adults aged between 25-64 have completed upper secondary education. The stats are well above the OECD average of 78%.
- In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in Canada is 82 years, which is two years higher than the OECD average of 80 years. Life expectancy for women is 84 years, whereas, it is 80 for men.
Canadians are way more satisfied with their lives than the OECD average. On a scale from 0 to 10, Canadians rate their general satisfaction with life a 7.4 on average, higher than the OECD average of 6.5.
Some of the provinces in Canada offer medical coverage for temporary residents like international students. However, in the case of a province that does not offer medical cover to international students, you can opt for the school’s insurance plan or other private insurance. When compared with US, the premium rates for private healthcare are drastically low in Canada. This makes healthcare not only a feasible option for international students but also reduces the overall financial burden.
With the low amount of tuition fees, high standard of living, and innumerable career opportunities, it is safe to assume that Canada has proven itself to be one of the most coveted countries for international students.