How to Apply to Study in Canada as an International Student

How to Apply to Study in Canada as an International Student

Where and what to study, how to apply for schools, and the list of schools that can receive students in Canada.

In this guide, we are going to teach you how to apply to study in Canada as an international student, extend your study permit and find out about working while you study or after you graduate.

Choosing a program and school

Canada Student Visa Processing Time

In Canada, each province and territory is in charge of its own education system.

Get more information about schools and the education system:

  • EduCanada – information for international students about education in Canada, with study program search, costs, and more
  • Ministries and departments responsible for education – information about the education system in each province and territory

Primary and secondary schools

Schools that teach students up to the grade 12 level are known as primary and secondary schools. Primary usually means grades 1-8 and secondary usually means grades 9-12.

All primary and secondary schools in Canada can enroll international students.

There are special rules for minor children studying in Canada.

Post-secondary schools

Post-secondary schools are:

  • colleges
  • universities
  • private career colleges and
  • vocational and technical schools.

Each post-secondary school has its own set of rules on how to apply, including the level of English or French you need to be accepted.

Get more information on post-secondary schools:

  • Universities Canada – profiles of Canadian universities, a large study programs database and help to plan your university education
  • Colleges and Institutes Canada – profiles of colleges and institutes
  • Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials – information on getting your past education assessed against Canadian standards
  • National Association of Career Colleges – find out about schools that teach trades and vocations

Language schools

Many schools in Canada teach English or French as a second language. For more information about private language programs, contact Languages Canada.

Studying in French

There are many ways to study in French across Canada.

  • French-language education in Canada has information on schools and institutions that offer courses in French.
  • The Association des universités de la francophonie canadienne has information on university programs in French, English, or both.

Designated learning institutions

Provinces and territories approve (or “designate”) schools that can enroll international students. These schools are known as designated learning institutions (DLI).

If you need a study permit, your acceptance letter must be from a DLI. If it isn’t, we will refuse your application.

All primary and secondary schools in Canada are DLIs. You can search a list of the post-secondary schools, such as colleges and universities, and language schools that have been designated.

How to apply to a school, college, or university

Once you choose a school, college, or university, you must apply to go there. Every school has different rules on how to apply.

Make sure you apply at least:

  • six months in advance if you want to study at a primary or secondary school,
  • a year in advance for a post-secondary program at a university, college, etc.

Contact the school where you want to study to learn how to apply. They will give you the list of all the documents you need to send them. Your school will be able to tell you about:

  • the cost to apply
  • tuition fees
  • health insurance
  • rent and how much it costs to live in Canada
  • language tests.

Fill out the application forms for the school or schools of your choice. Follow their instructions to submit them.

If the school admits you as a student, they will send you an acceptance letter. You need this letter to apply for a study permit.

Health insurance

The Government of Canada doesn’t pay for the medical costs of foreign students.

Health coverage for foreign students is different depending on where you live. Contact the school you are applying to for more information about health insurance.

To apply for a Canada study permit you can:

Apply online

You must have:

  • Access to a scanner or camera to create electronic copies of your documents to upload, and
  • A valid credit card to pay with


Apply on paper

Read the instruction guide to get all the details to apply on paper.

Once you have read the guide, you can prepare your application package. You must select the country/territory from which you will be applying to get your local visa office instructions.

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