Ready to study in Canada? Start by reviewing the admission requirements for the programs the student is interested in. Admission requirements can vary by program and by institution. Requirements for the same programs can also change over time.
Admission into a K-12 Institution
International students can gain admission into public and private K-12 institutions at any grade level. Applicants need to provide their most recent transcript or school cards, as well as letters of recommendation to be considered for admission.
Admission into a Post-Secondary Institution
Students applying to Canadian post-secondary institutions are generally assessed based on their past academic performance, as well as their English language skills. Some programs also require supplementary information from the student, such as a resume, to further assess a student’s suitability for the program before making their admission decision.
Successful completion of secondary school is a requirement for admission into an undergraduate program in Canada. In the Canadian context, this means that a student must have completed Grade 12 or equivalent to gain admission.
A three or four year Bachelor’s Degree is required, on the other hand, for admission into postgraduate degree programs. Regular and advanced diplomas are sufficient for admission into a postgraduate diploma or certificate program. Some institutions may accept work experience as a substitute for the required degree if the student has extenuating circumstances.
Grade Point Average (GPA)
Students will be asked to submit proof of degree/diploma completion, as well as their transcript or report card, which lists the grades the student earned in each course. Typically, only the grades in the student’s last two years of study are taken into consideration for admission.
A student’s final Grade Point Average (GPA), as well as the type of courses taken, ultimately determine if a student meets the academic admission criteria. GPA requirements, on average, vary between 65% to 90% depending on the program and the institution.
Some postsecondary academic programs require students to have taken Grade 12 equivalent courses in related subjects. For example, students applying for engineering programs frequently need to have taken Grade 12 level math and physics courses. The prerequisite course requirements vary by program and by institution. Be sure to check the requirements specific to the chosen program on the ApplyBoard Platform before applying!
English Language Requirements
Since English is the primary language of instruction in Canadian post-secondary institutions (outside of Quebec), students applying from a non-English speaking country need to demonstrate English proficiency through an English Language Test as part of their admission applications. Standardized English language tests evaluate students on their reading, listening, speaking and writing skills.
All Canadian institutions accept English Language Testing System (IELTS) and Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores as proof of language proficiency. Some Canadian post-secondary institutions may also accept test scores from other accredited language assessment institutes.
Language test score requirements vary by program and institution, and sometimes by the home country of the student applicant. Some institutions only look at the overall scores, while others have cut-offs for scores in each of the four skills sections. Always refer to the admission requirements for each program on the ApplyBoard Platform for the most accurate information.
Some institutions also offer students the option of completing an English language program to meet the language requirements for admission into their chosen program. Learn more about the English language programs in the Canadian education system section of this course.
French Language Proficiency
Students wishing to attend a school where French is the primary language of instruction must demonstrate their French language proficiency. Test d’Evaluation du Français (TEF) and Test de Connaissance du Français (TCF) are the most commonly recognized French language tests.
Depending on the nature of the program, students may need to provide supplementary non-academic documents or test scores to support their admission application. These could include personal statements, essays, resumes, GRE/GMAT scores, etc. Always review the program requirements before submitting an application to be sure it is complete. Applications may be rejected due to missing documents.
Programs with a work component often ask for a resume. Personal statements and/or essays are also frequently needed for competitive undergraduate programs and professional programs. Many postgraduate programs also require a GRE/GMAT test score as part of their requirements.
In Canada, admissions are typically offered for entry in fall (September), winter (January) and summer (May). September is considered the official start of the school year and that’s when the biggest intake occurs. Many programs are only available for admission in the fall.
Private colleges and vocational schools often have new classes starting every one to two months. As a result, students can apply to begin their education at any point in the year.
Application deadlines vary by institution, as well as by program. General application deadlines are outlined in the table below. We strongly recommend checking the institution's page on the ApplyBoard Platform for the most accurate deadline information.
*Some institutions have rolling intake seasons with classes starting every 1-2 months, and not only in September, December and May.
**Many institutions offer rolling admission where applications are processed as they are submitted, and close once the number of available spots are filled. Some institutions review applications and issue admission decisions as applications come, referred to rolling admissions, while other schools only make admission decisions after the application deadline.
Application Processing Times
When it comes to admission application deadlines, we recommend applying as early as possible to give students enough time to secure a study permit and visa. Schools can often take up to 60 days after the application deadline to process an application and issue a Letter of Acceptance (LOA), which is required to apply for a study permit.