Montreal has just been revealed as the world’s best student city in the 2017 QS awards. So it seems a great time to look at why higher education in Canada is ranked so highly.


Canada is bi-lingual, multi-cultural and liberal. It has a reputation for being welcoming and safe, and it can be much less expensive than similar countries. The quality of the higher education system is recognised internationally – so there’s a lot to love about studying in Canada.

Technically, tho, there’s no such thing as a ‘Canadian’ education system – each of the ten provinces and three territories run their own affairs. For example, French nationals studying in Québec pay the same fees as students from the rest of Canada, rather than international fees.

Most university courses are taught in English. However, learning in French isn’t limited to Québec – there are courses in French as far afield as Alberta and Ottawa. Prestigious McGill  and popular Concordia offer English-speaking courses in French-speaking Montreal.

Things to love about Canada

  • Canada consistently ranks among the top ten countries in the United Nations’ Quality of Life index.

  • The world’s second largest country has something for everyone – from cosmopolitan cities like Toronto and Vancouver to vast areas of wilderness for sport and adventure.

  • There are around 350,000 international students in Canada each year.

Things to remember

  • It can be confusing negotiating the different systems and application processes. Requirements change from province to province – and between universities.

  • You’ll need to apply to each university separately – there’s no centralised admissions.

  • Cost wise, Canada can be much less expensive than the US, UK and Australia – but it’s still not cheap.

  • Transferring between universities in Canada and the US is usually an option (as long as your grades are good enough and your previous studies are relevant).

How long?

Undergraduate degree courses in Canada are normally three or four years. Masters (or ‘grad courses’) are usually a year. Most courses start in September and are split into semesters, although there are exceptions.

Top picks

  • McGill University, The University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia all regularly appear in the top 50 of any world university rankings.

  • Montreal is one of the world’s leading Francophone universities, and the lesser-known University of Alberta also offers a world-leading education.

  • Canadian business schools combine the best of the North American approach with a more European focus on internationalism – which means Canadian MBAs rank highly with employers and in league tables.


  • Costs vary according to the course and institution. Undergraduate international fees start at around CA$15,000, rising to around $40,000.

  • Postgraduate courses start around CA$12,000, rising to $100,000 for a top MBA.

  • Fees for French nationals in Québec are CA$6,650 for undergraduate programmes; and postgraduate French students pay the ‘home’ student fees that apply to Québec residents, rather than international fees.

  • Universities Canada recommends budgeting between CA$15,000 and $30,000 per year for living costs. Medical insurance is essential.


The Canadian government, the Trudeau Foundation and individual institutions all offer scholarships to international students – get in touch to find out more.


If your course is more than six months you’ll need a Canadian study permit. You may also need a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA).

Want to know more?

Contact us for a free consultation to discuss your options in Canada.