Although often overlooked in favor of its neighbor to the south and the UK, Canada nevertheless remains a popular destination for students planning on studying internationally—and for good reason! Canada has ranked as one of the top ten places to live in the world for over twenty years, and the education system in Canada is among the best.
In fact, Canada is an increasingly popular option for students who want the quality of a North American education at a less expensive cost than they might find in the US. Canadian universities bear more similarity to UK universities than they do to schools in the US.
Canadians place a great amount of importance on learning, and standards in education in Canada are uniformly high. There are almost 100 universities in Canada, five of which—the University of Toronto, McGill University, University of British Columbia, Université de Montréal, and University of Alberta—are ranked among the top 100 in the world.


Canada consistently ranks among the best places in the world to live in numerous studies. In fact, in 2017, Canada was ranked the second best country in the world by US News & World Report. This is due in large part to its access to education, high life expectancy (thanks to its universal health care system), and low crime and violence rates. No wonder, then, that more and more international students are choosing to study in Canada.
Canada is perhaps most famous for its natural beauty. When people picture Canada, they often visualize open spaces, impressive mountains, and beautiful forests and lakes. This is far from all that Canada has to offer, though. Canada is also known as a modern, progressive nation with open-minded citizens who are widely regarded as friendly and polite.


Canada has a population of about 36.5 million. The majority of Canadians are of European descent, and are most descendents of early French and British colonists, as well as later immigrants from eastern and southern Europe. However, the second half of the 20th century saw a large increase in the number of immigrants from Asia, the Caribbean and Africa. In the 2011 census, there were more than 260 different ethnic origins reported across Canada. Canada is also home to a large aboriginal population made up of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.


Canada is located in the northern half of the North American continent, and is the second-largest country in the world following Russia. Despite its impressive size, the majority of the population lives within a few hundred kilometers of the southern border.
Canada has over two million lakes, and vast mountain ranges that include the Torngats, Appalachians, and the Rocky Mountains. The most important river in Canada is the St. Lawrence River, which is 3,058 km long and provides a seaway for ships from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean.


When you picture Canada, chances are you see a frozen wasteland. Rest assured that this is not accurate. In fact, Canada’s climate is as varied as its people, depending on where in the country you choose to study. Although much of the north has a particularly harsh arctic climate, that area is mostly uninhabited. The most populous regions of Canada, which lie in the southern regions along the US border, see four distinct seasons a year. Although winter lasts longer than summer in most of the country, the summers are quite hot. Rainfall varies from light to moderate, and there are heavy snowfalls in some areas.
Winters are less severe in the south because of the moderating influence of the Great Lakes. Southern summers are longer, but more humid, with temperatures averaging at about 20ºC from mid-June to mid-September. In the winter, lows of -25ºC are not uncommon. Temperatures in spring and fall tend to be more moderate.

Canadian Values

Canada is an immense country that is extremely varied in its people, landscape, climate, because of this, the Canadian way of life can also vary greatly from one individual to the next. However, Canadians do share important values such as pride, a belief in equality and diversity, and respect for all individuals. It is these values that make Canada a friendly, peace-loving, and secure place in which to live. Canadians practice many different religions, and over 20 percent claim no religious affiliation.
There are many great cities rich in Canadian culture and values throughout the country, one in particular is Kingston, Ontario. Kingston has won numerous awards in recent years including being the happiest city in Canada, one of the top five university towns in the world, and the third best place to live in Canada. If you’re looking for a university where you can study, improve your English language skills, and explore the beauty of Canada consider Queen’s University School of English in Kingston.


Canada is made up of ten provinces and three territories. The provinces are, from west to east: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Labrador. The territories are the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut, Canada’s newest territory.

Despite the impressive size of the country, the majority of Canada’s population lives in a concentrated area of cities and towns within 100 kilometers of the US border. The population density in Canada is one of the lowest in the world, at 3.9 persons per square kilometer.

As of 2017, the largest cities in Canada are:

  • Toronto (6.2 million)
  • Montreal (4.1 million)
  • Vancouver (2.5 million)
  • Calgary (1.4 million)


Canada has two official languages: English and French. English is the mother tongue of about 59% of Canadians, and French the first language of about 23%. Eighteen percent of Canadians either have more than one mother tongue or a mother tongue that is not English or French.
The Official Language Act makes English and French the official languages of Canada and provides for special measures aimed at enhancing the vitality and supporting the development of English and French linguistic minority communities. Canada’s federal institutions reflect the equality of its two official languages by offering bilingual services.
The third most common native language in Canada is Chinese, followed by Panjabi, Spanish, Arabic, and Tagalog. The most common Aboriginal languages are Cree, Inuktitut, and Innu/Montagnais.


Compared to many countries, studying in Canada is very affordable. You will likely need between C$20,000 and C$30,000 annually to cover tuition and living expenses. However, this cost range is an average only and will vary according to the institution and program in which you are enrolled, your location and your living expenses.


Tuition fees for international students vary across provinces and programs. The table below shows the weighted average tuition fees (in Canadian dollars) for full-time foreign students, by field of study.

2017–2018 International Tuition Fees for Full-time Study *

Field of study grouping






Visual and performing arts, and communications technologies






Social and behavioural sciences



Law, legal professions and studies



Business management and public administration



Physical and life sciences and technologies
 Mathematics, computer and information sciences



Architecture and related technologies



Agriculture, natural resources and conservation








Not available







Veterinary medicine



Other health, parks, recreation and fitness



*weighted average tuition fees by field of study (in Canadian dollars)
Source: Statistics Canada

Do remember that the costs associated with attending university go beyond tuition fees. You must also budget for items such as books, living expenses and housing.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada mandates that you prove you have enough money to meet your financial needs while studying in Canada before you start. So it’s important to begin sorting out your finances – and looking into the possibility of obtaining a scholarship to help fund your education – early on.


Most universities offer on-campus residences for students, some of them specifically for scholars from abroad. But acceptance at a Canadian school does not automatically mean you can get a room in residence. Students must apply separately for on-campus housing, and its cost varies across institutions and will depend on whether or not you want a private room or a meal plan, for example.

Some international students choose to live off-campus in an apartment. Rent for a typical two-bedroom apartment in Canada can range from about $600 to $1,600 per month*, depending on the city or neighbourhood and the type of accommodation. As a renter, you may also need to pay additional monthly costs for utilities such as electricity, home phone, Internet and cable television, as well as personal expenses and renters’ insurance. Some students share apartments or entire houses in order to reduce their housing costs, or they rent rooms in private houses, sometimes also paying for use of the kitchen.

Most universities can provide assistance with finding housing, both on and off campus, and answer questions through their housing office or student services.
*Source: CMHC (Fall 2017)


Depending on where you live, you may be able to walk or bike to campus. Many students, particularly those in larger cities, choose public transportation: buses, subways, commuter trains or ferries. One-way public transit fares typically cost a few dollars, and monthly passes range from about $80 to $110, although many transit providers offer student discounts.

Health insurance

All international students in Canada must have health insurance, and the medical coverage that’s available varies from province to province. Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Saskatchewan cover international students under their provincial health care plans, but coverage generally depends on the length of your stay.

However, international students planning to study in Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island or Quebec must arrange for private health insurance.

You can find out more details about health coverage through the university websites and those of the provin­cial ministries of health.