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Canada vs USA – Eligibility, Process & Cost of Studying

Updated on 07 November, 2023

Gauri Agrawal

Gauri Agrawal

Sr. Content Writer

More and more students are traveling overseas to pursue higher education, and two of the most popular education destinations around the world right now are the United States and Canada. There are some significant pros and cons of studying in either of the two countries. This blog will discuss the top factors that will help you choose between the USA and Canada. 

While pursuing your higher education, it’s imperative to consider the factors as to what you want to study, what are the courses that are being offered, and what are the top universities that offer those programs but most importantly, one should figure out in which country they want to study and build their career. 

The US vs. Canada – Quality of Education

The first point of comparison between the US and Canada is the quality of education.

Regarding quality, both countries are on par, but the US is and will always be one of the most popular destinations for students all around the globe as it is home to Ivy League Colleges. However, recently, Canada has worked its way up as one of the most sought-after countries for international students.

Read More About: Canada Provincial Nominee Program

Top Universities in the US

According to the QS world university rankings 2023, these are the leading universities in the US: 

Top Universities in USQS WUR ranking 2023
Massachusetts Institute of Technology01
Stanford University03
Harvard University05
California Institute of Technology06
University of Chicago10

After knowing the top universities in the US, let us look at the top universities in Canada as per QS world rankings.

Top Universities in Canada

Top Universities of CanadaQS WUR ranking 2023
McGill University31
University of Toronto34
University of British Columbia47
University of Alberta110
Université de Montréal116

Eligibility criteria requirement for Canada vs USA

The eligibility criteria requirements for the USA and Canada differ to some extent. The eligibility parameters vary depending on the level of education and the respective course. Find below the required eligibility for studying in Canada vs the USA: 

The eligibility criteria for studying in Canada are flexible in comparison to the US. An SAT examination score is important to take admission to undergraduate courses. For postgraduate courses, Indian students need to graduate with a minimum of 50% marks from a UGC-recognized college or institution. There are other entrance tests like GRE and GMAT which are not compulsory for Canadian universities. The majority of Canadian universities require English language proficiency test scores for IELTS and TOEFL. The minimum IELTS score is 6.5 and for TOEFL, it is 550. 

The eligibility criteria to study in the USA are stricter in comparison to Canada due to higher competition. Certification of English language proficiency test scores of IELTS and TOEFL is important. The minimum score requirement for IELTS is 6.5 and 600 for TOEFL. Other standardized entrance examinations like GRE and GMAT are compulsory to take admission to American universities. The minimum GRE score requirement is 290, however, it differs from one university to another. Students need to complete 12 years of schooling along with SAT and ACT scores. To apply for post-graduation courses, students must have full-time bachelor’s degrees in relevant fields from a recognized board with an average of 70% marks. A letter of recommendation from at least two faculty members is also required. 

Read More: Exams required to study in Canada for international students

Best Student Cities to study: USA vs Canada

Best Student Cities to study in Canada

Below are the best student cities in the US – all offering at least two internationally ranked universities, plus a unique study abroad experience 

QS Ranking 2023City
18New York
27San Francisco
30Los Angeles

Best Student Cities to study in Canada 

Below are the best student cities in Canada – all offering at least two internationally ranked universities, plus a unique study abroad experience 

QS  Ranking 2023City

USA vs. Canada- Cost of studying 

There is a clear difference in the cost of studying and living in both countries. The USA is known for its higher cost of studies and costlier living costs; however, studying in Canada is comparatively cheaper.

However, the costs will differ broadly for both countries, depending on the universities and courses. For example, the cost of living in a suburban US vicinity will be much less than living in a city in Canada like Toronto. Therefore, there is no single conclusion on the costs. Here are the average costs of studies in both countries.

Cost of studying a UG program in the USA and Canada

ParticularsAnnual Cost of UG course in USAnnual Cost of UG course in Canada
Tuition fees$35,331   $ 20,000-C$ 30,000
Living expenses$10152.03  $7385.57
Duration      four years  four years

Cost of studying a PG program in the USA and Canada

ParticularsAnnual Cost of PG course in USAnnual Cost of PG course in Canada
Tuition fees$11,700 – $45,000$8,000 – $35,000
Living expenses$10000 to $18000 per year$25000
Duration of study2 years  two years

Recommended Read: Cost of Studying in Canada vs Cost of Studying in USA

Study options for the USA and Canada

The United States of America is home to the top-ranked global universities. American universities hold a better global rank and prestige compared to Canadian universities. 12 prestigious American universities are on the list of the top 20 globally ranked universities. On the other hand, 8 Canadian universities are listed in the top 200 globally ranked universities. This makes the USA the most preferred destination for studying in comparison to Canada.

The American universities offer varied specializations and courses to postgraduate, undergraduate, and doctoral programs in terms of Science, Technology, Humanities, Commerce, and industry-specialized courses. Some of the top universities in the USA are Stanford University, Harvard University, Columbia University, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

Canada is home to the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia. These are among the most sought-after destinations to study various courses and programs. Canada may indeed have fewer ranked universities as compared to the USA, but the country has a diversified range of specializations and courses for Engineering graduates, Science graduates, and Humanities. 

Read More: Why study in USA vs Why Study in Canada

Student Visa in the US vs. Canada

Student Visa in USA

A full-time US student visa is called an F1 visa. This visa has the following regulations –

  • A personal interview is compulsory, and you will be required to appear for an appointment to provide Biometrics.
  • You can remain in the US for up to 90 days beyond the length of time it takes to complete your academic program unless you have been approved to stay and work for a period of time under the OPT Program (Optional Practical Training)
  • It costs $160 to apply for this visa along with the SEVIS fee of $350. You will be required to pay an additional $160 for the dependent visa (per dependant)
  • You cannot work more than 20 hours per week. During holidays, breaks, and summer sessions, the student may work up to 40 hours per week. The student can only work on-campus for a commercial firm that provides services to the college, such as a bookstore or cafeteria.

Student Visa in Canada

The Canadian student visa has the following regulations –

  • You will have to apply for the post-graduation work permit within 90 days of finishing your studies.
  • The visa application process to Canada requires a compulsory medical test for Indian applicants.
  • Spouses can also work full time if his/her stay is for a year or more.
  • It costs C$150 + C$80 (biometric) to apply for this visa.
  • You cannot work more than 20 hours per week. During holidays, breaks and summer sessions, the student may work up to 40 hours per week.

Recommended Read: Student visa for Canada vs Student Visa for USA

Post-study work permit in USA and Canada

The post-study work permit is one of the reasons that makes the topic of America vs Canada popular for abroad education. Canada and the USA offer an ample number of lucrative opportunities and enormous growth. However, both countries have their work permit norms and guidelines. It is an important factor of comparison between USA and Canada, by the Indian students. 

Post Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) Canada

One of the perks that Indian students can enjoy in Canada is the Post-Graduation Work Permit. The postgraduates are allowed to work for 3 years after the completion of the course. Indian students are allowed to stay back for 3 years after completion of their course. It is one of the best ways to get the status of Permanent Residence. This makes it easier for Indian students to settle in Canada. 

US post-graduate work permit (OPT Visa)

The F1 student visa holders are allowed to work for one year under temporary employment that is directly related to the major areas of study. International students can opt for Optional Practical Training (OPT) visa after completing the course and then work for 12 months. Students in the US are offered 12 months of study work permit. 

Recommended Read: Canada Post Graduate Work Permit vs Post Study Work Permit in the USA

Scholarships to study in USA vs in Canada

US ScholarshipsCanada Scholarships
Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation scholarshipsVanier Canada Graduate Scholarships funded by Government of Canada
Asian Women in Business Scholarship FundSauvé Scholars Program by the Jeanne Sauvé Youth Foundation
Stanford Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowships for Indian studentsBanting Postdoctoral Fellowship
Fulbright-Nehru Research Fellowships

Lester B. Pearson International Scholarship Program at the University of Toronto


S.N. Bose Scholars Student Exchange Program for Indian StudentsKaren McKellin International Leader of Tomorrow Award at University of British Columbia
Tata Scholarships at CornellYork University International Student Scholarship
Asian Cultural Council Individual GrantsOntario Graduate Scholarship
East-West Center Graduate Degree FellowshipUniversity of Winnipeg President’s Scholarship for World Leaders
Yale University Fox International FellowshipsUniversity of Calgary International Entrance Scholarship
Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowships ProgramCarleton Prestige Scholarships

Job Profiles in USA vs. Canada 

Top Job ProspectsAverage Salaries in the US (in USD)Average Salaries in Canada (in USD)
HR Manager148,000135,000
Financial Analyst126,000121,000
Aerospace Engineering128,000116,000
Business Analyst125,000116,000
Project Manager124,00097,000
Civil Engineer88,00081,000

Source: Job Portals

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Statistics for International Students : USA vs Canada

Let’s take a look at the overall statistics for international students who choose either of the two study destinations.

Category USCanada
Total Number of Universities21 Million2 Million
Top Courses of StudyEngineering, MBA, IT, Sports Management, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Biotechnology, Physiotherapy, Hospitality, etc.Business Management, Media, Engineering, Nursing, Computer Science and Hospitality.
Work Permit & Visa TypesF-1 Student Visa, J-1 Exchange Visitor VisaStudy Permit, Work Permit
Average Graduate Entry Level Salary (USD/yr)60,000 to 90,000 (INR 45.17 lakhs – INR 67.76 lakhs)50,000 to 90,000 (INR 37.6 lakhs – INR 67.76 lakhs)

Permanent Residence

Indian students aim to settle down abroad due to the lucrative pay packages, better standard of living, and facilities. Permanent Residence in the USA and Canada is certainly possible. The process and eligibility are however very different between the USA and Canada. Students aspiring to settle down after the completion of the course should consider this factor and then make the right decision. 

Permanent Residence is easy to get in Canada with a Post Graduation Work Permit. This permit allows Indian students to apply for Permanent Residency. With a valid PGWP, the students need to work for at least one year and then apply for a PR. However, the skills or employment should come under the categories of Skill Type 0 or Skill Level A or B under the National Occupational Classification System. 

Permanent residency in the USA is also known as a Green Card. A student with an F1 student visa can opt for OPT, after completing their studies. While working under the Optional Practical Training, the students can apply for a Green Card if an employer in the USA is ready to offer them a permanent job or sponsor them. 

Also Read:

Taxes in Canada and USA


International students need to pay taxes if they are earning in Canada or if they receive any income from outside of Canada. It can be any income earned from various internships, freelance projects, and research fellowships. 


Students earning in the USA also need to pay taxes. F1 visa holders are non-residence holders and need to file their income under the USA tax return. 


Indian students need to pay attention to the weather conditions of both the USA and Canada before settling down for education. Find below the weather conditions in the USA and Canada. 

Summers in Canada are average with temperatures ranging between 15°C to 25°C. Winters are cold and the worst part of the Canadian winter is the wind chills. Snowfall starts in December and continues till March. The winter temperature during the day ranges between -5°C to -15°C. 

Climatic conditions are temperate in the USA. The United States receives snowfall from December to February. During winter the temperature is between 19°C to -16°C. The summer temperature ranges from 11°C to 22°C. 

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This ultimate comparison between Canada and the USA should help Indian students in making wise decisions about studying abroad. Is Canada better than America? For Indian students with plans to work and settle down after the completion of the course, Canada is the better choice. The possibilities of getting a PGWP and Permanent Residency in Canada are a lot more in comparison to the USA. Similarly, if you just wish to complete your studies, the United States of America is an ideal destination for prestigious universities and a renowned education system. To make a balanced decision you must always check out the statistical count, factors, and all other information that helps us to debate and conclude finally! Make the best choice, and for any further assistance get in touch with the counselors of upGrad Abroad

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is cheaper to live in – the US or Canada?

Cost of living in Canada vs US – The cost of living is affordable in Canada in comparison to the US. In the US, the average accommodation cost ranges between 2.25 lakhs to 6.02 lakhs. On the other hand, in Canada, it is between 2.6 Lakhs to 4.5 Lakhs. The living expenses in the US range between 7.52 lakhs to 18.81 lakhs, while in Canada it ranges between 8.27 lakhs to 9.03 lakhs on average. Canada is relatively cheaper than the US.






Is it better to immigrate to Canada or USA?

Both Canada and the USA are promising for Indian students. However, Canada offers flexible immigration and settlement plans. The PGWP and Permanent Residency in Canada are easily available in comparison to the US. The US on the other hand is home to the top globally ranked universities and a renowned education system with a promising job market for STEM skill holders.






Is Canada better than America?

Canada is better than America in three areas, PGWP, Permanent Residency, and low cost of living. On the other hand, the USA scores higher in four areas: better employment, high average salaries, top universities, and multicultural environments. As an international student, it is more valuable to study in Canada in comparison to the US because the tuition cost in Canada is significantly lower than in America. However, in terms of quality in higher education, both are almost equal to each other.






Is Canada safer than the US?

Yes, Canada is safer than the US. It is the sixth safest country with a low crime rate in comparison to the US. Indian students prefer Canada over the US, and this is one of those reasons. Murders and theft are less likely to take place in Canada in comparison to the states in the US. Canadian universities pay extreme attention to the safety of their students on campus. However, despite all the legal bodies, international students need to take care of their safety, whether they choose Canada or the US.






Where can I get PR easily?

Permanent Residence is easily available in Canada. Students with a post-graduation work permit can apply for a Permanent Residency. In comparison to the US, Canada offers flexible and easy approval in Permanent Residency. Getting a Permanent Residency in Canada is much easier in comparison to getting a Green card in the US. Hence, in terms of immigration services, Canada is much more friendly and welcoming in offering PR facilities to international students in comparison to the US.






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Gauri Agrawal

Sr. Content Writer

Gauri Agrawal is a passionate, professional and proactive content marketer who wants to grow in the field of content creation. She carries a rich experience of working in the Digital News sector with renowned names like Times Now Digital, and News X as a Copy Editor.

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