Canada vs USA – Eligibility, Process & Cost of Studying

canada vs usa for indian students

Canada and the USA are considered ideal destinations for study abroad programs. International students prefer Canada and USA over other destinations because of the multicultural environment, well-known education system, and top-ranked universities. Both the countries are developed economies and pioneers for offering best-in-class education facilities to students. The demand of both the countries is high, and that’s where the debate of Canada vs USA starts.

An Indian student needs to compare factors like eligibility, visa, study permit, job opportunities, universities, and safety before deciding between USA and Canada. The relevant information and facts compiled in this article will encourage an informed decision regarding Canada vs USA for Indian students.

Read More About: Canada Provincial Nominee Program

Eligibility criteria requirement for Canada

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

The eligibility criteria for studying in Canada are flexible in comparison to the US. An SAT examination score is important to take admission in 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 of IELTS and TOEFL. The minimum IELTS score is 6.5 and for TOEFL, it is 550. 

The eligibility criteria to study in the USA is 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 in 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 need to 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

Cost of studying in Canada

Canadian universities are affordable in comparison to American universities. The cost varies with the rank, specialties, education level, and types of courses. Public universities in Canada are more affordable as compared to private universities. Students can also avail themselves of scholarships and funding.

The annual cost of education for international students in Canada ranges between CAD 7,000 to CAD 35,000 (INR 4,16,792 – INR 20,83,961). Below is the course wise expected cost – 

  • Undergraduate courses: CAD 12,000 to CAD 25,000 (INR 7,14,501 – INR 14,88,544)
  • Postgraduate courses: CAD 24,000 to CAD 35,000 (INR 14,29,002 – INR 20,83,961)
  • Doctoral Degree or PhD: CAD 7,000 to CAD 10,000 (INR 4,16,792 – INR 5,95,417)

Recommended Read: Cost of Studying in Canada

Cost of studying in the US

The average tuition fee for an Indian student in the US is between $8,000 to $55,000 (INR 592467 – INR 4073209)  per year. In comparison, American universities are more expensive than Canadian universities. Studying in the US is an expensive one, however, for meritorious students, there are 100% funding options. 

  • Bachelor’s degree: $20,000 to $40,000 (INR 1481167 – INR 2962334) per year
  • Master’s degree: $20,000 to $45,000 (INR 1481167 – INR 3332626)  per year
  • PhD: $28,000 to $55,000 (INR 2073634 – INR 4073209) per year

Recommended Read: Cost of Studying in USA

Scholarship programs in Canada 

Merit and need-based fee waivers are awarded to international students. Meritorious Indian students with a good academic record are eligible for various scholarships and funding options. Some of the popular scholarship programs for Indian students are: 

  • York University International Student Scholarships
  • Ontario Trillium Scholarship
  • Quebec Provincial Government Scholarship
  • Hani Zeini Scholarships 
  • Ritchie-Jennings Memorial Scholarship 
  • Erasmus Scholarship 

Read More: Why Study in Canada

Scholarship programs in the USA

The prestigious universities in the USA are very expensive. To make it affordable for Indian students, there is a wide range of scholarship and funding programs available. The following scholarship programs may offer partial or full funding based on the merit and needs of Indian students. 

  • SelfScore International Student Scholarship
  • Global Student Scholarship 
  • Chevron Scholarship 
  • RD Sethna Loan Scholarship
  • Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholarship

Read More: Why study 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: How to Study Master’s in the USA without GRE? | How to study in Universities in Canada without IELTS test?

Visa process for USA and Canada

Contrary to popular opinion, it is much easier to get a student visa for Indian students in Canada than in the USA. Students need a student permit to visit Canada for education. However, in the USA, Indian students need to apply for either one of these visa types (F1, J1, or M1). An F1 visa is the most popular and general student visa for Indian students. 

Canada study visa process

It takes around 20 working days for the Canada study visa to get approved. Documents and financial proof are important for a Canadian study permit. It is advisable to go through the Canadian consulate website and then apply for a student visa. The students need to have all the documents like a letter of acceptance from a designated learning institution, passport, funding proof, transcripts, and certificates. 

Recommended Read: Student visa for Canada

USA study visa process

An F1 student visa is important for Indian students applying to American universities. The validity of the F1 USA study visa is based on the duration of the course. To get an F1 visa, Indian students need to fulfill the academic, financial, documentation, and institutional criteria. An F1 visa will be granted only when students receive an invitation for admission from the respective educational institution. The F1 visa process has the following steps:

  • Get accepted by a SEVP-certified institution
  • Upon acceptance, you will get an I-20 form through which you need to apply for an F1 visa
  • Pay the visa application fee
  • Complete your DS-160 visa application
  • Choose your visa interview date and time
  • An F1 visa interview is an important criterion to get visa approval

Recommended Read: 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. 

Recommended Read: Canada Post Graduate Work Permit

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: Post Study Work Permit in the USA

USA vs Canada job opportunities

Canada and the USA are recognized as remarkable economies of the world. The job market is robust and promising enough for Indian students to settle down and earn a living. However, the job markets of both countries are differentiated based on different degrees, courses, and specializations. It will be easier for Indian students to choose the right destination based on the employment opportunities offered by both leading economies. 

Let’s take a look at the scope of employment in both Canada and the USA. 

Jobs in the areas of finance, engineering, management, medical, dentistry, media, and nursing are offered the best salaries in the USA. The scope of these specializations and skills are immense and receive the highest pay packages. An Indian student on average earns INR 35,70,506 annually in America. 

On the other hand, employment opportunities in Canada are more promising in areas like program analysis, financial manager, hotel management, civil engineering, data science, nursing, and teaching. New Indian graduates in Canada earn around INR 27,37,016 per year.

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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. 

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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 

Q1. 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.

Q2. 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.

Q3. 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.

Q4. 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.

Q5. 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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