Requirements for studying in Canada: Guide for international students

requirements for studying in Canada

Make sure that you note all the requirements for studying in Canada carefully. Those candidates seeking to pursue their higher education from abroad will have to meet the eligibility criteria for the same. They will have to take language proficiency tests and general examinations, depending upon the course requisition and university enrolled at. The IELTS (International English Language Testing System), TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), and Pearson Test of English (PTE) are all standardized language-based tests which need to be taken for getting admission into leading Canadian colleges and universities. 

Read More: What is the Student Direct Stream in Canada?

The requirements to study in Canada may differ from one university to another. Here is a brief guide for international students:

Requirements for studying in Canada- When should you apply? 

With regard to requirements for studying in Canada, make sure that you are applying at the right time. Those looking at the September intake should aim to appear for examinations by November in a bid towards applying prior to the first deadline. The universities will mention the examination results that they will accept and prefer. However, if they give you a choice, then you will have to choose accordingly. The time required to prepare thoroughly for the IELTS/PTE/TOEFL examination will depend upon your current level of proficiency in English. Candidates may need two to four months of preparation time before sitting for the examination. Yet, it is important since IELTS/PTE/TOEFL scores are essential requirements to study in Canada. 

Exam repetition

To meet the requirements for studying in Canada by obtaining the required marks in the entrance examinations, repetition is another aspect worth noting. IELTS may be given for an unlimited number of attempts and the same is true for TOEFL although you cannot take it more than once within a period of 12 days. The same aspect is also applicable for PTE, and you can take this examination virtually for an unlimited number of times. You should wait to get the scores before you book the next test. You can also give GMAT for an unlimited number of times, subject to five times every year and a gap of 30 days between two GMAT tests. 

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How to study in Canada- Key examinations

The biggest eligibility criteria for studying in Canada is clearing the IELTS/TOEFL/PTE and other required examinations with requisite scores as mandated by the university in question. Here’s taking a look at helpful information about all the major examinations for studying in Canada.:


The test will be tracking the ability of non-native English speakers with regard to using and understanding North American English as it is written, spoken, and heard while at university/college. The TOEFL examination has been created and is administered by the ETS (Educational Testing Service) which holds the same, prepares questions, and sends score reports to all aspirants. This test is necessary for admission at institutions where the mode of teaching is English. Several certification agencies, government firms, and scholarship programs may use these TOEFL scores for ascertaining English language proficiency. 

Read More: Eligibility for TOEFL entrance exam


It is a proficiency examination for English which tracks candidates’ language abilities if they are studying/working in a country with English being the dominant language for communication. Aspirants are assessed on listening, reading, writing, and speaking skills. Several scholarship programs, government agencies, and certification agencies will use IELTS scores for evaluating English language proficiency. 

Read More: IELTS General Training Exam: Complete guide


It is a computer-based examination which analyzes reading, listening, writing, and speaking capabilities of non-native English speakers who have to prove their proficiency for obtaining admission at English-speaking institutions, higher education institutions, and also as language ability proof for visa applications. 

Read More: What are the PTE Examination Eligibility Criteria?


The Canadian Academic English Language (CAEL) test is an examination used for varied academic purposes. It is tailored to help evaluate the extent of English language proficiency for aspirants planning to study at universities and colleges, where the medium of education is English. The CAEL assessment will test the abilities of students to use English like it is used in colleges and universities in Canada. Test takers will get a feel of how post-secondary classrooms in Canada operate and the examination is a novel alternative for other English standardized tests since it is a topic-based evaluation. It has an integrated language activity set. Aspirants will be listening to lectures, reading articles, answering questions, and writing short essays on a single subject. 

Important Resources for Canada:

General examinations for studying in Canada


The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is taken by those desirous of opting for management/business/MBA courses. Aspirants are evaluated on the basis of mathematical, English, and reasoning abilities. 


The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is a standardized examination for law school aspirants who are evaluated on the basis of their verbal reasoning and language skills. 


The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is taken by those applying for MS/MA at graduate schools. GRE scores are also accepted by many business schools. 


The Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) evaluates test takers on the basis of their writing and literacy skills that are required for success in higher education. The test tracks their abilities to solve problems. SAT is taken by those completing schooling/high school students for undergraduate course admissions. 

General requirements for studying in Canada

Students should always check entry criteria into Canadian universities and colleges thoroughly before appearing for these examinations. Some institutes may accept specific examinations while some accept multiple examination scores. Keep an eye on the visa requirements and the general requirements which state that you should have ample money for covering tuition fees, living costs, and other charges if you have no criminal records and are in good health (can get a medical examination if needed). 

You should be enrolled at a DLI (Designated Learning Institution) and prove to an officer that you will leave the country upon the expiration of your study permit. Platforms like upGrad Abroad will help you with innovative and cost-saving courses at top Canadian universities in addition to providing end-to-end application, counselling, and visa application assistance along with preparation modules for IELTS/TOEFL/PTE and other examinations.

More Resources for Canada:

Requirements to Study in Canada for international students

Canada offers some of the world’s best study programs and is home to leading academic institutions and research facilities. If studying abroad is your dream, Canada should be on the top. However, to meet your goal, there needs to be an understanding of the requirements to study in Canada for international students. Some of the most common requirements to procure admission in most of the universities in Canada is an updated passport, proof of your ability to finance your studies, and proof of passing English proficiency tests with minimum grades.      

(1.) Choose Course and Institution

Only Designated Learning Institutions can admit international students. Therefore, it is essential to ascertain that the institution has DLI status. Though the Canadian education system is flexible, which offers you the option to switch courses, it is better to compare various courses beforehand and finalize a specific major to pursue. 

 (2.) Take the Language Proficiency Test

To get admission at an educational institution in Canada, you need to prove your proficiency in English or French. Universities in Canada prefer IELTS or TOEFL scores to assess your fluency in English, and some also accept Cambridge English: Advanced. The most common option to prove your proficiency in French is the TEF, DALF, DELF, or TCF exam. You need to choose your preferred test, choose the date and pay the fee. Brushing up your language skills will help you perform well in the test.

(3.) Apply to Universities / Colleges

Once you have shortlisted the universities, download the application packs, fill-up the form, and submit it in advance. Applying at various universities will be safer, but you also need to consider the application fees, which vary from $100 to $250. Ensure that you fill up all the accurate information in the application form backed by documentary evidence. If you are selected, you will receive confirmation, and once you validate your interest, you will receive an acceptance letter. This acceptance letter will play a crucial role in all the formalities ahead. 

(4.) Apply for a Study Permit / Student Visa

To meet the requirements to study in Canada for Indian students, you need to prepare for a Canadian study permit at least one year in advance. Once you have received the acceptance letter from a university, you can apply for a Canadian student visa either online or visit a local visa application centre. You need to submit your acceptance letter, passport, and documents to prove that you can finance your studies in Canada along with the application. If you have procured admission in the province of Quebec, then you will receive a “Certificat d’acceptation du QuĂ©bec” (CAQ) along with the acceptance letter. This document has to be attached along with your study permit application.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What are the requirements to study in Canada?

The requirements to study in Canada differ from one university to the other. However, some of the most common requirements across every university is to prove your proficiency in English by taking the IELTS/PTE/TOEFL examination. Besides, students who want to study MBA or management courses should appear for the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) examination, and for candidates aspiring to pursue law should take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). If any student wants to apply for MA/MS in Canada, then they need to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). 

  1. What is the age limit for international students in Canada?

The age limit for international students in Canada varies according to province. To apply to an educational institution in Canada, a student must be at least 18 years old. Though there is no restriction on the maximum age of a candidate, students in the age group of 18 to 35 years are allowed to apply for a student visa. 

  1. What is the minimum percentage required for study in Canada?

The minimum percentage required for a student from the Humanities stream for studying in Canada is 65% or higher in the 12th grade. The minimum requirement for Science/Commerce stream students is 70-80% in class XII. However, students with less than 60% marks can enrol in Foundation and Diploma programmes.

  1. Is SAT required in Canada for Indian students?

Every Indian student needs to procure a seat to study at a university in Canada. The requirements to study in Canada for Indian students need to be met, such as the English language proficiency and required percentage in the last course of study. Moreover, taking the GRE/GMAT tests as per university requirements is also useful in getting admission in Canada for Indian students. 

  1. Is Canada cheap for Indian students?

The average tuition fees for studying at a Canadian university ranges from CAD 20,000 (INR 11.8 lakh) to CAD 30,000 (INR 17.70 lakh) per year. Besides, accommodation, food, transportation, and health insurance add to the cost of living in Canada. Though the cost of living is not cheap in Canada, it is comparatively lower than in the USA and Australia. Moreover, there are various scholarships and part-time jobs available in Canada to help you finance your studies. 

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