Admissions information for Universities in Canada

All post-secondary institutions have an admissions process whereby they select those students to attend their school. Competition varies, both in types of schools, types of programs, and types of students being admitted. All schools with an on-line presence will have an admissions web page where all the admission criteria for the various options are laid out.


College vs. university

Students looking for post-secondary education have usually already decided whether they want to pursue college education or university education. Typically, college education prepares the student for an applied career, whereas a university education prepares the student for an academic career.

University requirements are fairly straightforward. In all cases, admission is based almost entirely on academic marks gained in high school, generally grade 12, although some schools also consider grade 11 marks as well. In most cases, an overall average of at least 70% in high school will suffice. (There are many exceptions however, depending on the applicant’s status and the program being applied for; best to check with the schools’ websites directly.) Students applying for admission to an in-province school typically have much less stringent grade requirements than out-of-province applicants.

College admission requirements vary more significantly than university requirements, though none have entrance requirements above 85%. In general though, more well-respected colleges (such as George Brown College, Mohawk College and Capilano College) accept many students with averages above 70%, although they may place no limiting minimum for acceptance, and consequently take students with averages below 60%.


Undergraduate admission criteria

As post-secondary schools have limited space, there is competition for admission. For most undergraduate schools, the greatest competition comes from high school students. In this case, the two most basic criteria are the successful completion of high school and competency in one of the two official languages (English in most of Canada, and either English or French in Quebec and New Brunswick).

Students can apply for various programs, depending on their interests. Generally, students can choose amongst Arts, Science, and Business, although there are many variations on these themes and numerous subcategories and majors. Students can apply without having to declare their specialization at the outset, and be considered “undeclared” for a time.


Graduate admission criteria

Generally, a previous undergraduate degree is required for admission to graduate programs, although there are exceptions. Since graduate degrees involve (in most cases) independent research and little course work, students must have the fundamental theoretical knowledge to carry out their independent studies. In order to determine a candidate’s suitability for graduate school, students must generally have a supervisor “vouch” for them. Usually this is via an interview between the prospective graduate student and various supervisors, where the student attempts to match their study program with an appropriate supervisor interested in a similar field.

If the graduate student has the ability to financially support themselves during their graduate tenure (either through the holding of a scholarship or fellowship, or by the supervisor offering financial support from their own grant monies) they have a greater chance of gaining admission to a graduate program. In fact, most graduate schools won’t admit students unless they have their finances already in order.


Special cases and professional programs

For almost all international students applying for either undergraduate or graduate admission, an essay, statement of intent or personal statement of experience must be submitted directly to the program being applied for. Additionally, letters of reference, examples of extracurricular involvement, community service, athletic participation, and scholarships won may all be required for acceptance to some programs.

Mature students (those older than 25, and out of school for at least 2 years) can also apply for post-secondary schooling. The normal entry requirements applied to younger students are generally not applied to mature applicants. If they do not meet the usual admission requirements already, but demonstrate intellectual maturity through the pursuit of interests, employment, or have overcome a significant hardship, then they are usually admitted.

Professional programs such as Medicine also have special requirements, usually similar to graduate school requirements. A previous degree, or partial completion (2-3 years of a 4 year degree) is usually required before admission to these programs will be granted. Other admission criteria include writing a personal statement, previous academic records, scores on various professional school tests, and interviews. Other professional programs such as Law or Engineering will have entry requirements similar to those of basic undergraduate admissions (although further education or accreditation is usually required after graduation in order to practice professionally).


Continuing education

”Traditional” continuing education is usually open to anyone, and is intended for people who want to pursue higher education. This can either be through credit courses (applicable towards a degree) or non-credit courses (usually for personal enjoyment). Generally the only obstacle to admission is the ability to pay for the individual courses and programs.

Professional continuing education is generally characterized by the issuing of a certificate to students who already hold a previous degree in the professional field. Licensing bodies (such as the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers or Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada) impose continuing education requirements on members who hold licenses to practice within a particular profession. These requirements are intended to encourage professionals to expand their knowledge base and stay up-to-date on new developments. Depending on the field, these requirements may be satisfied through college or university coursework, extension courses, or conference and seminar attendance.

University in US and Colleges

U.S. universities and colleges usually base their admissions decisions on a student’s academic record and applicable test scores, such as TOEFL, the SAT or ACT. If you are applying to graduate schools, additional exam scores, such as the GRE or GMAT, will be required.

The admissions office or graduate school department will send you information about their academic programs and an application form. (You might be able to obtain a specific school’s application form online or at your local educational advising center.)

The fee for each application is US$35 to US$100. This money pays for processing your application and is non-refundable, even if you aren’t admitted to the school. If you mail your application, make sure to contact the admissions office to confirm your application was received.

The admissions office will review your marks earned during the last four years of secondary school. Your results from your country’s national secondary school examinations will also be reviewed. If you are applying to a graduate program, your marks from university or college will be taken into consideration.

Ask the school you are now attending, or the school you have attended most recently, to mail a certified copy of your academic record or “transcript” to the schools to which you are applying. Prior to taking your admissions tests, you should arrange for official score reports to be sent to the universities or colleges that interest you.

Be sure to send your application to each university or college well before the application deadline. This gives you some extra time to resolve any possible delays.



Students applying to universities and colleges in the USA must take certain examinations (SAT, ACT, GMAT, etc.) that measure aptitude and achievement. International students must also take a test that measures English language proficiency. These tests are given at test centers around the world. They are “standardized,” so that students take the same test at every test center. Your scores give the admissions office a uniform international standard for measuring your ability in comparison with other students.



Your test scores are sent directly to the schools to which you are applying. You will be asked to indicate the names of these schools when you register to take certain tests, such as the SAT or ACT. In the case of computer-based tests, you will designate the schools at the exam site and the testing agencies will mail your scores directly to them. There will be a fee for scores that you request at a later date.



After the application deadline, you will begin receiving letters from your chosen schools. Some universities inform candidates of their acceptance soon after their documents have arrived in the admissions office; this is called “rolling admissions.” Other schools, however, wait several months and inform all candidates at one time.



Most universities require students to pay a deposit by a certain deadline in order to reserve a space in the entering class. For international students, this deposit can be as high as a semester’s or a full year’s tuition.

You should send your deposit immediately if you are applying for financial aid or if you plan to live in university housing. Because many schools do not have enough campus housing for all the students, you will have a better chance of getting a room on campus if you send your housing application and room deposit fee as quickly as possible.

You may also be required to provide a statement indicating how much money you will have available during the years you will be in school. If you have a scholarship or your government or company is sponsoring you, you will need to send details of your award.



You may not be familiar with the American practice of writing a personal essay to submit with your university application. Here are some tips on how to write an awesome essay!

Step 1: Think of a great topic. Your essay topic should have personal meaning for you. It should reveal something about who you are, your values or interests, and how you are different from any other applicant. Write something about yourself that cannot be reflected by your grades, the list of classes that you’ve taken, or in any other part of your application. There are several questions you can ask yourself that will help you think of ideas: (1) What are you like? (2) What have you done? (3) What are your goals?

Step 2: Write your essay. Good writing takes time. Don’t rush or expect to finish your essay in one afternoon. Pay special attention to the introduction. Draw in the reader so that he or she is interested in finding what the rest of your essay will reveal. Use simple words to express your ideas; you don’t have to use complex vocabulary words to show how much English you know. Use the language to express yourself, not to prove how smart you are. If you make a statement, give an example to demonstrate your point.

Step 3: Take your time and ask for help. Leave yourself enough time so that you can stop working on your essay for a few days—even a week—and then come back to it. This will allow you to read your essay with a fresh perspective. Also, have your friends and family read your essay—they will be able to see things you’ve missed or neglected to mention. Have fun, take your time, be yourself and tell your story well!