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2022 Complete Guide for Applying to Graduate School in Canada


Many undergraduate students have plans to pursue Canadian graduate programs because of the high standards in education and attractive immigration policy. We are pleased to have Elite Master Education, a Canadian graduate school admissions consulting firm, share their experiences and insights of applying for graduate schools for students. 

About Graduate Education in Canada

Before looking at the graduate program application process, we need to learn more about the Canadian graduate schools and students.

Types of Master’s Degrees

In Canada, graduate degree programs generally fall into one of the two types: Research-based Master Degree and Course-based Master Degree.

Among them, the Research-based Master Degree is for those who want to continue to study for a Ph.D., or plan to conduct specialized research or provide training in certain fields, such as applied science, arts, literature, etc.

Course-based Master Degree is more structured and focuses on the direct application of knowledge in teaching, educational administration contexts, and the workplace with a professional career as the ultimate goal. For example, master’s in accounting and finance.

Thus, before you plan to apply for the graduate program, you must choose the Master’s Degree type according to personal interests, majors, and career goals in the long term.

How Many Years of Study is Required for Graduate Studies in Canada?

Under normal circumstances, it takes 2 to 3 years to complete a Canadian master’s degree.

However, if you wish to obtain a Ph.D. in the end, it will take another 3 years. Thus, if the two consecutive studies go as planned, it will take 3 to 5 years in total, excluding certain specialized programs which may take longer.

In addition, many postgraduate schools in Canada offer a special course that can be completed in one year, but only provides academic qualifications without the actual degrees. So, it should be considered carefully.

How Difficult is it to Apply for Canadian Graduate Programs?

According to Elite Master’s years of consulting experience, it is still relatively hard to apply for graduate schools in Canada. The general admission rate of graduate programs in Canada is significantly lower than that of undergraduates and Ph.D. programs. Don’t worry. As long as you feel that the basic requirement is met, then you should start preparing in advance.

Generally, it is recommended to prepare for the GRE and GMAT certification exams when applying. In addition, some majors will require certain related work experiences. Thus, these materials take time and should be planned and prepared in advance. Also, if your undergraduate degree was obtained in Canada, the success rate will be higher.

One more thing to note is that it is generally not allowed in Canada when the applied master’s degree is different or unrelated to the bachelor’s degree. You may find that you need to obtain more prerequisite courses or experiences.

After we have some basic understandings of the Canadian graduate programs, we can take the next step to choose a school and major.

Top Ranked Graduate Schools in Canada

If the pursuing master’s degree is completed at a well-known University, your future employment prospects will be very promising. Therefore, we have collected the Top 10 universities in Canada in 2021 for your reference and selection. (Source: Maclean’s Magazine – Canada’s best universities by reputation: Rankings 2021):

  1. University of Toronto
  2. The University of British Columbia
  3. University of Waterloo
  4. McGill University
  5. McMaster University
  6. University of Alberta
  7. Queen’s University
  8. Western University
  9. University of Montreal
  10. Simon Fraser University

At the same time, we conducted research on the most popular subjects to study for a Master’s Degree in Canada in 2021.

  1. Business Administration
  2. Human Resource
  3. Computer Science
  4. Accounting/Finance
  5. Engineering
  6. Tourism & Hospitality Management
  7. Project Management

Despite some majors are more popular than others, it is still up to the applicants according to personal interests and career goals. In the end, a person’s passion is what drives motivation.

Canadian Graduate Application Requirements

To apply for graduate programs in Canada, the essential requirements are:

  1. Bachelor’s Degree
  2. Language Proficiency
  3. GPA not less than 3.0 (calculated with 4 points)

For top universities with a master’s degree, the school will also look at your GPA during the last two years in the undergraduate program. Generally, the GPA of the last two years needs to be 3.0 (75%) or more. Thus, do not overlook the importance of maintaining the grades in the last years of undergraduate study.

After meeting the above requirements, applicants need to prepare the following materials:

  1. Personal Statement
  2. Curriculum Vitae
  3. Recommendation Letter

Is GRE or GMAT Required for Admission to Graduate Program?

In fact, to apply for graduate studies in Canada, there are not too many majors that require GRE and GMAT certification. Therefore, these two exams are not mandatory requirements for application.

If the major you wish to apply for is one of Economics, Chemistry, Psychology, or Computer Science, then GRE score is generally required. However, some schools may have different policies. It is recommended to check the specific requirements on their official sites.

For majors related to business management, such as Business Administration, Finance, Accounting, etc., you need to provide a GMAT score.

Canadian Graduate Application Deadlines and Notification of Results


If you plan to apply for postgraduate programs, it is best to plan and research the school you may be interested in during the third year of undergraduate. If necessary, students should start to prepare for the TOEFL, IELTS, and other required exams.

During the undergraduate study, it is also a good opportunity to start looking for internships and projects to accumulate the work experiences required for the graduate application.

The recommendation letter should be prepared during this period as well. As soon as the students proceed onto the senior year, they will only need to prepare for the interviews and required materials after submitting the graduate application.

Admission Decisions and Time

Generally, the admission time for graduate students is around September, with the exception that some majors start in January. For more specific time, please refer to the school you are applying to.

For the types of admission, it is generally either one of Freshman Admission, Conditional Admission, or Transfer Admission.

Graduate Tuition Fees and Other Expenses

To talk about studying for graduate programs in Canada, students will have to consider the cost including fees for application, tuition, textbooks and materials, accommodation, transportation, health insurance, and other living expenses.

Canadian Graduate Tuition Fees

Usually between $16,000 to $24,000 CAD per year depending on school and program

Canada Graduate Scholarships

Graduate scholarships can help students reduce the financial burden to a great extent. Here we will discuss some of the scholarships that you can apply for in Canada.

  1. Fellowship
  2. Scholarship
  3. Grant
  4. Research Assistantship
  5. Teaching Assistantship

Below are the essential requirements to be eligible for the scholarships:

  1. Academic Qualification and Certificate
  2. Academic Performance
  3. Comprehensive Ability

Note that in Canada, students’ Academic Performance is not the only factor that the school is looking for. Factors like submission time, overall evaluation, recommendation letters, work experiences, achievements, and more also play a big role in deciding whether your scholarship application can be granted.


Considering the aspect of future employment prospects, career development, costs, and immigration benefits, pursuing graduate programs in Canada is a wise choice. Despite the costs and difficulty are slightly higher than in other countries, we think it will be one of your greatest life decisions that are worthwhile. So, start working hard from now. A person’s success is not accidental. I hope you can achieve your goals too!

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