Why Should One Choose Canada to Pursue Their PhDs?


For a lot of people, pursuing a doctorate is the step that will give their careers a leap to their desired professional status. Canada is home to some of the most well-known and renowned universities in the world, be it the University of Toronto or the University of British Columbia. Offering one of the best post-study work scenarios, Canada, with its state of the art facilities and well-read staff assures a student of an unmatched PhD experience.

But why does one choose Canada out of all the options available with them?

Fees: The first and the foremost reason being the attractive education fee which is lesser than the Americas. And what more, some universities might reduce or even waive off the fees of the international students depending on their credentials.

With universities as old as the seventeenth century, six of Canada’s universities feature in the top 150 of the global ranking index and thus offers one of the best education systems in the entire

Post-study options: There are numerous options available for the students to work post the completion of their studies as well as to work during their education. The students can work for as long as 20 hours per week during their studies and full time once their education is completed.

Environment: Lakes, hikes, trails, waterfalls, mountains and parks, the nation known as the Great White North has numerous things to offer every student who studies in the country. It is neat, and above all, the country is safe for its international students, welcoming them with open arms and thus making it an excellent choice for the people who wish to pursue their further education abroad.

Research: The universities in Canada are known for their research values and the promotion of research for its students, giving a great opportunity to all its research scholars to draw up their knowledge and broaden their spectrums in the field of research and development.

Society: The society as a whole is highly welcoming and supportive. The nation has an array of cultures, diversities, races, ethnicities and nationalities making it one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. The government and the universities are highly open and helping all the ones who wish to study and work in Canada.

Canadian Universities offering PhD (province wise):

There are over 90 universities in Canada that provide research and PhD facilities to students in Canada. The universities are further divided into public or private, depending upon how they receive their funding. While the public universities receive their finances from the local province, the private universities receive their financing from third-party sources. Private universities are smaller and thus more specialized, while the public universities and are huge offering more comprehensive study options.

Canada, as a nation is vast and is divided into ten provinces and three territories. The university or the province you choose to study in highly depends on the fact that whether the university offers your PhD in French, English or both.

The Canadian provinces and the universities are:

Alberta: With the language of instruction as English, the University of Lethbridge, University of Alberta and University of Calgary are the universities that offer a PhDs in Alberta.

British Columbia: The University of British Columbia, University of Northern British Columbia, Simon Fraser University and the University of Victoria are the universities offering PhDs in Canada’s westernmost province. The degrees are offered in English.

Manitoba: Known for Canada’s Great Lakes, Manitoba has the University of Manitoba that offers doctoral degrees in physics, statistics or biochemistry and is taught in English.

New Brunswick: The Université de Moncton’s and the University of New Brunswick are the universities offering PhD degree programs in New Brunswick in French and English respectively.

Newfoundland and Labrador: If one wishes to pursue a PhD in cognitive and behavioural ecology, folklore, ethnomusicology and theoretical physics, Memorial University of Newfoundland can be a choice where the medium of instruction is English.

Nova Scotia: Dalhousie University and St. Mary’s University offers PhD programs in English in the province of Nova Scotia.

Ontario: Ontario has the highest number of universities offering PhD degrees to students, being taught in English and French at places. The universities offering them are: Brock University (English), Carleton University (English), Dominican University College (English and French), University of Guelph (English), Lakehead University (English), Laurentian University of Sudbury (English and French), McMaster University (English), University of Ontario Institute of Technology (English), University of Ottawa (English and French), Queen’s University (English), Royal Military College of Canada (English and French), Ryerson University (English), University of St. Michael’s College (English), Saint Paul University (English and French), University of Toronto (English), Trent University (English), University of Trinity College (English), Victoria University (English), University of Waterloo (English) and the University of Western Ontario (English).

Prince Edward Island: Health management, educational studies, companion animals, biomedical sciences, pathology and microbiology are the programs offered in English by the University of Prince Edward Island.

Quebec: Offering the highest number of PhD degrees in French is the province of Quebec. The universities are: Concordia University (English), HEC Montréal (French), Université Laval (French), McGill University (English), Université de Montréal (French), Ecole Polytechnique de Montréal (French), Université de Quebéc (ten campuses; all courses in French) and Université de Sherbrooke (French).

Saskatchewan: In the province of Saskatchewan, the University of Regina and the University of Saskatchewan offer PhD degrees.

Canadian Universities Ranking

The universities in Canada are world leaders in their fields and areas of expertise and fare well in the Canadian rankings of the top universities. To find more about the rankings, follow the links below:

Structure of PhD in Canada 

PhD is generally the last qualification that a person receives post his graduation and masters. Most of the doctoral courses require three years of extensive study and research, though some students might take up to six years in the completed of their degrees.

An academic year in Canada is generally from September to April, though the actual course dates might vary from institute to institute. The Canadian PhDs are more extensive and more like the ones offered in the United Kingdom rather than the ones in the United States. The courses focus on research methodology, techniques and practical principles and training in areas related to publications, presentations and teaching. Some of the Canadian PhDs also help the students in internships and placements later on.

The PhD is generally completed under the supervision of an academic supervisor who will be an expert in the subject but wouldn’t have had researched on the topic of your research. The primary criterion for the completion of your research and degree will be the publication and completion of your research thesis.

There are some of the institutions and universities in that offer a co-tutored or cotutelle program. This is nothing but a collaborative program with one or the other partner university the institute might have, and it involves the students completing their PhD from two different universities both of which are involved in the examining and the final awarding of the PhD to the student. This program is specific to the project a student has undertaken, and thus works more like a joint PhD.


On the completion and the submission of your thesis, there will be a panel of experts judging your dissertation, followed by an oral viva. The evaluation is based on the quality and the originality of your thesis and the presentation that might follow your oral viva. Some Canadian programs also include exams and coursework before the actual submission. The satisfactory completion of all these parameters determines your final result, and if the examiners are satisfied, you will be awarded your PhD.

Tuition Fees

The tuition fee of your PhD depends upon your institution and the province. The fee also depends on how structured the program is and the kind of classes, assessment and the research involved. Some universities have taken up some fee-related initiatives for foreign PhD applicants. The University of Toronto has started charging the same fee to its national and international students, and Brock University has begun to fully cover the fees of all the international students by way of fellowships.

Funding and Scholarships

The following are the scholarships and funding options available for the international students who wish to pursue their PhD from Canada.

• Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarships
• IDRC Doctoral Research Awards
• IDRC Research Awards
• Trudeau Doctoral Scholarships
• Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships

Besides the scholarships mentioned above, some additional scholarships might be offered by the university itself.

Many universities in Canada also offer their students with options like the Graduate Teaching Assistantship. This involves the student to teach during the tenure of his/her course and in return either receive a salary or have a part of their fee waived off. And even though this will be rewarding financially and career-wise, it will definitely be more taxing and more time-consuming.

Applying for a PhD

The basic minimum requirement for a PhD is generally a Master’s Degree. Though some universities might let you jump straight from an undergraduate degree to a doctorate, but then will extend the standard length of your PhD to cover up the required Master’s training. A considerable number of people apply for a PhD to Canada every year, and the seats are limited. As a result of which, the competition is high and all your previous examinations and grades are carefully examined before they accept you to their university.

An applicant has to submit his GPA (Grade Point Average) apart from the scores they achieved in their previous degrees. Grade Point Average is a grading system widely used in Canada and the USA, providing a fine distinction and representation of your previous scores and performance. One generally needs a GPA of 3.0 and above to get admitted into a Canadian Institute for a PhD.

Graduate Admission Tests

One might also be asked to submit his GRE (Graduate Records Examination), or GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test) results as a part of their assessment especially between candidates with almost the same academic scores. The requirements and the test scores might vary from one institute to the other, so it is better to check everything way in advance.
Language Requirements

Canada is a bilingual country and offers a PhD in both English and French, depending on the province and the institute you choose. Though English is mostly the medium of instruction, universities in New Brunswick and Québec mostly teach in French. One needs to prove their proficiency in their chosen language for studying in Canada. If your first language is English or French or you have studied it at the university level, it might be sufficient. But at times, you might have to undergo a language test and submit it along with your application. DILF (Diplôme Initial de Langue Française), DELF (Diplôme d’Etudes en Langue Française) and DALF (Diplôme Approfondi de Langue Française) for French and IELTS (International English Language Testing System) and TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) are the common French and English tests respectively. But it is always better to see what the university prefers and follows.

Process of Application

There are basically two ways through which you can land up a PhD in Canada. You can either look for an advertised project and then apply for it or apply to any university’s doctorate program with your research. Most of the advertised projects already have a scholarship or a stipend attached to it. If you are applying to a university’s PhD program, you will have to find a suitable supervisor or a research group and get in touch with them. You might have to apply for the funding here separately.

And depending upon the alternative you choose, you will have to submit the following documents:

• Previous educational qualifications. The university might want to see your transcripts as well of the bachelors and masters degrees.
• Your Research proposal, the project details and plans, especially if you are applying for an advertised project.
• Evidence of your language test scores.
• Two Letters of Recommendation, which need to be academic. This means that they should be of teachers/professors who have worked with you in the undergraduate and the postgraduate level.
• Statement of Purpose that includes the reasons for choosing a particular country, institution and course.
• Curriculum Vitae
• GRE/GMAT test results if your university requires them.
• You might also have a Skype interview before you receive the actual offer letter. This is done so that your future university can evaluate you, get to know you better and also understand and access your profile and future plans well.

Student Visa

Once a student receives his/her offer letter from the prospective university, it is now time to apply for a student visa. A student permit is valid for the entire duration of your course plus a buffer of ninety days to give you time to arrange your travel back home, or to a new country or apply for a post-study work visa. The student visa also permits you to work for twenty hours during the course duration and full time during your vacations.

Once your study program is completed, you will need to apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) that allows you to work in Canada for up to three years after completing your PhD. The fee for the same is around CAD 250 and the processing time is sixty days. And with a valid PGWP, one can apply for a Canadian Citizenship.

A PhD in Canada is not just a rewarding, but an enriching experience as well. Offering one of the best doctoral degrees for international students, Canadian Universities are one of the most sought-after universities in the world for pursuing a PhD abroad and giving your career a new high.

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