A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |

A

Academic Standing

Academic standing relates to a student’s academic performance. A student in satisfactory academic standing is passing his or her classes with acceptable grades. A student in unsatisfactory academic standing is not meeting the academic standards required. Unsatisfactory academic standing may be judged by Grade Point Average (GPA), meaning if a student’s GPA falls below a certain level he or she risks being placed on academic probation.

Academic Probation

A student who does not have satisfactory academic standing at the institution may be placed on academic probation. This means he or she must improve his or her grades or risk losing his or her place in the study program.

Academic Upgrading

Academic upgrading is a way to improve academic credentials to meet the admission requirements for a particular program.

Academic Year

The academic year in Canada is different from the calendar year. The academic year in Canada runs from early September to late May or June. The summer months are generally considered holiday, although many institutions offer summer courses during July and August.

Read more: Semester

Acceptance Letter

See Letter of Acceptance

Actively Pursue

Study permit holders are required to actively pursue their studies. This means that international students should be enrolled in a full-time or occasionally part-time credit-load. However, in order to work in Canada on a study permit, international students will need to maintain full-time status. Each institution determines its own definition of full-time studies.

Admissible/Admissibility

A foreign national is admissible to Canada if he or she is allowed to enter Canada. Certain conditions may make a foreign national inadmissible to Canada — inadmissibility can be judged on medical, criminal, financial, or security grounds.

Admission Requirements

Admission to an educational institution is generally based on previous academic achievements. Individuals who do not meet admission requirements (sometimes known as entrance requirements) for their desired program may first pursue a pathway program or undertake academic upgrading to reach the admission requirements.

For certain programs, admission may be granted on the basis of previous experience or practical work, rather than academic transcripts. In this situation, an applicant may be required to submit a portfolio or CV to show prior relevant experience.

Alumni

Graduates of an institution are referred to as alumni (singular alumnus). Many alumni remain connected to their alma mater (the institution where they studied) after graduation through alumni associations, as alumni can often take advantage of events and connections facilitated by the alma mater.

Associate Degree

An associate degree is granted after a program of study generally lasting two years. It is considered more advanced than a high school diploma or a certificate, but less advanced than a Bachelor degree. In Canada, universities and colleges may offer associate degree programs, which are often considered as foundational degrees which can be transferred to another university for further study.

Read more: Levels of Post-Secondary Study in Canada

B

Bachelor

A Bachelor — also known as a Bachelor's or Bachelor Degree — is the first degree offered by universities. In Canada, many colleges also offer Bachelor degrees. A student pursuing a Bachelor program is often referred to as an undergraduate — this means that he or she has not yet graduated from a university program. The programs of study at the undergraduate level are often more theoretical and less career-oriented. Canadian Bachelor programs are usually four years long, although students from Quebec can pursue three-year programs after completing a college program. International students from certain countries may also be able to complete a Bachelor program in three years if they have transfer credits.

There are different types of Bachelor degree depending on the faculty and program of study. Common degrees include, but are not limited to:

  • Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
  • Bachelor of Sciences (B.Sc.)
  • Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng.)
  • Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.)

Read more: Levels of Post-Secondary Study in Canada

Block Transfers

If a student has pursued another study program that may contribute transfer credits to the requirements of his or her study program, these credits may be transferred on a case-by-case basis or as a block transfer. For example, if a student entering a Bachelor program has completed advanced courses at high school, these may be brought as a block transfer to count for a year's worth of credits towards the undergraduate program.

Bursary

Bursaries are a form of financial aid for students. The money granted to a student as a bursary does not have to be repaid, and in this respect is different from a loan. Bursaries are distinct from scholarships in that they are often awarded based on financial need, rather than academic or extra-curricular achievements.

Learn more about financial aid for international students in Canada.

C

Campus

A university or college campus is the physical location of the institution. Classes, student services, socialization areas, and student residences often form the campus area. Many institutions have more than one campus, often to reflect the requirements of the study programs. Other institutions have multiple campuses to serve different towns, particularly in more remote areas.

Canadian Academic English Language (CAEL)

The CAEL is a standardized English-language test that assesses proficiency in English for admission to certain academic institutions. It is not accepted for application to Canadian immigration programs.

Some study programs or institutions may require prospective international students to supply proof of English-language ability. Prospective international students should consult the guidelines of a specific school to ensure they undertake the correct language test.

Canadian Experience Class (CEC)

This class is for temporary workers who have at least one year of experience in Canada or graduates from a Canadian post-secondary school who have at least one year of work experience in Canada, and who want to apply for permanent residency. Applicants applying in this class should also have good English or French skills and be used to Canadian society.

Read more: Canadian Experience Class Immigration Program

Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP)

The Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) is a Canadian standardized test that assesses proficiency in English for immigration and citizenship purposes. While it consists of two different tests, only the “CELPIP-General Test” is accepted as part of an immigration application. However, it is important to note that CELPIP is not an accepted test for immigration programs within Quebec; IELTS is the only accepted proof of English-language capability for Quebec immigration programs.

Some study programs or institutions may require prospective international students to supply proof of English-language ability. Prospective international students should consult the guidelines of a specific school to ensure they undertake the correct language test.

Career College

A career college is a private institution that offers career-focused study programs, often in skilled trades. Students can work towards a variety of degrees, diplomas and certifications. Study program length can vary from one year to four years or more, depending on the program. Career colleges are generally not regulated by the province in which they are located.)

If a prospective student wishes to work in Canada after completing a study program, it is important to verify that a diploma from a career college will make the graduate eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit. Certain diplomas at career colleges do not make the holder eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit.

CEGEP

Originally an acronym for Collège d'enseignement général et professionnel (General and professional training college), CEGEP is now the predominant word in English as well as French for the level of education after high school in Quebec. A college diploma (Diplôme d'études collégiales, or DEC) is usually required for Quebec students to enter into university education. Only public colleges are officially known as CEGEPs, but colloquially the word refers to all college education in Quebec.

In addition to pre-university programs, CEGEPs also offer vocational college programs in skilled trade subjects. These programs are usually three years in duration and prepare students to enter the workforce.

Certificat d’Acceptation du Québec (CAQ)

See Quebec Acceptance Certificate

Certificate

In Canada, a certificate is a type of study program undertaken in a college. The requirements to obtain a certificate differ between provinces, but in general require a short program of study than a diploma or a degree. Certificate programs are often highly career-focused and vocational.

Read more: Levels of Post-Secondary Study in Canada

Collaborative Degree Program

Some institutions offer the possibility of a collaborative degree, whereby a degree can be obtained from one institution although the student is attending a different institution. For example, a student may study at an institution closer to home and obtain a degree from an institution located elsewhere. In some cases, a student may start a program at one institution, then transfer to a second institution but receive the degree from the first institution. A collaborative degree program may offer a student the opportunity to take a course that is not offered at the main institution.

Alternatively, a collaborative degree program may refer to interdisciplinary studies within one institution, where a student pursues two separate study subjects within one study program.

College

In Canada, term “college” usually refers to a post-secondary technical, trade, applied arts, or applied science school. Study programs may be academic or technical. The term “community college” is also common. Students at a college may study towards a diploma, certificate, associate’s degree or Bachelor degree. Unlike in the United States, “college” is not commonly used in Canada to refer to university.

Read more: Levels of Post-Secondary Study in Canada

College in Quebec

See CEGEP

Co-op Work Permit

International students pursuing a study program at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) in Canada that requires a mandatory work placement or internship must apply for a co-op work permit in addition to a Canadian Study Permit. The co-op work permit is a separate work permit, unrelated to the authorization to work part-time that is generally included in Canadian study permits. It is important to note that an individual applying for a co-op work permit must hold a valid study permit.

The co-op work permit may only be used for work that is essential to the program of study. Any international student unsure of whether he or she needs a co-op work permit is advised to consult his or her program adviser.

Read more: Co-op Work Permits in Canada

Course

Most study programs in Canada are course-based, meaning that a student takes individual courses (also known as classes) that build up to a diploma, degree, or certificate. Depending on the institution, courses usually grant the credits required to graduate. In many programs, students have a lot of independence in choosing the courses that interest them. It is important to be familiar with the course requirements for the desired program, to ensure that all requirements are met in order to graduate.

Credits

University and college programs in Canada operate on a credits-based system, whereby individual courses contribute credits to an overall credit requirement. The system can differ greatly between institutions. Specific programs may require a particular number of credits in one subject area or faculty, to obtain a Major or a Minor in that subject.

International students must maintain a full-time course load, which is often defined by the number of credits a student undertakes per semester. Prospective international students should consult the requirements of their intended institution for detailed information on credit requirements.

Custodian

A minor child who intends to come to Canada as an international student without a parent or legal guardian may require a custodian. The custodian is responsible for caring for the child. Children under the age of 17 are required to have a custodian in Canada. In some cases this requirement extends to children between the ages of 17 and the age of majority in the relevant province. It is the responsibility of the immigration officer processing the application for a study permit to decide if a child of at least 17 years of age, but less than the age of majority, requires a custodian.

D

Degree

A degree is the qualification granted after the successful completion of a study program at the college or university level. There are three degrees in Canada, which each have numerous subdivisions:

Designated Learning Institution (DLI)

A DLI is an educational institution that has been recognised by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC, formerly known as CIC). A prospective international student must receive a letter of acceptance from a DLI in order to apply for a study permit. For a list of DLIs, click here.

It is important to note that all elementary and secondary schools in Canada are automatically DLIs, and they do not appear on the list.

Diploma

In Canada, a diploma is qualification achieved through a program of study at a college of applied arts or technology. The study program leading to this qualification is usually longer than a certificate, but less advanced than a university degree. Usually, a diploma is granted after two years of study at a college or trade school. An advanced diploma may be granted after three years of study.

“Diploma” is also used in Canada to refer more generally to the qualification received after successfully completing a program of study. Often, the physical copy of the degree received from a university is referred to as a diploma.

Diplôme approfondi de langue française (DALF)

The Diplôme approfondi de langue française (Advanced Diploma of French Language, or DALF) is a standardized test that assesses advanced proficiency in French. The program is managed by the French Ministry of Education, which also issues the diploma. The DALF is acknowledged as a proof of French language capability for certain Quebec immigration programs. However, the DALF is not accepted as proof of French language ability for federal and provincial immigration programs outside of Quebec.

Some study programs or institutions may require prospective international students to supply proof of French-language ability. Prospective international students should consult the guidelines of a specific school to ensure they undertake the correct language test.

Read more: Diplôme d'études en langue française - DELF/DALF

Diplôme d'études en langue française (DELF)

The Diplôme d'études en langue française (Diploma of Studies in French Language, or DELF) is a standardized test that assesses beginner to intermediate proficiency in French. The program is managed by the French Ministry of Education, which also issues the diploma. The DELF is acknowledged as a proof of French language ability for certain Quebec immigration programs. However, the DELF is not accepted as proof of French language ability for federal and provincial immigration programs outside of Quebec.

Some study programs or institutions may require prospective international students to supply proof of French-language ability. Prospective international students should consult the guidelines of a specific school to ensure they undertake the correct language test.

Read more: Diplôme d'études en langue française - DELF/DALF

Diplôme d'études professionnelles (DEP)

The diplôme d'études professionnelles (Diploma of Professional Studies, or DEP), is a college diploma pursued in a Quebec institution. Usually offered at CEGEPs, the DEP is an advanced vocational qualification that is often accepted or required in job postings. If undertaken at a Designated Learning Institution, DEP programs may be open to international students. Depending on the length of the program, the graduate of a DEP program may be eligible to apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit.

Distance education

Distance education, also known as distance learning, permits a student to pursue and obtain a qualification at an institution while not attending the physical location of the institution. This is common if a student cannot relocate to the location of the desired institution, or wishes to study from home. Study programs may be pursued wholly or partially through distance education, meaning a student may attend the institution for part of the study program and complete the remainder of the requirements from a different location. Increasingly, distance education utilizes the internet for classes and course requirements.

Doctorate

See PhD

E

Educational Institution

See Institution

Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)

The eTA is a new entry requirement for visa-exempt foreign nationals travelling to Canada by air. It will allow Canada to screen travellers before they arrive. Foreign nationals who do not require a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV) may still require an eTA to enter Canada, and this also applies to international students. The eTA is linked to a passport, and is valid for five years or until the passport expires, whichever occurs first.

Read more: Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA)

Elementary School

In Canada, elementary school is the first stage of formalized education. This varies from province to province, but generally covers the ages of six to 14, grades one to eight. In some provinces, grades seven and eight are referred to as “middle school”. Elementary school may also be known as primary school.

Elementary and secondary education collectively are often referred to as K-12 or “K through 12”, where the K stands for kindergarten (pre-school, or the year before grade one).

English as a Second Language (ESL)

ESL is a study program to teach English to non-native speakers. ESL programs are usually taught in locations where English is the predominant language, and often focus on an immersive approach to language learning.

Enrollment

A student is considered enrolled in a study program when he or she has registered for the required number of courses, and is pursuing studies.

Extra-Curricular

An extra-curricular activity (often referred to as simply “an extra-curricular”) is an optional activity that does not contribute to a study program. Many institutions have a wide variety of student associations, clubs, and activities that enrich student life and offer an opportunity to learn and socialize outside of the academic context. Sometimes, an extra-curricular activity undertaken in high school can be used to apply for scholarships. For example, scholarships are sometimes offered to students who excel in sports, music, or volunteer work. This is often the case at the university level.

F

Faculty

Faculty has several common meanings in Canada:

  • The professors and teaching staff of an educational institution are often collectively referred to as faculty.
  • A faculty can also be a group of departments within a university. For example, the Faculty of Science would oversee the departments of Chemistry, Physics, and Biology (among others) in a university.

Financial Aid Office

The financial aid office at an institution is the primary resource for students requiring information about financing studies. The financial aid office can usually provide information about fee structures, scholarships, loans, and bursaries.

Financial Assistance

Also known as financial aid, financial assistance refers to any money transferred to a student to assist with the costs of studying. It may come in the form of bursaries, loans, or scholarships. It is not required to obtain financial assistance in order to study in Canada; many students can support their studies through working. However, it is always worth researching the options for financial assistance as it is possible to receive support without taking on unmanageable debt.

Learn more about financial aid for international students in Canada.

French as a Second Language (FRSL)

FRSL is a study program to teach French to non-native speakers. FRSL programs are usually taught in locations where French is the predominant language, and often focus on an immersive approach to language learning.

Full-Time Study

A study schedule with a minimum of 15 hours of instruction per week during the academic year is considered full-time. This includes any period of training in the workplace that is part of the student’s studies. Full-time requirements can also vary depending on the institution; therefore, prospective international students should contact their school regarding any additional full-time requirements. In general, international students are required to remain enrolled in full-time study while in Canada on a study permit.

Full-Time Equivalent Study

Full-time equivalent study manifests in two forms:

  • An accelerated study program intended to complete a full-time program in a shorter time period
  • A part-time study program covering the content of a full-time study program over a longer time period

International students are encouraged to verify with their intended institution if full-time equivalent study options are available to them, as international students are usually required to remain enrolled in full-time education.

G

Grades

Grades are the marks received for a course. Depending on the requirements for an individual course, grades may be based on written essays, oral presentations, group work, exams, and other assessments. Grades in Canada are usually given to students as percentages or letter grades. A+ is generally the highest possible grade, and D the lowest. There is no E grade. An F is a fail grade. The translation of percentage grades into letter grades, and the translation of letter grades into GPA, can differ by province and institution.

Grade Point Average (GPA)

GPA is a cumulative score based on grades from individual courses. GPA is used as a measurement of a student’s academic success. Students can usually obtain a maximum GPA of 4.0 (4.3 at some institutions). When a student graduates from a program, he or she will have a cumulative GPA result based on the grades from all courses taken during the study program. This GPA may be required when applying for higher education programs.

Graduate

Graduate has several common meanings in Canada:

  • A graduate is student who has completed the requirements for a university-level degree
  • A graduate program is an advanced study program for students who have already graduated from a higher education program such as a Bachelor’s program.
  • Graduate studies are study programs beyond the Bachelor level, such as a Master’s degree or a Doctorate.

Graduate Certificate

In Canada, a graduate certificate is a post-graduate qualification. A Bachelor degree or advanced diploma is usually an admission requirement. Generally, program requirements for a graduate certificate are less demanding than a Master’s degree and study programs are often shorter. Graduate certificate programs may be offered at universities.

H

Health Insurance

Health insurance is compulsory for international students in Canada. Plans and coverage vary from province to province. Many educational institutions offer health insurance plans, and prospective international students are encouraged to refer to their intended institutions for more information and requirements.

Many international students take the opportunity to travel during holidays, or may travel for their studies. It is important to check the travel insurance coverage included in a student health plan, and take out additional insurance if required.

High School

The course of study after elementary school. In Canada, high school usually refers to grades nine through 12. It can also be known as secondary school. In Quebec, students finish high school in grade 11 and may enter a CEGEP to pursue a pre-university program or a vocational program.

I

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)

Formerly: Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC)

IRCC develops and implements policies, programs, and services that facilitate the arrival of people and their integration into Canada, protects refugees and people in need of protection, and promotes the rights and responsibilities of Canadian citizenship. It also grants citizenship, issues travel documents (such as passports), promotes multiculturalism, and advances migration policies in a way that supports Canada’s immigration and humanitarian objectives, among other things.

Applications for a study permit, or extensions to a study permit, must be submitted to IRCC.

Implied Status

If a visitor, student, or foreign worker applies to extend their status, before that status expires, they can legally remain in Canada until a decision is made on the application. In this situation, the person has implied status.

Institution

There are many different types of educational institutions in Canada. For the purposes of inclusiveness and clarity, “institution” is a general term used to refer to any post-secondary institution where a student can undertake a study program. Educational establishments covered by the term “institution” may include, but are not limited to:

International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is an international standardized test that assesses proficiency in English for non-native English speakers. The test can be used to prove English ability for immigration and citizenship purposes. There are two versions of the test, however only the "General Training" option is considered acceptable for immigration applications.

Some study programs or institutions may require prospective international students to supply proof of English-language ability. Prospective international students should consult the guidelines of a specific school to ensure they undertake the correct language test.

Read more: International English Language Testing System - IELTS

International Student

An international student is an individual who studies in a country other than his or her country of citizenship or permanent residence. An international student generally requires a permit to study abroad in his or her chosen country. International students may choose to study abroad to pursue a better education, to work towards future immigration goals, to develop language abilities, or to gain experience living in a different country, among other reasons.

Internship

Internships are voluntary or paid work experience in a particular field. An internship can be a successful way for a student to gain experience in his or her field while still pursuing a study program. Some programs may require a student to pursue an internship in order to graduate. International students in study programs that have a mandatory internship component should apply for a co-op work permit.

See also: Work Placement

See also: Co-op Work Permit

Insurance

Insurance offers financial protection in a variety of scenarios. In addition to health insurance, international students should be aware of other insurance options for their residence and belongings. Home insurance regulations differ by province. Building insurance may be covered by a renter’s landlord, but it is important to verify this when looking to rent. It is also a good idea for an international student to take out an insurance policy on his or her belongings, as damage or theft to belongings is not usually not covered by landlords.

J

K

L

Language School

A language school is an educational institution that focuses on the teaching of second languages. In Canada, the main languages taught in language schools are English and French. Language schools can be public or private. Provincial governments are responsible for regulating language programs at public language schools, but most provincial governments do not regulate language programs at private language schools.

It is possible to pursue a study program at a language school without a study permit, if the program of study is less than six months. However, an individual may still require a temporary resident visa (TRV) or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) to visit Canada and remain for up to six months.

Letter of Acceptance

A successful applicant to an educational institution will receive a letter of acceptance from that institution, stating that the prospective student has been selected for admission. For a prospective international student, the letter of acceptance is required for the application for a study permit, and the letter must come from a DLI.

Letter of Introduction

See Port of Entry (POE) Letter of Introduction.

Loans

A loan is an advance of money. It is common for students to take out loans to cover the costs of education, and there are many different loan programs accessible to students. Student loans can be obtained through the Canadian government and provincial governments. Banks may also offer financing options and loans for students. The financial aid office at an institution is a good resource for information on student loans.

Learn more about financial aid for international students in Canada.

M

Major

Usually in the context of a Bachelor program, a Major is the area of concentration that the student chooses. A student completes the requirement for a Major by completing a majority of his or her courses in the chosen subject. The faculty or program in which the student is enrolled generally dictates the selection of Majors available to a student. In addition, a student may be required to produce a thesis (a long, focused research essay supporting an individual argument, also known as a dissertation) related to his or her Major.

In Canada, a student may refer to his or her Major by saying, “I majored in Chemistry.”

Master’s Degree

A Master’s degree (often referred to simply as a Master’s) is the next level of higher education after a Bachelor degree. Usually, a Bachelor is required to enter a Master’s study program. Master’s programs are often a blend of courses and personal research leading towards a thesis. Admission is usually based on GPA, and a Bachelor degree in a related field is usually required. Depending on the program, a research proposal, references, or a sample essay may also be required.

As with Bachelor degrees, there are different types of Master’s degrees and these may differ between institutions. Common examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Master of Arts (M.A.)
  • Master of Sciences (M.Sc.)
  • Master of Philosophy (M.Phil.)
  • Master of Library and Information Studies (MLIS)

In Canada, Master’s programs are usually one to three years in duration.

Read more: Levels of Post-Secondary Study in Canada

Minimum Requirements

The minimum level an individual needs to reach to qualify for the program or permit he or she is applying for. An example of minimum requirements may be a required grade to enter a study program, or sufficient financial assets to qualify for a study permit.

Minor

Usually in the context of a Bachelor program, a Minor is a further concentration that a student may pursue in addition to a Major. Generally, fewer courses in one subject are required to complete a Minor requirement. Not every Bachelor program requires students to also select a Minor.

Minor Children

The age of majority differs between Canadian provinces. In the provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Saskatchewan, a minor is a child 18 years and under. In all the other provinces a minor is a child of 19 years and under. A prospective international student who would be considered a minor in Canada must have a Canadian custodian in order to come to Canada as an international student.

N

O

Official language

The legally-recognized language for business and services in a country or region. Businesses and institutions are required to provide information and services in the official language. Canada has two official languages: English and French. Provinces also have official languages. In Quebec, the only official language is French.

Open Work Permit

An Open Work Permit is a permit that allows the holder to work for any Canadian employer anywhere in Canada. As it is not dependent on a job, no job offer is required for the permit to be granted. Open Work Permits may be applied for by the spouses/common-law partners of foreign temporary workers or foreign students and by international students who have graduated from a Canadian post-secondary institution.

The work authorization attached to a study permit acts as an Open Work Permit. Generally, Canadian study permits permit the holder to work up to 20 hours during the semester on- or off-campus, and full-time during scheduled breaks, for any employer in Canada.

P

Pass/Fail

Certain institutions may offer the option of taking a course pass/fail, meaning that the student can either pass or fail the class, and does not receive a specific grade. The pass grade usually does not affect the student’s GPA. Some institutions will not allow a student to take a course pass/fail if the class is required for the Major or Minor requirement.

Pathway Program

Pathway programs are a way for students to complete a prerequisite study requirement. For example, a student may need to take certain courses or pass a test before enrolling in a certificate, degree, or diploma program. In Canada, recognized pathway programs generally take place between two DLIs. This means a student will usually take the prerequisite study course at one institution (for example, a language school) before enrolling in a second institution for the certificate, degree, or diploma program. Occasionally, a pathway program will take place within the same DLI. ESL and FRSL programs are a common form of pathway program, as an international student may be required to prove sufficient language ability to enroll in a more advanced study program.

Permanent Resident

A permanent resident is someone who has acquired permanent resident status by immigrating to Canada. This is not the same as being a Canadian citizen. Permanent residents have the right to live, work, and study in Canada, receive most social benefits like health care, be protected under Canadian law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and apply for Canadian citizenship. However, a permanent resident cannot vote, run for political office, or hold a job that requires a high-level security clearance. Permanent residence status can be taken away if a permanent resident does not live in Canada for two out of five years, is convicted of a serious crime and is instructed to leave Canada, or becomes a Canadian citizen.

PhD

A PhD degree (often referred to as a PhD or a Doctorate) is the highest level of education offered at a university. Usually, a Master’s is required to enter a PhD study program. In most cases, PhD programs involve personal research working towards a thesis, and the student works closely with a supervisor to develop the thesis. Admission is usually based on academic performance during a Master’s, and a student’s research topic at PhD level is usually a continuation of his or her Master’s research. In most cases, admission requirements include a research proposal, references, writing samples, and often an interview.

In Canada, PhD programs are generally at least two years in duration, and not usually more than six years.

Read more: Levels of Post-Secondary Study in Canada

Port of Entry (POE) Letter of Introduction

If an application for a study permit is approved, the applicant will receive a Letter of Introduction from the visa office where the application is submitted. This letter is required in order to obtain a study permit — the letter is not a study permit. When an individual arrives in Canada for the first time after the approval of his or her study permit application, he or she is required to present the Letter of Introduction from the visa office to the Canada Border Services Agency representative at the port of entry. The representative may then issue the study permit. 

Post-Doctorate

Colloquially known as “Postdocs”, a post-doctorate is a graduate of a PhD program who continues his or her research at a university in a paid position, usually funded by a grant. Postdocs continue their research to build a future career, often in academia and/or Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) domains. Postdocs may also have teaching appointments, in preparation for a faculty position.

Postgraduate

Postgraduate has several common meanings in Canada. The term is often used synonymously with the term "graduate":

  • A postgraduate is student enrolled in a postgraduate study program, such as a Master’s or Doctorate.
  • Post-graduate studies are study programs beyond the Bachelor level, such as a Master’s degree or a Doctorate.

Post-Graduation Work Permit

The post-graduation work permit (PGWP) is a work permit that can be granted to a student for the length of the student’s post-graduate study program, from a minimum of eight months up to a maximum of three years. The student must have graduated from a program of at least eight months duration at a participating Canadian post-secondary institution to qualify. Graduates can use the work experience they have gained through the post-graduation work permit program (PGWPP) to qualify for permanent residency in Canada through the Canadian Experience Class (CEC), or the Quebec Experience Class (PEQ).

Read more: Post-Graduation Work Permits For International Students In Canada

Post-Secondary

Post-secondary education refers to all levels of education after high school. A candidate who wishes to pursue post-secondary education must meet the admission requirements of his or her intended program — usually this means he or she must have a Canadian high school diploma, or equivalent. Post-secondary programs include degrees, diplomas, and certificates in institutions such as universities, colleges, or trade schools.

Prerequisite Study

Prerequisite study is a course or program that is required for further study. Prerequisite study may be a language course in preparation for a diploma or a degree. A prerequisite course is often part of an ongoing program that is required in order to pursue more advanced courses within the study program. Individual institutions have their own requirements for prerequisite study, and prospective students are encouraged to check with their intended institutions for specific requirements.

Private Institution

Private institutions receive most or all of their funding from sources other than provincial or federal governments. Private institutions may be run as for-profit businesses, particularly at the post-secondary level. Career colleges are an example of private post-secondary institutions. Private institutions may not be regulated by provincial governments.

Professional Development Program

Professional development programs are courses available to working professionals who wish to stay current with developments in their field. Programs are often intensive and take place over a few days or weeks. A participant may be given a certificate to show that he or she has completed the course, but this is different from the qualification gained from a certificate program at a college or trade school.

There is a second form of professional development program. Students pursuing a study program that involves professional training, such as healthcare or education, are usually required to complete a work placement during a fifth year of the study program. This is known as a professional development program or a fifth-year program. The work experience gained is often essential to gain provincial accreditation in the field.

Program Requirements

A student must comply with and complete the program requirements of his or her study program in order to graduate and receive the qualification. Program requirements are specific to individual programs and institutions.

Program of Study

See Study Program

Programme de l'expérience québécoise

See Quebec Experience Class

Proof of Funds

Also known as Proof of Financial Support. Individuals applying for a Canadian study permit are required to demonstrate that they can support themselves, and any accompanying family members, during their studies. The following table shows the funds required: 

Number of Persons All provinces except Quebec Quebec
Single student Tuition plus CAD $10,000 for a 12-month period (or CAD $833 per month) Tuition plus CAD $11,000 for a 12-month period (or CAD $917 per month)
One additional family member CAD $4,000 for a 12-month period (or CAD $333 per month) CAD $5,100 more for a person 18 years of age or older for a 12-month period (or CAD $425 per month) CAD $3,800 more for a person under 18 years of age for a 12-month period (or CAD $317 per month)
Each additional family member CAD $3,000 for a 12-month period per dependent child of any age (or CAD $255 per month) CAD $5,125 more for a person 18 years of age or older for a 12-month period (or CAD $427 per month) CAD $1,903 more for a person under 18 years of age for a 12-month period (or CAD $159 per month)

Financial support may be demonstrated by presenting some of the following documents upon arrival in Canada: 

  • Personal bank statements from a Canadian bank into which funds have been transferred;
  • Personal bank statements for the last four months from a foreign bank;
  • Letter/s from the educational establishment confirming a scholarship or bursary;
  • Proof of payment of tuition and/or accommodation fees;
  • A bank draft in convertible currency;
  • Proof from a financial institution of a student or educational loan; and/or
  • A letter from a family member or sponsor pledging financial support;

Learn more about financial aid for international students in Canada.

Province

Canada is divided into ten provinces and three territories. Post-secondary education is the responsibility of the provinces, therefore the provinces have a large amount of autonomy in shaping education programs. Many educational institutions receive funding from and are regulated by provincial governments. DLIs are regulated by the province, which may grant or remove DLI status. Provincial governments may also grant student loans and financial aid.

Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)

The Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) allows provinces to nominate immigrants they believe will contribute to the economic vitality of their province. Many provinces have PNP streams aligned with the federal Express Entry selection system. The selection criteria for the specific PNP streams are determined by individual provinces, but in many cases they are similar to the selection criteria for Federal Skilled Workers. International students may be able to apply for PNPs after graduating from a Canadian study program.

Read more: Provincial Nominee Program (PNP)

Public Institution

In the context of Canadian educational institutions, a public institution is one that receives most of its funding from the provincial or federal government. Public institutions are usually regulated by the government of the province in which they are located. Regulation is the responsibility of the provinces. Public institutions are run as not-for-profit organisations.

Q

Quebec Acceptance Certificate

In most cases, international students wishing to study in Quebec must obtain a Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (Quebec Acceptance Certificate, or CAQ) before applying to the federal government for a Canadian study permit. An application for a CAQ may be submitted to the Quebec Ministère de l’immigration, de la diversité et de l’inclusion (Ministry of Immigration, Diversity, and Inclusion, or MIDI).

Certain prospective international students may be exempt from the requirement for a CAQ.

Read more: Certificat d'Acceptation du Quebec (Certificate of Acceptance to Quebec, CAQ)

Quebec Experience Class

The Quebec Experience Class or Programme de l’expérience québécoise (most often referred to as PEQ) is an prioritized immigration program open to applicants with experience in Quebec, either through work experience or a Quebec diploma or degree. Applicants must prove a high intermediate level of French in the speaking and listening sections. Successful applicants will receive a certificate of selection for Quebec (CSQ), which can be used to apply to the federal immigration authorities for permanent residence. Processing times to receive a CSQ through the PEQ are significantly shorter at the Quebec level than other Quebec immigration programs.

Read more: Quebec Experience Class for Temporary Foreign Workers and International Graduates

R

Residence

Many institutions have designated student residences, often for rents lower than the average for properties in the campus area. This is common at the college and university levels. Prospective international students are encouraged to consult their intended institutions to learn more about residence options for students.

S

School

In Canada, the term “school” is used colloquially for many types of educational institution, including college and university. 

For example, if a Canadian learns someone is pursuing a Bachelor program, he or she may ask, “what school are you at?”

Scholarship

A scholarship is a sum of money awarded to a student for outstanding achievements. Scholarships are often awarded based on an applicant’s academic achievements, but there are also scholarships available for students who excel at sports or come from a particular background. Often, a student must apply for specific scholarships. It is worth contacting the financial aid office at the institution to find out the scholarships available to students.

Learn more about financial aid for international students in Canada.

Secondary Education

Education after the elementary school level, but before post-secondary education. In Canada, education is compulsory until the age of 16 (18 in certain provinces). Grades nine to 12 are considered secondary education. Elementary and secondary education collectively are often referred to as grade school, or K-12 or “K through 12”, where the K stands for kindergarten (pre-school, or the year before grade one).

Semester

The school year in Canada is divided into semesters. At the grade school level, there are usually three semesters in the academic year, which runs from September to June. At the post-secondary level, there are usually two semesters (running September to December, and January to May). At many institutions, summer courses often on offer during the summer months, which may be considered a third Summer semester. At the post-secondary level, individual institutions can set their own calendars and semester dates can differ between institutions.

Status in Canada

Anyone physically present in Canada is required to have status in Canada. In most cases, prospective international students who wish to study in Canada for more than six months are required to apply for a study permit, which gives the holder legal status in Canada.

STEM

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, and is generally used in an academic context to refer to degrees or research in these disciplines. STEM disciplines are at the forefront of academic research, and are popular with students for career advancement. In addition, certain Canadian immigration programs view applicants with STEM degrees as desirable candidates.

Study Permit

A document permitting temporary residence in Canada for the purpose of pursuing a study program at a Canadian university. In most cases, an international student pursuing a study program in Canada that is longer than six months in length requires a Canadian study permit. It is the responsibility of the study permit holder to ensure that he or she meets the requirements of the permit and maintains his or her status in Canada. Study permits are generally issued for the predicted length of the program of study, and may be extended if required. Study permits generally authorize the holder to work for up to 20 hours per week during the semester, and full-time during scheduled breaks.

Read more: Canada Study Permit

Study Program

The course of study that leads to a degree, diploma, or certificate.

Subject

An area of specialization for a course or study program.

T

Test de connaissance du français (TCF)

The Test du connaissance du français (TCF) is a standardized test that assesses French language proficiency. The test can be used to prove French ability in Quebec immigration programs.

Read more: Proving French Language Ability -Test de Connaissance du Français - TCF/TCFQ

Temporary Resident Visa (TRV)

Unless they are citizens of a visa-exempt country, individuals who wish to enter Canada for a temporary purpose, such as tourists, temporary foreign workers, and international students must apply for and be granted a Temporary Resident Visa (TRV). The TRV is a document issued by a Canadian Immigration Visa Office outside Canada, showing that the holder has satisfied the requirements for admission to Canada as a visitor. TRVs may be for single entry or multiple entry. As a general rule, tourists are admitted for a period of six months. Temporary foreign workers and international students are admitted for varying periods of time, as determined on a case-by-case basis. 

Read more: Temporary Resident Visas (Visitor Visas) For Canada

Test d'évaluation du français (TEF)

The Test d'Évaluation du Français (TEF) is a standardized test that assesses French language proficiency. The test can be used to prove French ability for immigration and citizenship purposes and is the only French language examination accepted for the Federal Skilled Worker Program.

Read more: Test d'Evaluation Du Français - TEF/TEFaQ

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is a standardized test to measure the English-language ability for prospective students for whom English is not the first language. It is not accepted for the purposes of immigration,

Some study programs or institutions may require prospective international students to supply proof of English-language ability. Prospective international students should consult the guidelines of a specific school to ensure they undertake the correct language test.

Trade School

A trade school offers programs focused on skilled trades, and prepares students to enter the workforce. Courses often focus on practical skills and workplace environment. Study programs are usually shorter than programs at colleges or universities. Trade schools are often popular with adults returning to education after some years working.

A trade school may also be known as a vocational school or a technical school. Trade schools may be private, and therefore may not be regulated by the provincial government.

Transcripts

The document that states the courses taken at an institution, and the grades obtained in each course. Transcripts from a completed program are often required for application to a more advanced study program.

Transfer Credits

Transfer credits refer to credits obtained at an institution that can be transferred to fulfill the requirements of a different study program at a different institution. For example, a student may be able to complete a Bachelor program in less than four years if he or she can transfer credits from advanced classes taken in high school. This is particularly relevant for international students, as Canadian institutions often grant transfer credits for advanced high school classes taken in other countries, thus reducing the length of the program of study.

Transfer Program

Certain colleges and technical schools have transfer agreements with universities, whereby courses taken at the college level may be transferred to a more advanced study program at the university level. Courses are typically offered in the environment of a college, which may be smaller and more intimate than a larger university. After completing the preliminary courses, the student may transfer to a university to undertake the more advanced courses required in order to graduate. There may be significant variation in the programs and courses on offer between institutions, so it is important to consult individual institutions for specifics.

Tuition

Also known as tuition fees, tuition is the cost of studying. Generally, tuition is payable to the individual institution. Tuition fees vary between institutions, provinces, and programs. In Canada, tuition fees are usually higher for international students than domestic students (Canadian citizens and permanent residents) but can still be lower than international tuition fees elsewhere in the world. A prospective international student is encouraged to compare between various institutions and programs when deciding where to apply and how to budget for international studies.

U

Undergraduate

Undergraduate can refer both to a program of study leading towards a Bachelor degree, and to the student studying to obtain a Bachelor degree.

University

An institute of higher education offering a range of advanced diplomas. This usually includes Bachelor, Master’s, and PhD programs. Some universities may only offer Bachelor — also known as undergraduate — programs. Similarly, some universities may only offer post-graduate programs such as Master’s and Doctoral programs.

University-Transfer Program

A student who starts a degree at a university outside Canada and wishes to transfer to a Canadian university may be able to participate in a university-transfer program. Certain Canadian universities have agreements with other universities worldwide to assess credit equivalency and accept transfer credits.  

V

Visa

See Temporary Resident Visa

Vocational

As an adjective, vocational is often used to describe study programs that are career- or industry-focused, as opposed to the more theoretical education undertaken at a university level.

Vocational School

See Trade School

W

Withdrawal

When a student voluntarily leaves a course or study program, he or she withdraws from the course or program. Withdrawal usually requires an action on behalf of the student. A student wishing to withdraw from a course or program may need to consult with an adviser or student services to officially leave the program.

Work Off-Campus

Generally, Canadian study permits permit the holder to work up to 20 hours during the semester, and full-time during scheduled breaks. This work authorization acts like an open work permit, meaning that the holder of a Canadian study permit may work off-campus, for an employer who is not connected to the educational institution.

Work Placement

A work placement is an opportunity for a student to gain experience by working in his or her chosen field for a period of time. A work placement — sometimes known as an internship — may form a mandatory part of the study program, in which case an international student may need a co-op work permit. Work placements may also be undertaken voluntarily and independently of the educational institution. Work placements can be a valuable opportunity for international students to gain work experience in Canada.

See also: Internship

X

Y

Z

Tools and Resources

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