Study in Ontario
More international students come to Ontario than any other Canadian province, and for good reason.
Ontario is home to some of Canada's top universities and colleges, leaders in innovation and research. International students can gain a competitive edge as degrees, diplomas and certificates received in Ontario's universities and colleges are held in high esteem across Canada and recognized worldwide.
Ontario caters to all types of student, from those who prefer the big city experience to those who thrive in a small-town environment.
Canada's financial hub (Toronto), its legislative capital (Ottawa), as well as many other cities and thousands of multinational corporations are located in Ontario, offering a wealth of employment opportunities upon graduation. With more than half of Canada's new immigrants settling in the province, Ontario is a place where newcomers can always feel at home.
International Student Population
143,428 (2014 figures)
Main Study Destinations
Toronto, Ottawa, Kingston, London, Hamilton
Studying in Ontario: The Advantages
International students gain a competitive edge as degrees, diplomas and certificates received in Ontario's universities and colleges are recognized worldwide.
More people, more possibilities
As Canada's most populated province, and home to its largest city (Toronto) and capital (Ottawa), Ontario is a place where things happen and where big decisions are made. For international students who wish to obtain a Post-Graduation Work Permit and develop their career in Canada, Ontario offers unparalleled employment opportunities.
Begin your career, and go far
A recent report from University Works, and promoted by the Council of Ontario Universities, shows that Ontario university graduates have experienced the highest employment growth of any group of students over the last 10 years, with the highest employment rate (92%) in Canada. They are also earning significantly more, and are more likely to be working at a job related to their studies.
Immigrate After Studying in Ontario
Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) International Students Category.
International students who choose Ontario as their destination in Canada are in a great position to immigrate permanently, thanks to the OINP International Students category, which accepts applications under the following sub-categories:
- International Student with a Job Offer Stream — This sub-category was created to help employers recruit international students. It is open to Ontario employers and students with job offers in the province.
- International PhD Graduate Stream — This sub-category targets individuals who have graduated from a PhD program at one of Ontario’s publicly funded universities. A job offer is not required.
- International Masters Graduate Stream — This sub-category, which is currently operating as a temporary pilot program, targets individuals who have graduated with a Master’s degree from one of Ontario’s publicly funded universities. A job offer is not required.
Candidates for immigration to Canada through the federal Express Entry immigration selection system who have completed their education at a school in Ontario may be awarded a significant number of points on account of their high level of education. Moreover, international graduates of Canadian educational institutions may have obtained important Canadian work experience, another highly valued factor under the Express Entry system.
Destination Schools in Ontario
These institutions are featured due to their size, proximity to urban centres, and tradition for enrolling international students into their student bodies. Learn more about each school by clicking their titles below, which will take you to the relevant page on School Search.
The University of Toronto is a big-league player, consistently ranking as one of the top 20 public universities in the world. Its reputation as a research institution brings countless accolades.
Signature programs: Architecture, Commerce, Medicine, Engineering, Education
Located north of Toronto and Canada's third-largest public university with nearly 60,000 students, York University has over 5,000 courses spread across 11 faculties.
Signature programs: Business, Law, Environmental Studies, Liberal Arts, Engineering
The University of Ottawa is Canada's second-largest bilingual University, serving more than 250 undergraduate programs and nearly as many graduate programs spread across 10 faculties.
Signature programs: Biomedical Sciences, Law, Medicine, Management
The University of Waterloo's campuses are innovative, well-funded, and hands on, with a clear mission to become one of the world's most innovative learning destinations.
Signature programs: Actuarial Science, Architecture, Nanotechnology, Commerce
Ryerson is also a truly urban university located in the middle of Toronto's financial district.
Signature programs: Biomedical Sciences And Biomedical Engineering, RTA School Of Media, Urban Sustainability, Journalism, Aerospace Engineering
Western University is made up of 82 buildings over 1,200 acres across London, Ontario, and is a leading research university in many fields.
Signature programs: Social Sciences, Business, Medicine and Health Sciences, Engineering, Law
Other Select Schools in Ontario
Select Schools are those that CanadaVisa has assessed for quality, value, and competency with international students. These schools are accredited by Colleges and Institutes Canada (formerly the Association of Community Colleges of Canada) or are chosen because of proven pathway programs and exemplary student services.
In order to apply for a Canadian study permit, prospective international students must first obtain a letter of acceptance from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI). As each institution may have different admission requirements and application processes, interested applicants may contact the desired institution(s) individually. Find out more about studying in Ontario.
For a full list of DLIs by province, click here.
- Five of the top 10 Canadian universities in 2016 are located in Ontario. Here is a selection from around the province, which has 22 publicly-funded universities in total.
- University of Toronto reliably sits at the top of Canadian ranking lists for universities, and consistently ranks highly in comparison internationally as well. With almost 80,000 students, classes can be large, but the institution attracts some of the world’s leading academics to teach them. The university has separate “colleges” — these are not distinct institutions, but a reflection of the college system used in the UK to provide a community for students.
- Signature programs: Architecture, Commerce, Medicine, Engineering, Education, Public Health
- McMaster University may be one of the older universities in Canada, but it has led the way in innovative education methods and is well-known for its self-directed, problem-based approach to learning. Located in Hamilton and surrounded by the Royal Botanical Gardens, “Mac” is at once a high-performing academic institution and a respite from the hustle and bustle of nearby Toronto.
- Signature programs: Health Sciences, Medicine, Engineering, Social Sciences, MBA
- University of Waterloo is located in the technology centre of Ontario, and its science programs are correspondingly popular. With so many tech companies nearby, employment prospects are good — and greatly aided by the largest co-op program in the world; more than 18,000 students are employed in co-op positions.
- Signature programs: Statistics and Actuarial Science, Engineering, Architecture, Nanotechnology
- University of Ottawa boasts Canada’s largest law faculty — this is no surprise, given its location in the country’s capital city. But that’s not all: Ottawa is one of Canada's top 10 research schools, with one of the best medical programs. It is also the second-largest bilingual university in Canada.
- Signature programs: Biomedical Sciences, Law, Medicine, Management
- Ontario’s colleges compete with universities for quality of education and range of programs. Ontario’s 24 publicly funded colleges are known as Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology (CAATs). Of these, five (Humber, Sheridan, Conestoga, Seneca, and George Brown) have been designated as Institutes of Technology and Advanced Learning in recognition of their integrity.
- Centennial College in Toronto is the oldest publicly funded college in Ontario. It is also known as one of the most diverse institutions in Canada, with almost 100 ethno-cultural groups and nearly 80 languages spoken on its campuses. Centennial maintains connections with institutions worldwide and actively recruits international students. Over 150 programs are offered at Bachelor, diploma, and certificate level.
- Signature programs: Communications and Media Fundamentals, Business, Hospitality, Joint degree programs in Journalism, New Media Studies, Nursing, and Paramedicine
- Collège Boréal is a French language institution serving the Northern and Central Southwestern regions of Ontario. It offers 78 post-secondary and apprenticeship programs to over 9,000 students, and emphasizes hands-on workplace training. Students are required to show French language knowledge in order to attend.
- Signature programs: Apprenticeship Welding, Business Administration - Accounting, Veterinary Technician, Heavy Equipment Mechanic, Child and Youth Worker.
- Algonquin College, with three campuses in Ottawa, Perth, and Pembroke, offers over 180 programs in degree and diploma studies, certification and apprenticeships. With an involved and hands-on approach to education and training, Algonquin prepares students for the global workforce.
- Signature programs: Business, Technology and Health Sciences, as well as unique programs in Outdoor Adventure and Forestry.
- With such a wide variety of programs over so many quality institutions, it is hard to generalize about students’ preferences in Ontario. However, as the centre of much financial, government, and artistic activity in Canada, many students pursue study programs related to finance, business, technology, and the arts.
- Ontario also has some of Canada's best universities for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) programs, which are also very popular.
- In addition to the programs above, institutions across Ontario offer a broad range of programs.
Tuition for international students in Ontario varies widely between colleges and universities, and between different study programs. As a rough estimate, international students may expect to pay between $10,000 and $15,000 per year at a college. International students may expect to pay between $20,000 and $35,000 per year for Bachelor programs at universities. Language school and graduate school tuition may differ significantly.
- International students studying in Canada are required to purchase health insurance before landing in Canada. Often, this is organized through the post-secondary institution.
- Certain universities and colleges are enrolled in the University Health Insurance Plan, or UHIP, which carries a monthly fee. International students at the participating institutions are required to enroll in UHIP.
In order to apply for a study permit, a potential international student must show that he or she has $10,000 in addition to tuition fees to cover living expenses in Ontario. This equates to $833 per month.
Living expenses, particularly rent, can vary greatly across Ontario — this is especially the case when comparing Toronto with other cities. Below is an approximate estimation of living costs for students in Ontario.
|Factor||Per month (approx.)||Per year (approx.)|
Room in shared apartment
|Recreation and entertainment||$150||$1,800|
|Health insurance (UHIP/private)||$51||$612|
|Transportation (Toronto post-secondary student price)||$112||$1,344|
|Cost of living total||$1,543–$2,043||$18,516–$24,516|
International students in Ontario may have access to private loans on the same terms as Canadian citizens and permanent residents. Loans may be offered by banks, student organizations, or other groups. It is important to properly research loan options, and understand the interest and repayment plans, before committing to any contract.
Many organizations and institutions may offer scholarships or bursaries to international students studying in Ontario. For more information, students are encouraged to contact the international student services department of their institution.
Graduate programs in particular often have funding options for students pursuing a Master’s or PhD program. It is important to contact the educational institution directly for more information.
- As a popular program across Canada, it is possible to study Engineering in many Ontario universities and colleges.
- According to Maclean’s magazine, five of the top 10 Canadian universities for Engineering are in Ontario: University of Toronto, University of Waterloo, University of Ottawa, Queen’s University, and McMaster University. Waterloo has Canada’s largest Engineering program, and is particularly known for Software Engineering. Engineering programs are also available at many other Ontario universities with strong reputations.
- Engineering is a popular program at colleges as well. Algonquin, Centennial, Conestoga, Georgian, Humber, Sheridan, and Niagara colleges, among others, all offer a wide range of programs.
- As a popular study program across Canada, it is possible to study Computer Science and related programs at a wide range of Ontario institutions.
- Maclean’s ranks University of Toronto best in Canada for Computer Science, with the University of Waterloo tied for second place. Queen’s University is also in the top 10.
- Like the University of Waterloo, Wilfred Laurier University also benefits from its location in Ontario’s “tech triangle” (the name given to the Waterloo region, including the cities of Cambridge and Kitchener) and offers highly-regarded computer technology programs.
- Many Ontario colleges offer computer technology programs with co-op opportunities. Mohawk, Sheridan, and Fanshawe colleges all have reputable programs. Many colleges — including Niagara and Seneca — also offer Bachelor degrees in computer technology-related fields.
- As a popular program across Canada, it is possible to study Nursing and related health programs in many Ontario universities and colleges.
- The University of Toronto tops Maclean’s rankings for Nursing programs. McMaster University, Queen’s University, the University of Ottawa and the University of Western Ontario (“Western”) also appear in the top 10.
- Loyalist College is noted for its nursing program. Collège Boréal offers a Bachelor degree in nursing in French. Many other top colleges such as Mohawk, Conestoga, Centennial, and George Brown offer Bachelor and diploma programs in nursing.
STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. While careers in STEM fields are popular, there is no specific program entitled “STEM” in an Ontario college or university. Prospective students are encouraged to research programs in their particular area of interest. Use the School Search tool to research programs in these fields.
- With many opportunities for co-op work and internships in busy urban centres, many graduates have excellent job prospects after graduation.
- Ontario's Tech Triangle — formed by the cities of Waterloo, Kitchener, and Cambridge — hosts some of the world's largest tech companies, and is a hotbed of innovation. Blackberry's headquarters is here, and Gmail was in part developed at Google's office in downtown Kitchener.
- Employment in the professional, scientific, and technical services, information, recreation, and culture, manufacturing, and health care and social services sectors grew significantly between June 2015 and September 2016. Employment in the utilities and construction sectors has also increased since June 2015.
- Learn more about the economy and employment in Ontario.
- Use the Canada Job Search Tool to look for open positions across Ontario and Canada.
Graduates from a DLI in Ontario may apply for the Post-Graduation Work Permit after graduating from an eligible study program.
Does studying in Ontario provide options for permanent immigration to Canada for international students?
- The OINP International Student Category of the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) has subcategories for international students and graduates:
- International graduates who have completed their education at a school in Ontario may be eligible to immigrate through the federal Express Entry immigration selection system. Graduates may be awarded points on account of their high level of education. Moreover, international graduates of Canadian educational institutions may have obtained important Canadian work experience, another highly valued factor under the Express Entry system.
As the most populated part of Ontario stretches south of the Prairie Provinces, most of Ontario’s large cities and towns have a milder climate than other parts of Canada. Southern Ontario’s many lakes keep winter temperatures and snowfall more moderate than elsewhere in the country. Areas further north, including Thunder Bay and Sudbury, often experience colder temperatures in winter.
- More international students study in Ontario than in any other province, and educational institutions are familiar with catering to international students.
- Several of Ontario’s universities and colleges are recognized worldwide, so the opportunities after graduation are limitless.
- As the economic and political centre of Canada, Ontario’s job opportunities are plentiful. The Canadian capital city, Ottawa, and the country’s biggest city, Toronto, offer a wide range of jobs and careers for students and graduates in every field.
- A recent report from University Works, and promoted by the Council of Ontario Universities, shows that Ontario university graduates have experienced the highest employment growth of any group of students over the last 10 years, with the highest employment rate (92%) in Canada. They are also earning significantly more, and are more likely to be working at a job related to their studies.
- Toronto is the biggest city in Ontario, and in Canada. The finance and IT sectors are particularly strong areas of employment. Neighbouring towns and cities such as Mississauga, Whitby, and Brampton have gradually been absorbed by Toronto’s growth to form the “Greater Toronto Area”, or GTA.
- Ottawa is the capital city of Ontario. In addition to excellent schools and tourism, many people are attracted by jobs with the federal government, which is the biggest employer in the region.
- In past days, Hamilton was a major city for industry — particularly steel manufacture. After an economic downturn which resulted in many job losses, the city is now experiencing new growth in the service sector and the arts.
- Waterloo is a hub for technology and innovation, and its local colleges and universities offer technology programs to reflect this. The corporate head office of Blackberry is located in Waterloo, and the company is the city’s largest employer.