Studying in Nova Scotia FAQ

Last updated: 2 September 2020

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 Nova Scotia.

  • Dalhousie University, located in the capital city, Halifax, is the province’s best-known university. Dalhousie maintains an inclusive, interdisciplinary focus and strong ties to the surrounding community. Both research and teaching are strong here, as well as school spirit and athletics.
    • Signature programs: Medicine, Engineering, Law, Management, Architecture, Science, Agricultural Business, Arts and Social Sciences
  • Acadia University in Wolfville is a place of diversity and community. Nearly 15 percent of its students are international, and almost half of all students live on campus. For a small school, there is no shortage of degree programs: the school has more than 200 of them. The population of this small town doubles during the semester when students are in classes.
    • Signature programs: Business Administration, Computer Science, Environmental Science, Music
  • St. Francis Xavier – also known as “St. FX” – was recently ranked second in Canada on Maclean’s Student’s Favourite Schools, in the “Primarily Undergraduate” category. The university excels in research, and plays an important part in the surrounding community.
    • Signature programs: Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Information Systems, Music and Jazz Studies
  • The Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) is a big provider of technical and apprenticeship training. The college has 13 campuses and six learning centres located throughout the province. The college has more than 25,000 students, who are attracted by nationally-recognized institutes, such as the Nova Scotia Nautical Institute, the School of Fisheries, the Aviation Institute, and the Center of Geographical Sciences.
    • Signature programs: Geomatics Engineering Technology, Information Technology, Radio & Television Arts, Graphic Design
  • The Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) is a tight-knit, largely studio-based institution, with a total strength of fewer than 1,000 students. NSCAD is now a fully-fledged university, offering Bachelor and Master programs in Fine Art, Design, and Art History.
    • Signature programs: Interdisciplinary Design, Fine Arts, Art History and Critical Studies, Textiles and Fashion
  • Engineering and Information Technology programs are popular here as they both may lead to employment in the province’s main industries.
  • Arts programs are also popular — the region has a strong history of arts and crafts, and Nova Scotia College of Art and Design is a major draw for artistic students.
  • In addition to the programs above, institutions across Nova Scotia offer a broad range of programs.

Tuition for international students varies widely, depending on the institution and study program. As a rough estimate, international students in Nova Scotia may expect to pay around $10,000 per year at a college. International students may expect to pay between $13,000 and $25,000 per year for Bachelor programs at a university. Language school and graduate school tuition may differ significantly.

International students in Canada must purchase healthcare coverage before landing in Canada. In Nova Scotia, students are usually covered by health insurance plans at their college or university. It is a good idea to consult the intended institution’s website for more information.

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 Nova Scotia. This equates to $833 per month.

Bearing in mind that expenses may vary greatly across the province, particularly between Halifax and small towns, here is an approximate estimate of the cost of living in Nova Scotia.

FactorPer month (approx.)Per year (approx.)

Accommodation (shared, off-campus)



Clothing, miscellaneous$150$1,800
Recreation and entertainment$150$1,800
Transportation (Halifax price)$70$840
Phone bill$60$720


Cost of living total$1,400$16,800

International students in Nova Scotia 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 Nova Scotia. 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 Computer Technology and related programs in many Nova Scotia universities and colleges.
  • Nova Scotia Community College’s Computer Electronics Technician program is well-regarded.
  • Dalhousie University offers four programs related to computer sciences and engineering, as well as informatics. St Francis Xavier’s Computer Science department frequently develops new courses, such as “Social Issues in the Information Age”, starting in 2017. Acadia University's undergraduate and graduate Computer Science programs offer specializations in areas such as Mobile and Ubiquitous Computing, Gaming Development, and Software Development.
  • As a popular program across Canada, it is possible to study Nursing and related health programs in many Nova Scotia universities and colleges.
  • Nova Scotia Community College has a popular Practical Nursing program, as well as a one year re-entry program aimed at updating students’ skills with a view to obtaining a Licensed Practical Nurse qualification.
  • Dalhousie University's Nursing program, available at its Halifax and Yarmouth campuses, is well-regarded in the industry. Starting in January 2017, St Francis Xavier will offer an accelerated two-year Nursing program in addition to its four-year Bachelor program and part-time Registered Nurse program.

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 a Nova Scotia 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.

  • Across the province, the tourism industry provides opportunities across a range of hospitality and recreation occupations.
  • Major industries in Nova Scotia include Agriculture, Forestry, Natural Gas Extraction, Mining, and Fishing.
  • Halifax is an important base for the financial sector, as well as the aerospace industry — engine manufacturer Pratt and Whitney Canada, and the Halifax International Airport, are both important to the economy.
  • As is the case across Canada, the healthcare and social services sector is a major employer in Nova Scotia.
  • Learn more about the economy and employment in Nova Scotia.
  • Use the Canada Job Search Tool to look for open positions across Nova Scotia and Canada.

Graduates from a DLI in Nova Scotia may apply for the Post-Graduation Work Permit after graduating from an eligible study program.

Nova Scotia Experience: Express Entry provides a pathway to permanent residence for skilled applicants who have worked for a Nova Scotia employer for at least one year. The Nova Scotia Experience: Express Entry stream is aligned with the federal Express Entry immigration selection system, allowing for expedited processing times.

The Nova Scotia Nominee Program: International Graduate Entrepreneur Stream provides an immigration opportunity for international students who have graduated from a Nova Scotia university or community college and have started their own business. This stream is currently the only one of its kind in the country.

International graduates may also pursue an application for permanent residence through the federal Express Entry immigration system. Candidates for immigration to Canada who have completed their education at a school in Nova Scotia 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.

Nova Scotia has a mild climate, with less extreme temperatures than other parts of Canada. Winter temperatures frequently drop just below freezing, and summer temperatures remain in the mid-twenties Celsius. The province can also be subject to sudden changes in weather and temperature, and some areas see frequent fog. The climate is affected by the ocean that almost surrounds the province.

Nova Scotia has the highest number of universities per capita in Canada, therefore student life is vibrant in the province. Even small towns such as Wolfville (where Acadia University is located) and Antigonish (home to St. Francis Xavier) offer many activities and services for students.

Nova Scotia universities dominate the rankings for student satisfaction. According to Maclean’s Magazine’s ranking of primarily undergraduate universities in 2016, Cape Breton University came 15th, St Mary’s University came 9th, Mount Saint Vincent came 5th, Acadia University came 4th, and St Francis Xavier came 2nd for overall student satisfaction.

  • Nova Scotia is a province of small towns and communities. With a population of just over 390,000 people, Halifax is the province’s largest city and main urban centre. The next biggest towns and regions are Cape Breton, with 97,000 people, and Truro, with 12,000 people.
  • Many universities and colleges are located in small towns of three to five thousand people, and the population of these towns can double during the semester when students are in classes.

To learn more about studying in Nova Scotia, consult the Study in Nova Scotia page.