How to Study for a Four-Year Degree in Canada


Four-year degree programs in Canada are undergraduate, medical, or doctoral degree programs. Generally, the duration for undergraduate and PhD programs ranges from 3-5 years depending on the course and the district where the Canadian university is located. Medical applicants need to have a bachelor’s degree before they can study for a four-year MD degree. PhD applicants must have a master’s or bachelor’s degree as a requirement to study their desired course in Canada.

Canadian Universities to Study a Four-Year Degree Program

How to Study for a Four-Year Degree in Canada

Your journey to study in Canada is best to start with the choice of a preferred academic institution. This, of course, will depend on factors such as the course of study, category of degree program and location of the university. Many universities in Canada offer scholarships after admitting students into a four-year degree program.

Below are some of the most popular universities in Canada one can easily choose from when looking to study in Canada.

  1. University of Toronto.
  2. University of Manitoba.
  3. University of Waterloo
  4. McMaster University
  5. University of Calgary
  6. University of Alberta
  7. McGill University
  8. University of British Columbia
  9. Université de Montréal
  10. University of Winnipeg

General Entry Requirements for a Four-Year Degree Program in Canada

Undergraduate, medical and PhD students need to gain admission into a Canadian university before they can study the course of their choice.

Applicants usually submit the following requirements when applying to study for a four-year degree in Canadian Universities:

      • Copy of a high school or secondary school transcript/certificate (undergraduate applications)
      • Copy of a master’s degree certificate or bachelor’s degree certificate from any accredited university (postgraduate applicants).
      • Proof of funds or finance which is usually in the form of bank statements.
      • English proficiency scores or certificate
      • Official transcripts from previous universities
      • A resume or CV
      • Recommendation letters submitted by your referees to the school
      • SAT or ACT scores (undergraduate applicants)
      • Official MCAT scores (for medical school applicants)
      • A completed application form
      • A statement of purpose or personal statement.

Canada Student Visa or Study Permit

After getting an acceptance letter from a Canadian university, the next step would be to apply for a study permit and student visa (temporary visa or electronic travel authorization). A study permit is a legal document that allows the student to study and live in Canada for the period of its validity while a student visa or electronic travel authorization is a legal permit that allows the student to enter Canada. An electronic travel authorization is usually linked to a person’s passport and has a validity of five years. Both documents are needed to study in Canada.

Steps in Getting a Student Visa and Study Permit

    1. Get admitted to a Canadian university and accept the offer of Admission– An acceptance letter will be sent to you by the university most times by email. This allows you to start your study permit and student visa application.
    2. Check Your Eligibility to Apply for a Study permit- The following individuals or group might not have to apply for a study permit;
      • Those enrolling in a course that has a duration of 6 months or less
      • Members of foreign armed forces from a country designated as visiting forces act.
      • Family Members or private staff members of a diplomatic agent, consular officer, representative, or official of a country other than Canada, of the United Nations, or any of its agencies, or of any international organization of which Canada is a member do not require a study permit. Instead, they require diplomatic or official visas.
      • Indians who are registered in Canada.
      • More eligibility information to apply for a study permit can be found on the Government of Canada’s official website.
    3. Prepare Documents Required for a Study Permit Application- Ensure all required documents for the study permit application are complete. The list of documents required to apply include:
      • The original letter of acceptance from the designated learning institution or university
      • A valid international passport/travel document
      • A letter of intent
      • Two recent passport-size photographs, on which the name of the student and date of birth has been specified on the back.
      • Bank Statement showing proof of sufficient financial support to study in Canada. The amount usually covers tuition fees and living expenses for one year.
      • An English proficiency test certificate (IELTS Academic, TOEFL iBT, Duolingo, PTE Academic, C1 Advanced) is required if the student comes from a non-English speaking country. A Certificat d’acceptation du Québec, is required in addition to the following: English and French translations, a copy of the original documents, and a statement from the translator. These documents must be submitted if the student plans to study in Quebec.
      • A medical certificate or record is required to prove that the student is in a good state of health.
      • A Police Certificate is required to confirm that the student has no criminal record
      • Proof of study permit fee payment (150 CAD – rate might change).
      • A filled student permit application form
    1. Apply for a Canadian Study Permit– A student must apply for a study permit before entering Canada. The study permit is applied for using the Citizenship and Immigration Canada’s websiteThe documents listed by post should be sent by post to the Canadian embassy in the applicant’s country if there is a slow or no internet connection in the applicant’s country.
    2. Book for a Biometrics Appointment and Interview– The student will need to book a biometric appointment in his/her country at a Canadian Visa application center or embassy. This should be done as soon as possible before the deadline on the biometric instruction letter. The student is required to enter his/her biometric data such as fingerprints and signature during the process and pay a biometric fee of 85 CAD. An interview might follow after the biometric capture.

Processing Duration for a Canadian Study Permit

After a study permit application, a period of about 90 days is used to process the application. It is important to submit all requested documents so that the application is not rejected or delayed. The processing time can be faster (about 20 days) using the student Direct stream which costs 150 CAD. It is available to applicants from Senegal, China, Vietnam, Morocco, India, Pakistan, and the Philippines.

If a student’s study permit application has been successfully approved, a letter of introduction stating that the student is permitted to enter Canada will be sent to him/her. This letter should be shown to the Canadian border services officer after which the student’s study permit will be issued to him/her at the point of entry to Canada. An electronic travel authorization will also be linked to the student’s passport and is valid until the passport expires or for 5 years. [useful link]

Working While Studying for a Four-year Degree in Canada

All students with a valid study permit can work in Canada for 20 hours per week during academic semesters and full-time during school breaks or holidays. Students can work on campus or off campus and earn to offset living expenses. Some part-time jobs students can do while studying in Canada include:

  • Tutor
  • Teacher’s assistant
  • Freelance writer
  • Freelance graphic designer/UX designer
  • Sales development representative
  • Translator
  • Uber driver
  • Bartender
  • Bookkeeper
  • Customer service assistant

Some four-year degree undergraduate programs come with career-related cooperative jobs or co-ops which last from 4-12 months. During the summer, students can choose to work as interns doing up to four consecutive terms. Co-ops are a great way to get paid and get hands-on experience in the student’s academic specialty.