Ultimate Guide: Overview of Procedures and Requirements for International Students to Study Masters in Canada

Are you an international student aspiring to pursue a master's degree in Canada? This blog provides a detailed overview of the procedures and requirements you need to know. From obtaining a passport and taking English proficiency tests to submitting university applications and applying for study permits, this comprehensive resource guides you step-by-step. Prepare yourself for an enriching academic journey in Canada with this valuable information tailored specifically for international students.

Ultimate Guide: Overview of Procedures and Requirements for International Students to Study Masters in Canada
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Apr 29, 2023 07:21 AM
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Are you an ambitious student with dreams of pursuing your master's degree in Canada? The Great White North offers excellent educational opportunities and a multicultural environment that attracts students from around the globe. To help you navigate the process of studying in Canada as an international student, we have prepared this ultimate guide that outlines the step-by-step procedures and essential requirements. By following these guidelines, you'll be well-prepared to embark on your academic journey in Canada and make the most of your study abroad experience.

Step 1: Get your Passport

The first step in your journey to studying in Canada is ensuring you have a valid passport. Your passport is not only your official identification but also a crucial document required for visa applications and international travel. If you already have a passport, ensure its validity extends throughout your intended stay in Canada. However, if you don't have a passport or if it's nearing expiration, it's essential to apply for a new one as early as possible.
To obtain a passport, you'll need to follow the application process established by your country's passport issuing authority. This generally involves completing an application form, submitting necessary documents such as proof of identity and citizenship, providing passport-sized photographs, and paying the applicable fees. It's advisable to check the specific requirements and processing times for passport applications in your country to avoid any delays.
Table 2: Common Visa Application Documents
Identification and travel document
Study permit application form
Official form for applying for a Canadian study permit
Letter of acceptance
Proof of acceptance from a Canadian designated learning institution (DLI)
Financial documents
Evidence of sufficient funds to cover tuition and living expenses
Academic records from previous educational institutions
Language test scores
Results from English proficiency tests
Passport-sized photos
Recent photos meeting the specified requirements
Proof of medical examination
Medical certificate to ensure good health

Step 2: Take an English Proficiency Test

Proficiency in the English language is a vital requirement for studying in Canada. Most Canadian universities and colleges require international students to demonstrate their English language skills through standardized tests such as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). These tests assess your abilities in listening, reading, writing, and speaking English.
To prepare for the English proficiency test, it's essential to familiarize yourself with the test format, practice sample questions, and improve your language skills through regular reading, writing, and conversation in English. Several resources, including online courses and study materials, can assist you in your preparation journey. Aim to achieve the required minimum scores set by your target universities to ensure your application is competitive.
Table 1: English Proficiency Tests
Test Name
Accepted Score
IELTS (Academic)
Overall 6.5
Minimum score may vary by program
Overall 90
Minimum score may vary by program
Cambridge English
Overall 180
Minimum score may vary by program
Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic
Overall 65
Minimum score may vary by program

Step 3: Attempt the GRE Test (if applicable)

While not mandatory for all graduate programs in Canada, the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is often required for admission to certain master's programs. The GRE assesses your analytical writing, verbal reasoning, and quantitative reasoning skills. It's important to determine whether the programs you're interested in require the GRE and plan your test preparation accordingly.
If the GRE is required, start by familiarizing yourself with the test structure, content, and scoring criteria. Develop a study plan, utilize study materials and resources, and consider enrolling in preparatory courses to enhance your performance. It's also recommended to practice with sample tests to become comfortable with the exam format and to identify areas that require improvement. Be sure to register for the test well in advance, considering the availability of test dates and score reporting deadlines.

Step 4: Get your Bachelor's Transcript & Educational Certificates

Your academic transcript and educational certificates play a significant role in the application process for studying in Canada. These documents provide evidence of your educational background, academic achievements, and qualifications. To ensure a smooth application process, you'll need to obtain official copies of your bachelor's transcript and educational certificates from your previous institution.
Contact your university or college to request official transcripts, ensuring they include all completed courses, grades, and degree conferral details. It's important to verify whether the transcripts need to be in the original language or if they require translation into English or French, the official languages in Canada. Allow ample time for the issuance and delivery of the transcripts, accounting for any additional steps such as notarization or attestation, if necessary.

Step 5: Prepare the Curriculum Vitae (CV)

A well-prepared curriculum vitae (CV) is an essential component of your application package. It showcases your academic achievements, research experience, internships, and any other relevant qualifications. Your CV provides a comprehensive overview of your educational and professional background, allowing admissions committees to assess your suitability for their master's programs.
When creating your CV, ensure it is clear, concise, and tailored to highlight your strengths and accomplishments. Include sections such as educational qualifications, research projects, academic honors, work experience, publications (if any), and relevant skills. Use bullet points to emphasize key information and make the document visually appealing and easy to read. Proofread your CV meticulously to avoid any errors or inconsistencies.

Step 6: Prepare a Statement of Purpose (SOP)

The statement of purpose (SOP) is a crucial document that showcases your motivations, aspirations, and fit for the master's program you are applying to. It is your opportunity to communicate your academic and career goals, research interests, and how the specific program aligns with your objectives. A well-written SOP can significantly strengthen your application and set you apart from other candidates.
Start by carefully reading the guidelines provided by your target universities regarding the content and format of the SOP. Structure your statement coherently, including an engaging introduction, body paragraphs that highlight your experiences and qualifications, and a compelling conclusion. Be honest, authentic, and specific in expressing your passion for your field of study and why you believe the program in Canada is the ideal choice for you. It's essential to proofread and edit your SOP thoroughly to ensure clarity and coherence.

Step 7: Collect the Letters of Recommendation (LORs)

Letters of recommendation (LORs) provide valuable insights into your academic abilities, character, and potential for success in graduate studies. These letters are typically written by professors, research advisors, or employers who can assess your skills, work ethic, and personal qualities. Choosing the right referees and providing them with sufficient information is crucial to secure strong and positive recommendations.
Identify potential referees who can speak to your academic abilities, research potential, or work experience. Approach them well in advance and provide them with the necessary information about your goals, achievements, and the program you are applying to. It's essential to provide referees with ample time to write their recommendations and to follow up with polite reminders as the submission deadline approaches. Express your gratitude to your referees for their time and support.

Step 8: Make a list of Target Universities to apply

Choosing the right universities to apply to is a critical step in the process of studying in Canada. Conduct thorough research to identify universities that offer your desired master's program and align with your academic and career goals. Consider factors such as program reputation, faculty expertise, research opportunities, campus facilities, location, and cost of living.
Create a list of target universities based on your preferences and priorities. It's advisable to have a mix of ambitious, moderate, and safe options to maximize your chances of acceptance. Take advantage of online resources, university rankings, and official websites to gather information about admission requirements, program curriculum, scholarships, and funding opportunities. Attend virtual information sessions or connect with current students or alumni to gain insights into the universities and their programs.

Step 9: Submit Applications to University

Once you have finalized your list of target universities, it's time to prepare and submit your applications. Start by carefully reviewing the application requirements and deadlines for each university. Gather all the necessary documents, including your transcripts, CV, SOP, and LORs, and ensure they meet the specified format and guidelines.
Complete the application forms accurately, paying attention to detail. Double-check the entered information to avoid any errors or omissions. Submit your application materials through the designated online portals or by mail, following the university's instructions. Keep track of application submission deadlines and make a note of any additional materials or fees required. It's advisable to keep copies of all submitted documents for your records.

Step 10: Apply for Education Loan

Financing your education in Canada may require exploring various options, including education loans. Research and identify suitable education loan providers, both within your home country and in Canada. Evaluate the terms and conditions, interest rates, repayment plans, and eligibility criteria offered by different financial institutions.
Prepare the necessary documents for the loan application, such as proof of admission to a Canadian university, cost of attendance estimates, and financial statements. Apply for the education loan well in advance, considering the processing time required and any specific deadlines. It's also worth exploring scholarships, grants, or assistantship opportunities offered by the universities or external organizations to supplement your finances.

Step 11: Apply for the Canadian Study Permit

As an international student planning to study in Canada, you will need a study permit, which is a document issued by the Canadian government that allows you to study in the country. The study permit application process should be initiated once you receive an acceptance letter from a designated learning institution (DLI) in Canada.
Gather the required documents for the study permit application, including proof of acceptance from the DLI, proof of financial support, a valid passport, and any other supporting materials specified by the immigration authorities. Complete the application form accurately, ensuring all information is up to date. Pay the study permit application fee and submit the application online or through a visa application center, depending on your country of residence.
While waiting for your study permit approval, it's important to track the progress of your application and address any additional requests for information promptly. Once you receive your study permit, ensure that you understand the conditions and validity period of the permit. Make necessary travel arrangements, keeping in mind the start date of your program.

Step 12: Take the Travel Insurance

Before you embark on your journey to Canada, it's crucial to have appropriate travel insurance coverage. Travel insurance provides protection against unexpected medical emergencies, trip cancellations, or any other unforeseen circumstances during your travel and stay in Canada.
Research and compare travel insurance plans to find one that offers comprehensive coverage and meets the requirements of your institution or visa regulations. Ensure that the policy covers medical expenses, emergency assistance, repatriation, and other relevant aspects. Read the policy terms and conditions carefully to understand the coverage limits, exclusions, and claims procedures. Purchase the travel insurance well in advance of your departure to provide a safety net throughout your journey.

Step 13: Book your Flight Tickets

With your study permit and travel insurance in hand, it's time to book your flight tickets to Canada. Look for the best available deals and consider factors such as flight duration, layovers, and baggage allowances. It's advisable to book your tickets well in advance to secure competitive prices and preferred travel dates.
Check the travel restrictions, entry requirements, and quarantine protocols in place due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Stay informed about any updates or changes to travel regulations and guidelines. Ensure that you have all the necessary documents, including your passport, study permit, and acceptance letter, readily accessible during your journey.
Prepare for an exciting adventure as you set off to pursue your master's degree in Canada. Pack your essentials, including academic materials, clothing suitable for the Canadian climate, personal items, and any prescribed medications. Remember to adhere to airline baggage regulations and restrictions.

Step 14: Get a Travel Money Card

Managing your finances effectively while studying in Canada is essential. One way to facilitate this is by obtaining a travel money card. A travel money card is a prepaid card that allows you to load and store foreign currency, providing a convenient and secure means of accessing your funds while abroad.
Research different financial institutions and compare the features and benefits of their travel money card offerings. Look for cards that offer competitive exchange rates, low or no transaction fees, and worldwide acceptance. Consider other factors such as ATM accessibility, online account management, and customer support. Apply for the travel money card of your choice and load it with the necessary funds before your departure.

Step 15: Pack your bags

The time has come to pack your bags and embark on your exciting journey to study in Canada. As you prepare to leave, keep in mind the climate and weather conditions of your destination in Canada. Pack clothing, footwear, and accessories suitable for the seasons you will experience during your stay.
Consider carrying essential documents such as your passport, study permit, acceptance letter, and travel insurance details in a secure and easily accessible manner. It's also recommended to have copies of important documents stored electronically as a backup. Pack any required academic materials, electronic devices, adapters, and personal items that will contribute to your comfort and well-being in Canada.
Ensure that your luggage adheres to the airline's weight and size restrictions. Familiarize yourself with the airport procedures and security guidelines to ensure a smooth and hassle-free travel experience. Double-check that you have packed all the necessary items before leaving for the airport.

Academic Certificates

As an international student preparing to study in Canada, it is crucial to gather and organize your academic certificates. These certificates serve as evidence of your previous educational qualifications and are essential for the application process and enrollment in a Canadian university. Follow these steps to ensure you have all the necessary documentation in order:
  1. Gather your academic certificates: Collect all your educational certificates, including your high school diploma and bachelor's degree certificate. If you have pursued any additional certifications or courses relevant to your field of study, gather those certificates as well. Make sure you have both the original certificates and copies for reference.
  1. Verify document requirements: Check the document requirements set by the universities you are applying to. Some institutions may require official transcripts, while others may accept notarized or attested copies. Understand the specific guidelines provided by each university regarding the format and authenticity of your academic certificates.
  1. Obtain official transcripts: Contact your previous educational institutions and request official transcripts. Transcripts provide a detailed record of your academic performance, including the courses you completed, grades obtained, and credit hours earned. Ensure that the transcripts are sealed and stamped by the issuing institution to maintain their authenticity.
  1. Translate and notarize if necessary: If your academic certificates are in a language other than English or French, you may need to have them translated by a certified translator. Ensure that the translation is accurate and reliable. Additionally, some universities may require notarization or attestation of the translated documents to validate their authenticity.
  1. Create a well-organized file: As you receive the various documents, create a well-organized file to keep track of your academic certificates. Label each document clearly and maintain separate sections for original certificates, copies, and translations. This will help you stay organized and easily access the required documents during the application process.
Remember to keep the original academic certificates in a safe place and carry them with you when you travel to Canada. It is also a good idea to have scanned copies stored digitally or in cloud storage for easy access in case of any unforeseen circumstances.


Embarking on a journey to study in Canada as an international student is an exciting and transformative experience. By following the step-by-step procedures outlined in this blog, you can ensure a smooth and well-prepared application process. From obtaining your passport and preparing essential documents to submitting applications and making travel arrangements, each step plays a crucial role in realizing your dream of pursuing a master's degree in Canada.
Remember to approach each task with diligence, attention to detail, and a positive mindset. Seek guidance from your study abroad consultancy or university advisors whenever needed. Embrace the adventure ahead with enthusiasm and confidence, knowing that you are well-prepared and equipped to make the most of your academic journey in Canada.


Q: What is the first step to study in Canada as an international student? A: The first step is to ensure you have a valid passport. A passport is a necessary travel document that verifies your identity and citizenship.
Q: Which English proficiency test do I need to take as an international student? A: Most Canadian universities accept English proficiency tests such as IELTS, TOEFL iBT, Cambridge English, or PTE Academic. Check the specific requirements of your chosen universities to determine which test they accept.
Q: Do I need to take the GRE test to study in Canada? A: The GRE test is not a mandatory requirement for all Canadian universities. However, some programs or universities may require the GRE scores as part of their admission criteria. Check the requirements of your desired program to see if the GRE is required.
Q: What documents do I need to submit during the university application process? A: You typically need to submit your academic transcripts, CV, Statement of Purpose (SOP), and Letters of Recommendation (LORs). Each university may have specific document requirements, so review their application guidelines carefully.
Q: How do I choose the right universities to apply to? A: Research various universities that offer your desired master's program in Canada. Consider factors such as program reputation, faculty expertise, research opportunities, location, and cost of living. Make a list of target universities based on your preferences and priorities.
Q: How do I apply for an education loan to study in Canada? A: Research and identify suitable education loan providers and compare their terms and conditions. Prepare the necessary documents, including proof of admission, cost estimates, and financial statements. Apply for the education loan well in advance, considering processing time and specific deadlines.
Q: What is a Canadian study permit, and how do I apply for it? A: A Canadian study permit is a document issued by the Canadian government that allows international students to study in Canada. You can apply for a study permit after receiving an acceptance letter from a designated learning institution (DLI) in Canada. Gather the required documents, complete the application form accurately, pay the application fee, and submit the application online or through a visa application center.
Q: What should I do after receiving my study permit? A: After receiving your study permit, carefully review its conditions and validity period. Make necessary travel arrangements, including booking flight tickets, arranging travel insurance, and obtaining a travel money card. Pack your bags, ensuring you have all the necessary documents, including your passport, study permit, and acceptance letter.
Q: What should I do with my academic certificates? A: Gather your academic certificates, verify the document requirements of the universities you are applying to, obtain official transcripts, and, if necessary, translate and notarize them. Create a well-organized file to keep track of your academic certificates and maintain both original certificates and copies for reference.
This FAQ section addresses some of the most common questions students have when considering studying in Canada. If you have any specific concerns or further inquiries, don't hesitate to reach out to MS in Canada, our study abroad consultancy, for personalized assistance and guidance.