Your Guide to Public Universities in Canada

    Updated on: 05 Sep 2023

    Public Universities in Canada - Brief Guide

    It is hardly surprising that so many international students choose Canada for their higher education. The QS World University Rankings 2022 list 26 Canadian universities, three of which are in the top 60. A total of 96 public institutions in Canada provide 15,000 academic programs, making the nation both high-quality and diverse. Our higher education institutions range in size from little liberal arts colleges with personal learning environments to enormous, highly regarded research universities. Graduates improve their critical thinking, research, and leadership skills through a variety of programs. Let's look at the Guide to Public Universities in Canada. 

    Why choose Public Universities in Canada for Higher studies?

    Canada, the second-largest nation on earth, is no stranger to an excellent education. It has a strong international reputation and is a well-liked choice for many students looking to study abroad. The top three choices for international students among Canada's ten provinces are Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec. In reality, more than 500,000 foreign students were pursuing higher education in Canada in 2020. (Source)

    Canada's high standard of living, internationally recognized school system, and hospitable culture draw a lot of foreign students. Additionally, it is one of the most developed nations, which makes studying in Canada the best choice for students from around the world.

    According to QS World University Rankings 2022, The University of Toronto (ranked 28), McGill University (ranked 33), and the University of British Columbia (ranked 47) are the top three globally ranked universities in Canada. The University of Alberta, McMaster University, and Université de Montréal are some further prestigious institutions. Three to four years of study are needed to earn a bachelor's degree. This often depends on the college and the chosen subject. On the other hand, postgraduate degrees typically involve one to three years of study, depending on whether you're pursuing a Master's or a Doctoral degree.

    Since each university in Canada is overseen by the provincial government, they are all conducted differently. Given that the provincial governments of Quebec and Ontario are distinct, the management of one institution would differ from that of the other. If you're applying to a Canadian university, you should inquire about the course schedule and study period from your top-choice institution.

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    What are the different types of Canadian universities?

    • Public universities: These institutions do charge tuition and accept private funding, but they also receive funding from the provincial, territory, and/or federal governments.
    • Private universities: A private university typically doesn't get money from the provincial, territorial, or federal governments; instead, it gets money from affluent alumni gifts, faculty research grants, and regular tuition fees. Private universities frequently draw and keep the brightest employees with prestigious reputations in their specialties.
    • Liberal arts colleges: Liberal arts institutions concentrate an emphasis on undergraduate courses in the liberal arts, particularly the humanities but also the social, natural, and formal sciences, similar to their US equivalents.
    • Colleges and polytechnic institutes: These institutions are located in Canada and provide a variety of technical diplomas and applied degrees. It's also important to note that several Canadian institutions provide career-focused courses and shorter diplomas.

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    Top 10 Public Universities in Canada

    You may anticipate a multicultural environment on campus as many of Canada's colleges are renowned for promoting international cooperation and hiring foreign staff and students. Some of Canada's top public universities are listed here.

    1. University of Toronto
    The University of Toronto is a top-tier research-intensive university that is eager to create and invent. Over 93,000 students, including over 23,000 international students, receive their education from this multi-campus university, which also offers 980 graduate and undergraduate programs. International students who choose to enroll at one of Canada's top public universities will have the chance to collaborate with esteemed intellectuals thanks to a diversified network of teaching and research faculty.

    2. University of Waterloo
    One of the first universities in the world to provide access to cutting-edge computers for undergraduate students is the University of Waterloo. One of the best public institutions in Canada, it offers 190 graduate programs and 100 undergraduate degrees. It has an exceptional academic curriculum and goes above and beyond to ensure that its students are well-equipped to face the challenging problems of the real world.

    3. York University
    It is one of the most affordable public institutions in Canada for foreign students and has 11 faculties and 28 research centers. Among others, it has the Glendon College, Lassonde School of Engineering, Schulich School of Business, Faculty of Education, and Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies. The university provides international students with a fantastic platform and cutting-edge educational possibilities to thrive in their artistic careers.

    4. Queen’s University
    One of the best universities in Canada, Queen's University has 25,260 total students from over 100 different nations. In its 8 faculties and schools, it provides several undergraduate degree programs, more than 125 graduate courses, and more than 140 online courses. The institution is a safe, active, and welcoming community that accepts and supports students from all nations and backgrounds.

    5. McGill University
    The best medical schools in Canada are available at McGill University, which is ranked first in Canada. It provides several undergraduate and graduate degrees in a range of disciplines, including anthropology, business analytics, chemical engineering, biomedical engineering, and architecture. According to the institution, its 50 research centers and institutes provide more than 400 programs.

    6. Western University
    It is one of Canada's most reasonably priced public institutions with a strong emphasis on research and partnerships with other colleges and universities for integrated programs. The university permits research in a variety of fields, such as neuroscience, environmental imaging, science philosophy, wind engineering, and others. These include musculoskeletal health, sustainability, green energy, materials and biomaterials, child and adolescent development, and neuroscience.

    7. University of Ottawa
    It is one of the best public universities in Canada for international students, offering a wide range of academic programs through its numerous faculties, including the faculties of science, engineering, law, and health sciences, as well as the Telfer School of Management, all of which are highly regarded for the caliber of their education and standing in their respective fields. Around 8,332 international students attend the university, representing 150 different nations and 30% of the total student body.

    8. Trent University
    One of the most affordable public institutions in Canada for international students is Trent University, which offers certificates, degrees, and diplomas in a variety of subjects like biology, anthropology, African studies, and accountancy. Additionally, it assists overseas students by offering services related to education, finances, housing, and health insurance.

    9. Dalhousie University
    A public university in Canada, Dalhousie has students from over 115 different nations represented among its diverse student body. The university provides 84 graduate programs, 7 professional programs, and 147 undergraduate degrees and diplomas. This university allows overseas students to work while studying in Canada with restrictions in accordance with immigration laws.

    10. University of Regina
    According to Resource Infosource Inc., the University of Regina is the top comprehensive university for cross-border research collaboration. In more than 15 fields, including social work, health, business administration, engineering, media, and many more, it provides 120 UG programs and 78 PG degrees. This university has approximately 90 international country students, representing 17.7% of the overall student body.

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    What are the admission criteria?

    University entrance requirements for Canadian universities are typically straightforward. Academic performance on general education or high school national examinations is typically used to determine admission. The admission standards for each university and each program accepting students may also vary slightly.

    Universities typically recognize school-leaving scores from tests like the SAT or GCSE A-Levels. A pre-admission test or interview may also be conducted, depending on the school you are applying to and the number of applicants you are up against.
    Along with grades, having a resume or recommendation may be helpful.
    Here are some typical entrance requirements:

    • Completed admission application
    • A transcript of marks
    • Test of English fluency
    • References or a Resume

    The semester can change depending on the school. Some colleges divide the academic year into three semesters: January through April, April through July, and August through December. When the semester is divided into two terms, they typically last from September through December and from January through April. In addition, schools may offer summer courses throughout the May through August break.

    Many application deadlines for the various universities students may be interested in should be noted by international students. Although there are minor variations, application processes are often completed online. Completing the online application form and paying the application cost, which can range from $20 to over $100, are both required. Some colleges might not even charge for applications. Additionally, it's crucial to make sure you submit all required paperwork online before the application deadline. Application dates for the fall admissions cycle are typically in January. Application dates for first-year intakes are around August.

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    Application Process for Public Universities in Canada

    Every institution in Canada has a website where potential students can apply and enroll in their degree programs. Therefore, once you've decided on an institution, you can apply there and submit your paperwork.
    The following are the prerequisites you'll need for any application:

    • A copy of High school or Bachelor’s degree diploma
    • A record/transcript of your previous courses
    • A scanned copy of your passport
    • CV
    • English and subject proficiency scores
    • Evidence of funding or scholarship
    • SOPs and Letters of recommendation (between 2-3)
    • Writing samples and Portfolio
    • English-Language Tests
    • To apply to study in Canada, an English proficiency diploma is required.
      The following certificates are commonly accepted by Canadian universities:
    • Video interviews will be conducted by the colleges that shortlisted you
    • Once accepted, a student visa can be applied for

    What are the Accommodation facilities offered by Public Universities in Canada?

    First, you must choose whether you wish to live with a private landlord or in university-managed housing. You can choose between catered and self-catered options while you stay in university-managed housing. The advantages of catered lodging include the convenience of having your meals prepared for you and some degree of cost predictability.

    No matter where you decide to reside, you should be aware of your legal rights and obligations. You will typically be required to sign a tenancy agreement, which you should carefully read before signing.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What do you mean by a Canadian public university?

    The government provides funding for public universities in Canada, a country with several esteemed government colleges. By contrast, a number of funding sources are used by private institutions in Canada to cover operating costs.

    What distinguishes Canada's public from private universities?

    The state governments of Canada's provinces provide funding for public institutions and colleges. On the other hand, tuition fees and scholarships from students are how private schools and universities pay for their academic programs.

    What benefits do public colleges offer to students from other countries?

    The benefits of public universities are as follows:

    • Large numbers of international students
    • Major scholarly programs
    • Student engagement resources
    • Amazing opportunities for networking
    • Resources for students

    In Canada, is there a free university?

    International students cannot attend a university in Canada for free. The full expense of studying and living in Canada, however, might be covered by a student by looking into the different scholarship opportunities provided by universities.

    First published date: 11 Nov 2022

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About author

Mansi Bisht
Meet Mansi, an expert in the field of study abroad with half a decade of experience in content management and finance. Her background in Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) has equipped her with skills to scale the business to greater heights.

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