Plan Your Career

Applying to Universities in Canada

To apply, you will need to fill in ‘application forms’ and send them to universities. Whether or not you receive an admission offer completely depends on the strength of this application form.

There is no common application that you can use to apply to all or most of the universities in Canada. You will need to fill in separate forms and send them to universities individually in most cases to apply.

Keep in mind that some provinces in Canada do have ‘Common Application Systems’ which can be used to apply to multiple universities using a single application form. However, these common applications are restricted to the universities present in that particular province and not outside it. The provinces that use common applications are Alberta, British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario.

How to apply?

You will go to the official website of the university and click on the ‘Apply Now’ link. Under most circumstances, you will need to create an account on the website. This account will help you access your application form as well as track its status once you submit it. The account will allow you to save the progress you have made on the application so that you do not have to complete the whole form in one go and can resume from where you had left.

You will fill in your personal information, academic records, extracurricular activities, scores in the English proficiency tests (IELTS/TOEFL), financing information such as sources of funds and need for scholarships. You might also be required to upload scanned copies of mark sheets and certificates of extracurricular involvement.

After you complete the application form, you will have to make the application fee payment. Generally, you will have to make this payment online using a credit/debit card.

You will be sent a reply by the university through post or E – mail stating whether you’ve been accepted or rejected. The time frame that a university will take to respond to your application differs from university to university and is generally mentioned on its website.


Each university follows its own deadlines.

Most Canadian universities divide 1 academic year into 2 semesters. The first semester, also known as the ‘Fall Semester’ starts in September and usually ends by December. The second semester, known as the ‘Winter Semester’ starts in January and ends by April. Some universities follow a trimester system, and add an additional trimester known as the ‘Summer term’ which starts in May and ends in August.

Before you apply to a Canadian university, you should decide which intake you wish to enroll yourself in. This is important because the deadlines you have to apply for will depend on your intake.

Also keep in mind that most universities have separate deadlines for students who wish to apply for certain scholarships and financial awards. Do make sure whether you’re going to need a scholarship or not before you apply as the application deadlines are different for scholarship applicants. You will need to apply earlier than most other students to be considered for a scholarship.

The variation with regards to application deadlines in Canada is immense. For example, at the University of British Columbia, the deadline for the Summer Semester (May – August) is the 15th of January and for the Winter Semester (September – April) the deadline is the 3rd of February. On the other hand, at the University of Winnipeg, the deadline for the Fall Semester (September onwards) is the 2nd of July and for the Winter Semester (January onwards), the deadline is in the month of November.

At the University of New Brunswick, the deadline for the Fall Semester is the 1st of June whereas the deadline for the Winter Semester is the 1st of October. On the other hand, at the Dalhousie University, the deadline for the Fall Semester is the 1st of April. However, if you wish to be considered for certain scholarships, then you will need to apply by the 15th of March. For the Winter Semester, the last date you can apply by is the 15th of September.

Some universities in Canada also offer ‘Early Action Deadlines’. These deadlines are for students who can manage to apply to universities earlier than most candidates. The advantage of applying through one of these Early Action Deadlines is that not only will you receive a decision with regards to your application earlier than other candidates, but you also stand a better chance of getting admission due to the reduced competition as most students apply by the regular deadlines.

For example, at the Quest University, the Early Action Deadline for the Fall Semester is by the 1st of December. You will get a decision with regards to your application by the 1st of January if you apply through this deadline. The regular deadline for the Fall Semester is the 1st of March.

You will also come across universities in Canada that do not mention specific deadlines and accept applications till there are vacant seats in that program. The St. Francis Xavier University is one such institution which does not have specific application deadlines.

To make sure you apply to universities before their deadline, it is best to visit their websites as soon as possible and go through their deadlines.

It is generally advised that you should apply as early as possible, preferably 3 – 4 months before the deadline. This will also give enough time for the processing of your Canadian Study Permit.


The documents serve as a proof of the academic and extra – curricular qualifications that you have mentioned in your application form.

The type of documents you would be required to send along with your application include mark sheets and transcripts of your Class 10th, 11th and 12th. If you have not received your Class 12th marks yet, provisional offers might be made on the basis of your 10th and 11th marks. Some universities might also ask you to send your Class 12th mid – year reports along with your application form for this purpose.

Apart from your academic qualifications, you will also need to submit certificates that serve as a proof of your extra – curricular activities.

For some courses, you will be required to submit additional documents such as samples of your written work, portfolios, resumes etc. Such documents are required for select courses in which your admission cannot be based solely on your academic qualifications.

For example, for a course like Bachelor’s in Fine Arts, the university might require you to send a portfolio of your sketches. This is very important as for such a course, your aptitude and ability to draw and paint matters much more than your academic qualifications.

These documents will have to be first uploaded using the online application form of the university. If your form is liked, the university will tell you to ask your school to send official copies of your documents in a sealed envelope directly to the university.

It is advisable to go through the website of the university you wish to join so as to find out about the procedure of uploading or sending documents.

Reference Letters and Personal Statements

Admission decisions in Canada are primarily made on the basis of a candidate’s application form and transcripts. As compared to countries like the U.S and the U.K, Reference Letters and Personal Statements have very little value at the undergraduate level.

Most universities in Canada would not require you to send or upload Reference letters along with your application form.

Some universities, like the Queen’s University do judge applicants on the basis of ‘Personal Statement of Experience’ and other supplementary essays.

Through such write – ups, that have to be submitted along with the application form, universities generally wish to see how a candidate will prove to be of value to their institution and how he/she will use lessons learnt from their life experiences to improve and become a better student.

It is advisable to go through the official website of the university you wish to join and see whether they require reference letter and personal statements or not. Universities will generally give guidelines with regards to how to write and upload reference letters and personal statements in case these documents are required.

Test Results

You need to make sure that your test reports/results are sent to the chosen universities on time.

Most universities in Canada do not require the results of any other test apart from the English proficiency tests like the IELTS and TOEFL.

Under most circumstances, these reports will be sent automatically to the universities you had selected while applying for these tests. However, you can also choose to send these reports to additional universities as well simply by logging on to your profile on these test websites and making the additional payment for the extra test reports.

Even though most test reports are sent directly to the university you have mentioned on time, it is best practice to check with the university regarding the same.

Study in Canada