8 Reasons to Attend Canadian Universities

Ever thought about attending a Canadian university?

A growing number of Americans are considering earning a college degree from up North. Actually, it’s not as far north as you might think because most Canadian universities are near the US border.

Here are some reasons why you might want to consider exploring schools in Canada.

1. Reasonable price.

The costs at Canadian universities will often be lower than at private colleges in the United States, as well as public universities in the U.S. for out-of state residents.  Americans will pay roughly $25,000 to $30,000 a year. That price includes books, incidentals and coverage in Canadian health insurance.

McGill University

“For your bang for your buck, Canadian schools are an amazingly good quality,” Whitney Laughlin, a college consultant in Santa Fe, NM, and British Columbia.

2. Canadian admission process can be forgiving.

Canadian schools can be great for late bloomers. Strange but true: some Canadian universities, such as the University of British Columbia, only looks at 11th and 12th grade report cards when examining transcripts. If you messed up in the first two years of high school, it’s not a deal breaker.

3. Schools won’t always need your SAT or ACT score.

Canadian universities can be a boon for poor test takers. Some schools don’t require the SAT or ACT test scores though some may request the scores if a student’s GPA is lower.

4. Great quality.

Canadian post-secondary education is uniformly strong and much more standardized than in the U.S. Canadian universities offer a world-class education in some gorgeous cities.

5.Merit scholarships are available.

Merit-based scholarships for international students are becoming commonplace at many Canadian universities. Here is an online resource to find Canadian scholarships for non-Canadians.

6. Still qualify for federal college loans

University of British Columbia

American families can still borrow through the Stafford or PLUS loan programs, which are loans offered by the federal government for U.S. citizens.

7. A hidden jewel.

Most Canadian universities are large public institutions, but there is a notable exception — Quest University, an amazing liberal arts college located in a stunning setting in British Columbia. This is going to sound strange to Americans, but Quest is the only private, secular nonprofit college in Canada.  About 25% of Quest students are from the U.S. Here is an article from The New York Times about the school.

8. A fast track to becoming a Canadian resident.

Attending college in Canada can give you a fast track to becoming a permanent resident, which can then lead to citizenship. You could ultimately become a citizen of both the U.S. and Canada.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution:  A Guide for Everyone Looking for the Right School at the Right Price


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  1. Americans should beware of large fully accredited schools in Canada. I paid for one course there and became ill. The blackboard instructor never contacted me to find out why I never signed in. I have written emails to attempt to retrieve my tuition. They will not answer my formal written communications. I contacted the school via phone after several calls resulting in up to one hour waits. I have only spoken to clerks who verbally tell me I have to send a detailed medical report for review, with no guarantee of acceptance. I can’t file a complaint in small claims court in any US State against Canada. In Canada I must file in the defendants City. There is no Court swapping in Canada. Can you imagine my traveling to Toronto Canada to face the University of Toronto. I will lose and have to pay their court charges and legal fees. I went through this long discourse to warn you. Univ. of Toronto is tuition greedy. There are too many outstanding schools in the USA to put up with this type of treatment.

  2. Thanks for the mentioning the Canadian option! My daughter is exhausted keeping up with eight classes (three are music-related, but the other five are all tough academic classes) and intrigued by the one-course-at-a-time model. We’ve found four colleges that offer it: Colorado College (very expensive), Cornell College (in Iowa – a little far, and flat, for a WA resident), University of Montana – Western (a bargain with the discount as a WA resident, but maybe not quite academic enough), and Quest. We’re planning to visit Quest, though it may prove to be a little too small. Anyone else have input on these choices? Or have further thoughts on one-course-at-a-time?

    1. From friends of mine who went to CC, they love blocks when they love the course, but hate blocks when the don’t like the course. In the end, the block turned out, for them to be a novelty and didn’t have the impact they thought it would. One would have done it again, one would have chosen a traditional schedule if she did it again. So, that doesn’t add much helpful information, but to say talk to people who’ve actually done it, not to those that just have an opinion. You’ll get the truest picture that way. Good luck!


      1. I have talked to CC grads who say that the block system is difficult if you are a science major because you are cramming a semester’s worth of class PLUS labs into 3 weeks. It’s also less than ideal for language majors (and math majors to some extent) because of the sequential nature of the courses and the need to “use it or lose it”.

        Some love it, some hate it, some just find it a novelty.