Canada’s post-secondary institutions offer programs in a diverse array of disciplines and at all levels, from undergraduate to post-doctorate. Because Canada’s education system is also well funded and regulated, the quality is usually quite high. As a result of this, and because of Canada’s already diverse history, Canadian universities accept thousands of international students each year across all areas of study. Many of these students come from the U.S. because of its close proximity to Canada and because they share many common characteristics, including language. This article aims to help some of these international students determine what kind of financial aid is available to them and what kinds of scholarships for international students they may be eligible for.
The Basics of Scholarships for International Students
Looking from a worldwide perspective, China and India have the largest number of international students studying in other countries. In total, over 2.5 million students worldwide are studying outside of their home countries, with Canada being the third most common destination. With such a large population of international students, scholarships are important tools for helping to finance their educations.
Most students are familiar with scholarships, even if they don’t have any themselves. Essentially, scholarships are a form of financial aid issued by schools, private institutions, or third-party donors. They can be based on need, merit, or be specific to certain fields or levels of study, and others involve athletic or artistic merit.
Aside from these, there are other scholarships that help students of particular minorities, religions, or those who suffer from a disability fund their university or college education. Some scholarships require that, aside from attending a post-secondary program full-time, students also join a specific group or work at a particular job. This kind of scholarship will be looked at in more detail later in this article.
Scholarships for international students in Canada work much the same way as they do in other Western countries, in that merit and achievement are usually the prime factors that determine whether someone receives a scholarship. While there are still plenty of students who receive them, generally less focus is given to athletic scholarships. Additionally, recognized First Nations students receive full scholarships to most post-secondary institutions.
Specific Scholarships for International Students
Federal, provincial, or state issuers can award scholarships, including scholarships for international students, for various purposes and under a myriad of different conditions. Specific issuers include non-profit organizations, community and multinational foundations, charitable trusts, and volunteer organizations (provided that the student volunteers with them). As you might expect, funds provided by scholarships are only issued to students who are actually attending school, and so most of the time the school and scholarship issuer coordinate directly without ever involving the student in the actual distribution of funds.
We have compiled a non-exhaustive list of scholarships for Americans and other international students studying in Canada (and that are not associated with any one school) according to the Government of Canada’s International Scholarships website:
- Canada-US Fulbright Scholarship (awarded for general academic merit)
- Organization of American States Fellowships Programs (for students from countries across North America, including the U.S.)
- CIFAR Global Scholars (for students in research fields)
- CIHR Fellowship (for students in health research programs)
- Industrial Postgraduate Scholarships Program (for natural science and engineering research students)
- Mitacs programs, focused on research in business, science, and many other disciplines
- Strategic Training Initiative in Health Research (for post-graduate health students)
- The Trudeau Foundation offers merit-based scholarships for a variety of disciplines
- Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships are offered by the government of Canada and intended to support students pursuing doctoral degrees at pre-approved institutions
When you have applied to particular schools, you should be sure to notify them directly to see if they have any specific scholarships for international students or any general programs, like grants or bursaries, that you can take advantage of to provide extra financial aid.
Co-op and Internships
In addition to or instead of scholarships, some students choose to supplement their education spending by pursuing part-time work, which is often an option if certain conditions are met. There are also a number of internships and co-op programs available.
Students, both international and domestic, can receive the opportunity to enroll in co-op or internship programs as part of their school curriculum, depending on their program of study. These positions are considered international work experience and are therefore great to have as an enhancement to your degree. Some positions offer compensation, meaning that students can make money while going to school while also supplementing their education with real experience.
Like most scholarships for international students, these kinds of programs have various eligibility requirements in Canada. To be eligible for approved co-op and internship programs, students must:
- Have a valid study permit (which you need to study abroad anyway);
- The position you are applying for must be related to your discipline of study (a biology student can’t enroll in an arts co-op program, for example);
- Your work must be approved as being eligible for and included in your academic program;
- Your co-op or internship position can not take up more than 50% of your total program (you have to split your time on both school and work)
Applying for Scholarships for International Students
Overall, there is a fairly diverse selection of scholarships for international students that you can potentially use to help you fund your education abroad. Aside from student loans or personal savings, scholarships are one of the main options available for helping students pay for their education. Whether you decide to pursue a scholarship from the school you plan to attend or from a third party, remember that whereas student loans and bursaries are issued for students in financial need, scholarships are usually based on academic merit. They shouldn’t be considered a reliable source for school financing, but rather as a means of helpful support; if you’re hurting for ways to pay for your schooling, taking out student loans or applying for needs-based bursaries would be a more reliable solution.