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Why study a master’s in Canada

Are you thinking about studying a master’s in Canada? With a unique learning culture, diverse communities, and lots of post-graduate career opportunities, Canada is one of the best places to study. Here’s everything you need to know about studying in Canada from three admissions experts at top-ranked Canadian institutions.

In short

Why are students attracted to studying in Canada?

Ranked the best country in the world in 2021, there is plenty to love about Canada. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why you should consider a master’s in Canada.

“The country obviously offers a very welcoming environment for international students, a great standard of living, [and] a strong and stable economy,” says Jessica Morgan, Assistant Director of Recruitment & Admissions at Schulich School of Business, York University, located in Toronto. (00:38) As one of the most multicultural countries in the world, it’s easy for anyone to feel at home in Canada.

Another major reason students are attracted to studying in Canada is its post-graduation work opportunities. Vivian Tran is the Recruitment & Admissions Manager at The University of British Columbia. She tells us, “Canada offers all students that study in a program eight months or longer the opportunity to stay in the country on something called a post-graduation work permit. (02:08) This means after students graduate from university, they are [eligible] to apply for a work permit to stay in Canada for up to three years.

It’s not unlikely for students to even pursue longer-term options like permanent residency. “The majority of our international students stay and work in Canada when they complete their programs,” Teresa Pires, Associate Director of Full-time MBA Recruitment at Smith School of Business, Queen’s University, confirms. “For international students, the opportunity is much greater to see their return on investment if they choose to stay and work in Canada.” (02:54)

Challenges of studying in Canada

“I think moving to a new country is always a really big challenge,” Jessica says. (03:50) She specifically advises students to learn how to demonstrate the value of the work experience they have from their home countries. This might be challenging if you have experience from a company that is relatively unfamiliar to Canada.

Teresa Pires agrees. “Some of the international students come already with strong credentials and they’re not always recognized in Canada,” she explains. “So the lack of recognition of foreign credentials and experience is probably the biggest challenge.” (04:58)

“Not having a strong network can also be a challenge,” Teresa adds. “But ultimately, I think choosing the right program can open doors as well. Although there are challenges wherever you go, choosing a country like Canada can give you the best opportunities possible to be successful.” (05:15)

Canada’s unique learning culture

If you’re thinking about studying in Canada, it might be helpful to consider Canada’s unique learning style.

Vivian describes it as collaborative, learning-by-doing, and experiential. “[In] the process of learning-by-doing, you would learn major concepts during class, but then we would also have students work on case studies to help them apply the knowledge that they’re learning into actually solving business problems. And then we step it up a notch and have them actually work with companies as well,” she tells us. “Not only are they learning-by-doing, but they’re starting to build real experience that they can put on their resume.” (12:00)

The power distance in Canadian classrooms also stands out. In countries with high power distance (China, Mexico, the Philippines), you will most likely refer to your professor by their last name. In countries with low power distance, such as Denmark, New Zealand, and Canada, you may call your professors on a first-name basis. You may also “be very friendly and cordial with them,” Jessica says. (14:16)

Also, in Canadian classrooms, “it’s not so much about memorizing and regurgitating,” Jessica explains. “It’s about understanding, considering the concepts, and sharing back your ideas or your experience. A lot of the classroom experience will be student discussion, debates, presentations, things where you are expected to participate quite a lot. If you’re not used to raising your hand and contributing, that might be a challenge to get used to.” (14:38)

How do schools support students to pursue a career in Canada?

Many international students choose to remain in Canada post-graduation. Unsurprisingly, top-ranked schools in the country offer world-class career services to support their students’ career development.

At the Smith School of Business, coaching takes center stage. Teresa says, “We have a coaching culture that really embraces every student’s needs.” (08:39) The Smith School of Business offers four different types of coaching. First, career coaching helps students secure employment. Second, executive coaching enhances students’ professional skills. Third, team coaching guides students in working with diverse teams. Finally, fitness and wellness coaching helps students balance the mental and physical challenges of a rigorous postgraduate program. These coaching opportunities provide students with ample resources and guidance to ensure their success.

UBC Sauder School of Business offers a “comprehensive career development program” with one-to-one access to professional career coaches and experienced alumni who can help students explore the right fit for them. “It’s no use getting into a job that you dislike. You should always be pursuing something that brings you joy,” Vivian suggests. “A lot of [what] we do at the career center is not just helping students to land a job, but to land a job that they would enjoy.” (11:36)

Finally, the Career Development Center at the Schulich School of Business works closely with industry partners and career coaches. Jessica adds, “Most of our specialized master’s programs contain a live consulting project, where students [are] able to work with a Canadian company in a consulting capacity…I think it’s immensely helpful to students to demonstrate having worked with a Canadian company.” (07:35)

What should you know before arriving in Canada?

International students should keep a few important things in mind so they are best prepared to do their master’s in Canada. Here are a few tips:

  • Do academic prep (if any), Vivian advises.
  • Arrive at least a month before the program starts. “We always recommend that students come as early as they can, especially now with COVID-19,” Vivian explains. “You might want to have a longer adjustment period, but we say one-month minimum.” (24:21)
  • Start networking! “The opportunity to chat with a student ambassador is such a great way to make that connection, understand the culture of the institution better, [and] also help prepare international students for their arrival to Canada,” Teresa emphasizes. (21:56)
  • Educate yourself. “I always suggest to international students prior to their arrival to start reading some academic material, such as Bloomberg and The Economist, just to get a better grasp of…the culture, the community, and the society that they’re looking to move into,” Teresa offers. (22:19)
  • Get your ducks in a row. “You want to have all the [study permit] requirements completed before you make a decision to accept a program’s offer,” Teresa urges. “All things need to align in order to be successful to arrive into Canada and to ensure that you have no hiccups in starting your graduate program.” (23:09)

Top-ranked institutions – like the Schulich School of Business, The University of British Columbia, and Queen’s University – offer rigorous learning experiences in a diverse, inclusive environment. If you’re looking for a unique place to study with a high standard of living and great post-graduate career opportunities, Canada is the place to be! 

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