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Applying to a university in Ontario can be competitive, and universities usually receive applications from more candidates than they can accept. Individual university programs may have quotas or limited enrolment, and admissions committees use both objective and subjective elements of the application process to select applicants who are most likely to succeed at the institution.

How to apply

Step 1: find out what's required
Universities in Ontario each set their own admission requirements; therefore, once you have decided where to apply it's essential that you contact the registrar or admissions office at each institution to find out exactly what they require. Most universities in Ontario provide this information online, and usually have a special website section for international student admission requirements.

Requirements and supporting documents
Most university programs have a minimum admission average and specific course requirements; therefore, the main required supporting documents are official high school transcripts (or any other post-secondary transcripts, if relevant). Additionally, letters of reference, an essay or letter of intent, résumé, medical form, criminal record check, portfolio, etc. may be required, as specified by a particular institution or university program. Each university will provide specific details and instructions on what they require. Typically, international students must also submit proof of English proficiency through standardized language test scores. Different universities accept different tests and require different scores, so check the specifics with each university.

International students must also demonstrate that the quality of the education they have received so far is comparable to that of Canadian institutions. Since universities in Ontario each have their own criteria for recognizing international student qualifications, applicants should contact the university's admissions office for information on assessing international qualifications. They will inform you about requirements for translation of your documents (if necessary) and exactly what qualifications they recognize. Applicants can also contact the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials (CICIC) for information on recognition and portability of academic qualifications. Some international students choose to consult one of Canada's international credentials evaluation services (also known as international qualifications assessment services), listed below. These agencies charge a fee from around $100- $200 C$

  • Ontario: World Education Services (WES); Comparative Education Service (CES); International Credential Assessment Service of Canada (ICAS)

  • Ontario: International Qualifications Assessment Service (IQAS)

  • British Columbia: International Credential Evaluation Service (ICES)

  • Manitoba: Academic Credentials Assessment Service - Manitoba (ACAS)

  • Québec: Centre d'expertise sur les formations acquises hors du Québec (CEFAHQ)

  • Saskatchewan: International Qualifications Assessment Service (IQAS)

  • Northwest Territories: International Qualifications Assessment Service (IQAS)

  • Other provinces and territories: For credential evaluation services in New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Nunavut or the Yukon contact any of the above-listed offices.

  • Step 2: know when to apply
    As mentioned above, universities in Ontario are competitive and popular, so prepare and apply early. Generally, international students should apply up to nine months in advance of the expected start date (usually September or January semesters). However, some universities in Ontario have "rolling-admissions," which means they consider international students' applications as they come in throughout the year. Other universities will, on the other hand, have specific application deadlines for international students that differ from local student deadlines, so find out which deadline applies to you.

    Step 3: submit your application
    In Ontario, there is a central office which processes all applications to public Ontario universities. Therefore, you will need to complete an application form on the Ontario Universities' Application Centre (OUAC) website, which includes paying an application fee for each application.

    If your application is accepted, the university will make you an admission offer. Once you accept the admission offer, the university will send you an official letter of acceptance, which you will need to begin the process of applying for your study permit.

    Applying to a university in Ontario is easier than you might think and well worth the effort in terms of the benefits to your future!
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