Applying to community colleges in Canada (CEGEPs in Quebec) should begin well before your chosen program starts. Community colleges are regulated by their respective provincial government, so application requirements can differ from college to college; some have limited-enrolment programs with competitive admission, others offer open admission on a first-come, first-served basis. Therefore, applications can vary greatly depending on the school and the program.

How to apply

Step 1: find out what's required
Canadian community colleges and CEGEPs each set their own admission requirements. Once you have decided where to apply, contact the registrar or admissions office at each institution to find out exactly what's required from international students. Most community colleges provide this information online, and usually have a special website section for international student admission requirements.

Requirements and supporting documents
Canadian community colleges can range from "open admission" (requiring only a high school diploma or simply that you be over the age of 18) to more specific academic requirements, such as certain grades in particular subjects. Requirements are usually specified on a program-to-program basis. Additional requirements may include reference letters, current résumé, criminal record check, CPR certification, health and immunization record, personal essay or letter of intent. The main required supporting documents are official high school transcripts (or any post-secondary transcripts, if relevant). Students applying directly to ESL programs may not be required to submit educational documents.

International students are generally required to submit proof of English proficiency (or French, where relevant), which can be through standardized language test scores or a college's own admissions test. Different colleges accept different tests and require different scores, so be sure to find out the specifics.

International students must also show that the quality of the education they received is comparable to that of Canadian institutions. Community colleges in Canada each have their own criteria for recognizing international student qualifications. Therefore, applicants should contact the community college's admissions office to ask about assessing international qualifications. All international documents must be clear and legible, and must be official documents issued by your last-attended institution. Certified translations into English or French (depending on the institution's language of operation) for all documents in other languages are usually requested, and the college admissions office can inform you about requirements for translation and exactly what qualifications they recognize. Applicants can also contact the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials (CICIC) for information or 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)

  • Alberta: 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
    Intake at community colleges in Canada generally operates on a traditional fall/winter semester system. Applications therefore may have cut-off dates with specific deadlines after which applications are no longer considered. For instance, for a term beginning in September, your application may be due by anywhere between February and June. Some community colleges have 'rolling admission," in which applications are accepted all year round and processed on a first-come, first-served basis. Additionally, international student applications may have their own specific deadlines. Community colleges with internal scholarships and bursaries may encourage early application in order to qualify for these awards.

    Step 3: submit your application
    Community college applications themselves generally consist of a downloaded form or a form completed and submitted electronically on the school's website or by mail to the institution. The application also usually includes a non-refundable application fee of anywhere between $25-$100, as specified by the institution.

    Some schools may request the initial application form by a certain deadline, followed by all other supporting documents. Other schools require all documents to be sent together with the application form. A college will then review the application, and if acceptable, will send you a provisional letter of acceptance. Often, international students are required to pay a tuition deposit (up to 50% of the fees for your first year), which can be paid by Visa, MasterCard, cheque, or wire transfer. Admission is considered confirmed when the college receives your signed acceptance of their admissions offer along with the tuition fee deposit. Be advised that most international student fees are non-refundable.