Applying to grad school in Ontario doesn't have to be a complicated process, and is definitely worth the effort! Grad schools in Ontario are competitive, usually receiving more applications than they can accept. Enrolment is limited to a certain number of students, and admissions committees base their decisions on both objective and subjective elements of the application; their goal is to determine which students are most likely to succeed at the institution.
How to apply
Step 1: find out what's required
Each grad school in Ontario sets its own minimum admission requirements, and the university's Graduate Studies office is therefore a good starting place for asking about school requirements. Additionally, many grad schools in Ontario will ask international applicants to contact individual program departments for information on program-specific admission requirements. International student admission requirements and recognition of foreign academic credentials may depend on the country from which you are applying, and grad school websites may list international student requirements by country.
Overall, applications to grad schools in Ontario require a completed application form, official university transcript, any relevant test scores including language tests, a letter of intent outlining your academic and professional background, a list of referees (people the grad school can contact for references about you) and, sometimes, reference letters from them. Be sure to ask permission from your referees before using their names, and give them as much information as possible about the application(s) you are submitting.
In terms of English or French proficiency, individual graduate programs may have higher proficiency requirements than the school's general admission requirements. Some graduate programs may also require specific program-specific entrance tests (such as the LSAT for law schools and GMAT for business schools).
Note that many of the standardized tests required by grad schools in the US (like the GRE) are usually not required by grad schools in Canada. Be sure to check with the specific program department you are applying to.
Step 2: know when to apply
Most grad school application deadlines in Ontario are in the late winter/ early spring (between January and March, depending on the school), and university students are encouraged to start making their grad schools inquiries (and external scholarship inquiries) at the beginning of the fall term of their final undergraduate year. It's important to note that many graduate programs in Ontario will have specific--and usually earlier--earlier application deadlines for international students. Be sure to check the deadlines for your particular program.
If your program requires a test, make sure you know when the sittings are so that the scores will be ready for the application deadline. For example, many law schools require that the LSAT be taken by December for admission the following fall.
Step 3: submit your application
Most grad schools in Ontario make forms available online for download, with additional documentation (as required) forwarded directly to the program(s) you have applied to. If the school does not accept online applications, request an information package or paper application from the program you are interested in. Make sure you leave plenty of time for the application materials to arrive at the school from wherever you are.
No application will be considered until it is complete. The applicant alone is responsible for ensuring that all documents (e.g., transcripts, letters of recommendation, test results or scores) are submitted by the program's application deadline.
Applying to grad schools in Ontario usually also involves paying an application fee. For online applications, this fee can be paid with a credit card. If you do not have access to a credit card then please contact the program(s) to request a paper application package. For those submitting a paper application, the fee can be paid (in Canadian dollars) by cheque, money order or bank draft. Make sure you know to whom it should be payable. The application fee is sometimes waived for international applicants whose citizenship and address is in one of nations on the United Nations' list of 50 least developed countries.
A final point to remember is that your Ontario grad school application should be as informative as possible and free from errors. Fill in all forms neatly and thoughtfully; read all instructions carefully and, if possible, have someone read over your application to check for errors before you send it.