How are Ontario's universities different from colleges? Ontario's universities are public (sometimes private) post-secondary institutions offering undergraduate bachelor's degrees and, often, graduate degrees (master's or doctoral). Colleges may also offer bachelor's degrees, but generally offer shorter, more vocationally-oriented credentials like applied degrees, associate's degrees, diplomas and certificates. An institution must be given the authority to grant the different types of degree-and the right to use the term "university"-by its provincial or territorial government.
What kinds of degrees are available? At the undergraduate level, Ontario's universities offer 3- and 4-year bachelor degrees as well as 2-year associate's degrees. In some disciplines, you can take combined degrees, in which you graduate with two degrees in 5 years. Some universities also offer applied degrees, which are similar to bachelor's degrees, usually take 4 years to complete, and combine an academic focus with practical, technical job-related skills.
How long will my university study in Ontario take?
The length of your study depends on the credential you take. At the undergraduate level, Ontario's universities offer 3- and 4-year bachelor degrees, 2-year associate's degrees, 5-year combined degrees, 4-year applied degrees, 1- to 2-year diplomas, and certificates that run from 12 weeks to 1 year.
How much will it cost to study in Ontario? In part, cost depends on the type of institution (public, private, Catholic, Christian, etc.) and the province. Different credentials (a bachelor's degree versus a diploma) and different programs (say, architecture versus arts) can also have different tuition costs. Average undergraduate university tuition for international students ranges from just about $5,000 to almost $19,000 a year.
Is financial aid available for international students? Yes. International student scholarships, awards and bursaries are available from many universities in Ontario, from the federal and provincial governments, and from NGOs or other organizations.
Do I need to speak both English and French? No. While French and English are both official languages in Canada, most universities in Ontario offer programs in only one language of instruction (that is, English or French).
How do I know which is the best university in Ontario? Universities are extremely diverse in size, age, programs and focus, and while there are external rankings of Canadian universities, these use different methods and so show different outcomes. Certain universities are well-known for the strength of their teaching and research in certain fields of study (like medicine, visual arts or agriculture), others for their modern, up-to-date facilities and libraries, and still others for the quality of their faculty-student interaction and innovative pedagogy. There are no objective "best" universities anywhere in Canada: you can only look for the best ones for you.
How do I know if my credentials will be accepted at a university in Ontario? Universities in Ontario each set their own admission requirements; therefore, you should contact the registrar or admissions office at each university to find out what they require in terms of assessing foreign credentials. Most Canadian universities have a special website section for international student admission requirements. You can also consult one of Canada's credential assessment and qualification recognition services, such as World Education Services (WES). For a fee, these offices provide an evaluation that shows you how your credentials compare with Canadian credentials. The purpose is informative only and does not guarantee recognition of your credentials.
How do I get my transcripts and other documents translated? The university's admissions office can inform you about the requirements for translation and authentication of your documents. You can also consult one of Canada's many foreign credential evaluation service offices for advice on translation requirements.
What kind of grading can I expect? Each university has its own evaluation procedures and grading system, which are usually outlined in detail in the university's student handbook or the university Calendar (which can often be found online). In general, grading at all Canadian universities follows a letter system (A+, A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, D, F), with each letter corresponding to a certain category (excellent, good, satisfactory, poor) as well as percentage range and grade point value. For example, a letter grade of "A" may represent a numerical grade of 90-95% and a grade point value of 3.7 on a 4 point scale. Most universities also clearly outline a student's right to file a complaint or request a grade review, as well as the procedures for doing so.
Can I live on campus? Often. Not all universities in Ontario have on-campus residences or dormitories, while some universities are known as "residential universities" and require students to live on-campus. Usually, however, residences are available and the choice to apply for a room is up to the student. Some universities give international students priority for residence spaces.
What services are available on campus? This depends on the size and location of the campus. Generally, though, you can expect a university in Ontario to have the following services: cafeteria/ food services; automatic teller machines (ATMs); library; counselling; faith services; bookstore; lost and found; student parking; student union/ student council; student clubs; nurse/ health services; computing services; services for disabled students; career placement services; sports and recreation programs/ facilities; and international student services. Universities offering classes at multiple locations may also offer a free shuttle service between campuses.
Where can I go if I have questions or problems? There are a number of resources if you have questions or problems, depending on the type of question or problem you're dealing with. Some people and offices which can offer help to students are: Dean of Students, Academic Counselling, Personal Counselling, International Student Services, Students' Association, Student Union, Registrar's Office, Student Ombudsman.
Are Canadian universities safe? Yes. Canada is known as one of the safest countries in the world to live. Most universities in Canada have their own campus security force, and many have personal security strategies like walk-safe programs for students who are on campus at night. Using your common sense on campus, like anywhere else, is still important for the security of your belongings.
Will a degree from a university in Ontario be recognized in my home country and elsewhere? Can I transfer my Ontario university credits toward a university program in another country?
It depends on where you come from. Canadian university credentials are accepted and recognized around the world; however, you should still ask about recognition of Canadian university credits and credentials in your country of origin. A foreign degree is valued differently by different countries, so it's a good idea to check with universities and potential employers in your home country (if that's where you plan to work or continue your education) to confirm acceptance of Canadian university credits or credentials before you leave.
For their part, Canadian universities are committed to helping students with their cross-border education. For instance, the Association of Universities and Colleges in Canada (AUCC) is an active member of the International Association of Universities which works to promote and facilitate student mobility around the world.
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