Applying to a university in British Columbia 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 British Columbia 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 British Columbia 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 British Columbia 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)

  • 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
    As mentioned above, universities in British Columbia are competitive and popular, so prepare and apply early. Generally, international students should apply to a Canadian university up to eight months in advance of the expected start date (usually September or January semesters). However, some universities in British Columbia 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
    University application processes may differ between institutions, but usually you can expect to download an online undergraduate application form and submit it either by post or electronically, along with the supporting documents described in the section above. This step also includes submitting a non-refundable application fee (between $50- $100) which must be received by the institution before a certain deadline. If you are submitting the application by post, make sure to leave enough time for the package to arrive at the university in Canada by the specified deadline.

    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.

    While there may be some variation to the application process, each university will provide very specific guidelines and direction. So don't worry too much about it being complicated: applying to a university in British Columbia is easier than you might think and well worth the effort.