Choosing a grad school in Canada can be a challenge, since there are so many great programs to choose from! Travel and study abroad are always enriching, but you still want to choose your grad school carefully. But the decision doesn't have to be overwhelming. Making a check sheet for each school of the individual categories that matter to you can be a good way to compare schools so you can see which one best suits your academic and personal needs.
Aspects to consider when choosing a grad school in Canada:
Credentials offered: Consider thesis- and non-thesis based master's degrees, doctoral degrees, graduate diplomas or graduate certificates: consider duration and specializations.
Programs offered: Is there a grad program offered in the area that interests you? Consider the courses available, instructor credentials, specialized facilities, publications in peer-reviewed journals, etc.
Potential supervisors: Does the school have any experts in the field you hope to study that you would like to work with?
Facilities: Grad programs in Canada are research-intensive, so find out what the library is like (for example, how comprehensive the holdings are, graduate student policies and regulations) and what kinds of specialized equipment, labs, etc., the school might have that your area of study requires.
Opportunities: Consider the opportunities for a school's students to participate in local, national and international competitions, to collaborate with professors on research and journal publications, etc. Often, a school will mention such opportunities on its website.
Academic and language requirements: Consider what previous university study and GPA are required, which language tests scores they accept.
Location: Consider the climate and the benefits versus challenges of small towns, medium sized cities, and large metropolises.
Size and culture: Consider what learning environment best suits your personality: a more personal atmosphere or a large, bustling campus. In terms of a university's "culture," you should consider an institution's religious affiliation, program focus (for instance liberal arts, technology, theology, etc.).
Cost: Consider basic living expenses, tuition fees and the cost of books and other supplies. Find out what kinds of teaching or research assistantships are available and how many hours a week might be involved.
Scholarships and awards/ financial aid: Are there specific scholarships, awards or loans for international students that you qualify for? How helpful is the university's financial aid office?
Housing options: Consider on-campus residence or dormitories, off-campus apartment rental and homestay.
Quality/ accreditation: Look for accreditation at both the institutional and program levels.
Extracurricular activities: Consider graduate student associations, clubs, sports, competitions, campus and community activities, etc.
Support for international students: Look for an international student centre, specialized tutorial services, language support programs, etc.
Rankings: Consider national and international rankings as well as "unoffical" student reviews.
Other international students' experiences: Universities or other online resources can help you connect with other international students who can share their experience and advice.
Your gut feeling: In addition to weighing the intellectual pros and cons and costs of each grad school, listen to your intuition or instinct and how you feel about a school.