This university or college application timeline is a general guideline for international students applying to universities or colleges in any province of Canada, although each university and college sets its own deadlines for international student submission of applications and supporting documents.

If you are applying for a program that starts in September, you will want to begin in about April of the year before your program starts. That's about 12 - 18 months of preparation and planning time.

For example, for a Canadian university or college program beginning September 2010:

April - June, 2009:
Start researching institutions
Based on what you want to study and where, pick 5-7 universities or colleges and evaluate them according to what's important to you in terms of courses, location, size, cost, etc.

Start researching financial assistance
Scholarships for international students are competitive, so start looking for (and applying to if necessary) possible scholarships or other funding early.

July-August, 2009:
Contact the universities
Pick your top 4- 6 universities or colleges and contact their admissions offices to request information, international student application packages, financial aid forms, and to make sure you know exactly what they need from you to apply.

Plan your tests
Most universities and colleges in Canada will require international students to submit scores from standardized language tests. Once you know which tests each university accepts, get the information you need to register to write the tests.

August - October, 2009:
Fill out your university applications
Fill out, carefully and thoughtfully, all of the required application forms. Get someone to look them over, since you don't want to submit an application with errors!

Start gathering the required supporting documents
Universities and colleges in Canada will usually require official transcripts, in translation if necessary, from the last educational institution you attended (or are currently attending), as well as reference letters, proof of citizenship and possibly other documentation. There is usually a deadline for the submission of these documents, so begin getting them together early.

Plan to pay your application fee
Universities and colleges in Canada require international applicants to pay an application fee from anywhere between $50 and $100. Find out what methods of payment the schools accept and make the necessary arrangements to have the money accessible.

October, 2009 - January, 2010:
Submit your university applications
Each university or college sets its own application deadlines, and there are usually special deadlines for international student applications. Make sure you leave time for your application to get to the Canadian university or college by the deadline. Application deadlines generally vary from between January 1 to May 1 for programs that begin in September. Be sure to double check.

March - May, 2010:
Most universities and colleges in Canada will notify you of your acceptance a month or two after the application deadline. You may want to wait until you receive notification from all your choices before accepting an offer of admission. Once you make your decision, you will write a letter of acceptance to the university or college you have chosen to attend, and should write to any other universities or colleges that have offered you admission telling them you cannot accept.

After this, depending on the speed of your correspondence with the university or college, the institution will send you the appropriate forms that will allow you to start the process of obtaining your visa and making your travel arrangements to come to Canada.