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Is it worth applying to Canadian Graduate schools (US Applicant)?



Hi all,


I'm a recent graduate from a top liberal arts school who is interested in pursuing graduate study for neuroscience/pharmacology in Canada, and I am also looking to eventually relocate here permanently. I found a few programs and professors whose research areas fit my interests, skills, and experience extremely well. Although the websites claim that international students are guaranteed a certain stipend, considering that most grant agencies place restrictions on use of funds for non-citizens or non-permanent residents, it makes me skeptical that I would be able to get in on the basis of not having available funding. I know that there are limited scholarship opportunities available for non-Canadian students, but my GPA is nowhere near high enough to be considered for them (I'm in 3.5-land, GPA wise). If anyone could answer these, I would really appreciate it:


  • Am I competitive enough for my programs of interest even without the ability to bring in additional funding?
  • Even if I somehow manage to get in, how am I going to fund graduate study without going into a significant amount of debt?



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Hi, I'm a current undergrad at University of Toronto. I applied to both US and Canadian schools for PhD programs this cycle (I am a dual citizen), and I'm good friends with a number of grad students in our department here, so hopefully I can vouch for the experience of international students.

Short answer: Yes, I think it's certainly worth applying! The Canadian schools that I know of do guarantee funding for international students that is equivalent to what domestic students receive. However, because international tuition fees are higher, that means the department has to cobble together money from a few different sources to fund them. That does NOT mean that it's impossible to get funding as an international student; I know quite a few graduate students who did not have any trouble with this. You do NOT have to be coming in with an external award (or be eligible for the majority of Canadian government awards like citizens are).

However, if you are worried about it, I've heard that the best strategy is to seek a co-supervision. That way, cost is split between two labs/supervisors, which makes the burden on the department a lot lighter. Best of luck!

Edited by brainlass
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As @brainlass said, in the majority of cases, the take-home stipends international graduate students receive in Canada are about the same as the Canadian students. Yes, you will cost the school more money, but typically, most programs address this by reducing the number of international students accepted rather than admitting students with less funding. Or, another way to put it: there is usually enough money for X number of international students, so all of the international student applicants compete for this smaller quota and therefore, you generally need to be a stronger candidate if you want to be admitted as an international student. Note that this general framework is almost the same in every country: non-citizens generally have more limited opportunities.

Whether it's worth your time to apply or not is something that is hard for anyone to consider. A 3.5 GPA is not going to get you automatically rejected from any school. But your application depends on a lot more than just your GPA.

Also, in many fields, Canadians enter a Masters program after their undergrad degree, then follow with a PhD. The Canadian Masters is very different from a US Masters, and you can consider it as the first 2 years of a US PhD program (whereas the Canadian PhD program is more like the final 3 years of a US PhD program). Maybe your field is different though and there is direct-entry from the Bachelor's degree. I only mention this because you should not be deterred if you see that PhD programs require a Canadian Masters, you should then apply for a Masters program there.

Finally, unlike the US, time as a PhD student in Canada will count towards permanent status here! It's not a perfect/ideal system as there are many delays and there are certainly a lot of rules (not 100% familiar with them as I am Canadian so I never had to deal with them) but I know many academics who attend school in Canada and then become permanent residents and/or citizens. So it's definitely possible and unlike the US, your time as a student will count!

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