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Funding for international students


steve3020

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Hey everyone, does anyone know how funding for Ph.d works in Canada and Austraila (or other English speaking countries)? Is it like in US (Masters & doctoral funding is integrated) or like UK (you have to do masters first in order to apply to phd courses)? I'm an international student with a UK degree. 

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Funding in Canada for graduate school is not typically integrated like the US because we generally treat the Masters and PhD programs as two distinct programs. Here is the typical path and funding scenario for a student applying to Canadian graduate school.

During the 4th and final year of undergrad, student applies to Masters programs.

Student is admitted to Masters programs and offered funding along with admission. The funding offered can be a combination of TA work, RA work, and/or fellowships. Typically, the TA pay rate is the same for all students across all fields (TAs in Canada are usually unionized), but some science fields will usually have you TA for 5-10 hours per week and TAing is about 1/3 to 1/2 of your stipend, while in humanities, you may have to TA for 20 hours per week and TAing can be up to all of your stipend. 

There aren't usually tuition waivers in Canada. Instead, your pay is high enough so that you are meant to pay tuition out of your paycheque. But how much leftover money for rent and food you get depends on your field. At one of my past schools, it can be as low as $12,000/year (about half of what you need to actually live) to as high as $45,000/year. Tuition for Canadian students is around $5000-$7000 per year. Tuition for international students is about double of that. However, international students get a higher total stipend (usually through a special award) that makes up the difference between domestic and international tuition. This means your take home pay should be about the same as a Canadian's. (Not quite because you may have higher fees for health care etc.)

During your 2nd year of your Masters, you apply to PhD programs. The process is very similar---you must submit transcripts, letters of references, writing samples, essays etc. all over again. Even if you are applying to work with the same supervisor at the same school. But many people will apply to PhD programs at different schools too---it's not atypical to move between a Masters and a PhD. 

The two programs are considered distinct and when you start your PhD program, you will be considered a "new student" (just like if you finished your undergrad and started a Masters program at the same school). So, certain awards that are only offered to "new students" are now available for you!

Now with all of that said, it's not impossible for an undergrad student to be admitted straight to a PhD program. Also, there are sometimes "fast track" programs where a first year Masters student enters the first year of their PhD program right afterwards, instead of finishing a Masters first. Or, if your international credentials is deemed equivalent to a Canadian Masters, you can start as a PhD student. Note that most Canadians do prefer getting a Masters and then a PhD so although some students may be able to "fast track", many will choose to do a 2 year Masters first and then start a PhD program afterwards.

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23 hours ago, mteng said:

Thanks you. Do you think canada is more competitive than usa for phd?

It's not an easy question to answer, because schools in Canada are different than schools in US and also because "competitive" is not an easy term to define.

Here are some thoughts that might help. Note that this can also be very field-dependent! We're not in the same field, so these are just generalizations, and you can probably find exceptions to everything below:

1. The top schools in Canada are not as good as the top schools in the US. There are no privately funded research schools in Canada. In the US, the very rich private schools that are research focused will be more competitive than Canadian schools. There is no Canadian equivalent for schools like Harvard, MIT, Caltech, Stanford, Cornell, etc.

2. In Canada, international student tuition costs less (tuition in general costs less). So the additional cost for an international student in Canada is less than the additional cost for an international student in the US. So, in this sense, you may have an easier time to get into a Canadian school as an international student.

3. However, the sizes of Canadian programs are smaller. Not only that most programs are smaller, there are just fewer schools. So, even if you applied to every school in Canada and every school in the US, there will be more spots available to you in the US simply because they are bigger. 

So, there's no easy way to say one way or another. It will really just depend on your personal situation and the specific schools you apply to. What I can say is that if you apply to schools that are good fits for you, then your chances will be much higher and that doesn't matter if it's Canada or US.

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5 hours ago, TakeruK said:

Funding in Canada for graduate school is not typically integrated like the US because we generally treat the Masters and PhD programs as two distinct programs. Here is the typical path and funding scenario for a student applying to Canadian graduate school.

During the 4th and final year of undergrad, student applies to Masters programs.

Student is admitted to Masters programs and offered funding along with admission. The funding offered can be a combination of TA work, RA work, and/or fellowships. Typically, the TA pay rate is the same for all students across all fields (TAs in Canada are usually unionized), but some science fields will usually have you TA for 5-10 hours per week and TAing is about 1/3 to 1/2 of your stipend, while in humanities, you may have to TA for 20 hours per week and TAing can be up to all of your stipend. 

There aren't usually tuition waivers in Canada. Instead, your pay is high enough so that you are meant to pay tuition out of your paycheque. But how much leftover money for rent and food you get depends on your field. At one of my past schools, it can be as low as $12,000/year (about half of what you need to actually live) to as high as $45,000/year. Tuition for Canadian students is around $5000-$7000 per year. Tuition for international students is about double of that. However, international students get a higher total stipend (usually through a special award) that makes up the difference between domestic and international tuition. This means your take home pay should be about the same as a Canadian's. (Not quite because you may have higher fees for health care etc.)

During your 2nd year of your Masters, you apply to PhD programs. The process is very similar---you must submit transcripts, letters of references, writing samples, essays etc. all over again. Even if you are applying to work with the same supervisor at the same school. But many people will apply to PhD programs at different schools too---it's not atypical to move between a Masters and a PhD. 

The two programs are considered distinct and when you start your PhD program, you will be considered a "new student" (just like if you finished your undergrad and started a Masters program at the same school). So, certain awards that are only offered to "new students" are now available for you!

Now with all of that said, it's not impossible for an undergrad student to be admitted straight to a PhD program. Also, there are sometimes "fast track" programs where a first year Masters student enters the first year of their PhD program right afterwards, instead of finishing a Masters first. Or, if your international credentials is deemed equivalent to a Canadian Masters, you can start as a PhD student. Note that most Canadians do prefer getting a Masters and then a PhD so although some students may be able to "fast track", many will choose to do a 2 year Masters first and then start a PhD program afterwards.

Wow, thanks a lot TakeruK for your detailed explanation. I didn't know that stipend covers tuition in Canada. Was thinking that it'd be difficult to go to Canada because the tuition isn't covered. 

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Just now, TakeruK said:

I don't understand what you mean by "define our monetary status" ? 

I mean  "financial proof of support documents "

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I am relatively new to the Canadian system (I have spent most of my time in the US) and it seems to me that the majority of Canada programs require the MS/MA degree before starting the PhD.

However, as mentioned by TakerUK, that is not the case for all programs. I applied to a fast track program at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. There, they allowed me to skip the MS, as long as I had the required GPA from my undergrad. I am not sure if this is only a case with science programs. I suppose it depends on what program you are interested in.. Still, perhaps you should look into the large schools in Canada, such as McGill and University of Toronto. Some of the programs there may not require you to have a Masters before applying to the PhD program. 

Now, the reason I applied for the fast track PhD, was because I was told that funding is given mostly to international PhD students rather than international Masters students. Regarding international tuition waivers, I had my international tuition waived at McGill. This was something completed by the adviser I applied to work with and was then approved by the graduate administration. I am not sure how the eligibility works, but mine was approved. I have citizenship from Denmark, but completed my HS and BS in the US. 

A quick side note. Usually, MS/MA programs in the US are NOT funded (unless the MS/MA is integrated with the PhD). For example, in the humanities, it is very common to do a non-funded MA before continuing to the PhD program. On the other hand, PhDs are usually always funded in the US (if not funded, it is probably not a good idea to enroll in that program!)

I hope this helps somehow :)

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On 7/5/2016 at 0:06 AM, mteng said:

I mean  "financial proof of support documents "

So, you are asking if you need to have financial proof of support documents before you apply to Canadian universities?

The answer is no. You apply to Canadian schools first. Then, you see if you get an admission offer. Usually the admission offer comes with a funding offer. Then you apply for a study permit, if necessary. For information on whether you need a visa and a study permit, see this page: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/study/study-who.asp

At this stage, you do need to have some proof of financial support. Usually, this is coming from the school but if you don't get a funding offer from the school, then you need to show you have this money available.

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13 minutes ago, TakeruK said:

So, you are asking if you need to have financial proof of support documents before you apply to Canadian universities?

The answer is no. You apply to Canadian schools first. Then, you see if you get an admission offer. Usually the admission offer comes with a funding offer. Then you apply for a study permit, if necessary. For information on whether you need a visa and a study permit, see this page: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/study/study-who.asp

At this stage, you do need to have some proof of financial support. Usually, this is coming from the school but if you don't get a funding offer from the school, then you need to show you have this money available.

Thanks you. Do you think canada is more competitive than usa for phd?

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1 minute ago, TakeruK said:

It's not an easy question to answer, because schools in Canada are different than schools in US and also because "competitive" is not an easy term to define.

Here are some thoughts that might help. Note that this can also be very field-dependent! We're not in the same field, so these are just generalizations, and you can probably find exceptions to everything below:

1. The top schools in Canada are not as good as the top schools in the US. There are no privately funded research schools in Canada. In the US, the very rich private schools that are research focused will be more competitive than Canadian schools. There is no Canadian equivalent for schools like Harvard, MIT, Caltech, Stanford, Cornell, etc.

2. In Canada, international student tuition costs less (tuition in general costs less). So the additional cost for an international student in Canada is less than the additional cost for an international student in the US. So, in this sense, you may have an easier time to get into a Canadian school as an international student.

3. However, the sizes of Canadian programs are smaller. Not only that most programs are smaller, there are just fewer schools. So, even if you applied to every school in Canada and every school in the US, there will be more spots available to you in the US simply because they are bigger. 

So, there's no easy way to say one way or another. It will really just depend on your personal situation and the specific schools you apply to. What I can say is that if you apply to schools that are good fits for you, then your chances will be much higher and that doesn't matter if it's Canada or US.

thanks you.it is good and satisfying information.In fact,what makes canada appealing to me is that they focus on master degree so much and in admission page they emphasize master degee if you apply for PhD.in other words,they do not want to accept students with bachelor degree to phd directly like america.so my opponents may be less for canada.because my undergrad gpa is below 3 but master gpa around 3.8. In many american universities,for phd application,they say "your bachelor degree should be above 3.0 and gpa above 3.5 etc.They need good gpa both in bachelor and master but when i see the prospectus in canadian university,they say "applicants to phd must have master degree with 3.5 at least or B+ A- something like that.  And my another question to you if i do not bother you.Do you think to get admission to university like Texas arlington is easy than mcgill toronto university?

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23 hours ago, mteng said:

thanks you.it is good and satisfying information.In fact,what makes canada appealing to me is that they focus on master degree so much and in admission page they emphasize master degee if you apply for PhD.in other words,they do not want to accept students with bachelor degree to phd directly like america.so my opponents may be less for canada.because my undergrad gpa is below 3 but master gpa around 3.8. In many american universities,for phd application,they say "your bachelor degree should be above 3.0 and gpa above 3.5 etc.They need good gpa both in bachelor and master but when i see the prospectus in canadian university,they say "applicants to phd must have master degree with 3.5 at least or B+ A- something like that.  And my another question to you if i do not bother you.Do you think to get admission to university like Texas arlington is easy than mcgill toronto university?

That sounds good. The Canadian schools will still look at your undergrad GPA and they will probably still use it to evaluate you. Note that when schools say you "need" a certain GPA, that's usually the minimum to be considered. It doesn't mean that if you have that GPA you will get in. But it is a good thing for you that your Masters GPA is higher than your undergrad and that will help you.

Also, keep in mind that Canadian schools and US schools grade differently. A grade like "A" means different things in each country (and varies with each school). Usually, in Canada, grades are awarded for knowledge and achievement---for example, if you are able to meet all the learning goals fully, then you will get an A. So for tough courses that are only taken by top students, usually everyone gets an A. However, it seems like in the US, the grading is comparative. An A in the US tend to mean that you were one of the best students in the class. 

Finally, I have no idea how Texas Arlington compares to McGill or Toronto.

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On 7.7.2016 at 1:29 AM, TakeruK said:

There is no Canadian equivalent for schools like Harvard, MIT, Caltech, Stanford, Cornell, etc.

Would you consider Cornell a better school than U of Toronto? 

I think U of T is ranked higher... 

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3 hours ago, SoyCoffee said:

Would you consider Cornell a better school than U of Toronto? 

I think U of T is ranked higher... 

I think this may depend a lot from field to field. When I said that there were no Canadian schools equivalent to schools like Harvard, MIT, Cornell, etc. I was mainly referring to privately funded, research focused schools. The private schools in Canada are generally not research focused and/or are religious schools with non-research priorities. I agree it's not strictly true that privately funded (i.e. more funded) research programs are "better" than publicly funded (usually "less funded") schools like U of T, but this was what I was assuming in my generalization above.

For my field, I would say that Cornell is better than U of T. But I agree that one can always pick out elite US schools that aren't good in a particular specialization. For example, Stanford isn't a very good school for my specialization so I would certainly say Toronto is better than Stanford in exoplanet research. However, I do think that when taken as a whole, the "elite tier" of privately funded, research focused schools that exist in the United States offers something that is not generally available in Canada. 

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On 7/18/2016 at 7:15 PM, TakeruK said:

I think this may depend a lot from field to field. When I said that there were no Canadian schools equivalent to schools like Harvard, MIT, Cornell, etc. I was mainly referring to privately funded, research focused schools. The private schools in Canada are generally not research focused and/or are religious schools with non-research priorities. I agree it's not strictly true that privately funded (i.e. more funded) research programs are "better" than publicly funded (usually "less funded") schools like U of T, but this was what I was assuming in my generalization above.

For my field, I would say that Cornell is better than U of T. But I agree that one can always pick out elite US schools that aren't good in a particular specialization. For example, Stanford isn't a very good school for my specialization so I would certainly say Toronto is better than Stanford in exoplanet research. However, I do think that when taken as a whole, the "elite tier" of privately funded, research focused schools that exist in the United States offers something that is not generally available in Canada. 

Thanks for your contribution TakeruK. I'm now applying to both American and Canadian schools, including 'elite tier' ones in the US and Toronto, McGill, etc. It seems you study planetary science which I guess is very dependent on good funding for research quality. My field is literature and philosophy - I imagine that Canadian schools can be also quite competitive internationally at least in these fields? But I wonder if a Phd from a Canadian school will be well recognised in Europe and America.

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