US vs Canada for International Students

US vs Canada for International Students

15 mins read39.9K Views 6 Comments
Aishwarya Bhatnagar
Study Abroad Expert
Updated on Mar 1, 2023 17:54 IST
USA vs Canada

The United States of America and Canada are some of the top destinations to study abroad. International students find USA and Canada the best locations to study because of the well-renowned education system, multicultural environment, and top-ranked universities present here. No matter how difficult it is to choose between these two countries, it is essential to consider some factors before taking the final decision.

Before selecting the country, consider the factors like eligibility, student visa, cost of studying, and job opportunities. We have compiled some of the factors here that will help students to make an informed decision when it comes to ending the dilemma of choosing between the USA vs Canada.

Country Highlights USA vs Canada

Parameters USA Canada
Area 7,741,220 sq. km 9,984,670 sq. km
Capital Washington DC Ottawa
Currency US Dollars (USD) Canadian Dollars (CAD or CDN)
Total Indian Students Studying in 2021-22 9,48,000 1,80,275
Total Tertiary Education Providers 3,982 436
Average Cost of Studying USD 99,500 p.a. CAD 12,000 - CAD 30,000 p.a.
Average Cost of Living USD  CAD 20,000 to CAD 30,000
Permitted Part-Time Working Hours 20 hours / week 20 hours / week
Popular Job Sectors Education | Finance | Healthcare | Technology | Retail | Law | Science | Software | Cloud Computing Healthcare | IT Consultants | Commercial Bankers | Technology | Gasoline & Petroleum


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Popular Courses in USA & Canada

The following sections discuss the popular courses offered in USA and Canada both, also these are those courses which are opted widely by international students.

Popular Courses Offered in the US

Some of the popular courses to study in the US are as follows:

  • Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Business Management
  • Engineering
  • Data Science
  • Business Analytics
  • Medicine
  • Finance
  • Biotechnology

Popular Courses in Canada

In Canada, some of the popular courses are:

  • Computer Science and IT
  • Media & Journalism
  • Applied and Pure Sciences
  • Engineering
  • Health and Medicine
  • Hospitality & Tourism

Admission Requirements to Study in USA & Canada

International students applying for admission to USA or Canada will have a certain set of admission requirements based on the level of course of choice opted for, and students must be able to fulfil the minimum eligibility requirements in order to apply for admission. The section below discusses these requirements in detail:

Admission Requirements for USA

For undergraduate (UG) courses, you need to have completed 12 years of schooling. To get admission though you need to appear for the SAT exam or ACT exam. A lot of universities in the USA have chosen to be test-optional, hence students can submit these SAT or ACT scores if they absolutely wish to submit them, but it's not a mandatory requirement in the applications for admission. This came amidst the COVID-19 restrictions where students couldn't sit for these exams at external centres. All Ivy League universities also choose to be test-optional up to the class of 2027 admissions for now. 

In postgraduate (PG) courses, you need 16 years of education. For Indian students, it translates to 12 years of schooling and four years of undergraduate education. But since most Indian colleges offer three years of education at the UG level, you might need to take up a one-year course to cover up the difference. If you have studied at a premier Indian institute, some US universities might accept your three years degree as well, although the cases are rare. You can check with the university’s admissions cell and ask about your case. To get admission in management courses you will have to appear for GMAT, and for science courses you need to give the GRE exam.

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There are no cutoffs for colleges, so you need to score the best that you can in all the exams. Colleges provide average scores accepted to different courses on their websites. That will give some idea about what’s considered a good score. You will also need to appear for language exams like TOEFL or IELTS, irrespective of the degree. Even if the colleges may not require any language test for Indian students, you should still give either TOEFL or IELTS as they are important for the purpose of getting a visa.

In the case of an MBA, you might be required to have a few years of work experience along with a minimum score in GRE or GMAT as set by the respective US university.

Admission Requirements for Canada

For undergraduate (UG) courses admission to Canadian universities, you need to have completed 12 years of schooling. To get admission though you need to appear for the SAT exam. the duration for degree courses is four years, and that of a diploma is two to three years.

In postgraduate (PG) courses, getting admission to vocational courses is easier as the admission criteria are a lot more relaxed. To get admission for management degrees you will have to appear for GMAT, and for engineering degrees you need to give the GRE exam.

The concept of cutoffs doesn’t apply to Canadian colleges. Colleges provide average scores accepted to different courses on their websites. That will give some idea about what’s considered a good score. You will also need to appear for language exams like TOEFL or IELTS, irrespective of the degree. There are some colleges that may not require language tests for Indian students, but it is advisable you still give either TOEFL or IELTS as they are important for the purpose of getting a visa. If the visa interviewer is not sure of your spoken skills, they may not grant you a visa.

Cost of Studying & Living Comparison: USA vs Canada

This section throws light on the cost comparison for international students to study in either the USA or Canada, in terms of studying and living. All costs are subject to change without prior notice, hence, it's still advised to students to check them before making any decision.

Costs for UG Courses USA vs Canada

The following table throws light on the cost of pursuing an undergraduate course in the USA or Canada along with a rough estimate of the living costs:


Undergraduate course in US

Undergraduate course in Canada


BTech: Rs 26.98 Lakhs per year

BTech: Rs 21.92 Lakhs per year

Living expenses

Rs 10.5 Lakhs per year

Rs 7.1 Lakhs per year

Duration of course

4 years

4 years


Rs 37.48 Lakhs per year

Rs 29.02 Lakhs per year


Cost of PG Courses in the USA vs Canada

The following table shows the widely opted MS courses' costs for studying in both USA and Canada. However, the costs may vary per choice of specialisation as well. Read on for major details:


Postgraduate course in US

Postgraduate course in Canada


MS: 23.61 Lakhs per year

MS: 11.29 Lakhs per year

Living expenses

Rs 10.5 Lakhs per year

Rs 7.1 Lakhs per year

Duration of course

2 years

1-2 years


Rs 34.11 Lakhs per year

Rs 18.39 Lakhs per year


Also Read:

Student Visa in USA & Canada

In order to study in USA or Canada, international students who accept their admission offers are required to apply for a student visa. Only if the student viswa application is accepted, can students study in USA or Canada. Following is a detailed section describing the student visa requirements.

US Student Visa Requirements

A full-time US student visa is called an F1 visa. This visa has the following regulations -

  • Students applying for a program requiring more than 18 hours of study need an F1 visa. Under this, all undergraduate, as well as graduate programs, are included.
  • To apply for an F1 student visa, you need to have major documents showing your personal information, professional documents, academic background, and financial documents.
  • It costs $160 to apply for this visa along with the SEVIS fee of $350. 
  • You cannot work more than 20 hours per week. During holidays, breaks and summer sessions, the student may work up to 40 hours per week. The student can only work on-campus for a commercial firm that provides services to the college, such as a bookstore or cafeteria.

Student Visa Requirements for Canada

The Canadian student visa has the following regulations -

  • If a student wishes to take academic, professional, or vocational training at a university, college, or any other educational institute in Canada, then he / she requires a study permit. It is issued to students when they reach Canada. International students cannot study in Canada without getting a valid study permit.
  • Apart from this, you can apply for a Canadian student visa only if you have been accepted by a designated learning institute. You need to prove that you have enough funds to pay your tuition fee and living expenses. Also, prove that you have a clean background and no criminal record by providing police certification proof.
  • The cost of a Canadian student visa is CAD 150.
  • The visa application process to Canada requires a compulsory medical test for Indian applicants.
  • You cannot work more than 20 hours per week on a Canadian student visa. 

Post-Graduate Work Visa in USA vs Canada

International students who wish to stay back after graduation or postgraduation to work full-time will have to apply for a post-graduate work visa in both countries - USA and Canada. More details in the respective sections below:

US Post-Graduate Work Visa

If students want to stay back in the US to gain practical knowledge in their subject, they have the option to do so through OPT. It is temporary employment permission allowing students the opportunity to gain practical experience in their field of study for a 12-month period. You can apply for OPT after being enrolled for at least 9 months, but you cannot begin employment until you receive your Employment Authorization Document

The Student Co-Op Program is a formally structured program where the intent is to recruit students, while still in school, to fill permanent positions upon graduation. Co-op programs are generally undertaken at colleges and universities. In most cases, you will have to apply for Work Visa upon getting a full-time job of permanent nature.

Students who study STEM courses are given a stay back of 3 years.

Check: Post-Study Work Permit in the USA 

Canada Post-Graduate Work Visa

The Canadian Post Graduation Work Visa allows students graduating from any post-secondary institute to work post-studying for an uptime period depending on the duration of their course to a maximum of three years. Under this work permit, the student can work in any field or industry.

Also Read: Post Study Work Permit in Canada

Popular Jobs in Canada vs USA

There are certain jobs in Canada and the USA, which are popular and in high demand. These popular jobs based on the respective countries are as follows:

Popular Jobs in the USA

The popular job sectors in the USA are:

  • Information Technology
  • Real Estate
  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • E-commerce
  • Tourism

Popular Jobs in Canada

Some of the in-demand jobs in Canada are:

  • Web Developer
  • Registered Nurse
  • Marketing Manager
  • Engineer
  • HR Manager
  • IT Project Manager
  • Pharmacist

Permanent Residency in USA vs Canada

A lot of international students look forward to applying for a PR once they finish their university-level education and find a full-time job or not. In USA there are Green Card holders and in Canada, there is Express Entry. More information is elaborated on below:

PR in the US

A permanent residency option is possible but it is a very long-drawn and slow process. It is a complicated process and requires the person applying for it to reside in the US for at least five years on the grounds of employment. After that you will be granted a “Green Card”, but the whole process might take years to complete.

A green card holder is a permanent resident that has been given the authorization to live and work in the US on a permanent basis. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) grants a permanent resident card, also known as the “Green Card” as proof of status.

PR in Canada

During this period of Post Graduation Work permit, you can apply for Permanent Residency under the Canadian Experience Class. Since the country is sparsely populated, there is a shortage of highly skilled employees. Compared to most other countries, getting PR in Canada is easy.

Scholarships to study in USA vs Canada

Since it's very expensive to study in the USA and in Canada for international students, one way of cutting down on tuition costs is through scholarships. Not all scholarships offered in the USA or Canada are applicable for international students, hence, there are other ways of supporting one's studies then. Following are a couple of scholarships offered for international students in the USA and Canada:

USA Scholarships

Canada Scholarships

K.C. Mahindra Scholarships For Post-Graduate Studies Abroad University of Calgary International Entrance Scholarship
International Scholars Award Ontario Graduate Scholarship- Other Master Programs
Boustany MBA Harvard Scholarship University of Alberta - India First Year Excellence Scholarships
Tata Scholarship President's International Scholarship of Excellence
Joseph Wharton Fellowship Humber College - International Entrance scholarships - Graduate Diploma/ Certificate Program
Trustee Scholarships - Boston University International - Entrance Excellence Scholarship
Shardashish Interschool Fellowship (Columbia University) SFU Ryan Barrington-Foote Bursary in Business Administration
Yale Scholarship ( All Undergraduate Programs) Alberta Innovates Graduate Student Scholarships (Faculty of Arts & Engineering)
Presidential Scholarship
First-Year International Student SAT Scholarship MBA Foundation Study Grant

Climate in USA & Canada

International students shifting to study in the US or Canada, should know about the climate conditions in order to be able to adjust and carry along with them suitable sets of clothing.

US Climate

The US is a huge area of land and has varied temperatures and climates in different areas. East Coast has a warm climate and covers cities like California and Arizona. The Midwest and New England regions have frozen winters and cover cities like Chicago, and Boston.  The Pacific Northwest has a humid oceanic climate and covers cities like Seattle, and Portland. The Southwest has a hot desert climate and covers cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas. The southeast has a warm to hot, humid climate and covers cities like Houston, and New Orleans.

Canada Climate

Weather in Canada varies widely depending on where you are. Canada stretches from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean, covering five time zones. In Toronto, winter is milder than in most Canadian cities, yet still cold and snowy. Montreal Weather in winter is cold and snowy. Usually, the country experiences pleasantly cool summers.

USA vs Canada: Country Comparison FAQs

Q. Is it better to go to Canada or USA?

A. Both the countries are good to pursue higher education for Indian students. Canada offers flexible immigration and settlement plans. Apart from this, in Canada, the PGWP and Permanent Residency can be easily obtained as compared to the US. On the other hand, the US is home to some of the top-ranked universities and it provides promising career opportunities. 

Q. Is studying in Canada better than USA?

A. On average, Canadian universities' tuition fees are 27% more economical than tuition fees at US universities. The tuition fee is not the only factor to consider while choosing to study. The cost of living is lower in Canada in comparison to the US for international students. Also Canada offers wider range of job opportunities in comparison to the US. All these factors collectively point towards the fact that studying in Canada is better than USA for international students with good after study prospects. 

Q. Why USA is better than Canada for students?

A. Students are attracted to study in the U.S. because various top-ranked global universities are situated there. American universities hold a better rank and prestige as compared to Canadian universities. USA offers top ranking courses and has a good reputation globally for its education, courses and degree programs. The degrees offered at the US universities are highly regarded and accepted worldwide. US ranks #1 for studying abroad in comparison to Canada which comes #2 on the list. Thus, it can be said that USA is better than Canada for international students.

Q. Is it better to do masters in USA or Canada?

A. Both USA and Canada are considered the best destinations among all the other countries in the world to complete higher education in terms of quality of education, tuition fee, scholarships, etc. However for Master's USA is always a preferred option among international students followed by Canada. MS in USA is highly regarded and has good returns on investment. There are various courses and their specialisations that are offered in the US under master's. Whereas, MS in Canada is popular for mostly its Education and Healthcare courses especially, along with a few more subjects. Students can take their pick carefully between Canada and USA for masters.

Q. Why should I choose Canada over the US?

A. Currently, Canada has overtaken the US when it comes to pursuing higher education. Canada is becoming the topmost choice of students because of its speedy processing times for study permits, easy immigration, and lower study costs. So students can choose to study in either Canada or USA based on their interests, scope of study and future job prospects. Students can choose Canada over USA also because there are a huge number of scholarships available for international students in Canada for all levels of study.

Q. What are the benefits of studying in the US?

A. The top reasons to study in the US are academic excellence, flexible education system, cultural diversity, lively and vibrant campus life, and an excellent support system for international students. Along with this there are good opportunities for research, well-paid jobs and good standard of living after studying in the US. There are more benefits of studying in the US and they include worldwide recognition of the degrees and good job opportunities if returning after studying from the USA.
About the Author
Written by
Aishwarya Bhatnagar
Study Abroad Expert

Aishwarya is a professional Writer currently working as a Study Abroad Expert in the Editorial Team at Shiksha. She has over 5 years of experience and is skilled at creating Online Content with leveraged knowledge i... Read Full Bio

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Syed Nazrul Hassan, an MA graduate in International Relations, is an adroit counselor who believes in the philosophy of putting himself in student's shoes in order to provide honest and sincere counseling services. ... Read Full Bio





3 years ago

Employment opportunities for engineering graduate students in CANADA ?

Reply to N V RUTHVIK


Piyush Kohli

2 years ago

Hi, there are a lot of job opportunities for engineering graduates in Canada. Students with engineering degrees, professional courses or technical skills are highly demanded there.



3 years ago

Employment opportunities for engineering graduate students in canada?

Reply to N V RUTHVIK

5 years ago

What is the minimum percentage requirements in 12 for diploma in USA ?

Reply to


Vishwak Reddy

3 years ago

Basically completing diploma in USA is waste of time and money. So pursuing bachelor or master's is better for USA. Soo if you want to do diploma in USA, basically you need gain around 60-70 percentage of marks. It's enough for good colleges in USA.


frooq shah

6 years ago

This entire information regarding as per requirements to me and amy other person are benefial even usefull for both of USA aw well as Canda . Such as information thanfull to You and shiksha organisation

Reply to frooq shah

6 years ago

You forgot to mention that OPT in US varies as per the area of study, STEM subjects usually get 12 + 24-29 month OPT extension.

Reply to