How to Write an SOP for Canada Student Visa?

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Aprant Agarwal
Study Abroad Expert
Updated on Jun 21, 2023 13:57 IST

With a growing number of students wishing to head toward the north, Canada has emerged as the favourite destination for many international students in the past decade. Admission to the top Canadian universities is primarily based on an applicant’s academic performance, scholastic scores, and overall profile. However, some universities may require applicants to submit an essay, called SOP, for a comprehensive profile evaluation.

What is SOP?

An SOP, short for Statement of Purpose, is a substantial component of the application packet as it elucidates a student’s purpose for a university application. Unless stated otherwise in the university guidelines, it is usually a 1000-word-long essay, which requires special attention throughout the writing process. For most universities, the entire SOP is to be wrapped within two pages of a Word document.

What is an SOP for Canada?

An SOP for Canada is a 1,000-1,500 word application document that is submitted by students who are applying for admission to Canadian universities. An SOP describes a student's academic and professional background, future ambitions, and motivations for selecting Canada as a study location. An SOP is a crucial component of the application process that aids the admissions committee in determining the student's fit for the programme and likelihood of academic success. Moreover, an SOP for Canada student visa helps a visa officer understand that you are a suitable candidate for admission to Canadian universities and that your enthusiasm in choosing Canada as your study destination is sincere.

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Importance of an SOP to Study in Canada

An SOP forms an integral part of most study-abroad applications for Canada. The following points will give an overview of the importance of an SOP for Canada:

  • An SOP goes beyond your resume and provides you with an opportunity to showcase your skills, knowledge, career goals, and achievements to the admissions committee.
  • It allows the admissions committee to understand why you are a perfect fit for their university and course.
  • In the case of low test scores, a well-written SOP can make up for the shortfall to a large extent.
  • When evaluating applications for admission, Canadian universities and colleges place a high value on extracurricular activities like volunteer work, accomplishments, work experience, etc. These characteristics can be emphasised in an SOP.
  • A well-articulated SOP might make you eligible for a scholarship (if no separate application is required for the same).

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How to Write an SOP?

A good SOP can make or break your chances of securing a seat at your dream university. A key consideration for drafting an SOP is to be succinct when describing your career goals. Check out how to write an Impressive Goals Essay.

Also, read the right tips and guidelines for writing a powerful and convincing SOP, here:

Tips for Writing a Winning SOP

Shiksha Guidelines to Write a Strong SOP

How do I Write SOP for Canada?

When you are writing an SOP for a Canadian university, you must provide detailed information about all your relevant experiences and highlight the ones that are pertinent to the course you are applying for.

Tip: Strengthen your profile by highlighting details about the course structure, faculty/professors, facilities, and student clubs/societies offered by the university where you are writing your SOP. In addition, if you have any backlogs or a gap year, be sure to elaborate on your activities during that period. Please note that Canada is rather strict about backlogs, so you would need to have cleared all of them before applying, in addition to having maintained a good average throughout your academics.

SOP Format for Canada

Students can note the following SOP format for Canada. Please remember that this is a generalized format and that students are free to change the SOP format for Canada as per their needs.

  • Introduction: You may begin your introduction with a quotation, your background, any life-changing event, your career aspirations, or your reasons for pursuing a particular course.
  • Body Paragraphs: Students may add 3-4 body paragraphs that talk about the following:
    • Academic background and professional background.
    • Reasons for choosing a particular course.
    • Reasons for applying to a particular university.
    • Career aspirations and goals.
  • Conclusion: Students can summarize and mention their career goals and mention why they will be an asset to the University. Your conclusion should be able to convince the admissions committee for selecting your application.

SOP for UG in Canada

It is not only academics that play an important role in a student’s life, especially at the undergraduate level. Therefore, when applying for UG programs, you must highlight your overall personality. The best way to do this is by describing how your academic endeavours and extracurricular activities have shaped your overall disposition. Most universities expect their students at the undergraduate level to be involved in events and clubs outside of the classroom. Hence, include examples of similar experiences you have had in the past in your SOP. See how to write a UG SOP, here.

SOP for MS in Canada

When it comes to Master’s programs, universities look for students who have accumulated practical experiences through research work, projects, internships, and other similar activities. This demonstrates an applicant’s ability to endure the demanding curriculum of post-graduate education.

Pro Tip: Use personal pronouns, like ‘I’ or ‘me’, in your SOP. When discussing group projects that you may have worked on, emphasize only your contributions and achievements. Your individual endeavours are what the university is interested in knowing about.

Learn more about writing MS SOPs:

How to write an MS SOP?

Writing MS SOP for Canada

SOP for MBA in Canada

As an MBA aspirant, you must start by making a list of those relevant experiences that will bring out the following aspects of your personality: leadership qualities; teamwork; diversity in education/occupation; professional and personal achievements; communication and interpersonal skills; familiarity with fundamental business topics; presentation skills; and motivation, among others. The aforementioned keywords will lend credence to your SOP and convince the admissions committee of your candidature. Also, rather than exaggerating the details of your school time, highlight your recent academic and professional experiences. Learn How to write an MBA SOP, here.

SOP for PhD in Canada

What sets you apart from the pool of students from all over the world vying for a spot at a university? A strong background in research is vital for PhD programs. This is where your academic experiences in terms of projects and research work will play an important role. Master’s/Ph.D. courses are research-intensive. However, there is a difference between SOPs for both these courses. Check out how to go about PhD SOP, here.

Lastly, you must write your SOP in simple English and proofread the draft for grammar and spelling errors. The use of embellished words makes one sound pompous and pretentious – hence it is a route one should avoid. Short, crisp sentences communicating your “purpose” in its utmost sincerity will make your SOP an enjoyable read.

SOP for Canada Student Visa

An SOP for Canada student visa allows a visa officer to understand your background and your reasons for pursuing a course in Canada. An SOP for Canada student visa will differ from an SOP for Canadian universities. You must write a Canada study visa SOP with the objective to convince the immigration authorities and visa officers about your suitability for studying in Canada, your background, and your future goals once you complete your studies at a Canadian university. Here are the points that you must include in your SOP for Canada student visa:

  • Introduction
  • Background (Personal + Academic + Professional)
  • Reasons to Pursue a Particular Course + Reasons to Apply to a Particular University in Canada
  • Reasons to Choose Canada as Your Study-Abroad Destination
  • Future Plans
  • Source of Funds
  • Mention your strong tie-back to your home country (family, finances, etc.). Make sure that these ties are strong.

For a detailed analysis of an SOP for Canada Student Visa, we recommend you to visit the following link: SOP for Canada (Comprehensive Guide)

Top Universities in Canada and Their SOP Requirements

The following table provides the top universities in Canada and their SOP or Personal Statement requirements.

University THE Rankings 2023 SOP for Canada Universities Guidelines
University of Toronto 18
  • 500-1000 words
  • Why this course or degree?
  • Why am I a good fit?
  • What can I contribute?
The University of British Columbia 40
  • Area of interest for academics and research
  • How your background will contribute to your success in this course?
  • What do you wish to achieve during and after this course?
  • Why this programme?
  • Work/Skills/Techniques in this field
  • Faculty members + Ongoing research
  • Your previous publications/conferences
McGill University 46
  • 1 page
  • 12-point font
  • 1-inch margins
  • Reasons to pursue a particular programme
  • Link your background and the course to which you have applied
  • Why are you fit for this course?
  • Future goals
  • Why do you want to study at McGill?
McMaster University 85
  • Research the programme
  • Research the skills and knowledge required to succeed in this programme
  • Reasons to pursue this programme
  • Your interests and motivations
University of Alberta 118
  • 1-2 page
  • Your research and academic goals
  • Why do you want to pursue this programme?
  • Your academic background
  • Future career plans
  • Any additional information that can contribute to your admission

Note: Students are advised to visit the official web page of the programme and conduct their own research for their admission requirements as these are subject to change.

Now that candidates are aware of all the aspects of an SOP for Canada, they must aim to write a well-structured and coherent SOP that can put their point across in a clear and concise manner. For help with university applications, students seeking to study abroad can contact our Shiksha Study Abroad Counsellors. The comments section below allows candidates to contact us as well.

Check out the Samples SOPs for more countries:

Sample SOP for Canada

Sample Format for USA SOP

Sample Format for UK SOP

Sample Format for Australia SOP

Good luck!

Canada SOP FAQs

Q. What is an SOP for Canada?

A. An SOP for Canada is a 1,000-1,500 word long document that is required for the purpose of admissions in Canadian universities and for Canada student visa application approval. An SOP for Canada gives a general summary of the applicant's academic and professional experience, aspirations, and motivations for deciding to pursue a degree in Canada. It often includes details about the applicant's relevant professional background, academic accomplishments, and reasons for choosing a particular course of study. A tool for assessing an applicant's qualifications and determining whether they are a good fit for the programme or course they are applying to, an SOP is used by the admissions committee and immigration officers.

Q. What should be included in a Canada SOP?

A. You need to include your academic background, professional background, reasons for applying for a particular course, reasons for applying to a particular university, short-term goals, long-term goals, source of funds (for Canada student visa SOP), and a conclusion. Make sure that all the events are connected by logic and reason and that there is a seamless flow from one idea/event to the other. Avoid any random statements or content that might confuse the admissions committee or the visa officer.

Q. What should be avoided in an SOP for Canada?

A. While writing an SOP for Canada, you need to avoid certain things. Some common mistakes while writing a Canada SOP include:

  • Plagiarism: Make sure to write your own SOP in your own words. It is a reflection of your life; hence, it should be written by you.
  • Avoid using informal language. Make sure to write your SOP in a formal and professional language.
  • Avoid grammatical and spelling errors at any cost. Proofread your SOP multiple times.
  • Do not write random events in an unarranged manner.
  • Do not write any irrelevant information.

If you avoid these common errors in an SOP for Canada, you will be able to write a coherent and well-structured SOP.

Q. Is an SOP important for getting a scholarship in Canada?

A. If a university does not require a separate application for scholarships, your SOP might be an extremely important factor in deciding your scholarship for studying in Canada. A well-articulated, clear, and coherent SOP will help you stand out from other applicants and will showcase the unique skills, abilities, and talents that you bring to the table. However, it is vital for applicants to visit official websites in order to determine the exact requirements and eligibility for scholarships in Canada.

Q. What is the ideal length of a Canada SOP?

A. Typically, an SOP for Canada should be 1 to 2 pages and 500-1,500 words in length. These requirements might change from course to course and university to university. Hence, it is critical for applicants to check the university guidelines and adhere to them. It is also critical to focus on the quality and structure of an SOP. Students must proofread their SOP multiple times before coming up with their final draft. In addition, remember to check the vision and mission of the university you are applying to. It will help you tailor your SOP according to the university's requirements.

Q. Is an SOP for Canada University different from the one for Canada student visa?

A. Yes, the SOP (Statement of Purpose) required for admission to a Canadian university differs from that required for a Canada student visa. While a candidate must express their academic and professional aspirations in both SOPs, their structure and content vary because of the various objectives of each. A candidate must often highlight their academic history, accomplishments, and objectives in an SOP for Canada University admissions to indicate that they are qualified for the programme. On the other hand, a candidate must justify their decision to study in Canada as well as the advantages they would receive from the programme of study in their SOP for the Canada student visa. Additionally, an applicant must show in their SOP for the Canada student visa that they have ties to their native nation and intend to return there after their studies are through. In general, an SOP for Canadian university admissions has a different goal and focus than one for a student visa to Canada.

About the Author
Aprant Agarwal
Study Abroad Expert

Aprant has scored 700 on the GMAT and likes to write articles and blogs in his free time. He has considerable experience in the study abroad domain, especially in MBA admissions and wants to provide authentic guidan... Read Full Bio




Oni Segun Tope

a year ago

How can I write sop to one of the university in UK, the course I want to study is biomedical engineering

Reply to Oni Segun Tope


Aprant AgarwalStudy Abroad Expert

6 months ago

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