PhD in Canada: Guide for International Students in 2024

Pursuing a PhD in Canada can open the door to several academic, professional and personal opportunities. Canada is known for its excellent education system and world-class research facilities, making it an ideal destination for those seeking advanced degrees in their field of choice.

In the first two quarters of 2023, Canada has issued over 96,000 study permits for Indian students. Typically, over 22,000 international studies carry out their doctoral studies in Canada. This number is expected to increase in 2024 as more international students decide to pursue their PhDs in Canada.

Is PHD in Canada Worth it?

Pursuing a PhD in Canada gives you the opportunity to be part of an innovative and progressive research environment. Canadian universities typically offer research-based doctoral programmes which last between four to six years. Unlike the American model, which starts with a year or two of taught classes and exams before settling on a thesis topic, Canada’s PhD curriculum is much more grounded in extensive research.

The top seven reasons to pursue this degree in Canada include

1. Access to Top-Notch Research Opportunities:

With its world-class universities and academic institutions, Canada offers a wealth of research opportunities for international students.

2. Cost-Effective Tuition:

Tuition fees for PhD programmes in Canada are generally lower than those of other countries typically ranging from $ CAD 6,000 to 20,000 annually. Universities also offer generous stipends, assistantships and other benefits to PhD students.

3. Quality Education:

Canadian universities provide excellent educational opportunities for international PhD students and offer many diverse fields of study. In contrast to master’s and bachelor’s degree holders, PhD graduates in Canada experience lower levels of unemployment and higher earnings.

4. Supportive Learning Environment:

Canadian universities are known for providing a supportive learning environment for students, making it easy to explore interests and conduct your own research.

5. Professional Career Opportunities:

Pursuing a PhD in Canada can open the door to many potential job opportunities both inside and outside the country. When it comes to career paths outside of academia, PhDs are predominantly finding jobs in private industry – more specifically an estimated 20-25% of recent graduates.

6. Quality of Life:

Canada is a country known for its high quality of life with affordable housing, excellent healthcare, and beautiful outdoors. International PhD students in Canada can take advantage of these benefits while pursuing their studies.

7. Cultural Diversity:

Canada is a diverse country and provides international students with an opportunity to learn about different cultures, lifestyles and languages. With access to world-renowned universities, top-notch research facilities, and plentiful funding opportunities, pursuing a PhD in Canada is well worth the investment. Once you’ve been through this article, you may decide on Canada as opposed to say a PhD in the UK.

What is the Ph.D. Fees in Canada?

Canada is a fairly affordable choice for international students. There are various scholarships and funding opportunities available to help offset the costs of tuition, living expenses, and other related expenses. Tuition fees for a PhD in Canada vary depending on several factors including but not limited to: research field, school, programme duration and student status (international versus domestic).

Here’s a quick look at the list of PhD programme fees of the top 10 universities:

For a more detailed view, with rankings, see this table:

Sr No University Times Higher Education World University Rankings (2024) Annual Fees
1 University of Toronto 21 Starts at $28,970
2 University of British Columbia 41 Starts at $19,700
3 McGill University 49 Starts at $17,000
4 McMaster University 103 Starts at $6,307.20
5 University of Alberta 109 Starts at $8,874
6 University of Montreal 111 Starts at $19,000
8 University of Waterloo 158 Starts at $22,188
8 University of Ottawa 177 Starts at $11,650
9 University of Calgary 201-250 Starts at $10,000
10 Western University 201-250 Starts at $10,662

What are the general eligibility requirements for PhD programs in Canada?

Admission requirements for PhD programmes in Canada vary by institution and subject, but there are some general eligibility requirements. Prospective applicants must possess a Master’s degree in the same subject for admission to any doctoral programme. Besides this, the other general eligibility requirements for PhD in Canada are

GPA Scores

It’s common to be asked for your Grade Point Average (GPA) when applying to a Canadian doctoral programme while submitting your academic transcripts. To get accepted into one of these programmes, applicants need at least a 3.0 GPA or higher. Students must also show that they have taken advanced courses in their field of study.

Graduate Admissions Tests

Universities and graduate schools use scores from the Graduate Records Examination (GRE) or Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) to assess potential students’ aptitude for higher learning. Requirements can change between universities, so be sure to do your research beforehand.

Language Requirements

Depending on your chosen province of study, a Canadian Doctoral degree can be attained in either English or French. While the majority of universities teach primarily in English, those located within Quebec for example may offer instruction exclusively in French.

If you are a native speaker or have already studied the language at the university level, that should be enough to meet the criteria. Otherwise, you must take and pass a language test before submitting your application as part of its requirements.

Work Experience

Having some experience in the field you are applying to can be beneficial, although it’s not always mandatory. Admissions committees may want to know that students have relevant work experience or volunteer activities in their chosen field prior to applying for a doctoral programme in Canada.

Research Statement

Applicants for PhDs are usually required to show a strong interest in research through their statement of purpose or a research proposal. This is an important part of the application process and should detail why you are applying for the programme, what you hope to gain from it, and your future goals. Having a good research statement can help strengthen your application.


Your resume should include the following information: academic achievements, work experience, extra-curricular activities, and awards. It’s important to provide an accurate and detailed description of your qualifications so that admissions committees can get a better idea of who you are and what you bring to the table.


Canadian universities may conduct a PhD interview as an assessment of your application and capability, or simply to become more acquainted with you. You must be prepared to answer questions about your chosen field and research, experience, interests and career aspirations. It is best to research potential topics of discussion before attending such an interview and practice as best you can.


Admission to a doctoral programme in Canada requires two or three academic references from previous professors or employers, who can be contacted for a reference only after you have received their permission. Ensure that your references are aware of their role in the application process so they can provide the most honest and accurate assessment of your abilities and knowledge.

Reaching Out to Potential Supervisors

Potential PhD students should research possible dissertation supervisors and acquaint themselves with the research areas of their prospective Schools prior to applying. This allows them to understand the type of research they would be expected to undertake and make an informed decision.
Finally, make sure that you meet all the deadlines for your application and keep a track of all the documentation you are sending. This will help ensure that you submit a complete and accurate application package.

What are the career opportunities after getting PhD from Canada?

In Canada, a PhD degree can open the doors to a number of exciting career opportunities. With an advanced research-based degree under your belt, you can expect to find employment opportunities in areas such as teaching and research at universities or research institutes. You may pursue an academic career in the public or private sector, or use your knowledge to launch a successful business venture.

With the right qualifications and experience, you can also find work in areas such as policy analysis, consulting, communication and media, government departments and non-profit organisations. There is also the potential to work abroad, either in academia or for Canadian-based multinational companies.

PhD holders in Canada can expect to earn an average salary of $97,500 per year or $50 per hour. New entrants into the job market could bring home a minimum annual income of $58,032; whereas those with experience may draw up to as much as $128,975 annually.

After completing their doctoral studies at a Canadian designated learning institution, international students may take advantage of the post-graduation work permit (PGWP) or a work visa which grants them the opportunity to stay in Canada for up to three years.

If you would like to work in Canada after acquiring your PhD, make sure to apply within 180 days of earning it. The fee is CAD $255 (USD $200), and the application can be done online through a process that usually takes around 100 days. Students are allowed to obtain gainful employment during this period as long as they hold a valid study permit.

Through the Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) programme, you can gain employability experience that will help you meet the eligibility criteria for Canada’s Experience Class programme and qualify as a permanent resident.

How to Apply for PhD in Canada?

TC Global provides a range of services catering to applicants interested in pursuing a PhD in Canada full-time or part-time.

Our experienced team can help you with:

  • 1. Finding the best university and programme that fits your needs, interests, and qualifications
  • 2. Preparing and submitting an impressive application package
  • 3. Arranging online and face-to-face interviews
  • 4. Reviewing documents, such as transcripts and academic records
  • 5. Finding financial aid and scholarship options
  • 6. Guiding you through the immigration process and securing a student visa
  • 7. Offering pre-departure support

TC Global’s team of professionals in the field of higher education, have detailed knowledge of the Canadian admission process to help you get into an accredited Canadian PhD programme of your choice. We provide comprehensive and end-to-end counselling and support services to help you make a successful transition to pursue a PhD in Canada.

What are the best universities in Canada for PhD?

Canadian universities offer top-notch doctoral programmes spanning a wide range of disciplines. The best universities in Canada for PhD depend on the individual student’s needs and interests, but some of the most prestigious universities include

Sr No University Times Higher Education
World University Rankings
1 University of Toronto 21
2 University of British
3 McGill University 49
4 McMaster University 103
5 University of Montreal 111

1: The University of Toronto

Source: University of Toronto

The University of Toronto (U of T) is a renowned pioneer in both teaching and research, with deep roots entrenched across Canada and the world. In only ten years, its entrepreneurs have secured over $1.5 billion in investments while creating more than 500 prospering start-up businesses. As one of North America’s leading study destinations, U of T draws students from over 170 countries worldwide.

What students say: “U of T encourages students to look at the world as a practical laboratory to apply new ideas and explore different avenues.”
Journalist, Activist, Recent Alumna

Why study PhD at this school?

U of T continues to make a global impact with the innovative ideas, contributions and inventions of its diverse community of more than 640,000 graduates. The AUTM (Association of University Technology Managers) recognizes U of T as an esteemed frontrunner for invention licensing, options and research-based startups.
PhD students are encouraged to explore opportunities to apply their research in the real world, and U of T’s five campus clusters ensure interdisciplinary collaborations between researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs.


The eligibility requirements to pursue a PhD from the University of Toronto are:

  • To be considered, you must possess a Master’s degree from an accredited university in Canada or other recognized universities with an A-level grade or equivalent.
  • English language proficiency scores such as IELTS, PTE or TOEFL are mandatory.

Admission process & Fees

Students can apply via the University of Toronto School of Graduate Studies  online admissions application. The application fee is $125, CAD. The fee for PhD students starts at $28,970.

Scholarship options

The university offers a range of scholarships, fellowships and grants for international students. Some of these include

  • 6T6 Industrial Engineering 50th Anniversary Award in Healthcare Engineering
  • Acres Productive Technologies Inc. – Joseph Yonan Memorial Fellowship
  • Al and Hannah Perly Graduate Student Scholarship
  • Alan H. Weatherley Graduate Fellowship in Environmental Leadership

2: University of British Columbia

Source: University of British Columbia

The University of British Columbia is a top-tier institution committed to producing exceptional graduates with values rooted in global citizenship. Through their rigorous courses and research, they strive to create an environment that promotes civil progress and sustains the well-being of people not only from BC but across Canada, as well as worldwide.

What students say: “I have been exposed to a world of cutting-edge research, and it has been very rewarding.
Boluwatife Awonaike
PhD Student, Environmental Science

Why study PhD at this school?

UBC is consistently acknowledged as one of the top 20 public universities worldwide for its cutting-edge research and teaching. Over $1.5 billion has been invested into UBC’s infrastructure and facilities in recent years from government sources, non-profits and industry partnerships. Researchers at UBC file 250 patents on average annually.


The eligibility requirements to pursue a PhD from UBC are:

  • The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic version with a minimum overall score of 6.5, and no individual component scoring lower than 6.0. Scores from other English proficiency tests are accepted as well.
  • Students will require a credential or degree that is similar to the standard of education required in Canada at the Master’s level. All applicants must exhibit excellent academic performance and research potential as demonstrated by grades, academic awards or publications.

Admission process & Fees

Aspiring PhD students can apply online on the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies website.
The tuition fee for a PhD programme at UBC typically costs around CA $19,700 per year.

Scholarship options

UBC offers a wide range of scholarships, fellowships and bursaries to help support students during their academic journey. Some of the prominent awards are:

  • The Public Scholars Initiative
  • Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships
  • Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships
  • The Killam Postdoctoral Fellow Research Prize

3: McGill University

Source: Wikipedia

As one of the world’s most renowned universities and Canada’s premier institution of higher learning, McGill University is home to over 30% of international students from more than 150 countries. It is famous for its research excellence and strong emphasis on experiential learning.

McGill offers an enriching experience with world-class professors, innovative teaching methods, and exciting research opportunities.

Why study PhD at this school?

At McGill, the average entering grades are among the highest in Canada. The university’s dedication to excellence has enabled its students to win more awards than those at any other Canadian institution – both nationally and globally. McGill University currently has over 698 postdoctoral scholars pursuing research in various disciplines.


The eligibility criteria for the PhD programme are as follows:

  • Master’s degrees with a CGPA of at least 3.0 out of 4.0 at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
  • International students must submit an IBT (Internet-Based Test) results with a written score of at least 25; a reading, writing and listening score of not less than 20. Alternatively, they can also submit IELTS (International English Language Testing System) results with a band score of 7.5 or greater (Academic module)

Admission process & Fees

To apply for this course, students fill out the application online and pay a non-refundable PhD programme deposit of $300 which will be credited towards tuition. Students must upload all required supporting documents and ensure they follow the instructions for transcripts and letters of recommendation references. The international student fee for doctoral programmes starts at around $17,000.

Scholarship options

International students can explore scholarships such as the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships, Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships and University Research Awards. Additionally, McGill offers a number of scholarships including

  • Trudeau Foundation Doctoral Scholarship
  • Tomlinson Doctoral Fellowships
  • Weston Fellowship
  • Arbour Foundation – Scholarship for study in Computer Science, Engineering, and Management

4: McMaster University

Source: Wikipedia

Since 1887, McMaster University has been an innovative leader in teaching and research. We are dedicated to inspiring curiosity, inquiry and discovery both inside and outside the classroom. Our revolutionary approaches to learning have recently earned us international recognition when we were presented with the coveted Global Teaching Excellence Award by the Higher Education Academy of the United Kingdom.

Why study PhD at this school?

McMaster University is not only one of the top universities in Canada but also an international leader – consistently ranking within the world’s Top 100. According to Times Higher Education’s 2024 World University Rankings, it placed 103rd out of over 1,800 institutions.

McMaster University is devoted to providing its students with the highest calibre of education, as well as offering global opportunities for experiential learning through international collaborations and various programmes. With this fulfilling vision in mind, they have set out to guarantee that all individuals within their community receive invaluable hands-on experience


Aspiring PhD candidates need to fulfil the following eligibility requirements:

  • A master’s degree with an average rating of B+ or higher (or equivalent)
  • For certain subjects, a GMAT score of no less than 600 or an equivalent GRE (Graduate Records Exam) scores with at least 80% in the Quantitative Reasoning section is required.
  • To demonstrate your English language proficiency, you must submit a certified TOEFL or IELTS score. These scores will remain valid for two years after the test date.

Admission process & Fees

All students must submit a preliminary application which helps the university determine whether or not they qualify to submit a formal application. Qualifying candidates will receive an application link from the university and would be required to pay a $110 CAD fee.
The fee for international PhD students starts at $6,307.20 per year

Scholarship options

PhD students can apply for scholarships such as:

  • Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS)
  • Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

5: University of Montreal

Source: University of Montreal

By studying at the renowned University of Montreal (UdeM), you get to discover one of the most acclaimed university cities in the world – Montréal! This bilingual and multicultural city is celebrated for its diversity, merging North American ingenuity with an undeniable European grace. With UdeM, experience an unparalleled academic journey with an emphasis on interdisciplinary approaches.

Why study PhD at this school?

The University of Montreal is one of Canada’s leading research institutions, attracting over $600 million in funding annually. With this substantial amount of funds, it has become a hub for groundbreaking and innovative discoveries within the university setting.

The University of Montreal is home to several renowned laboratories, including the world-renowned MILA research centre – a leader in deep learning; IRIC, one of the most productive institutions in immunology and cancer research; and CRDP – Canada’s premier public law research centre. These units are at the cutting edge of innovation within their respective fields, pushing boundaries with ground-breaking discoveries.


To be admitted as a doctoral student, candidates must:

  • Have a degree that adequately prepares them for their chosen area of study or show proof of equivalent education with a score of 3.2 out of 4.3 or the equivalent.
  • Show mastery in French or English (and any additional languages deemed essential to their study) to demonstrate aptitude for research.

 Admission process & Fees

Students can submit one application per admissions cycle and fill out the online application form here. The fee for international students starts at around $19,000 per year.

Scholarship options

Some of the scholarship options include:

  • Doctoral Scholarships Université de Montréal (UdeM) and the China Scholarship Council
  • The fast-track Master’s to PhD programme scholarship

Let’s get you into top PhD courses in Canada

We understand that applying for a PhD is an important career decision and can be a stressful process. With so many universities and PhD programmes in Canada, it can be overwhelming to find the right one for you. You want to make sure that you are getting into a top-ranked programme with generous scholarship options, but don’t have the time or resources to research all of your options.

At TC Global, we simplify international education, learning, and mobility through connecting students, universities, and a global community on a single platform where there are over 1000+ education providers and over 80,000+ courses.

Our platform enables students to study anywhere in the world in just a few steps. From search and discovery and finding the right course fit for you, to applications, visas, and departure – we see you through it all. We can help get you zero in on Canada’s best PhD courses.

To move forward with us, download our app or visit and sign in to create an account on our student platform and onboard with us in quick, easy steps.! 🚀

Then simply set up a visit to pick a Relationships Team closest to you and choose a slot to meet with a Relationship Member.

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