How to get a Scholarship in Canada for International Students

October 26, 2023


  • Wesley Allan

The Canadian university system provides some of the highest-quality education in the world. As a result, a qualification from Canada can open doors all over the world. On top of this, universities in Canada are hugely receptive and supportive of international students, making student life in Canada a fantastic life experience and allowing students to get more out of their studies than just their qualifications.

Studying in Canada can also lead to a future of living and working in Canada's booming industries. As a result, Canada is a prime destination for international students looking for an outstanding higher education in a whole new world.

There are extensive scholarships in Canada for international students, including undergraduate students, graduate students, and Ph.D. students, to remove much of those affordability woes and provide the most deserving students with the opportunities they deserve.

However, getting a scholarship in Canada is often reserved for the students who best embody the scholarship programs. To help ensure you have your best chance, here's a breakdown of how to get a scholarship in Canada for international students.

Step 1: Find Your Scholarship Program

Canada Scholarship

Canada has multiple scholarship opportunities for international students from other organizational bodies. As an international student looking to study in Canada, you can get a scholarship from:

  • The Canadian government
  • International organizations, 
  • Foreign governments, and 
  • Non-governmental organizations. 

Different universities have different scholarship programs, and each program has its barrier to entry. Each program is also designed for a particular type of student based on their chosen subject, background, and level of qualification.

Below is a list of some of the most popular scholarships in Canada for international students, the programs they're specifically for, and their application deadlines.

List of Canadian Scholarships for International Students

Name of Scholarship Name of Institution Qualification Offered Annual Application Deadline
University of Calgary International Entrance Scholarship University of Calgary Bachelors Degree 1 December
Karen McKellin International Leader of Tomorrow Award at University of British Columbia University of British Columbia Bachelor’s Degree 15 November
Lester B. Pearson International Scholarship Program at University of Toronto University of Toronto Bachelors Degree 30 November
Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships (Vanier CGS) Canadian Government Ph.D. Degree 1 November
FINCAD Women in Finance Scholarship FINCAD Masters/Ph.D. Degree 30 June
Winnipeg President’s Scholarships for World Leaders University of Winnipeg Bachelors/Masters Degree 1 June
Donald A. Wehrung International Student Award University of British Columbia Bachelor’s Degree 15 November
PEO International Peace Scholarships for Women PEO Masters/Ph.D. Degree 15 December 
Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Doctoral Scholarships Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Ph.D. Degree 21 December
York University International Student Scholarships York University Bachelors (BS) Degree 15 January
Waterloo International Master’s Award of Excellence University of Waterloo Masters Degree January-February
International Undergraduate Student Bursary at University of Manitoba University of Manitoba Bachelors Degree 1 October
Univeristy of Ottawa President and Chancellor’s Scholarships University of Ottawa Bachelors Degree 30 April
Ontario Graduate Scholarship Province of Ontario and the University of Toronto Masters/Ph.D. Degree before 1 June
Carleton Prestige Scholarships Carleton University Bachelors Degree 1 March
Humber International Entrance Scholarships Humber College Undergraduate Degree 30 May
UBC Graduate Global Leadership Fellowships for Developing Country Students University of British Columbia Ph.D. Degree 10 March
York World Scholars York University Double Major Bachelor’s Degree 20 April
University of Manitoba Graduate Fellowships University of Manitoba Masters/Ph.D. Degree Various

Government-Funded Scholarships in Canada

One primary focus for international students studying in Canada is a government scholarship. The Government of Canada offers many scholarships that vary massively depending on your country of origin. However, one of the Canadian government's central bodies for managing and distributing scholarships for international students is Global Affairs Canada (GAC). These scholarships are designed to cover all major expenses for international students, such as tuition, living & accommodation fees, health insurance, study permits, and even airfare. The list of the significant GAC scholarship opportunities in Canada is as follows:

GAC Scholarship Programs
Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program
Study in Canada Scholarships
Canada-CARICOM Skills Training for the Green Economy Scholarships
Canada-CARICOM Faculty Leadership Program
Canada-China Scholars’ Exchange Program
Canada-ASEAN Scholarships and Educational Exchanges for Development (SEED) – for students

Step 2: Ensure Your Eligibility for International Scholarships

That said, scholarship opportunities in Canada usually have a particular and stringent set of criteria for candidates. As a result, Canadian scholarships for international students are often presented to those who need and deserve them the most. To ensure the scholarship is used effectively, each program provides the chosen international students with the core values and will maintain the program's legacy.

Different Canadian universities have other requirements, so ensure you know those specific requirements. However, there are universal requirements for a scholarship in Canada for international students. They are as follows.

The applicant must:

  • Complete an online application for one of Canada's Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs).
  • Be accepted by their chosen DLI.
  • Submit copies of all academic transcripts as part of their application.
  • Prove their eligibility via official certificates such as a high school diploma.
  • Submit a statement of intent explaining why they want/ deserve their scholarship.
  • Complete an international aptitude test such as a Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or the (Scholastic Assessment Test) SAT and submit their scores with their application.
  • Prove their English proficiency via an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) test.
  • Undertake a medical exam if necessary to prove they're in good health
  • Fulfil all other criteria allowing the applicant to be admissible to Canada

Step 3: Gather Your Documentation

Once you've fulfilled the application criteria, you must gather the documentation to submit a successful application. Like the application criteria, different scholarships have different documentation requirements, so please ensure you fulfill your specific program's requirements. However, the general documentation you will need to get a scholarship in Canada is as follows:

Primary Documents:

  • Completed scholarship application form
    • Please ensure all sections of this form are completed and accurate before submitting.
    • If you're unsure, an RCIC can complete your forms for you.
  • Copy of passport/ID
    • This needs to be valid for at least six months after entering Canada.
    • Please only submit a copy of the main page with your photograph fully visible.
  • Copies of Transcripts or diplomas.
    • Please ensure all transcripts or diplomas are validated and as recent as possible.
  • Proof of language proficiency
  • You need to include your score for one of Canada's primary language testing systems
    • For English:
      • IELTS
      • CELPIP
    • For French:
      • Test d'Evaluation de Français (TEF)
      • Test de Connaissance du Français (TCF)
    • Your institution may require additional language tests or tests in other languages. Again, consult with your chosen DLI as to which test is required.
  • Your statement of intent, as mentioned earlier.
    • Please clarify how you would benefit and benefit from the program of your choice.
    • We highly recommend checking this statement before submission by a knowledgeable third party. RCICs offer a service where they can review and edit Letters of motivation.
  • Letter of Recommendation
    • This is a letter from some form of superior, be it a teacher, lecturer, or employer, stating why you would be ideal for this program and how it would advance professional development.
    • Specific programs need more than one letter, so ensure you have at least two people to write you the letter.
  • Standardized test scores
  • Which tests you must take depends entirely on your program. However, some of the most recognized metrics for standardization are the following:
    • GMAT
    • SAT
    • Graduate Record Examinations (GRE)
    • Grade Point Average (GPA)

Additional Documents

While these aren't necessary for every application for Canada scholarships, many schools also ask for additional documentation. Below is what they typically ask for:

  • Additional Essay
    • The topic for this is often given to you by your chosen program or university. It is usually submitted in addition to your motivation letter to gauge how you think or handle certain situations.
  • Portfolio
    • This is primarily for art, design, or other humanities-based degrees that require project work to determine your skill level in that subject.
    • The form of the portfolio changes based on your course.
  • Parents' financial information, including tax returns
  • This is primarily for financial aid programs to justify the need for financial assistance.


Your program will likely require further documentation based on your circumstances. Please ensure all documentation is attached to your application, preferably in the institution's language (English or French), to make your application process run faster.

Step 4: Submit Your Application

Once you have fulfilled all the necessary criteria and collected all your documentation, it's time to submit your application to your program's website. Again, please guarantee you know the exact deadline for your application and submit it beforehand in case further documentation is required. Once your application is processed, your institution will contact you with which further steps to take. Remember that these things take time, so if you have followed these steps, are awaiting feedback, or are eager to start your journey, you should get the immigration support you need to take your education to the next level in Canada.


Canada universities

Once I Get My Scholarship, do I Still Need a Canada Study Permit?

This depends on your program. While some fully-funded scholarship programs will pay for your Canada study permit, you may have to apply for the license yourself. Learn how to apply for a Canada study permit.

Do all Canadian Scholarships for International Students Cover all Expenses?

No. While there are a significant amount of full scholarships in Canada. A broad spectrum of aid programs can help subsidize university fees or expenses based on the needs or level of the applicant. Financial aid programs generally have slightly less stringent requirements, but it does require the applicant to explain their financial situation.

Which are the Best Universities to Apply to for a Scholarship?

While this naturally depends on which subject you're applying for and what type of Canadian scholarship you need, the universities that are most recognized for their fully funded scholarships for international students are as follows:

  • McGill University
  • Dalhousie University
  • University of Alberta
  • University of Waterloo
  • University of Saskatchewan
  • University of British Columbia
  • Montreal University