How long does it take for universities to reply to your application in Canada?

Going to university is an important time in life and can be a large expense. Each year, thousands of people apply to university, hoping to get started in their studies that will lead to an interesting and engaging career. The waiting time between applying for university and waiting to hear if you got in can be stressful.

The time it takes for universities to reply to your application in Canada depends on the university you apply to. On average, you can expect to wait between 2-5 months to hear back.

Canada is actually the most educated country in the world, with 56.71% of adults having received tertiary education, either a two or four-year degree or diploma. Coming in after Canada are the countries of Japan, Israel, Korea, the UK, and the US. So, university and other post-secondary education institutions are a very important part of most Canadian’s lives.

Before getting into the specifics of how long it takes to hear back, we will look at the Canadian education system overall and then look at some specific universities to analyze their waiting times. 

Canadian Post-Secondary Education System

As mentioned, most Canadians will pursue some kind of post-secondary, or tertiary, education in their lives. In Canada, there are three different kinds of institutions that you can attend: universities, colleges, and institutions. These schools can grant degrees (typically four years), diplomas (two years), or certificates. 

In universities, you can earn a Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, or a Doctoral Degree. Most schools will offer programs in all three levels. There are private universities in Canada, but most of them are public and subsidized by the government. This makes university fairly affordable, especially in comparison to schools in the United States. On average, full-time undergraduate or graduate-level tuition is $6.693 per year in Canada.

Specialized programs like medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, or law, exist in Canada, but there are not as many schools that offer them. They also are more expensive than other programs, with students paying upwards of $10,000 at minimum.

Top Canadian Universities

Canada might not have famous Ivy League schools like Harvard or Yale in the US, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some amazing schools! Canada has a number of high-ranking schools that are internationally recognized and provide a high-quality education. 

Every year, Maclean’s Magazine puts together the top university rankings in Canada. They have put together data on universities for more than three decades, and rank institutions on data in the following areas: students, faculty, resources, student support, and reputation. 

Here is a summary of Maclean’s 2022 rankings:

  • Canada’s best primarily undergraduate universities: These are schools that focus on undergraduate education, with few graduate programs and students. The top spot in this category went to the University of Northern British Columbia, while Mount Allison University came in second.
  • Canada’s best comprehensive universities: This category includes schools that have significant amounts of research, a wide variety of programs (undergraduate and graduate) and professional degrees. Simon Fraser University and the University of Victoria, both in British Columbia tied for the top spot in this category.
  • Canada’s best medical doctoral universities: These schools have broad research opportunities, Ph.D. programs, and medical schools. The top school in this category was McGill University in Quebec and the University of Toronto in Ontario.
  • Other notable universities, as ranked by the QS World University Rankings: University of British Columbia, Université de Montréal, University of Alberta, McMaster University, University of Waterloo, Western University, and Queen’s University. These represent some of the larger and more prestigious universities, but there are still many more small and lesser-known schools to choose from. Make sure you do some research and really look into the wide variety of options!

Wait Times at Canadian Universities

Besides the top universities we just looked at, there are hundreds more that exist in Canada. Each school has its own, unique campus culture, program offerings, and resources. Because each school is different, their application processes are also different. This means that the wait time to hear back from a university after applying will also differ.

Most universities will accept students on a rolling basis, which means they can start during any semester. However, the primary intake of students happens in September. The majority of university students in Canada come directly from high school. These high school students will apply for universities during their grade 12 year, and then start their post-secondary studies in September after they graduate from high school.

Most universities will accept applications and make acceptance decisions between December-May prior to the September semester start date. Schools will accept people based on academic merit and how well they meet the entrance requirements. That means that top students can expect to hear back from schools first, while people with lower marks or who may not meet all of the requirements may have to wait a few months. 

Because it can take a while to go through the application process, it is recommended to get started as early as possible. You can also apply to multiple schools at the same time, to ensure that you are covering all of your bases. After being accepted to a school, you usually have to pay a deposit to secure your spot at the school.

Conclusion

Universities in Canada have different application processes and there is no specific rule on how long it will take for universities to reply to your application. You can expect to wait between a few weeks to a few months, depending on where you are applying and how competitive your application is. 

The most important thing to do is to research different schools and understand their application process before applying. There are some excellent universities in Canada, so whichever one you choose to attend, you are sure to have a good experience.

Thais R

I moved to Canada in 2016. This was the best decision that I ever made. I created this website to share what I’ve learned with anyone who’s thinking of moving or travelling to Canada.

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