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A Complete Guide on PhD in Canada

study PhD in Canada

Table of Contents

Canada is a popular choice for PhD studies, as it offers a diverse and supportive environment for research. More than one-third of the country’s research is conducted at Canadian universities, and this work significantly affects the economy. PhD students in Canada have access to a wide range of funding opportunities, and they can take advantage of the country’s multicultural society. This Abroadin blog post discusses all you need to know about a PhD in Canada and its requirements.


In this guide:

  • What are the PhD Requirements in Canada?
  • How to Apply for a PhD in Canada?
  • How Much Does a PhD in Canada Cost?
  • What PhD Scholarships are Available in Canada?
  • How to Work While Studying PhD in Canada?
  • Conclusion


What are the PhD Requirements in Canada?

PhD in Canada usually takes four to six years to complete, with the first two years spent on coursework and the remaining years on research and writing a dissertation.

The length of time can vary depending on the program and the student’s progress. It is best to check the official website of your intended university.

The requirements to study in Canada at the doctorate level vary between courses and universities, but you generally need the following:

  • A master’s degree in a related field, solid grades, and proven research potential.
  • Proof of English or French language ability, depending on whether you study English or French.
  • An acceptable score in a graduate admissions test such as the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) or the GRE (Graduate Record Examination).

In some rare cases, you may be able to skip the master’s degree and go straight to a Ph.D. program, and continue your studies.

To be eligible for accelerated admission, you must have excellent grades in your final two years of undergraduate studies and other evidence of your strong academic potential, such as research publications.

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How to Apply for a PhD in Canada?

The admissions process may vary between Canadian academies. However, you should follow these steps to apply for a Ph.D.:


1. Decide on a Ph.D. Program

Start by deciding which Ph.D. course you would like to apply for, identifying your supervisor, and choosing a research topic.

It may be an advertised, structured Ph.D. in which the university already outlines the scope of the research; you could suggest and outline your research project with an open Ph.D.


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Once you have found a supervisor, some institutions may ask for a letter of support from your chosen supervisor.


2. Submit a Research Proposal

If applying for an open Ph.D., you’ll need to submit a research proposal following the guidelines set by the university and generally outlining what you want to research and why this is a worthwhile project.

A research proposal is a document that outlines your research plan for a Ph.D. program in Canada, including the research question, proposed methodology, and the timeline for completion.

The proposal should be clear, concise, and well-argued, providing PhD requirements in Canada. It should also demonstrate your field knowledge and ability to conduct independent research.


3. Apply Online

Apply online, pay the appropriate application fee, and attach the necessary documents to your application. It could be all or some of the following:

  • Statement of purpose, outlining your background and academic experience, including any awards, publications, or relevant experience you can provide.
  • Two or three recommendation letters, including one from your intended supervisor. Your referees should be academic, too. It is one of the PhD requirements in Canada.
  • Academic transcripts and degree certificates. Canadian institutions may require that your university mail an official transcript, which should be in English or accompanied by a translated document.
  • The writing sample for arts and humanities PhDs. It should demonstrate your ability to think critically and write clearly and concisely in your chosen field.
  • The CV is a comprehensive document summarizing academic qualifications, research experience, and other relevant skills and experience.
  • Portfolio of creative projects and works if applying for an arts and humanities Ph.D.

Some Canadian institutions may also ask you to attend an admission interview. If you are invited to an interview, be prepared to answer questions about your research interests, academic background, and your goals for the future.


4. Finish the Process

After being accepted to a Ph.D. program in Canada, the next step is to apply for a study permit, which is a student visa. You should also get health insurance and check your university’s website for orientation information.


How Much Does a PhD in Canada Cost?

The cost of a PhD in Canada varies depending on the university, the program, and the student’s nationality.

International students’ tuition fees typically range from CAD 6,000 to CAD 20,000 per year. Having enough fund is one of the most important PhD requirements in Canada for international students.

In addition to tuition fees, students also need to factor in the cost of living, ranging from CAD 15,000 to CAD 25,000 per year.

There are several ways to finance a PhD in Canada. Some students can secure scholarships or fellowships, while others may be able to work as teaching assistants or research assistants.


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The government of Canada also offers some funding programs for international students, such as the Canada Graduate Scholarships-Master’s (CGS-M) and the Canada Graduate Scholarships-Doctoral (CGS-D).

The total cost of a PhD in Canada can be significant, but there are some ways to make it more affordable. By carefully planning and budgeting, students can minimize their financial burden and focus on their studies.

fund for PhD in Canada

What PhD Scholarships are Available in Canada?

Many PhD scholarships are available to international students in Canada, making it more affordable to pursue a PhD there.

Many of these scholarships are awarded based on academic merit, and the Canadian government has a helpful website with a search tool to find scholarships based on your country of origin.

Other good places to look for Ph.D. scholarships are the official websites of Canadian universities, which may provide their scholarship search tool.

Some of the most sought-after PhD scholarships and funds to study in Canada include:

  • The Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships award CAD 50,000 annually to highly qualified international and home Ph.D. students in social sciences and humanities, natural sciences and engineering, and health.
  • The NSERC Canada Graduate Scholarships-Doctoral awards CAD 20,000 to 30,000 annually to outstanding Ph.D. students in the natural sciences and engineering.
  • The Trudeau Foundation Doctoral Fellowships award CAD 25,000 annually to outstanding Ph.D. students in the social sciences and humanities.
  • To be eligible for most Ph.D. scholarships, you must have a solid academic record, letters of recommendation, and a research proposal. The application process for scholarships can be competitive, so starting early and carefully preparing your application materials is essential.

If you are an international student interested in pursuing a PhD in Canada, research the many available scholarships. They can help you to make your dream of a Ph.D. a reality.

  • The Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation doctoral scholarship, which, at the time of writing, is currently in the process of being reworked.
  • The University of British Columbia Four Year Doctoral Fellowship provides a stipend of at least CAD 18,200 per year plus full tuition for outstanding international/home doctoral students for all four years of their studies.

To fund their studies, many students work as research or teaching assistants. In these roles, students receive a stipend and tuition reimbursement in exchange for their work.

As a research assistant, you will help a faculty member with research tasks such as data collection, analysis, and report writing.

As a teaching assistant, you will support your department’s undergraduate programs by teaching one or more course sections, conducting laboratory sections, holding office hours, and grading undergraduate papers.

To become a teaching assistant, you must demonstrate mastery of the course material and the ability to facilitate student learning effectively.

To apply for a research or teaching assistantship, you must check the information posted by your university and complete an online application form.


How to Work While Studying PhD in Canada?

International Ph.D. students with a valid study permit can work part-time on or off campus for up to 20 hours per week during the regular school terms and full-time during scheduled breaks.

However, some Ph.D. programs may restrict how many hours you can work, especially if you receive funding from the program. A Ph.D. program is demanding, and you may prefer to focus on your studies.

Additionally, it would help if you had more than part-time work to cover your living expenses. You will need a Social Insurance Number (SIN) to work in Canada.

If you want to work in Canada after graduation, you can apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP).

This permit allows you to stay and gain valuable work experience for up to three years, providing PhD requirements in Canada.

If you want to become a permanent resident of Canada, this post-graduation work experience can help you qualify for permanent residency through the Express Entry program.

work while studying PhD

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This Abroadin blog post has provided a comprehensive overview of PhD in Canada and its requirements, costs, and related scholarships.

To learn more about specific programs, please visit the universities’ websites you are interested in. You can also read other blog posts on Abroadin for more information about PhD requirements in Canada.

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