USA vs Canada: Choosing the right destination for higher education

Synopsis More than 23 lakh students from India go abroad for higher education annually. Factors to consider between countries include cost vs ROI, university rankings, location and climate, and scholarships. The US has greater flexibility in course selection, a larger job market with more opportunities for networking, but the admissions process is competitive and the visa process is more complicated. Canada has a more affordable cost of education, a simpler visa process, but a structured education system.

Adarsh Khandelwal Co-Founder & Director of Collegify, Contributor Content With more than a decade of experience, Khandelwal has successfully mentored more than 5,000 students. In 2018, Adarsh received the Stanford Teacher Tribute for excellent teaching & contribution in the education space.

In today’s day and age, more than 23 Lakh+ students from India study abroad every year. We have become one of the main focuses for education abroad.

Studying in a country abroad is one of the most rewarding and enriching experiences. It also brings about a change in the skill sets that one requires to perform well professionally.

While deciding the factors to consider between countries, there are a number of factors to consider. Some of them are:

Cost v/s ROI

Ranking of the university

Location and climate of the region

Scholarship and financial aid

Let’s discuss two of the most important countries in high demand for overseas education, USA v/s Canada.

While there are no particular betterment in terms of the parameter to say that there is a right or a wrong in choosing a country, it is imperative for us to understand our demand based on a few basic parameters:

Flexibility in choosing courses in bachelors programmes

The education system followed at the universities in USA allows you to choose your own courses, as long as you fulfill certain core requirements. This gives you a tailormade education to your specific interests and career goals. In contrast, the Canadian higher education system tends to be more structured, with a set curriculum for each program. While this provides a solid foundation in the chosen field, it may limit the ability of students to explore other areas of interest.

Ease in obtaining Visa for studying in US and Canada countries

Obtaining a student visa for studying in the United States or Canada can be a lengthy and complicated process. Both countries require proof of acceptance from a recognized institution, evidence of financial support, and proof of language proficiency. However, the United States has recently introduced stricter visa policies, which can make it more difficult for international students to obtain a visa. In contrast, the Canadian visa process tends to be more straightforward, with a focus on attracting international students to the country.

Job prospects after getting Bachelors Degree

While the job prospects for both the countries remain similar, however, USA has a particular proclivity towards STEM and management. In addition to that, the United States tends to have a larger job market overall, with more opportunities in fields such as finance, entertainment, and technology. Additionally, the United States is home to many prestigious universities and research institutions, which can provide valuable networking opportunities and access to top employers.

Cost of higher education in Canada and US

The cost of higher education in the United States and Canada varies depending on the institution, program, and location. In general, tuition fees in the United States tend to be higher than in Canada, with private universities and out-of-state public universities being the most expensive. Looking at an average cost of a student studying in the US would be approximately $70,000; but the cost for students studying would be CAD 60,000. However, many universities in the United States offer generous financial aid and scholarships, which can help to offset the overall cost of education. In contrast, tuition fees in Canada tend to be more affordable, with international students paying the same fees as domestic students in many provinces. Additionally, the cost of living in Canada is generally lower than in the United States, which can make it a more attractive option for international students on a budget. Scholarships

Many US universities offer scholarships for international students based on academic merit, leadership potential, extracurricular activities, and other criteria. Some scholarships are awarded automatically based on the student’s application for admission, while others require a separate application or essay. The amount and availability of scholarships can vary widely by university, and some scholarships may only cover a portion of tuition or living expenses. There are also several national scholarship programs in the United States, such as the Fulbright Program and the Gilman Scholarship, that provide funding for study abroad programs. Many Canadian universities also offer scholarships for international students, with some universities offering fulltuition scholarships to exceptional candidates. Scholarships in Canada may be based on academic achievement, community involvement, or other criteria. Some scholarships require a separate application, while others are automatically awarded based on the student’s application for admission. The Canadian government also offers several scholarship programs for international students, such as the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships and the Canada-ASEAN Scholarships and Educational Exchanges for Development (SEED).

Ease in obtaining Permanentresidency in these countries after finishing higher education

Many international students aspire to obtain permanent residency in the United States or Canada after completing their higher education. While both countries offer pathways to permanent residency, the process can be complex and time-consuming. In general, it may be easier to obtain permanent residency in Canada (within 5 years), due to its immigration policies that prioritize skilled workers and international graduates. In contrast, the United States has an extension in the STEM OTP (3 years) post which you will have to apply for an H1B visa. Thus the processes for the USA immigration have been tightening in recent years, making it more difficult for international graduates to obtain permanent residency.

How difficultis the overall admissions process for university admissions?

The admissions process for universities in the United States and Canada can be highly competitive, with many highly-ranked institutions receiving thousands of applications each year. However, the admissions process in the United States tends to be more holistic, taking into account a wide range of factors such as academic achievements, extracurricular activities, and personal qualities. In contrast, the Canadian admissions process tends to be more focused on academic achievements and test scores. One important difference to note is that for US applications, students are required to fill in the Common Application which is a one-stop solution for the majority of US Colleges, which makes it much easier to apply to multiple colleges in one go. Canada, on the other hand, requires you to fill in each application separately.

In conclusion, both the United States and Canada offer excellent opportunities for higher education, with world-class institutions and a diverse range of programs. However, there are some key differences between the two countries that students should consider when making their decision. The United States offers greater flexibility in course selection, a larger job market, and more opportunities for networking and career advancement. On the other hand, Canada offers a more affordable cost of education, a simpler visa process, and a more welcoming environment for international students.

Ultimately, the choice between studying in the United States or Canada will depend on a variety of factors, including personal interests, career goals, and financial considerations. Students should carefully research both options, consult with their counselors and advisors, and consider visiting each country before making their final decision. With the right preparation and planning, studying abroad can be a life-changing experience that opens up a world of opportunities for personal and professional growth.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this column are that of the writer. The facts and opinions expressed here do not reflect the views of

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