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Canadian Universities for American Students – Affordable Education Excellence

December 9, 2011

For Californians frustrated by double-digit tuition inflation, annual funding cuts, and impacted programs at public colleges, there are world-class, yet cost-effective, post-secondary education options available just north of the border.

University of Victoria Aerial View

The Canadian university system is built around 83 well-funded public universities (there are very few private colleges in Canada) where tuition increases track to the rate of inflation (or less), government funding is stable or increasing and programs have not been impacted. “Since Post-Secondary is primarily publicly funded, the government ensures consistent national quality. Canadian degrees are portable internationally due to global recognition for quality in Canadian Education.” Angela Colibaba, Office of Student Recruitment – University of Victoria. Indeed, 14 of Canada’s 83 universities make the US News & World Report Top 400 Universities in the World and 18 make the Times Higher Education World University Rankings (details at the end of this article).

“I received a great education in Canada, both at the undergraduate and graduate level, and I truly believe that for people in the middle [socio-economically], Canada is more affordable and gives a wider range of students a chance to get an excellent education. If you’re at a large public university in Canada, you can find smaller subcultures that will offer you many of the advantages that you could get from being at a wonderful place like Harvey Mudd, Princeton, Stanford or one of the very expensive undergraduate institutions in the U.S. It’s partly because everybody goes to the public universities in Canada and a result there are these subcultures of very bright, very hard-working, very creative students who will interact a great deal with faculty.” Dr. Maria Klawe, President – Harvey Mudd College (part of the Claremont Colleges Consortium near Los Angeles).

UBC Campus

Two west coast Canadian options are profiled in this article. The University of British Columbia (UBC) – Vancouver and the University of Victoria (UVic) lie just across the border north of Seattle and are easily accessible via two-hour direct flights from the San Francisco Bay area. UBC is based in Vancouver, BC (Vancouver was recently named the #5 in the world’s best places to live by CNBC) and UVic lies just outside of Victoria, BC (British Columbia’s capital and a popular tourist destination known for its scenic gardens, picturesque downtown and temperate weather).

Not surprisingly, Americans considering Canada for their university education have lots of questions. met with representatives of the University of British Columbia – Vancouver (UBC) and the University of Victoria (UVic) to learn more. What are some of the most common questions you hear from American candidates?

“‘How will my degree be recognized when I return to the United States?’ This is a question we receive regularly from students and parents. UBC students go on to the top graduate programs in the US and around the world. Whether it’s the Harvard Business School or MIT our students are admitted into the top graduate programs. Students tell us they are benefiting from the international outlook they receive in Canada and how that experience is setting them apart when it comes to the job market in the United States. After graduating, our students join an active alumni network of over 200,000 graduates including 14 branch offices in the United States. Above all a UBC degree is set apart as an education that is active, progressive and in tune with the world’s most pressing issues. It’s a unique chance for US students gain a global prospective, while staying close to home.” Aaron Andersen, Manager, International Recruitment – UBC.

“‘How much does it cost to study at UVic?’ Since public education is so well-funded in Canada, international student tuition fees compare favorably to most other countries in the world. A full year’s course-load for American citizens, including tuition, books, supplies, student fees, health care and dental is currently CDN$18,167. Add another CDN$7,912 for on-campus housing, including food (most of our rooms are single and housing is guaranteed for students applying from high school). [In comparison, the University of Washington outside of Seattle is US$31,130 for tuition fees, expenses, etc. for out-of-state students and US$9,771 for room and board.]

“Fees are citizenship-based so students with Canadian citizenship, even if they have never lived in Canada, pay significantly less – only CDN$4,862 per year for tuition and fees since the government subsidizes the education system for Canadians.” Angela Colibaba, International Student Recruitment – UVic

“‘Can I work while I go to school?’ Yes – International students who are studying full-time at recognized Canadian institutions are eligible to apply for a work permit after having studied for six months and can then work part-time while they go to school. Also, once students have graduated from their post-secondary studies, they can be eligible to work in Canada for three years. Three government programs help facilitate this process for eligible candidates: the Post-Graduate Work Permit Program, the Canadian Experience Class, and the Provincial Nominee program.” Angela Colibaba – UVic

University of British Columbia

“‘What is it like to live in Canada?’ Canada is well-known for its quality of life. Our cities are clean, relatively affordable to live in, multi-cultural, welcoming, and very safe. And if you are concerned about the cold weather in Canada, you should look at Victoria. We have the mildest climate in Canada and do not have cold winters. The average winter temperature is 43 degrees and we get an average of 24 inches of rain per year, which is lower than most people expect in this part of the World.” Angela Colibaba – UVic What criteria do UBC and UVic consider in the selection process?

“Canadians universities really focus on academic results. After official mid-term transcripts are made available, a UBC admissions officer will calculate a GPA based on the grades earned in ‘senior level’ courses. This could include courses from the first semester of their senior year, Advanced Placement (AP), or similar courses taken in previous years. Cumulative GPA and class rankings are ignored when calculating an admission average. Some programs (such as Business and Kinesiology) consider extra-curricular achievements and short essay questions as central to the admissions process.” Stewart Lampe, Recruiter & Advisor – International Students – UBC

“UBC also requires a minimum SAT or ACT score. While SAT/ACT scores and personal profile questions are required, the primary emphasis in evaluating readiness for UBC is a student’s academic performance. Students interested in Engineering have additional math and science requirements that are outlined on our website.” Aaron Andersen – UBC.

“While the application process can vary by institution and program, academic performance is key and few programs will ask for essays or personal references. Scholarships tend to be merit-based. American students do require a Study Permit, but this is easy to obtain at the point of entry using the Admission documents provided by the University.” Angela Colibaba – UVic Are AP classes accepted for first-year credit?

“Grades in an AP courses are given an additional 0.5 GPA in our weighted GPA calculation, and students can earn advanced credit by scoring a 4 or higher on an AP exam.” Aaron Andersen – UBC

“If you have completed an Advanced Placement course and have received a grade of 4 or better on the corresponding Advanced Placement examination, you will receive transfer credit for specific UVic courses. With a grade of 3, you will be granted advanced standing only. Advanced standing allows you to register into a higher level of course work, but does not give you credit for UVic courses.” Angela Colibaba – UVic For families interested to learn more, when will UBC and UVic be in the San Francisco Bay Area?

“UBC engages in over 250 days of recruitment activities in the United States and 900 globally. The San Francisco Bay Area is one of our top regions for student interest, and we will spend about three weeks there in total this year. UBC has a team of recruiters and advisors that visit local public and private schools throughout the Bay area and in the spring we send representatives to the region’s various college fairs. We also host several info sessions in the Fall and Spring that are open to interested students and their families. We actively promote these events and send personal invitations to students who have set up an account at UBC’s prospective student website: Of course at only a two-hour flight to Vancouver, and 3 to Kelowna, the best way to learn about UBC is to come visit for the weekend !” Aaron Andersen – UBC

“I [Angela Colibaba – UVic] will be attending the Western Association for College Admission Counselling (WACAC) college fairs in April 2012 [schedule available]”

“Since the quality is outstanding at any of our Canadian public institutions, students will want to do their research based on criteria like program options, sense of community, campus size, city life, and climate. Ultimately, students should look for the ‘right fit’ and contact the recruitment officer at the institution to learn more.” Angela Colibaba – UVic

If your family is already considering out-of-state colleges, consider looking north to Canada.

Related articles:

Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2011-12

18 Canadian universities make the top 400:

  • University of Toronto #19
  • University of British Columbia #22
  • McGill University #28
  • McMaster University #65
  • University of Alberta #100
  • University of Montreal #104
  • Queen’s University #173
  • University of Victoria #177
  • University of Ottawa #185
  • University of Waterloo #200+
  • University of Western Ontario #200+
  • University of Calgary #200+
  • Carleton University #200+
  • Dalhousie University #200+
  • Simon Fraser University #200+
  • University of Guelph #200+
  • York University #200+
  • University of Manitoba #200+

US News & World Report Top 400 Universities in the World

University of Victoria – Preparing for Quidditch

14 Canadian universities make the top 400:

  • McGill University #17
  • University of Toronto #23
  • University of British Columbia (UBC) #51
  • University of Alberta #100
  • University of Western Ontario #157
  • McMaster University #159
  • University of Waterloo #160
  • University of Calgary #218
  • Dalhousie University #234
  • University of Ottawa #256
  • Simon Fraser University #260
  • University of Victoria #292
  • Laval University #316
  • University of Manitoba #397

University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada