PhD in Canada (Updated 2020) – Course, Fees, Cost, Eligibility

PhD in Canada is one of the most coveted degrees students pursue, students also find themselves with abundant resources to use for their research work. Students take an average of 3-6 years to complete their PhD in Canada.

Source: Stephanie Buttermore

Canada is the most educated country in the world, and more than half of its citizens have University degrees. The University of Toronto and McGill University are famous all over the world for giving an extreme start to experts in various fields. If one chooses to do a PhD in Canada, they can be guaranteed a large collection of subjects to choose from.

You can find several Canadian universities in the world’s top 100 colleges list depicting the quality of education in Canada. The courses also are internationally recognized and research-based.

Education System In Canada

In Canada, the education system is quite similar to that in the USA and has some aspects of the British Education System as well.

There are 3 types of Institutions in Canada:

  1. Public Universities- These are run by the government may it be provincial, territorial or federal. They also collect the tuition fee from the students.
  2. Private Universities- They are mostly run at the cost of donations and research grants. They receive no funding from the government.
  3. Liberal Arts College- These colleges are either public or private and have a primary emphasis on courses in liberal arts.

How To Apply For PhD In Canada?

PhD in Canada has a great scope, and students from around the world come there to pursue the research of their interest. The process for applying a Ph.D. here is not much difficult.

It is quite easy and hassle-free. There are hardly any burdensome or redundant formalities required for admission to Ph.D. in Canada.

  1. Students are required to scan their area of research and then screen universities which offer the area in which the study belongs.
  2. The next step is to find a supervisor. It is a crucial process that must be done with care. Students should take their time in finding their supervisor.
  3. Sometimes, universities also advertise about the research they are undertaking and the scope of it. If it falls within your area of interest, you can apply there too.
  4. Students should then get all their documents together for the submission when they fill the application form. 
  5. Often, students are required to just send their documents and thesis/proposal to the University or professor for their pursual and wait for acceptance.
  6. Documents required are – cope of your degree, proof of scholarship/finance, writing samples, portfolio, CV, copy of Passport, and testing scores.
  7. Students may also be required to give entrance exams like GRE, GMAT, and language proficiency exams like IELTS, TOEFL, etc.
  8. Sometimes there may be additional tests that certain universities may ask a student to appear in.
  9. Some universities also conduct interviews to take test potential candidates’ capabilities.
  10. It is crucial that the students may have full information and are well versed in their area of research.

Also Read: Top colleges for PhD in Canada

PhD in Canada

PhD is short for Doctor of Philosophy. This is an academic or professional degree which, qualifies, in most countries, the degree holder to teach their chosen subject at the university level or to work in a specialized position in the field of their study.

The word ‘philosophy’ is made of prefix – “PHIL” which means “To Love” and it comes from the Ancient Greek philosophia, which literally means ‘love of wisdom’. Today, the Doctor of Philosophy requires love for wisdom but applies to individuals who have pursued domain-specific knowledge.

Here are a few reasons why you should consider PhD in Canada:

  • Home to top universities – Canada’s oldest university “Université Laval (1663)” date back to the seventeenth century, but the research they carry out continues to be world-leading in terms of relevance in today’s world, with six institutions in the top 150 of all three major global rankings.
  • Attractive international fees – PhD study in Canada is much cheaper than in the that charged by the neighbouring USA, with some universities which are reducing – or even waiving – international fees like the University of Toronto.
  • Post-study opportunities – Once you complete your studies, you can continue to live and work in Canada for up to 3 years.
  • The great outdoors – Canada is one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

Below are some key details:

Total Universities98
Nobel Prizes27
Oldest UniversityUniversité Laval (1663)
International Students224548
PhD Length3-6 years
Representative FeesCAD 4000-6000
Academic YearSeptember to April

Top Universities For PhD in Canada

Here is the list of top Universities for PhD in Canada:

  1. University of Toronto
  2. University of British Columbia
  3. McGill University
  4. McMaster University
  5. University of Montreal
  6. University of Alberta
  7. University of Ottawa
  8. University of Calgary
  9. University of Waterloo
  10. Western University
  11. Dalhousie University
  12. Laval University
  13. Queen’s University
  14. Simon Fraser University
  15. University of Manitoba
  16. University of Victoria
  17. University of Saskatchewan
  18. York University
  19. Carleton University
  20. University of Guelph

PhD in Canada for Indian Students

Canada is one of the friendliest countries and accepts students with open arms. Indian students especially find many opportunities there because of the country demographics.

The funding to international Ph.D. students is also often not as much, but they are provided with full help and support in establishing themselves and their research work. As international students, though they are charged twice a more fee than a Canadian student, it is still quite pocket-friendly considering the exposure and knowledge one can gain there.

Here is the list of best universities for PhD in Canada for Indian Students:

  1. Royal Roads University
  2. University of Winnipeg
  3. University of Calgary
  4. University of Toronto
  5. McMaster University
  6. University of Alberta
  7. University of Ottawa
  8. McGill University
  9. Bishop’s University
  10. University of Waterloo
  11. Wilfrid Laurier University
  12. Thompson Rivers University
  13. University of Regina
  14. Brock University

How To Apply For PhD in Canada from India?

As discussed, Indian students have a plethora of opportunities for aPhD in Canada. They get to experience a whole other side of research, which combines theory with practical and drives students towards bringing a change through their works.

Applying for a PhD in Canada is not very difficult though each university has its selection and screening process and a different list of eligibility criteria as well. The foremost requirement for a PhDin Canada is a Master’s degree related to the field of their interest. Sound knowledge of either English or French language is also required.

If an applicant has studied neither, they may be required to take up a course in one or both languages, especially in Quebec. Students also need to have a strong score in either GRE or GMAT to apply for a PhD in Canada.

In a few cases, when students display exceptional merit at Bachelors’s level if their scores of the last two years combined are great and an average first-class score, students can directly get into pursuing a Ph.D. degree, which is also known “accelerated Admission.” Apart from these requirements, a strong thesis and the ability to present it in the interview is the most important part of applying for a Ph.D.

PhD In Canada Cost

The cost of a PhD degree in Canada is quite affordable. It is not exactly cheap for international students. They have to pay more than the domestic ones, but it is still a lot less than other countries like the United States of America and the United Kingdom.

The fee for Ph.D. varies between different universities and is also subject to periodic changes. However, scholarship and financial aids can greatly help to make it more affordable.

  • The average fee for a Ph.D. in Canada is around CAD 10,000-20,000 (USD 7,500-15,000) per year.
  • Apart from fees, students may also be required to pay for other things like accommodation, living expenses, etc.

Also Read: PhD Programs in Canada

Universities in Canada for PhD Ranking

Sr. No.UniversityWorld Ranking
1University of Toronto28
2McGill University33
3University of British Columbia47
4University of Alberta109
5McMaster University146
6Universite de Montreal149
7University of Waterloo163
8The University of Western Ontario214
9University of Calgary229
10Queen’s University at Kingston239

PhD Fees In Canada

International fees for a PhD in Canada could be somewhere around CAD 4,000-6,000 per year although some can reach up to CAD 25,000. This is more than what a domestic student pays but still less than in other popular countries like the USA, Japan, and the UK.

If your PhD is part of a more structured program its fees can vary from year to year; stages of the degree that involve taught classes and assessments are normally more expensive than those which focus on independent research.

In addition to tuition, you may also be asked to pay some smaller supplementary costs for student services like hostel fees, mess fees, and union fees.

Recent news regarding fee changes for PhD in Canada for international students:

The University of Toronto has eliminated the fees differentiation for domestic and international PhD students from 2018. This means you’ll be charged the same fees that a Canadian citizen pays.

Also, Brock University has begun fully covering international PhD fees through its fellowships.

PhD in Canada for International Students

Canadian universities keep in touch with the industries. They regularly update their industry definitions to make their students acquainted with the latest industry trends and help them grab the best placement opportunities.

Canada is a country that is rich in cultural heritage, and living there would give you a matchless lifetime experience. Hence, it is also a great place for international students to study.

  • International students are welcomes in Canada and are given great opportunities.
  • Students are often required to have a proficiency in English or French, and else they would have to take up a language course.
  • International students often have trouble finding funding for their research work; hence, they must plan it meticulously.
  • There are assistant teaching posts open for students which they can take up to cover their fees and also to gain more knowledge and experience.

PhD Programs in Canada for International Students

Almost all PhD programs that are available to domestic students are available for the pursual of international students as well. Several different types of PhD programs are available for international students in Canada, which they can choose based on their interests and previous education and academic background.

  • Ph.D. Finance 
  • Ph.D. Engineering 
  • Ph.D. English
  • Ph.D. Business 
  • Ph.D. in Economics
  • Ph.D. Agriculture
  • Ph.D. History
  • Ph.D. Political Science
  • Ph.D. Computer Science 

Also Read: Best courses for PhD in Canada

PhDin Canada Duration

Although there is no specific time duration to complete a PhD in Canada, some courses are extremely time-bound, and others are not. It also depends on various universities, and their policies regarding the duration allowed for a student to complete their research and get awarded their Ph.D. However, the average period required for students to complete their Ph.D. is anytime between 2 to 6 years.

Scholarship For PhD in Canada

Canada offers many different types of financial aid to its students, especially those from developing countries. Ph.D. students also often get funding from universities and can work there as well to pay off the tuition, but scholarships are also available and are a great way to finance either only the fee or overall cost of studying living in Canada.

Full and part-time; both types of PhD scholarships are available in Canada for Ph.D. students. These scholarships can be granted by either universities or different types of national or international organizations.

  1. Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarships 
  2. IDRC Doctoral Research Awards IDRC Research Awards 
  3. University Of Lethbridge SGS Dean’s Scholarship
  4. Lester B. Pearson International Scholarship Program at the University of Toronto
  5. University Of British Columbia SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships
  6. Humber International Entrance Scholarships
  7. The Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation doctoral scholarships
  8. The University of British Columbia Four Year Doctoral Fellowship
  9. Trudeau Doctoral Scholarships
  10. Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships
  11. University Of Lethbridge SGS Tuition Scholarship
  12. FINCAD Women in Finance Scholarship
  13. Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Doctoral Scholarships
  14. UBC Killam Doctoral Scholarship
  15. Bayer Science & Education Foundation – Jeff Schell Scholarships
  16. OAS Academic Scholarships
  17. Roberta Sykes Scholarships
  18. Gordon Signy Fellowship
  19. Canada Graduate Masters Scholarships

Requirements for PhD in Canada

The admission criteria for admission to different universities in Canada for the doctorate programs may vary from university to university. Few points regarding the doctorate admissions are listed as under:-

  1. Education- Most of the universities in Canada require you to have a master’s degree in the related field of your doctorate, with strong grades and proven research ability and potential.
  2. Proof of language- Language ability is also required which depends upon your choice of modes of instruction , there are different tests designed which you need to clear for admission depending upon the language you choose as the mode of instruction. In some cases you are also eligible to pursue PhD under the “accelerated admission”. That is , without a master’s degree. This requires outstanding grades in last two years of your bachelor’s program and proof of high academic potential such as research papers etc.
  3. Academic Requirements- A bachelor’s degree with one year of study in a master’s program while fulfilling 9 credits at the 500-level or above and of first-class standing. While entering the doctoral program after partial completion of the master’s degree the students must , during the first two years of study at the graduate level, complete 12 credits in total with a first-class average of which at least 9 credits must be at the 500-level or above and at least 9 credits must be of first-class standing to maintain registration as a doctoral student.
  4. English Language Test- You also need to provide proof of English language proficiency in terms of score in IELTS or TOEFL examinations. One must have at least 6.5 or 7 in IELTS and 90+ score in TOEFL.
  5. Proof of French Proficiency- There may be some courses that are taught in French. If you plan to take up such courses, you must first provide proof of your English language proficiency in the form of scorecard of Test d’évaluation de français (TEF) or Diplôme d’études en langue française(DELF).
  6. GRE/GMAT- Some of the universities also ask for GRE/GMAT score to provide you admission. You can check the exact eligibility on the universities’ website.
    GRE score is accepted be both types of schools, ie, business schools and other schools providing a master’s degree. GRE judges a candidate on the basis of Quantitative reasoning, Analytical Writing and Verbal Reasoning.
    Most of the business schools in Canada will demand you for a good GMAT score in order to take admission in their school. Usually, the GMAT score is required for admission in courses like Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Accountancy and Master of Finance programs. The GMAT score is valid for a duration of 5 years.
  7. Student Visa- You are required to apply for a student visa based on your selection at Canadian University. For a study permit visa, the duration of your course must be greater than 6 months. If it is less than that you only require a tourist Visa.

PhD in Canada without IELTS

English Proficiency is an important prerequisite for admission to PhD in Canada. Most major universities require EILTS; however, many graduate schools do not require it as well.

Whether EILTS is required or not also depends on the subject. Some may have strict EILTS requirements, whereas others may do not.

PhD in Canada Without GRE

Although many universities in Canada require GRE for admission into their
PhD programs, it is not compulsion. Most major universities require GRE; however, many graduate schools do not require it as well.

Whether GRE is required or not also depends on the subject. Some may have strict GRE requirements, whereas others may do not.

  1. Carleton University
  2. Laval University
  3. Concordia University
  4. Lakehead University
  5. University of Manitoba
  6. Kwantlen Polytechnic University
  7.  Laurentian University
  8. Memorial University of Newfoundland
  9. Royal Roads University
  10. Trent University

PhD in Canada without GMAT

GMAT is an important prerequisite for admission to Ph.D. in Canada for management. Most major universities require GMAT. However, many graduate schools do not need it, as well.

Whether GMAT is required or not also depends on the subject. Some may have strict GMAT requirements, whereas others may do not.

  1. University of Saskatchewan
  2. Brock University
  3. University of Regina
  4. Carleton University
  5. University of Winnipeg
  6. University of Calgary
  7. Memorial University
  8. Concordia University

PhD Programs In Canada

Here is the list of PhD programs in Canada:

PhD In Computer Science

Computer Science is the most trending field nowadays. Canada has some of the most foremost universities offering a Ph.D. in this subject. It has a great scope, and any research work in this field also guarantees a revolution in technology. 

PhD in Neuroscience Canada

Neuroscience is a complex course that studies the human brain and its various functions. It is a highly coveted course which has great scope throughout the world. Canada and its major universities also understand this and have various Ph.D. programs available for the scholars of this subject.

PhD In Finance

Investment is a highly coveted course which has great scope throughout the world. It is an essential course which is crucial for all enterprised and corporates across the globe.

Canada and its major universities also understand this and have various Ph.D. programs available for the scholars of this subject.

PhD in Analytics

Analytics is the most trending field nowadays. Canada has some of the most foremost universities offering a Ph.D. in this subject. It has a great scope, and any research work in this field also guarantees a revolution in technology. 

  1. University of Brtish Columbia
  2. York University
  3. University of Victoria
  4. University of Waterloo
  5. University of Calgary 
  6. University of Alberta
  7. University of Saskatchewan

PhD In English Canada

English Literature is quite vast, and due to the demographics, Canada is one of the best places to study literature and get the gist of it in its entirety.

There are many universities in Canada which not only provide opportunities to research Canadian universities but also in different kinds of literature around the world as well.

  1. Royal Roads University
  2. University of Winnipeg
  3. University of Calgary
  4. University of Toronto
  5. McMaster University
  6. University of Alberta
  7. University of Saskatchewan
  8. McGill University
  9. University of Waterloo
  10. Thompson Rivers University

PhD In Civil Engineering

Engineering is globally one of the most trending courses and has scope beyond what one can think. There are several branches of this field; however, civil engineering stands out as one of the courses with the most excellent prospects and a great job market. Several universities in Canada offer a Ph.D. program in this established field.

PhD In Agriculture

Agriculture is more or less the most important aspect of any economy in the world as a lot depends on the raw material it produces for several activities.

Agriculture as a field is always in search of some new information or processes it can use to increase productivity. Canadian universities give students ample opportunities to research in this field and come up with new and innovative ideas.

PhD In Agronomy

The importance of agriculture cannot be stressed enough, and we must combine it with the economy for the best possible prospects and results. It is essential to the growth of any economy. A Ph.D. in this field allows students to explore various types of avenues and ways to minimize cost and maximize productivity.

PhD in History

History is an exciting subject with a lot to learn and discover. Canada has some of the most foremost universities offering a Ph.D. in this subject. It has an enormous scope, and any research work in this field also guarantees a name in the history books itself. 

PhD in Statistics

Statistics in recent times have emerged as a handy and interesting field, which often can be connected to various other subjects as well. There are many programs and institutions which use statistics and ith as a great job in government or private enterprises.

PhD In Commerce

Commerce is undoubtedly essential, and its understanding is crucial for all enterprised and corporates throughout the world. It is also a highly coveted course which has great scope across the globe. Canada and its major universities also understand this and have various Ph.D. programs available for the scholars of this subject.

PhD In Mechanical Engineering

Engineering is one of the most trending courses all over the globe and has a fantastic scope. There are several branches of this field, one of them being the coveted, mechanical engineering. It stands out as one of the courses with good prospects and a great job market. Several universities in Canada offer a Ph.D. program in this established field.

  • The Schulich School of Engineering (University of Calgary)
  • University of British Columbia

PhD In Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship is changing the world, one new idea at a time. It has revolutionized the market and has opened up many new opportunities for many people. Canada has some of the most foremost universities offering a Ph.D. in this subject. It has an enormous scope, and any research work in this field also guarantees a revolution in the world. 

  • Telfer School of Management 
  • University of Alberta 

PhD in Public Health Canada

Public Health is the first course in various major universities in Canada. It deals with various fields like medicine, immunology, studies of microbes, viruses, etc. This course deals with public health and how health-related problems can be prevented or cured.

How to Select a University for PhD in Canada?

Before selecting a college in Canada, one must keep the following points in mind.

The points are as follows:

  1. Facilities in the research field
  2. Availability of internships and thesis work
  3. Industry Associations
  4. Faculty
  5. Location of college
  6. Accommodation
  7. Course structure
  8. Fee structure

How To Qualify For A Good Canadian University?

There are some preparation courses that enable degree-seeking students to get an extra educational boost just before they start their post-graduate or doctoral programs.

These types of preparation courses act as a booster to make us ready for further programs of doctorate, be it in any stream. The English language is also needed to be improved because while being in the Ph.D. program, this is quite a fair chance that the medium of instruction will be in English.

Also, the mode of communication is also English in most of the places abroad so it is always better to have an extra edge on the verbal communication power. So take care of these points and start preparing away before the admission process starts.


Is a PhD free in Canada?

Ans. Canada welcomes international students and provides a wide range of scholarships and other funding opportunities for PhD study at its universities.

Is it worth doing a PhD in Canada?

Ans. Getting a PhD in Canada is unlikely to provide the return on time and money that many students expect, a new report suggests that only 2 percent of jobs require a doctoral degree.

✅ Is GRE required for Ph.D. in Canada?

Ans. Only top Canadian schools require GRE for admission. There are several programs that do not require any GRE. The only constraint in Canada is, you cannot apply for a Ph.D. program directly after Bachelor’s, you need masters to apply.

✅ How many years is a Ph.D. in Canada?

Ans. Canada is different from the USA, in that direct entry for a Ph.D. after a bachelor’s degree is rare. The typical path is a bachelor, followed by two-year masters, followed by four to five years for a Ph.D.

✅ What are the requirements for a Ph.D. application?

Ans. Here are some of the basic requirements you’ll need for every application:
1. A scan of your diploma (high school or Bachelor’s degree),
2. A transcript/record of your previous courses,
3. A scan of your passport,
4. Your CV,
5. Testing scores,
6. Evidence of scholarship or funding,
7. Letters of recommendation (between 2-3),
8. Portfolio and/or writing samples.

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About the Author

Rachit believes in the power of education and has studied from the top institutes of IIIT Allahabad, IIM Calcutta, and Francois Rabelias in France. He has worked as Software Developer with Microsoft and Adobe. Post his MBA, he worked with the world’s # 1 consulting firm, The Boston Consulting Group across multiple geographies US, South-East Asia and Europe.

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Comments (24)

  1. Manik :

    Is a PhD in Canada worth it?

    • Vishesh Chogtu :

      Yes definitely, you can earn as high as CA$50,000/yr.

  2. Naman :

    On average how much do students with PhD in Canada earn?

    • Vishesh Chogtu :

      On average, PhD students get a salary of around CA$20,000-30,000/yr.

  3. Barkha :

    Is GRE required for PhD in Canada?

    • Vishesh Chogtu :

      Yes, students need to score strongly in either GRE or GMAT for a PhD in Canada.

  4. Vani :

    Can I work and do PhD in Canada, simultaneously?

    • Vishesh Chogtu :

      Yes, you can work as long as you have a valid study permit in Canada.

  5. Chanka :

    Can a student doing PhD in Canada apply for permanent residency?

    • Vishesh Chogtu :

      You can get permanent residence one year after finishing your master’s program in Canada or after the second year of the PhD in Canada.

  6. Kritika :

    Is there an option for a scholarship for PhD in Canada?

    • Vishesh Chogtu :


  7. Janu :

    Which country is best for PhD?

    • Vishesh Chogtu :

      Here is the list of best country for PhD:

      1. Israel
      2. Japan
      3. Australia
      4. Canada
      5. Russia

  8. Hiran :

    What are the prerequisites for PhD in Canada?

    • Vishesh Chogtu :

      You’ll need to hold a Master’s degree to gain admission to do a PhD in Canada.

  9. Farhan :

    Is a PhD better than a master’s?

    • Vishesh Chogtu :

      According to a study done by BLS, someone with a master’s degree has the power to boost earnings by 17% when compared to a bachelor’s degree, while someone with a doctorate can fetch you a salary that is 30% higher than a bachelor’s degree.

  10. Sankalp :

    Is a PhD harder than a master’s?

    • Vishesh Chogtu :

      The PhD is much harder, in general, though some Master’s programs may be difficult also with a thesis option, however, masters are nowhere near as rigorous as PhDs.

  11. Disha :

    Can I do PhD while working?

    • Vishesh Chogtu :

      There would be no point in doing PhD while working because there would be no learning, you’ll barely get a degree nothing else.

  12. Ishita :

    How much time does it take to get a Canadian Permanent residence?

    • Vishesh Chogtu :

      A program of at least 2-year followed by at 3 Years of work Permit is Required for permanent residence.

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