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Admission Process: Points to Note When Applying for Masters in Canada

In Canada, India is the largest group of international students ahead of China. The country continues to be a popular study destination with significant growth every year. Last year Canada overtook Australia to become the second most popular destination for Indian students. A simpler application and admission system is one of the reasons, but there are still some points to keep in mind while applying to Canadian universitiesMaria Mathai, director of MM Advisory (MMA) Services, and publisher of the Indian Students Mobility Report, lists a few points that students need to make a note of while applying to institutions in Canada.




  1. Do apply early especially for top ranked universities. An early application indicates that you are planned and motivated, something that Canadian universities like
  2. Do your own research.  I cannot emphasise how important this is. Look for professors who are working in your field of interest and do some background reading on their published papers, current research interests, etc. And remember when reaching out; ensure that your messages are tailored for each professor
  3. Do have a shortlist of universities – not less than five and not more than 10. The list should be a mix of aspirational and realistic. is a good place to begin. The database is one of the most comprehensive for Canada and includes multiple filters to help you build a customised list
  4. Do focus on the academic content in your application. Most Canadian universities offer some form of funding (full or in part) for Masters and PhD students. While this is very attractive, it also makes the application process very competitive. You will have limited space and time to grab the supervisor’s attention. Concentrate on your academic achievements, your grades, papers published, and prior research experience over co-curricular or personality achievements
  5. Do keep track of deadlines. Deadlines are sacrosanct and highly variable within the Canadian university system as many departments set their own deadlines. So, you will have a separate deadline for pre-application, another for the application, scholarships, document submission, etc. Keep track of response times and keep checking your application portal on a weekly/fortnightly basis so that you don’t miss any updates
  6. Do prepare for a virtual or in-person interview. Depending on your course of interest this could be the deciding factor. Take the time to practise interview scenarios in person as well as virtual. Ask a senior or a professor to help you instead of depending on friends who may not have the knowledge (academic or otherwise) to help you improve




  1. Don’t assume that the Canadian and US application system is similar. There are many differences in the application process, a significant one being that many Canadian universities don’t require GRE or personal statements for Masters. [GRE is required by a selective few universities and that too for some Engineering or Computer science courses. It is not a mandatory requirement. Secondly, for essays and Sop’s a selective few universities ask for this for regular Masters. It is not the norm. The only exception is the MBA where essays are a part of the application process.]
  2. Don’t use standard templates to reach out to supervisors or ask them basic questions on entry requirements, degree recognition, equivalencies, etc. A customised and personal communication with clear academic plan is what will get you attention. Asking a supervisor for basic admission guidelines or application information which is clearly listed in the website is not going to help you get selected
  3. Don’t go for a position while choosing an academic referee. It is always better to select a referee who knows you, will talk about you in glowing terms and will be able to cite specific instances about your work as opposed to a standard template reference from the Vice Chancellor of your college. It is a good idea to have at least a couple of discussions with your referees explaining your selection. This will help them to customise their references with relevant points when they get the mail from the university
  4. Don’t hand in an application which is incomplete or has spelling mistakes. In most universities, incomplete applications are not reviewed – every missing document brings you back to square one and delays your admission decision. Spelling mistakes, grammatical errors or errors in academic assumption are worse as it indicates a careless attitude
  5. Don’t tell them what they already know – they know their website and the supervisor knows her profile. Don’t waste precious space telling them how great they are. When you do your research find out what excites you about their research or them and talk about that
  6. Don’t score a self-goal with a damaging personal statement of purpose. Some common mistakes are excessive altruism (I want to change the world, help all people, etc) and over-sharing irrelevant personal information (My parent/grandparent is a CEO, I come from a good family and have 3 brothers and sisters, etc)



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Author: Malini Sen

Malini Sen is an independent education journalist and content specialist with more than 25 years of work experience in India and UK. She is the former editor of a national education publication for one of India’s largest media groups. And also an international student.


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