As an aspiring international student, there will be a few things on your checklist. Ideally, you must start with the choice of the programme you want to pursue. The next key factor is the destination country because you will certainly want to pick an option where you will have to spend a few years of your life. Canada and the United States are among the most popular international education destinations around the world. The US is one of the old players, while Canada has emerged as one of the recent leaders in the domain. Before you go ahead and opt for one of these, here is a compressive comparison that can help.


The United States has as many as 4000 universities across the country, which means you have options galore. The Ivy League Schools are the most sought-out destinations for students who can afford them, though you can work your way up with scholarships. Canada too has slowly become a strong contender in the study abroad race with some prestigious names such as the University of British Columbia, University of Toronto, and McGill University.


While you have several options in undergraduate and graduate academic programmes in both countries, each one is acclaimed for certain streams. Canada excels in streams such as Engineering, Nursing, Business Management, Media, Computer Science, and Hospitality. You can consider the US if you want to pursue fields like Engineering, Computer Science, IT and allied fields, Business, Sports, Sports Management, Biotechnology, Physiotherapy, and Hospitality.


International students planning to apply for undergraduate programmes have to complete 12 years of education and appear for SAT exams for most Canadian and American universities. However, the criteria vary for postgraduate degrees for each country, depending on the programme you choose. The Canadian universities prioritize your GPA and IELTS/TOEFL scores. Conversely, American universities give preference to GRE/GMAT scores as well. Getting through into Canadian universities is relatively easier.


Studying abroad is not a piece of cake, and the expenses can be daunting, so you should have your financial facts in place before choosing a destination. Tuition fees in Canada range between $10,000 - $30,000 per year for undergraduate courses and $15,000 - $35,000 per year for postgraduate courses. In the US, the figures stand at $10,000 - $35,000 per year for undergraduate courses and $15,000 - $60,000 per year for postgraduate courses. The cost of living is similar in both countries, sitting at $10,000-$15,000 per year. Despite the high costs, you can look for financial aid options for international students to make education affordable.


One of the reasons for international students exploring the study abroad landscape is to get the opportunity to live and work in the country where they study. Both countries let you work part-time on a student visa, with a cap of 20 hours per week and 40 hours per week during breaks, holidays, and summer sessions. Students can only work on-campus in American universities. Post-study, you can find jobs such as programme analyst, teacher, nurse practitioner, pharmacist, construction manager, and financial manager in Canada. The employment opportunities in the US are in the fields such as advertising, finance, management, dentistry, and software engineering.


While you can explore diverse employment opportunities in both countries, you will have to get a work permit before going ahead. The Canadian Post Graduation Work Visa enables international students to work post studying for a maximum of three years. Students in the US have to gain practical knowledge through OPT (Optional Practical Training), temporary employment permission that allows them to gain practical experience in their domain for a period of 12 months. However, you have to get your Employment Authorization Document before getting started. The other option is a college/university-run Student Co-Op Program that intends to recruit students during the course to fill permanent positions on graduation. You also need to apply for Work Visa after getting a permanent, full-time job.


You can acquire permanent residency status in both countries by getting the requisite Visa and work permits. The process is much easier for Canada, where graduates can apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit. The professional can work here after graduation and eventually get permanent residency in Canada. However, the process is long and complicated for aspirants looking to apply for a Green card. But you can still get through with the right guidance and formalities.

Now that you know all about the similarities and differences between studying abroad in Canada and the US, you will be able to choose wisely. While the US offers more in terms of the variety of courses, university options, and employment opportunities, the Canadian universities are economical yet deliver a comparable quality in education. Consider your expectations and budget to pick the right option!

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