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Understanding College Admissions in Ontario

Friday | January 18, 2019 | by Betty Liu

Toronto ice skating rink

Ontario is Canada’s biggest province population-wise and is home to a large number of high-quality post-secondary education options at the college level. Ontario is also Canada’s most multicultural province and a centre for manufacturing, finance, tourism, as well as science and the arts. For international students, it’s an ideal place to study and live.

If you’re thinking about applying to college in Ontario, here’s what you need to know to get started.


Start the process by doing some research. Visit college websites to find out what programs and credentials meet your needs and interests, and find out what steps are involved with applying. Each school and program has different admissions requirements. So you will need to make sure you meet the specific requirements for the program you’re interested in before applying. Most schools will have an international office that can help answer your questions.

When to Apply

College applications in Ontario usually open about eight to 10 months before the start of the school term. There are multiple start dates for college programs throughout the year, but generally, there are three semesters: Fall, Winter, and Summer. Registration for courses typically opens in July (Fall), November (Winter) and March (Summer). Always plan ahead and give yourself enough time to prepare your application and for it to be processed by the college. Check with the college directly so you don’t miss any deadlines.

Interested in studying in Canada? Download our Canadian Colleges and Universities: A Guide to the Canadian Higher Education System e-guide!

Academic Documents and Transcripts

To support your application, you will likely need to provide some additional documents and information, such as your academic transcripts from high school or other postsecondary institution. All colleges and programs have different requirements. Contact the school directly to find out what you need.

 Translating Documents

You may need to translate your transcripts and documents into English. Translations will need to be notarized in front of a certified translator. Certified translators can be found through the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Ontario (ATIO).

 Additional Admission Requirements

Some college programs in Ontario will also ask to see additional documents or information to help process your application. This could include items such as written work, portfolio samples, letter of intent, or references, depending on the program. Some programs may also require additional placement tests or assessments.

 English Language Proficiency

If English is not your first language, you may need to provide proof of English proficiency—or French if you are applying to a French language program. To find out what tests and scores are required, contact the college you’re applying to.

 English for Academic Purposes (EAP)

Many schools offer an EAP certificate program for international learners. These programs teach English reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills, with an academic focus, and prepare students for entry into English language college programs.

Immigration Requirements for International Students

To attend college in Canada, you need to apply for a study permit (Form IMM1294). This must be arranged before traveling to Canada and is available only to full-time students. Applications can be made online or at your nearest visa application centre.

For more information, contact the Canadian Embassy nearest you or visit Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

 International Student Fees and Finances

Tuition fees for international students are about $14,000 per year (Canadian). There may be additional fees depending on the college and program. In addition to student fees, keep in mind there are other expenses such as medical insurance, housing costs, food, transportation, and other day-to-day living expenses.

A Life-Changing Experience Awaits You in Ontario

College education in Ontario provides some of the best learning college opportunities in the world. It’s an exciting and reward place to develop skills, experiences and relationships that will help launch your career and life.

The International Offices at Ontario Colleges are a wealth of resources and created to help international students transition smoothly to living in Canada and get the most out of their college experience. As you start your application process, make sure you contact the International Office to get the information you need to succeed.

Betty Liu is an International Admissions Officer at Humber College, Toronto (Ontario), Canada.