PhD studies in Canada

Studying for a doctorate in Canada allows you to work with prominent university professors and researchers and take advantage of their advanced and modern research facilities.

After graduation, by obtaining a work visa for 3 years, you can still stay and work in Canada, and finally, after working for one year and obtaining the necessary conditions, you can apply for a permanent residence in Canada.

  • Course length:  4 to 6 years
  • Course fee:  Between 10,000 and 30,000 Canadian dollars per year
  • Age requirements:  30 to 40 years
  • Conditions for receiving the scholarship:  GPA of at least 17 and IELTS language score of at least 6.5 or equivalent
  • Required language qualification:  IELTS 6.5 to 7 or equivalent


PhD studies in Canada

The process of getting a doctorate in Canada can be divided into 2 main stages:


1- Finding a tutor or supervisor

Before you want to apply for a doctorate degree in Canadian universities and get admission, you must first correspond with the professors of those universities in your related field and be able to find a supervisor for your future doctoral thesis.

Of course, few Canadian universities are committee-oriented for PhD admissions. It means that there is no need to contact the professors and you have to apply for that course from the beginning. In this case, the main decision maker is the Graduate School of the university and your application will be reviewed in this department. If you meet the necessary conditions for admission and get initial approval, your file will be presented to the professors of the desired department so that one of them will accept your supervision.

Make a list of all the universities where your field of study is offered and the admission requirements of those universities such as minimum GPA, language score, research background, etc. 

Prepare an email and write in it a summary of your educational and work history, research work done, published articles and research areas of interest. In this email, you should briefly explain why you are the right student to do research with the desired professor. Your writing should be convincing and should be around 250 to 300 words.

Enter the website of the department of your field and among all the professors who teach in that field, choose professors whose research field is in line with the research field of those professors.

Then start contacting professors and email them. It is better to attach your resume and degree and transcripts of your bachelor’s and master’s degrees to the email. 

If you received a positive answer from a professor or if they wanted to interview you before that, prepare yourself for the interview and try to show yourself as a worthy and suitable student for that professor with the best answers.

Finally, after receiving a positive response from one of the professors, complete your application process and enter their name in the application.


  • In the subject line of the email, mention the degree and also the semester you want to enter. 
  • Avoid writing general emails.
    In the text of the email, briefly talk about your research interests and how it relates to your professor’s research area, and make your email specific in this regard. 
  • It is better not to talk about funds and scholarships in the initial email.
    Most of the professors in the PhD program in Canada consider scholarships for students. Of course, some professors may not have enough funds to support students and declare that they cannot grant a scholarship to another student due to lack of funds.

    In such cases, in order not to lose the professor, it is better not to bargain about getting the fund and tell the professor that you are willing to become his student in the form of self-funding and without receiving a scholarship.

    According to the education system of Canadian universities, even if a student does not receive a scholarship in the first semester, there is a high possibility that he will receive a scholarship in the following semesters. In fact, most of the professors are worried about providing them with financial support due to the lack of sufficient knowledge of the students and their ability level, but after one academic semester and the evaluation of their ability and research knowledge and also if they perform well, they will be allocated a scholarship. they give. 

  • If a professor invites you to an interview, prepare your answers to possible questions in advance.
    Professors usually check several things during interview sessions:

Your proficiency in understanding and speaking English or French

How confident you are and how you answer questions

The level of your mastery and scientific knowledge about your field of study and the research you have done

How familiar you are with the professor’s research areas and how they relate to your research records


In order for the interview session to be successful, read the professor’s research records and articles carefully in advance and prepare yourself for relevant and possible questions. They may also ask you questions about your thesis and essays that you have already written, so be prepared for that.

  • Show yourself eager and willing to work with the professor.
    In the correspondence or during the interview with the desired professor, show that you have a strong desire to work in his research group and show this interest by citing logical reasons. Even if the professor’s research field is not very close to your research field, tell him that you have the ability and preparation to work in a relatively different research field.


2- Send documents to the university and apply

Now that your supervisor has been determined, immediately prepare all the necessary documents for applying for a doctorate in Canada and proceed to apply.

Each Canadian university has its own guidelines for applying. But in general, to apply for a doctorate in most Canadian universities, you must follow the following steps:

First, enter the website of your desired university and department and read the How to Apply section and the Admission Requirements section for the chosen doctoral field. Some universities have special instructions for preparing documents, for example, they set a word limit for the letter of motivation (SOP) or they consider a size limit for the files you are going to upload. So prepare the necessary documents according to the instructions of the department.

After the supervisor’s approval, start the application process without interruption and do not postpone it until the last days of the deadline. All documents required for applying, including letters of recommendation, must reach the university before the deadline and your application must be complete.

To apply for a Canadian doctorate in most universities, you must do it through the university website and the Graduate School section. On the Graduate School page, you must create an account in the Apply and Create Account sections and enter the necessary information. Also, at this stage, you must specify the username and password of your application.

After creating an account, you enter the main application, where you need to enter personal information, field name, incoming semester, academic and professional records, supervisor’s name, research records and other necessary items.

In some applications, it is possible to upload necessary documents, but in the application of some universities, this possibility arises after submitting the application. That is, in the initial stage, you only enter the necessary information, and after applying, an email will be sent to you in which how to activate the portal and upload the documents is explained to you.

You can pay for the application review online using Visa or MasterCard. At Visa Mondial, we handle all payments for you using Canadian bank cards.

At the end, click on the “Submit” option.
After submitting, take a screenshot of the application confirmation page and save it in a safe place.

After submitting the application, you will receive an email containing the application number and the necessary information to activate your portal. Follow the instructions and activate your portal.

In this section, you can see the status of your application and what documents have been received by the university and what documents (such as letters of recommendation or IELTS) are still waiting to be received. Make sure all documents are completed before the deadline. After completing the application, the file will be reviewed and evaluated by the university. Check your portal regularly until you get the final result and get admission.

Congratulations, you have been accepted to the Ph.D. After receiving the acceptance letter, read its contents carefully and if it needs confirmation of acceptance, do it in the online application and in the Confirm Offer section. Of course, not all universities have this step, and only some universities require you to confirm it after acceptance. 


The best universities in Canada to study Ph.D

According to the US News ranking in 2022, you can see the national and global ranking of the top 10 Canadian universities for doctoral studies:
University name National rank Global ranking
University of Toronto 1 17
University of British Columbia 2 31
McGill University 3 51
McMaster University 4 133
University of Alberta 5 138
University of Montreal 6 140
University of Calgary 7 174
University of Ottawa 8 192
University of Waterloo 9 210
Western University 10 287


Government scholarship

Although Canadian government scholarships are intended for foreign students, unfortunately, Iran is not among the countries covered by these scholarships, but to inform you about these types of scholarships, here are two of the most important ones:

It pays 50,000 Canadian dollars per year (equivalent to 37,210 US dollars) to top domestic and foreign students in the fields of social and human sciences, natural sciences, engineering sciences, and health sciences.

It pays 40,000 Canadian dollars (equivalent to 29,770 US dollars) per year for three years to Canadian citizens and foreign students. To receive this scholarship, you must be recommended by the Canadian or foreign institution where you wish to study or are currently studying.


University scholarship

Other types of doctoral scholarships in Canada are provided by universities or university professors. Every year, many Canadian universities announce PhD scholarships on their website. To receive these types of scholarships, you must apply for them and send the necessary documents to the university.

An example of a Canadian university scholarship

  • The University of British Columbia Fellowship –  The University of British Columbia Four Year Doctoral Fellowship 

Provides a minimum of $18,200 Canadian dollars per year. This university also covers the full cost of education for domestic and foreign elite students for the entire four-year period of their studies.


Scholarship for professors

Professors of Canadian universities offer academic scholarships to their top students and researchers at the doctoral level every year. In fact, the funds they provide as research assistants or teaching assistants are provided by the university.

  • Research Assistant –  Research Assistant

As a research assistant, you will be paid to assist a university faculty member, who may be your supervisor, by assisting in data collection, analysis, report writing, or laboratory or office organization. The salary received will be in the form of tuition deduction, and if the amount is high, you can also cover your living expenses with it.

  • Teaching  Assistant _

As a teaching assistant, you help your professor by doing things like teaching courses, correcting students’ exam papers, or managing or conducting laboratory sections. In order to become a teaching assistant, in addition to very good academic conditions, you must demonstrate your mastery of the course and your ability to facilitate students’ learning in an effective way.


Full fund scholarship

Fully Funded Scholarship is a grant awarded to students for the duration of their studies in Canadian universities.  Full Fund usually covers the entire tuition fee of doctoral students in 4 years, and in some cases, it also includes travel expenses, housing expenses, textbook expenses, insurance expenses, and living expenses in general. 

Receiving a full-fund scholarship is very competitive and is usually awarded to outstanding students. The stronger your academic status is in terms of GPA, language score, and most importantly your research and research records, the more chances you have to get full PhD funding.  Factors such as the budget of the Canadian university and the budget of the supervisor also affect the amount of the scholarship.

An example of a fully funded PhD in Canada at McMaster University

The picture below is a part of the fund letter of one of Visa Mondial’s clients. He has received many scholarships from the guidance professor of McMaster University and also from the university itself, the total of which is more than the cost of his education in the Ph.D. course in civil engineering at McMaster University. The different scholarships are specified in the image below:


free education

Fortunately, free PhD studies are possible in Canada. Canada attaches great importance to researchers and therefore allocates a lot of funds to its universities and government institutions every year to support PhD students.

This budget is provided in the form of scholarships and educational funds, and depending on the student’s educational conditions, they are awarded a fully funded scholarship or a partial scholarship.  How much funding each PhD student receives depends on the student’s good academic and research conditions, the professor’s budget, the university’s budget, and the amount of government institutions’ budget.

Some scholarships are only for one year and some other scholarships cover the entire 4 years of doctoral studies, respectively, making doctoral studies in Canada free. 

Full scholarships cover not only the PhD student’s tuition, but also their living expenses and medical insurance. Providing such facilities and financial support every year encourages many students from all over the world to study PhD in Canada. 


Visa, work and residence for Canadian PhD students


  • Canadian study visa

After getting accepted for doctorate in Canada, now it’s time to apply for a student visa.

In order to receive a Canadian study visa for a doctorate, the conditions that we have mentioned on this page are necessary.

  • Accompanying student visa

One of the advantages of studying for a doctorate in Canada is that you, as a doctoral student, can take your spouse and children with you to Canada. For this purpose, it is necessary to get a Canadian companion visa for them.

  • Work after studying in Canada

After graduating from the doctorate in Canada, you have the possibility to stay and work in Canada for a maximum of 3 years by obtaining a work visa after studying PGWP.

  • Canadian residency through education

There are two general paths for educational migration in the doctoral degree:

1. Ways to obtain Canadian permanent residence in federal programs,
2. Paths to obtain permanent residence in Canada in provincial programs

We have covered all the details on this page.

  • Student work in Canada

Foreign students in Canada can work for a maximum of 20 hours a week.

You are allowed to work full-time and up to 40 hours a week on holidays such as official holidays or holidays between two semesters.

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