Which Types of Scholarships Are Available to International Students in Canada?

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Which Types of Scholarships Are Available to International Students in Canada?

Although studying in Canada is more affordable than in many other countries, it can still get quite expensive for international students. With tuition often costing tens of thousands of dollars per year, many students are on tight budgets. The good news is there are many scholarship options for international students studying in Canada.

Scholarships are a great way to bring your education costs down, but the way these awards work can be confusing. To help you make sense of the various kinds of financial aid available, we’ve broken down the different types of scholarships available to international students in Canada!

Merit Scholarships

A merit scholarship is awarded based on a student’s level of success and does not take financial status into consideration. These awards are typically given out to students with a high level of achievement in academics, athletics, the arts, or outstanding community work. 

University/College Scholarships

Most universities and colleges offer their own scholarships to students. Many of these are entrance scholarships, meaning students don’t need to apply in order to be considered for the award. Always be sure to check your school’s website to see what kind of financial aid they offer. 

Financial Scholarships

Also known as bursaries, financial scholarships are given to students who demonstrate financial need. Almost many of these awards are only available to Canadian residents, there are some for international students as well. Again, check with your university or college to see if you are eligible.

Government-funded Scholarships

These are scholarships made available to international students by the Canadian government. These government scholarships are available at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Visit EduCanada to search for available scholarships, fellowships, and other funding opportunities.

Country-based Scholarships

A Country-based scholarship is awarded to students from specific developing countries or regions. Earlier this year, Global Affairs Canada launched a program with 650 short-term exchange scholarships for Latin American and Carribean students. Visit EduCanada for a full list of currently available country-based scholarships. 

Privately Funded Scholarships

There are many businesses and private donors who set up scholarships for students. Often, these awards are targeted towards particular areas of study, so check with your faculty organization to see if there are any available at your school.

Graduate Scholarships


In addition to undergraduate scholarships, there are many financial awards available to students studying at the graduate level. A few popular ones in Canada include:

Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships

One of Canada’s most lucrative scholarships, this award is for doctoral students. It’s worth $50,000 per year for three years and can be used towards a doctoral degree or combined masters and Ph.D. The Canadian government introduced the Vanier Scholarship to help attract and retain world-class Ph.D. students, and establish Canada as a global leader in research and higher education.

Only 167 of these scholarships are awarded each year and students must demonstrate academic excellence, research potential, and leadership qualities in order to be eligible. 

Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships

Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships are for international students in postgraduate natural and social sciences or health sciences. The fellowship is valued at $70,000 per year, for a maximum of two years. 70 fellowships are awarded each year, with a total of up to 140 awards active at any time. To find out more about the application timetable, visit the Government of Canada website.

NSERC Postgraduate Scholarships

NSERC Postgraduate Scholarships are for international students in postgraduate natural science or engineering programs. The award provides students with $21,000 per year for three years. For further details, visit NSERC’s official website

Ontario Graduate Scholarship

The Ontario Graduate Scholarship is funded by the provincial government and is a merit-based scholarship available to all students – including international students – in all disciplines of academic study. The award is valued at $10,000 for two consecutive study terms and $15,000 for three consecutive study terms.

To qualify, students must:

To find out how to apply for the Ontario Graduate Scholarship, check with your school’s Graduate Studies Office for more details.

For more information on types of scholarships in Canada, check out our list of the 10 Best Scholarships for International Students.

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