Written by S.M. Audsley

“O Canada! Our home and native land; True patriot love; In all our sons command,” goes the first few lines of Canada’s national anthem. Canada is known for many things: the red maple leaf, maple syrup, the Toronto Raptors, hockey, gold medal-winning athletes, and much more. Imagine eating poutine and strolling along the streets in a coastline city, or hanging out in Toronto nestled next to Lake Huron, one of the largest lakes in the country. If you are looking for an ideal place to start a degree program and to relocate as an international student, look no further than Canada...

With ten distinct provinces and three territories, spanning an area of 9.98 million square kilometres, Canada is the second largest country in the world by total area. According to an OECD Better Life Index study, “When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Canadians gave it a 7.4 grade on average, higher than the OECD average of 6.5.” A high quality of life and overall satisfaction, generally, correlates to higher quality education. 

Many fields of study are available to interested international students who want to study abroad in Canada. Scholarships are available, but perhaps the most attractive draw for some of the top ten degree fields in Canada is that it’s easier access to a residence permit for students and PhD graduates through Canada’s express entry program. You’ll also find programs with a more affordable average annual tuition and living expenses price tag compared to Canada’s neighbor, the United States, and the country is also cheaper in terms of some degree programs in the United Kingdom and Australia. 

Additionally, degrees are offered in English, and if you’re from a French-speaking background, then you’re in luck, too! Aside from English, French is one of the official languages, and many universities offer courses and degree programs where French language skills are essential.

Let’s take a look at four fields to study in Canada. 

1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

It is no doubt the world is moving fast towards artificial intelligence (AI). The ubiquitous, and obvious, example is the driverless car. So, studying AI at the undergraduate and graduate levels is a no-brainer. Many companies will be looking to hire graduates well trained in computer processes and systems. Students of AI, a computer science field of study, learn to develop systems and learn how to experiment with machine intelligence, which, in this case, is privileged over human intelligence. 

Jean-Francois Venne, of University Affairs, writes, “The economic potential of artificial intelligence (AI) has been like a siren song for many governments, and Canada is no exception. According to Statista, a private data company, Canada was home to 0.7 percent of all worldwide private investment and public financing for AI between 2013 and 2018. That puts it in fifth place among the world’s countries, far behind China (60 percent) and the United States (29 percent).” Canadian universities are now prioritizing AI as a field of study and it is being featured as an option in many curriculums

2. Environmental Studies

Perhaps you prefer to spend your time outside and enchanted by the natural world? A degree in environmental studies might be the best path for you. Environmental studies is the study of the natural world and the human interaction and impact on the environment. As a multidisciplinary field of study, you will get the chance to immerse yourself in many facets of this field that will give you the tools to potentially help solve the most pressing environmental problems our species and the world are facing today. There are many environmental degree programs in Canada at many of the top universities; the list is extensive, so pay attention to the location and to the funding opportunities. 

Rest assured, the government of Canada, prioritizes this field of study, writing, ”Canada assesses all of its development assistance activities for potential risks and opportunities with respect to environmental sustainability and works with its partner countries to ensure that they have the capacity to do the same. This includes enhancing partners' abilities to manage natural resources and address issues like desertification and climate change.” You’ll be studying environmental studies in a country that encourages consideration of the natural world. Also. don’t forget Canadian’s natural resources are rich and varied. Possible fieldwork placements on conservation areas and in national parks can be eye-opening opportunities to learn and grow as an environmental scientist. 

3. Nursing

Listed as one of the most valuable degrees in Canada, a nursing degree is an investment in your future. If you ever considered a career in the healthcare field, you’ll want to consider a nursing degree. According to the HuffPost, the average salary for a nurse in 2017 was $84,510, and, “Job markets in health care are predicted to remain stable, especially given Canada's aging population.” Caring for people who are in pain, or need assistance in a hospital or even in a hospice setting can be one of the most life-affirming career options available for you. 

Jasmine Alami, award-winning nursing graduate from the Ingram School of Nursing at McGill University, said, “I’ve always known that I enjoy working in collaboration with people, but it’s while I was volunteering at the hospital during my bachelor’s at McGill that I uncovered the amazing work nurses do for patients. I knew then that I wanted to be a part of this beautiful profession, which allows me to improve patient’s health on so many levels. Nurses are in a perfect position to effect positive change within the healthcare system, which, to me, is important and gratifying work!”

Many top-notch nursing degrees are available at many universities in Canada. You’ll likely want to search for programs by province, major cities, and by funding opportunities. Don’t forget to pay attention to the prerequisites specific to programs in Canada, and try to do a campus visit if you can afford it to get a sense of the facilities and the student body. 

4. Petroleum Engineering

If you are mathematically and science-minded, a degree in petroleum engineering might be the best way to work your hefty brain power. Petroleum engineers are employed by energy companies, research institutes, and the government. In 2017, HuffPost reported that the average annual salary for a petroleum engineer was $104,000. In other words, a degree in petroleum engineering can launch you into a high paying job, right after graduation. This degree is also listed at the second most valuable degree in Canada. You will want to make sure you compare notes on the best programs, but regardless of which you choose, you can rest assured that you are making a great investment in your future. 

Many companies and government-funded programs take advantage of the rich oil fields and natural resources the Canadian landscape has to offer. As a petroleum engineering student, you will likely be able to see first-hand factories and drilling systems in action, or even tour a facility. This is listed as one of the most fulfilling engineering careers

Canada could be your next destination, if you’re looking for a stellar place to study, grow as a person, and learn new things. Searching for the perfect degree program sometimes means thinking outside the box. Don’t miss out on what Canada has to offer!

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