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Master's Programs: USA vs. Canada

Canada and the USA are popular choices for overseas study, with a shared language and multiple cultural similarities. We evaluate how the USA and Canada compare for masters study, considering fees, program types, and post-study visas.

Jun 8, 2023
  • Study Abroad


The USA has 3,216 universities, and Canada has 387, thus the USA offers more choices, but both countries offer a diverse range of educational programs. Canada has no federal ministry of education; individual provinces and territories are responsible for higher education. Consequently, its universities have a great variety of course portfolios and specialisms.

American universities are split into private and public institutions, and many specialist universities, such as liberal arts schools, technical colleges, and Ivy League universities.

Program Types

USA and Canada offer graduate programs that follow a relevant bachelor's degree, allowing you to study a subject in more depth or gain advanced vocational training. Master's degrees in the USA and Canada are divided into two broad categories: academic and professional programs, or course-based and thesis-based programs in Canada.

Professional masters programs

Professional programs will give you the vocational training to follow a particular career path.

Academic masters programs

Academic programs combine taught modules with independent research leading to a dissertation, which can lead to PhD study should you wish.

Master's degrees are taught in English in the USA, as Canada is a bilingual country, and many universities offer master's degrees in English and French. For institutions with two teaching languages, applicants may only have to demonstrate proficiency in one or the other. In some cases, you might be able to study a master's taught in two languages, which is an excellent opportunity to strengthen your language proficiency.

Fees and funding for a master's in the USA vs. Canada

Master's degrees in Canada cost an average of $21,100 per year for international graduate students; the average cost of a master's degree in the US is $62,650 for international students. The cost of a Master's degree varies depending on the school, major, and program length.

Master's degrees in the USA are expensive, but international students usually pay the same tuition fees as local students. It is vital to note tuition fees at public universities will be lower for 'in-state' domestic students. International students pay more than local students in Canada, with tuition fees around $7,472.

Various funding options are available in Canada and the USA; thus, it's rare for students to cover the costs of their entire master's degree. American and Canadian universities often offer their scholarship packages, and numerous organizations provide funding for international students. The Fullbright Commission runs packages supporting students studying in the USA. The Canadian government lists international scholarships for master's students to research and apply for.

Some scholarships often ask students to take the GMAT, a good score will increase your funding options.

Read more about master's fees and funding in Canada or the USA.

Master's programs in Canada vs. the USA: post-study visas

You'll need a visa if you consider living in the US or Canada after graduating with your master's degree. In Canada, most master's students can apply for a post-graduation work permit, valid for a period equal to the length of the study program. You can apply for a permanent residency under the Canadian Experience Class once you have gained at least 12 months of work experience.

If you want to stay in the USA after graduating with your master's degree, you must apply for a permanent or temporary worker's visa. Earning a master's degree in the USA does not mean your visa application will be guaranteed.

Ready to start applying? We list hundreds of American and Canadian master's programs in our database.

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Keystone Team


The Keystone Team is comprised of experienced educators and advisors dedicated to providing valuable resources and advice to students all over the world.

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