The USA and Canada are among the top study destinations worldwide for international students! In 2019, the US hosted over 1 million international students to study at its over 5000 universities. The same year, Canada hosted just over half a million international students–just behind the UK.
Both the USA and Canada offer amazing educational, professional, and personal opportunities to international students. But there are also key differences between these two countries that will shape which one you choose to study in.
Let’s explore the differences and benefits of studying in the USA vs Canada together.
USA: Top-Ranked Universities
The USA comes in first place if you look at university rankings. 25% of the top 100 universities in the world are America, far ahead of Canada which only has 8 in the top 200. Harvard, MIT, University of Chicago, and UC Berkeley are just a few of the top schools open to international students in the US.
American university degrees are highly valued all around the world, especially from a top university, and they offer students instant name recognition and incredible career opportunities. US universities set the standards for higher education globally, and universities around the world pay close attention to the innovations from US universities and students.
Read More: 60 Fun Facts about the USA
Canada: Cheaper Costs and Tuition
Canada, however, is much better in terms of saving money. On average, the cost of living in Canada is 13% cheaper than living in the US. Even in some of the largest Canadian cities, cost of living is cheaper than their US counterparts.
|Canadian City||Cost of Living (USD)||US City||
Cost of Living (USD)
|Toronto||2200||New York City||3500|
Canadian tuition is also cheaper in general than US tuition. However, international students in both US and Canada need to pay higher tuition than local students.
Canada: Easier to Stay and Work After Graduation
The US has a notoriously complicated visa process for international students who want to stay and work in the country after graduation. However, Canada has a much easier and straightforward process. International students graduating from Canadian universities can apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit, which opens the door to apply for permanent residence in Canada.
This process is much easier in Canada as compared to the US because 25% of the Canadian workforce in 2019 were all immigrants. With a smaller population than the US, Canada strongly depends on the careers and efforts of international workers.
USA: Greatest University Diversity in the World
With over 5,300 universities, the USA has the largest number of universities in the world–standing far ahead of China (which only has 2000). With thousands of universities all open for international students, you will be able to find a university that fits your exact criteria and has the exact subject you want to study.
US universities are leaders in higher education, scholarship, and policy around the world. Major US universities often fund important research, connect students with global conferences or opportunities to collaborate, and inspire think tanks, politicians, diplomats, and future generations. The US is unbeatable when it comes to diverse opportunity across hundreds of fields.
Here are some different types of schools available to study in the US:
- Religious schools
- If you want your faith to be a part of your university education, there are hundreds of schools available that integrate high-quality global standard education, with religious education and services.
- Art schools
- For creatives, designers, musicians, etc, there are hundreds of arts-focused schools where you can be surrounded by galleries, performances, and exhibitions every week.
- Historically Black Universities (HBCUs)
- Black students (African, Caribbean, African-American descent) have the opportunity to attend HBCUs, universities that focus specifically on Black students. They provide better student services and career opportunities for Black students, as well as immersion into Black US culture and history.
- Division 1 Universities
- If you are a sports fan or a top athlete, Division 1 schools are the highest-ranked sports schools in the US for sports such as football, soccer, tennis, swimming, and more! Alongside stellar academics, sports culture is a major part of campus life. Students enjoy attending sports matches, showing school spirit, and joining sports teams. These schools have such a high standard of athletics their games are regularly played on TVs in the US, and have fans around the world.
Read More: Guide to Study in the USA 2023
Canada: Safety First
Compared to the USA, Canada is a much safer country to visit primarily due to the country’s strict guns laws. While gun ownership is legal in the USA, Canada heavily restricts firearms. Violent crime or mass shootings in Canada are extremely rare.
In both the USA and Canada, you will need to be aware of several safety issues. Pickpocketing and muggings often occur late at night or in crowded tourist areas. While out at bars or restaurants, students should maintain safety, be aware of their surroundings, and avoid walking alone late at night.
USA: Better Employment Opportunities
The USA is the top country for graduate employment and offers much higher starting salaries for university graduates than Canada does. The starting salary for US university grads was 48,127 USD in 2018, 10,000 higher than in Canada.
International students in the US have access to their university’s career centers, a standard service at US universities. Career centers help students prepare for interviews, write a strong resume, find internships, and obtain a job offer. This service helps prepare international students very well to enter the US work force–and they will even offer resources, guidance, and support for a work visa!
Which Should I Choose–USA vs Canada?
Both countries clearly have very strong pros and cons. Each student has their own idea of what the best university environment will look like, and we hope this guide helps you understand the pros and cons of studying in the USA vs Canada. Students who are motivated, hardworking, and involved in their campus life will do well and find success no matter where they study!
Find programs in both the USA and Canada to compare costs and curriculum here: