Nursing schools in Canada for int’l students: The best, most affordable and most accessible

nursing schools in Canada
Source: Jeff Kowalsky / AFP)

If you want to serve people, feel fulfilled and make a decent living, head to nursing schools in Canada.

A nursing degree in this country sets you up to become not just a staff nurse, nurse anesthetist or case manager, but it prepares you for a wide range of alternative career options as well.

These include forensic nurse, medical editor or writer, supplemental nurse, travel nurse or research nurse. 

Sounds more exciting doesn’t it?

And allthough not as dramatic as TV shows make the profession out to be — please point us in the direction of medical facilities with practitioners that are as gorgeous as the ones in “Chicago Med” and “Grey’s Anatomy” — nursing is considered a noble and fulfilling pursuit. 

And the best part? There is always a demand for more nurses. 

It was recently announced that the Quebec government is setting aside 65 million Canadian dollars to train 1,000 foreign nurses, to deal with the country’s shortage of nurses. 

A good and satisfying job in one of the greatest countries in the world — what more reason does one need to join nursing schools in Canada?

nursing schools

International students often flock to Canada for their nursing qualifications. Source: Bertrand Guay / AFP

Why choose nursing schools in Canada?

Canadian universities are known for providing world-class education.

Not only are programmes paired with cutting-edge research and up-to-date practices, but they are often highly ranked and thus globally recognised.

This means that a qualification from most nursing schools in Canada will enable you to work from anywhere in the world. 

It is relatively easy to apply for a Canadian student visa, which means less stress with your application process. There is also a range of job opportunities available.

Then, there’s the price factor. Studying nursing in Canada is considered quite affordable.

According to Statistics Canada, the average international undergraduate tuition fee for nursing is CA$24,852 for 2022-23

If you require funding, check out the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships and Government Of Canada scholarships for international students

There are also many pathways to choose from depending on what qualifications you have.

You can consider pursuing a Bachelor in Science in Nursing (BSN), Bachelor in Science (BSc), Master in Applied Science in Nursing (MASc), Master in Science in Nursing (M.S.N), graduate certificate, graduate diploma degrees, and PhD in Nursing.

There are also some fun specialisations you could consider:

  • Midwifery
  • Critical Care Pediatric Nursing
  • Emergency Nursing
  • Community Health
  • Global Health
  • Enterostomal Therapy Nursing
  • Gastroenterology Nursing
  • Nephrology Nursing
  • Medical-Surgical Nursing
  • Nursing Administration
  • Hospice Palliative Care Nursing
  • Cardiovascular Nursing

Now that we have convinced you to study nursing in Canada, perhaps it is time we get into the details of the necessary qualifications. 

What do you need to get into nursing schools in Canada?

Each university will have its own entry requirements and their websites will give you a comprehensive list.

Here are the main things you would need to have as an international student: 

  • Passport and student visa
  • French or English proficiency qualification (eg. IELTS, TOEFL, CAEL or CAEL online, PTE Academic)
  • Proof of funds for programme and accommodation fees as well as living costs
  • For a bachelor’s degree in nursing, you will need to have graduated from secondary school with particular core subjects — Mathematics, English, Biology, and Chemistry — 12th level.
  • To apply for a master’s degree in nursing, applicants need a bachelor’s degree and most schools require a registered nurse license and one year of clinical experience. 
  • For a doctoral programme, universities require a master’s degree in nursing or equivalent.

Checked all the boxes? Now to explore the nursing schools in Canada that are the best fit for you.

nursing schools

It can be difficult to pick from the many nursing schools in Canada. Source: Anne-Christine Poujoulat / AFP

The best nursing schools in Canada

There seems to be a general consensus online about universities that offer nursing in Canada. 

Perhaps the most reliable ranking system is the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2023: Nursing. Here are the top Canadian nursing schools and where they place globally: 

5 University of Alberta 

7 University of Toronto 

24 McMaster University 

25 University of British Columbia 

39 McGill University 

44 University of Calgary

To further aid your journey toward becoming a nurse we have picked out the highest-ranking, most affordable, and most accessible nursing schools in Canada:

Highest-ranking of all nursing schools in Canada

Maintaining its high rankings for many years, the University of Alberta has three Canada Research Chairs.

The faculty are not only exemplary with their education, but students get to explore important areas such as nursing ethics and the ever-changing advancements in digital health. 

Having been around for over a century, the nursing school claims to be the first to offer a master’s programme in nursing, as well as the first in Canada to have a publicly funded doctoral programme and a distance doctoral programme option. 

“We continue to attract the best and brightest to our nursing programmes,” says Diane Kunyk, acting dean of the Faculty of Nursing. “Our tight-knit community values mentorship and a culture of excellence — in teaching, research and clinical care — and nurtures students to become the next generation of nursing leaders.”

nursing schools

Canada has some of the best nursing schools in the world. Source: Getty Images / AFP

Most affordable nursing schools in Canada

One of the cheapest universities in Canada for courses in nursing is the University of Prince Edward Island. 

Their Faculty of Nursing Programmes charge CA$6,570 per year, based on 15 credit hours (which is 657 Canadian dollars per three-credit course). 

This university boasts the second-lowest tuition fees in the Atlantic region, and they also offer more than CA$5 million in scholarships and awards

University of Prince Edward Island’s nursing curriculum follows the definition of primary health care defined by the World Health Organisation.

It is “essential healthcare made universally accessible to individuals and families in the community by means acceptable to them, through their full participation and at a cost that the community and country can afford.”

If you are looking to cut costs, you might consider a two-year nursing programme. Here are some of the Canadian universities that offer them:

  • University of Ottawa
  • McGill University
  • Stenberg College
  • Lakehead University
  • Ryerson University
  • Langara College
  • Conestoga College of Applied Arts and Technology.
  • Durham College.
  • Thompson Rivers University.
  • Georgian College.
  • Centennial College of Applied Arts and Technology.
  • Fanshawe College of Applied Arts and Technology.

The easiest nursing schools in Canada to get into

Before we proceed any further, “easy” is subjective. Someone who’s good with people will naturally rate dealing with tough patients easy; an introvert will say the opposite.

We all perceive “easy” and “difficult” differently. Hence it’s why to have an objective assessment of what’s the “easiest” nursing schools in Canada to get into — that is, the acceptance rate.

According to Global Scholarships, Lakehead University has an acceptance rate of 55%, making it the third highest in Canada.

Naturally, it wins the title of the easiest or most accessible nursing school for international students. 

The Lakehead University School of Nursing offers:

  • Four-year BScN programme in collaboration with Confederation College
  • Three-year compressed BScN programme
  • Nurse Practitioner Programme
  • Master’s in Public Health with a Specialisation in Nursing
  • Indigenous Nursing Entry Programme (INEP)

Other than having faculty who publish their research frequently, this nursing school also gives students hands-on learning experiences. 

Examining detailed nursing theories and practices, you will also enjoy working with cutting-edge medical technology.  

Students will engage in diverse clinical experiences, from community settings and hospitals to long-term care facilities. 

nursing schools

Students often enjoy the hands-on experiences they have at Canadian nursing schools. Source: Theo Rouby / AFP

After choosing a school and getting your qualification the next step would be to get a job. You first need to register with the National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS) to get your licence.

Bear in mind that it can cost around CA$765 to do this.

Another good reason to work in Canada is that they offer competitive salaries for graduate nurses. For a 36-40 hour working week, you can earn around 59,000 Canadian dollars annually.

Use your connections made while studying your course and hopefully you will land the job of your dreams.