International master’s students in Canada likelier to graduate after two years than locals

According to Statistics Canada, international master students in Canada are likelier to graduate after two years than domestic students.

By U2B Staff 

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Canada’s international student population has seen a meteoric rise in the past few years, and the Canadian government statistics for pre-pandemic trends have shown that international students in Canada are more likely to complete their master’s programme earlier than domestic students.

Statistics Canada found that 65% of international master’s degree students who started their programme in 2013 had graduated within two years, compared with 58% of their Canadian counterparts. 


Various factors could be attributed to this, including educational qualifications or qualifying programmes started or completed outside Canada before attending a Canadian university. 

“International graduate students may also be more likely to complete their studies in less time because of their higher tuition fees, the costs of living away from home, and the terms of their study permits,” said the report. 

In 2013, international students in graduate programmes paid an average of 13,490 Canadian dollars for tuition, more than double what Canadian students paid (CA$6,038).

Meanwhile, a recently published research article found that Canadian students may also take longer to complete their studies as they’re more likely to combine school and work and to study part-time at the master’s level. 

Growing interest in Canadian postgraduate programmes among international students

International students Canada
Many international students in Canada are entering STEM and BHASE master’s programmes. Source: Don Emmert/AFP

Statistics Canada found that from 2011 to 2016, enrolments of international students in a master’s programme rose more than four times faster than those of Canadian students. 

Just over 43,000 students entered a master’s degree programme at a Canadian university in 2016. Over one-quarter (12,195) were international students, and 30,873 were Canadian students. 

The number of new entrants to master’s programmes rose 51% from 2011 among international students, and 11% among Canadian students.


Other notable findings include the higher proportion of women enrolled in Canadian universities increasing over the past few years. 

Data showed that among international students, men were more likely to enrol in master’s programmes.

Women (60%) accounted for the majority of new entrants to a master’s degree programme among Canadian students in 2016. In contrast, only 46% of new international master’s students were women.

International students also overwhelmingly take up STEM and BHASE master’s programmes  that of new Canadian entrants. 

“From 2011 to 2016, for example, enrolments of new international students entering a STEM master’s programme in Canada rose four times faster than those of their Canadian counterparts (+56% versus +14%) — almost five times faster in BHASE programmes (+47% versus +10%),” said the report.