How to Apply to Ontario Colleges as a Canadian or International Student
A guide to OntarioColleges.ca to help you get your application in. The equal consideration deadline is February 1!
It's time to apply for college, and if you want to attend an Ontario school (and who could blame you?) that means you'll have to go through OntarioColleges.ca. If you're applying for a highly competetive program, be sure to get your application in by February 1st. (You can learn whether your program is highly competitive using this OntarioColleges.ca program search tool. Click the link to see only the highly competitive programs.)
Preparing for your Ontario college application
The first step, of course, is research. Dedicate some time to finding information on schools and programs that will get you on the right path to the career you want. For Canadian students, SchoolFinder.com is a good way to compare programs and explore career pathways. You'll find thousands of programs at Ontario colleges that you can filter through! International students are invited to use StudyinCanada.com, a site designed specifically for non-Canadian students to learn more about studying here in Canada.
Do a little reading on application strategies if you're not sure what to expect. Ensuring you have the right prerequisite courses and grades in high school can be a big factor in admissions to certain programs.
Preparing your application on OntarioColleges.ca
Once you've decided on where you want to go, head over to OntarioColleges.ca to create an account. Fill out your profile and contact info, and add information on your current education: what high school(s) you attended, any other post-secondary education you've undergone, and so on.
Ontario college applications for Canadian students
If you're a Canadian applicant, add your program choices for the schools that interest you.
You can apply to up to five program choices across multiple schools, though you can only choose up to three programs at a given school. You could apply to five different schools, for one program at each, or divide your choices up as you like.
If you've been out of high school a while, you'll have to request your transcripts so colleges can assess your grades. If you're applying straight out of high school, odds are good your transcripts will be sent over automatically, especially if you attended an Ontario high school.
Looking for some video guidance? This short video can help walk you through the steps to apply:
Bear in mind, you'll have to pay an application fee of $125 CAD for programs starting in August 2024 or beyond. Your college applications won't be sent to schools until you've paid this fee. You can pay online, by phone, or even by mail.
Ontario college applications for international students
For international students, applying is a little more difficult.
Each college in Ontario has its own procedure for applying, so check out the website for each school you're interested in. On their international student page, you should find an application link that will "add" that school to your OntarioColleges dashboard, which will allow you to apply through the site. Check your dashboard on OntarioColleges, start a new application, and you should see the school appear as an "Available College," as in the screenshot below.
Depending on your school and program, you may be asked for supporting documentation, which can be uploaded directly to your application. This is especially important for international students: you might be asked to prove your English language competency by uploading TOEFL or IELTS scores, as well as provide a copy of your passport's first page.
Schools will also request your transcripts, which are your official grades from high school. If you're coming out of high school, your transcript will likely be automatically sent. For everyone else, check this list (pdf) for your school to try for an automatic request. If your school isn't listed, you'll have to contact them directly to request your transcripts.
You may require official translation of your documents, if they're not in English. ATIO lists qualified translators, and comes recommended by OntarioColleges, but you're sure to find others if you search.
When you've made all your selections and uploaded everything you need to, it's time to pay your $125 application fee. Remember, you can apply to up to five programs, to a maximum of three per school. You may as well get your money's worth! There may be a small charge for transcript transmission, too.
Here's a quick list of the documents you may require as an international student applying to Ontario colleges:
- Official high school (and post-secondary, if applicable) transcripts showing your grades, professionally translated to English (if applicable)
- English language test scores (usually needs to be from within the past 2-3 years; TOEFL and IELTS are popular options, but others exist)
- A photocopy of the first page of your passport
Some programs may require additional documents, so be sure to review the requirements carefully.
(You may want to explore scholarships for international students to help you pay for your education, as well!)
To be eligible to study in Ontario, you'll also need to apply for (and receive) a study permit from the federal government. You can apply for a study permit after receiving a letter of acceptance from a Canadian college or university, and it requires a $150 fee, plus proof that you have at least $20,000 CAD available to support your studies. You can use this tool to determine if you need a study permit.
Submitting your application to an Ontario college
Before you send in your application for good, be sure to review it. Go over all the details, and confirm you've got your programs selected in the order you want them. Then take a deep breath and click submit! Congratulations, you've applied to college in Ontario! You've taken a big step forward in your education. Make sure you check in with SchoolFinder or StudyinCanada now and then, to find advice, articles, and support for every leg of your journey, from your first semester to your first career.
What if I want to change my program or school selection?
You're free to make changes to your choices after you submit your application! Just log into your account to do so. Be aware that changing your choice(s) after the February 1 Equal Consideration deadline could affect your chances of getting into a program, because seats are filled on a "first come, first served" basis.
What if I apply after the February 1st 'Equal Consideration' date?
Your application will still be accepted on or after February 1st! The only caveat is that all applications will be "first come, first served." So, if you're applying to a program with lots of competition, the seats in the program may be filled before you apply. (You could still be waitlisted, but that's another story.)
If you want your best chance at getting accepted to your program of choice, apply early!
You'll hear back from schools by email, and some may even send physical mail.
Enjoy your studies! Be sure to check out sites like ScholarshipsCanada.com to help you find scholarship and bursary opportunities, info on student loans, and more.
Start exploring scholarship opportunities