More and more students seeking a top-notch higher education experience are looking to our neighbors in the North in recent years.
In fact, last year Canada saw an 11% increase in international student enrollment across the board. As immigration policy remains contentious in the U.S., the Canadian draw is clear, from lower cost of living to job opportunities, abundant diversity, and welcoming visa rules.
Spending Canadian dollars will be far friendlier to your budget. Living in Toronto will cost you about half as much as living in New York City, and be about 30% cheaper than living in L.A. or Boston. And it’s not just your apartment or your morning cappuccino that will be more affordable; you can expect your tuition to run you 10-40% less in Canada than at the top U.S. schools.
Recommended Reading>>> 5 Ways to Pay for an MBA
If cost-of-living isn’t tempting enough, let’s talk job opportunities. Canada’s “Express Entry” program, fully rolled out in 2017, actively seeks to draw immigrants, particularly students and skilled workers, to its shores by making the Visa process as easy as possible, and full-time MBA students in Canada are given a much easier road to remaining in the country. Along with a diploma, you are guaranteed a 3-year Canadian work permit following graduation. The cherry on top? Unlike in the U.S., your spouse is eligible to work, too.
All this Canadian friendliness translates to a seriously diverse population. In Toronto, nearly half the population is composed of immigrants, with large segments representing India and China. We see you, Canada.
Granted, salaries may not be what they are in many U.S. cities—you likely won’t earn the same salary as your NYC investment banking counterparts—but you won’t pay dearly for social services like your American neighbors. Canada follows a European-style socialized model for health and education services, an attractive feature to many immigrants. While your paycheck might be smaller, less of it will go to healthcare, student loans, or the aforementioned costs of living, and more of it will go to curling lessons.
Of course, if curling isn’t your thing, take your pick of winter sports: bobsledding, ice hockey, ice fishing, or even the infamous Canadian Logging competitions. Get in touch with your inner lumberjack, and get ready to feel like you’re living in the winter Olympics several months a year. We hope you don’t mind being snowed in every once in a while!
Rotman School of Management
Rotman, the business school of the University of Toronto, is considered “Canada’s best school for Finance,” and is the highest ranked Canadian program according to the Financial Times. The average GMAT score is about 665, making it easier to get into than the top U.S. programs, and it has an excellent track record, with 44% of last year’s grads working in the financial industry. While U.S. programs usually boast about 1/3 of their student population being international students, Rotman’s student population is more than 50% international, and the school offers friendly loan options for international students with either a Canadian co-signer or through an approved bank in their home country.
Schulich School of Business
If Toronto has your heart but Rotman doesn’t, York University, also located in Toronto, offers 16 or 20 month flexible length programs at its business school—Schulich—with intakes in January or September. The average age of MBA students at Schulich is 29, so you can expect to find older peers with abundant professional experience, and the average GMAT score is 660. It offers solid prospects, with 89% of students employed within three months of graduation, and an average salary of 90,000CAD.
Recommended Reading>>> Everything You Need to Know to Ace your MBA Interview
Ivey Business School
Ivey, located in London, Ottawa, is consistently considered one of Canada’s top three MBA programs, and the only school to offer a case-based program. It is a strongly consulting focused program, more so even than Rotman, with 36% of students embarking on consulting or corporate strategy careers after graduation. An unusually small program, Ivey takes only about 150 students every year, and has the most competitive average GMAT of Canadian schools, at 670. The one-year program will get you back in the professional world quickly, and with a start-date in March, it’s first deadlines are in January.
Sauder School of Business
On Canada’s west coast, in what is undoubtedly the nation’s hippest city, Vancouver, Sauder offers an MBA that is neither finance nor consulting focused. At Sauder, there is a strong core of students from manufacturing, construction or natural resources backgrounds, and the technology and consumer goods industries dominate post grad hires. The program has a number of unique features, prominent among which is a mandatory Global Immersion Experience that gives MBA candidates the opportunity to spend two weeks abroad consulting on business problems for local organizations. The average GMAT in the MBA program is 646, but if you only have nine months to spare and are short on experience, Sauder’s “Master of Management” program offers non-business grads a foundational business education that earns 95% of graduates employment within three months.
For those seeking that “quelque chose” in their MBA experience, HEC Montreal might be just the thing. The Montreal branch of France’s most elite business school is located in one of Canada’s largest and most dynamic, as well as historic, cities, Montreal. Like its counterpart in France, the HEC Montreal students are on the older side, with an average age of 31, and an average GMAT of 625. The school offers not only a great program but strong connections with the French-speaking world, even beyond Canada and France. Intake happens in April, and the one year program will cost you only 33,000CAD, making it one of the cheapest schools from which to get a prestigious MBA in Canada.
Recommended Reading>>> 7 Key Differences Between U.S. and European MBA Programs
Desautels School of Management
Montreal’s big enough for more than just one MBA program, with McGill University offering a competitive program from the Desautels School of Management. With only 80 students, this will feel like an intimate program, where you’ll get to know your peers, about 60% of whom will be fellow internationals, very well. The two-year program has an average GMAT of 670, and an 85% placement rate within three months of graduation.
Smith School of Business
Finally, Queen’s MBA program, Smith, in Kingston, Ontario is consistently ranked in the top 20 of Bloomberg’s international MBA rankings, and offers a one-year program as well, putting you back on the job market quickly. Following a slightly unusual schedule which may be to your advantage, the school has a January start, and early action deadlines are in May, with rolling deadlines through October. The real kicker, though, is Smith’s impressive grad employment rate of 98% within six months of graduation.
In conclusion, Canada is awesome, and so are it’s MBA programs. From Toronto to Montreal to Vancouver, these are truly international cities with a lot to offer. Better yet, as far as where to get your MBA, these programs offer excellent ROI, a friendly visa situation, and growing international reputations. It makes sense that more and more students are setting their sights to the North, and maybe you should too. Put Canada on your radar, and see if it has some opportunities for you and your post-MBA goals. Just don’t forget your down jacket!