Why International Students Choose Atlantic Canada as a Study Abroad Destination

Located among the stunning landscapes of Canada's eastern coast, Atlantic Canada attracts with its unique blend of academic excellence, cultural diversity, and unparalleled quality of life. Renowned for its prestigious universities and colleges, Atlantic Canada provides a world-class education that prepares students for success worldwide. With a welcoming community, affordable living costs, and diverse career opportunities, it's no wonder the numbers of international students in Atlantic Canada continue to rise.

Ready to discover why international students in Atlantic Canada chose the region as their study abroad destination? Then, join us as we uncover why international students seek academic excellence, cultural immersion, and unmatched quality of life on Canada’s Atlantic seaboard.

Renowned Universities in Atlantic Canada

renowned universities in Canada

Atlantic Canada boasts a rich academic tradition, with several universities consistently ranking among the best in Canada. The region offers renowned institutions that offer internationally recognized programs across various disciplines. This includes tertiary institutions such as:

These universities are known for the following advantages.

  • Strong Research Focus: Many universities in Atlantic Canada have strong research programs, allowing students to participate in cutting-edge projects alongside renowned faculty.
  • Diverse Program Offerings: Atlantic Canada's universities cater to various academic interests, from engineering and business to marine science and environmental studies.
  • Focus on Practical Learning: Many programs integrate internships, co-op placements, and experiential learning opportunities, allowing students to gain valuable real-world experience.
  • Smaller Class Sizes: Compared to larger universities, Atlantic Canadian institutions typically have smaller classes, creating a more personalized learning environment and closer interaction with professors.

Affordable Living Costs in Atlantic Canada

Affordable living costs in Canada

Atlantic Canada stands out for offering a significantly lower cost of living than other Canadian provinces. This translates to significant savings for international students on expenses like tuition fees, accommodation, and daily living costs. Here's a breakdown.

  • Tuition Fees: Tuition fees in Atlantic Canada are generally lower than the national average, making a quality education more accessible for international students.
  • Accommodation: Housing costs, including rent and utilities, are typically lower in Atlantic Canada than in major urban centers in other provinces.
  • Living Expenses: Groceries, transportation, and other daily expenses are often more affordable in Atlantic Canada, allowing students to maintain a comfortable standard of living on a budget.

Atlantic Canada’s affordable cost of living is highlighted below with figures from Numbeo, comparing the estimated monthly costs of living for a family of four in two major cities in the region with two other major cities in Canada.

Major Canadian Cities Estimated Monthly Costs For a Family of Four (CAD)
Vancouver, British Columbia 5,730.6
Toronto, Ontario 5,584.0
St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador 5,506.5
Halifax, Nova Scotia 5,266.3

Learn more with Canada's five cheapest universities for international students.

Welcoming Communities in Atlantic Canada

Atlantic Canada is renowned for its warm and welcoming communities. People in this region are known for their friendly disposition and willingness to help newcomers adjust to their new surroundings. This welcoming environment makes international students feel more comfortable and supported throughout their academic journey. Here are some specific benefits:

Strong International Student Support Services

Universities and colleges in Atlantic Canada offer dedicated support services for international students, helping them understand visas, housing, and cultural differences.

Multicultural Societies

Atlantic Canada has a growing and vibrant multicultural population. This allows international students to connect with people from similar backgrounds and build a strong support network.

Learn more about multiculturalism in Canada.

Safety and Security in Atlantic Canada

Safety is a paramount concern for international students choosing a study abroad destination. Atlantic Canada consistently ranks among the safest regions in Canada, with low crime rates and a strong sense of community. This allows students to focus on their studies and enjoy their time in Canada without worrying about their safety. Here are some contributing factors to a safe environment:

Learn more about crime rates in Canada.

Career Opportunities in Atlantic Canada

Atlantic Canada offers a growing and diverse job market with opportunities in various sectors. The region is experiencing a skilled labor shortage, making it a great place for international students to find employment after graduation by applying for a Postgraduate Work Permit (PGWP). Here are the job opportunities you can expect as an international student in Canada.

Demand for Skilled Workers

Many Atlantic provinces are experiencing labor shortages in healthcare, information technology, and engineering, presenting opportunities for international students with relevant qualifications.

Cooperative Education Programs

Many universities in Atlantic Canada offer co-op programs that allow students to gain valuable work experience while studying. This practical experience can enhance their resumes and make them more competitive in the job market after graduation.

Learn more about the best universities in Canada to get a job after graduation.

Stunning Landscapes in Atlantic Canada

Stunning landscapes in Canada

Beyond academics, Atlantic Canada boasts some of North America's most breathtaking natural landscapes. The region offers a playground for outdoor enthusiasts, from rugged coastlines and majestic mountains to pristine national parks and charming fishing villages. Here's a glimpse of what awaits students:

  • Ocean Paradise: Atlantic Canada's extensive coastline offers opportunities for kayaking, sailing, whale watching, and exploring hidden coves and beaches.
  • Majestic Mountains: Hikers and mountain climbers can explore the awe-inspiring Appalachian Mountains that stretch across the region.
  • National Parks: Explore the diverse ecosystems of Atlantic Canada's national parks, from Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland and Labrador, Fundy National Park in New Brunswick to Cape Breton Highlands National Park in Nova Scotia.
  • Four Distinct Seasons: Atlantic Canada experiences all four seasons, allowing international students to enjoy skiing and snowboarding in winter, hiking, and camping in summer, and experiencing the vibrant colors of fall foliage.

Pathway to Permanent Residency in Canada

A significant advantage of studying in Atlantic Canada is the potential pathway to permanent residency in Canada. Several Atlantic provinces have established Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) designed to attract and retain international graduates. For example, programs like the Atlantic Immigration Pilot (AIP) offer a streamlined immigration process for students who meet the eligibility criteria and wish to build a career in Canada. Here's how it benefits students:

  • Faster Processing Times: PNP programs generally offer faster IRCC processing times than other immigration streams, allowing students to transition to permanent residency sooner.
  • Work Experience Advantage: PNP programs often prioritize candidates with relevant work experience gained during their studies through co-op placements or internships.
  • Skilled Labor Shortage: The labor shortage in Atlantic Canada makes international graduates with in-demand skills more attractive candidates for PNP programs.

Learn more about how to get Canadian permanent residency after graduation.

Exceptional Living Standards in Atlantic Canada

Atlantic Canada offers a high quality of life beyond affordability. Students can expect a clean and safe environment, access to excellent healthcare, and a strong sense of community. Here are some key aspects that contribute to Atlantic Canada’s high living standards.

  • Universal Healthcare: Canada's universal healthcare system ensures all residents, including international students with valid health insurance, have access to quality medical care.
  • Clean Environment: Atlantic Canada boasts clean air, pristine water, and a focus on environmental sustainability, offering a healthy living environment.
  • Strong Social Safety Net: Canada's social safety net, administered via the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), provides support services and benefits to residents facing hardship, ensuring a basic standard of living.
  • Work-Life Balance: Atlantic Canadian culture emphasizes a healthy work-life balance, allowing students to enjoy their studies while exploring the region's natural beauty and cultural offerings.

Learn how to secure a comfortable living standard in Atlantic Canada by applying for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) as an international student.

Cultural Diversity in Atlantic Canada

While often perceived as homogenous, Atlantic Canada has a rich and diverse cultural heritage. The region's history is shaped by immigration from various parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa, creating a vibrant multicultural society. As an international student in Atlantic Canada, this diversity offers several advantages, as outlined below.

  • Exposure to Different Cultures: Studying in Atlantic Canada allows students to experience and learn about diverse cultures, broadening their perspectives and creating intercultural understanding.
  • Multicultural Events and Festivals: Throughout the year, Atlantic Canada hosts various cultural events and festivals like Roots, Rants, and Roars that celebrate the region's diverse heritage.
  • Opportunity to Connect with People from Similar Backgrounds: International students can connect with people from similar backgrounds within the growing multicultural communities in Atlantic Canada.

Support Services for International Students in Atlantic Canada

Universities and colleges in Atlantic Canada recognize the importance of supporting international students throughout their academic journey. These institutions offer various support services to help students adjust to a new environment and succeed in their studies. Here are some key support services available:

    Pre-Arrival Support: Many universities offer pre-arrival support services to assist international students with applying, visa requirements, and finding accommodation.
  • Orientation Programs: Orientation programs help students familiarize themselves with the campus, academic resources, and life in Canada.
  • Academic Advisors: Dedicated academic advisors are available to guide students with course selection, academic progress, and career planning.
  • Cultural Support Services: International student centers or cultural support services provide resources and programs that help students integrate into Canadian life and connect with others from diverse backgrounds.
  • Language Support: Some universities offer language support services to help international students improve their English or French language skills, essential for academic success and integration into the community.

How Can I Study in Atlantic Canada as an International Student?

Studying in Atlantic Canada as an international student involves going through specific procedures and requirements, primarily centered around obtaining a Canada study permit. The first step is to secure admission to a designated learning institution (DLI) in Atlantic Canada. Once accepted, you can apply for a study permit through Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Canada Study Permit

The Canada study permit serves as your official authorization to study in Canada and is typically valid for the duration of your program. To apply for a study permit, you must provide proof of acceptance from a DLI, demonstrate sufficient funds to cover tuition fees, living expenses, and return transportation, and meet certain health and security requirements.

Student Direct Stream

Moreover, international students wishing to fast-track their study permit process may consider applying through the Student Direct Stream (SDS). This stream is available to students from 14 select countries who meet specific eligibility criteria. The SDS fast-tracks the processing time for Canada study permit applications, typically within 20 calendar days.

Find out more about the new English Language Tests accepted for Canada’s SDS.

Now that you know better why international students choose Atlantic Canada as their study destination, you can begin establishing your educational career as an international student in Canada.


Are the Class Sizes Smaller in Atlantic Canada?

Yes, class sizes tend to be smaller in Atlantic Canada compared to larger metropolitan areas, allowing for more personalized attention from professors and a closer-knit learning environment.

What Are Some Challenges of Studying Abroad in Atlantic Canada?

Some challenges of studying abroad in Atlantic Canada may include adjusting to a new cultural environment, adapting to different teaching styles, and coping with homesickness initially. Still, these can be overcome with support from university resources and fellow students.

Where Can I Find More Information About Studying in Atlantic Canada?

You can find more information about studying abroad in Atlantic Canada by visiting the official websites of universities and colleges in the region, contacting their international student offices, or accessing resources provided by organizations such as the Study Atlantic Canada and Study and Stay Program.