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Designated Learning Institutions (DLI)

Every year, more than 500,000 international students choose to study in Canada over any other country in the world. Canada ranks as the fourth most popular destination for students looking to study abroad, and it’s no surprise why.

Canada not only offers foreign students the chance to gain a world-class education but with it the opportunity to develop their careers on an international scale. As a foreign student, you could also qualify to stay and work in Canada, giving you the chance to eventually become a permanent resident of this incredible nation.

The most popular way to do this is to apply through the Post-Graduate Work Permit Program (PGWPP). One of the most import requirements to qualify is to ensure that you are enrolled in a designated learning institution that offers PGWPP approved programs and courses.

What is a Designated Learning Institution?

Happy male Asian student on campus | Designated learning institution

A Designated Learning Institution (DLI) is a school that has been approved by a provincial or territorial government to allow international students to complete an educational qualification in Canada. This includes primary, secondary, and post-secondary institutions.

Currently, Canada has more than 1,500 DLIs, most of which are in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia.


Designated Learning Institutions in Canada
ProvinceNumber of DLIs
Alberta155
British Columbia265
Manitoba41
New Brunswick39
Newfoundland & Labrador31
Northwest Territories3
Nova Scotia40
Nunavut0
Ontario504
Quebec437
Prince Edward Island20
Saskatchewan32
Yukon13
Total DLIs1,580

How Do I Find My DLI?

Male student working on laptop | Designated learning institution

To find your DLI, you can visit the Designated Learning Institution (DLI) list on the Canadian government website.

Step 1: Choose Your Province or Territory

You will first need to decide on which province you intend on studying in.

Step 2: Browse DLIs

You can browse through the DLIs list manually or simply type in keywords in the search bar, for example the city or name of the university or college you are interested in studying at in Canada. The list states:

  • The Designated Learning Institution name;
  • The Designated Learning Institution number;
  • City;
  • Campus Location;
  • Whether or not it offers PGWP eligible programs

What is the PGWP?

A Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) allows international students who have completed their study program at a DLI, stay on and work in Canada. This is especially desirable among graduates as gaining just one year of Canadian work experience could make them eligible to apply for permanent residency through programs like the Canada Experience Class as well as various Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs).

Step 3: Write down your DLI number

It is important to jot down the number of your chosen DLI as you will need it when completing your Canada study permit application.

How do I find my designated learning institution number?

You can find your Designated Learning Institution (DLI) number on the Canadian government DLI list. The number begins with an “O” and will also be on your study permit application.

COVID-19 Ready DLIs

All international students who want to study in Canada will need to enroll in an institution that has a COVID-19 readiness plan. This includes

  • protects the health and safety of you and the surrounding community
  • describes how the DLI will manage your mandatory 14-day quarantine period, including transportation to your quarantine location
    • You must have a 14-day quarantine plan, even if you believe you meet the criteria of being a fully vaccinated traveller.
      • When you arrive in Canada, a border services officer will make the final decision about whether you’re exempt from the 14-day quarantine requirement.
    • provides information and support about
      • how you can get the items you need for your quarantine, like food and medications
      • health insurance
      • remaining healthy while in Canada

Taking the Next Step to Study in Canada

students in library working on laptop | Designated learning institution

Once you know exactly which Designated Learning Institution (DLI) you want to study at in Canada, you will need to apply for your Canada study permit. Remember, if you intend on staying and working in Canada once your studies are complete, it’s important to ensure that you not only choose a DLI that is COVID-19 ready but offers PGWP approved programs that are at least 8 months or longer.

Need help choosing a DLI? CanadianVisa.org has a designated student advisor that will not only help you make the best choice but can also help you draft your motivation letter to help you get accepted to the Canadian university or college of your dreams.

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