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Designated Learning Institutions (DLI)

Updated: June 20th, 2023

Higher education is vast, diverse, and full of opportunities. One such opportunity is to study at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) in Canada. DLIs are recognized by the Canadian government as educational institutions that international students can attend under various study permit programs. These institutions range from universities to colleges and tertiary institutions offering various programs for domestic and international students.

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

As an international student, choosing to study in a DLI in Canada could be a life-changing decision. It opens the door to quality education, broadens your cultural horizons, and can even pave the way for future opportunities to work and live in Canada. With the right information and guidance, you can navigate the process of choosing a DLI and embark on an exciting academic journey.

This comprehensive guide aims to provide you with essential information about DLIs in Canada. From understanding what a DLI is to choosing the right institution and understanding the importance of DLIs for international students, this guide will serve as a resource to help you navigate your journey to studying in Canada.

What is a Designated Learning Institution?

A Designated Learning Institution (DLI) is an educational institution recognized and approved by the Canadian government to host international students. Each province or territory in Canada has the authority to designate schools at the post-secondary level that can enroll international students. These include universities in Canada, colleges in Canada, and other educational institutions.

Enrolling in a DLI is essential for international students who wish to study in Canada. It ensures that the institution they choose meets specific standards set by the government. This guarantees a high-quality education and a valuable credential upon graduation.

Studying at a DLI also opens up potential pathways for international students who wish to stay in Canada post-graduation. It is a crucial step towards eligibility for work permits and can even lead to permanent residency in Canada.

Enrolling in a DLI is also required to obtain a study permit in Canada. The study permit allows international students to stay in Canada for their study program. Additionally, studying at a DLI can make international students eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). This permit allows graduates to work in Canada for up to three years after graduation, providing valuable work experience and potentially paving the way for permanent residency.

How to Find Your DLI Canada

How to Find Your DLI Canada

Finding the right DLI in Canada involves a three-step process: choosing a tertiary institution, checking if the institution is a DLI, and starting the application process.

Step 1: Choose a Tertiary Institution in Canada

The first step is to choose a tertiary institution in Canada. Canada is home to numerous high-quality universities and colleges that cater to a wide range of academic interests. Whether you're interested in humanities, sciences, business, or arts, there's a Canadian institution that will suit your educational needs and goals.

Next, consider the location. Canada is a vast country, with each province offering a unique cultural and geographical experience. Do you prefer an urban or rural setting? What climate do you prefer? Understanding these preferences will help you narrow down your choices.

Finally, consider the reputation and ranking of the DLI. While rankings should not be the sole determining factor, they can provide insight into the quality of education and the institution's research output. Research thoroughly and make an informed choice. Learn more about how to choose your perfect DLI.

Step 2: Check if Your Institution Falls on the List of DLI Schools in Canada

Once you've selected a tertiary institution, the next step is to verify if it's listed as a DLI. To check if your institution falls on the list of DLI schools in Canada, you can follow these steps:

  • Go to the Government of Canada's Designated Learning Institutions list website.
  • Choose the province or territory where your school is located.
  • Type in keywords such as the school's name, city, etc.
  • Find the DLI number and write it under the "Details of intended study in Canada" section on your study permit application.

Step 3: Start Your Application Process

After verifying that your chosen institution is a DLI, the next step is to start your application process. This typically involves submitting an application form, academic transcripts, proof of language proficiency, and other necessary documents. The exact requirements will vary between institutions, so it's essential to check the specific application process of your chosen DLI.

When applying to a DLI, ensuring your eligibility is vital to your application process. Following each step throughout your application is just as vital when starting your journey to Canada. If you want to ensure everything runs smoothly, we highly recommend utilizing the resources of a designated immigration professional like a student advisor or Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC).

Why Study at a DLI Canada?

Why Study at a DLI Canada?

Studying in a DLI in Canada offers a range of benefits. 

World Class Education

Firstly, you'll receive a world-class education. Canadian institutions are renowned for their high academic standards and rigorous programs. Learn more about education in Canada.

Cultural Immersion

Secondly, you'll have the opportunity to experience Canadian culture firsthand. Canada is a multicultural and welcoming country, and studying here immerses you in this diverse society. Learn more about Canada's culture.

Work Opportunities

Thirdly, studying at a DLI can open up opportunities for you to work and live in Canada after graduation. Many international students who graduate from a DLI are eligible to apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit, which can lead to permanent residency in Canada. Learn more about the job opportunities in Canada.


What is a Designated Learning Institution?

Where are the Most DLI Schools in Canada?

DLI schools are spread across Canada, with a significant presence in every province and territory. However, the provinces of Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec have the highest concentration of DLIs. These provinces are home to many of Canada's largest and most prestigious universities and colleges.

Province Number of DLIs
Alberta 156
British Columbia 275
Manitoba 49
New Brunswick 41
Newfoundland & Labrador 29
Northwest Territories 3
Nova Scotia 41
Nunavut 0
Ontario 524
Quebec 438
Prince Edward Island 21
Saskatchewan 32
Yukon 13
Total DLIs 1,621

Which are the Best DLIs in Canada for International Students?

While the "best" DLI will depend on your interests and goals, some Canadian institutions are particularly popular with international students. These include the University of Toronto, McGill University, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Alberta. These institutions are renowned for their diverse student bodies, extensive program offerings, and strong support for international students.

How to Start Your Journey to Studying in Canada

Studying in a designated learning institution in Canada is a significant decision, but it can open up numerous opportunities. With the right preparation and guidance, you can navigate the process successfully.

Research thoroughly, consider your academic and personal goals, and make an informed choice. The journey to studying in Canada may seem daunting, but with the right steps, you'll soon embark on an exciting academic adventure in one of the world's most welcoming and diverse countries.

However, to study in Canada, you need a Canada study permit. To do so, you must go through a study permit application process. One of the best ways to ensure you don't have any issues getting your Canadian study permit is to have the support and guidance of an immigration expert like an RCIC. 

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