USA or Canada? Which is Better for Pursuing MS?


Cyril Zachariah
Updated on Jun 07, 2023 06:20 PM IST

Want to pursue MS abroad? Students who wish to study MS abroad often get confused about which country is right for them. Is it the USA or Canada? If you are one among thousands who is finding difficult to choose between MS in USA vs MS in Canada, here's an article that may give you some perspective.

USA or Canada? Which is Better for Pursuing MS?

Pursuing MS in US or Canada is a tough choice to make. Even deciding to pursue an MS degree is an exciting and important step in one's academic and professional journey. When it comes to choosing the right destination for your MS studies, both the United States and Canada offer exceptional educational opportunities.

In recent years, the United States has been a popular choice for international students due to its renowned universities, diverse programs, and vibrant research environment. On the other hand, Canada has emerged as a strong contender, offering high-quality education, affordable tuition fees, and a welcoming multicultural society. Both countries boast institutions that are globally recognized for their academic excellence and research contributions.

When making this decision, factors such as the cost of education, scholarship opportunities, job prospects, immigration policies, and cultural aspects should be carefully weighed. Each individual's preferences and goals will play a significant role in determining which country is the better fit for their MS journey. This article aims to provide an overview of the factors to consider when deciding between Canada and the US for pursuing MS.

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Overview of MS in USA vs MS in Canada

The following table demonstrates a comparison between MS in USS vs MS in Canada based on various parameters and factors:


MS in the US

MS in Canada

Average Tuition Fees

USD 45,000 per year

CAD 30,000 per year

Cost of Living

USD 3,000 to 3,500 per year

CAD 1,500 to 2,000 per year


USD 70,000 per year

CAD 40,000 to 90,000 per year


The candidate must hold a bachelor's degree.

The candidate must hold a bachelor's degree. He/ She must have scored a GPA of 3 on a scale of 4 which is 65% to 70% or a CGPA of 7.0 to 7.5 for Indian students.





Fulbright- Nehru Fellowships (Government-funded)

Hubert Humphrey Fellowship Program

#YouAreWelcomeHere Scholarship

AAUW International Fellowships

Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation scholarships

Asian Cultural Council Individual Grants

International Research Linkages funded by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada

Canada Asia-Pacific Awards (CAPA)

Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships

Ontario Graduate Scholarship Program

Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute

Popular Fields

Engineering, Business & Management, IT, Sports, Computer Science, Biotechnology, Physiotherapy, Hospitality

Media, Engineering, Business & Management, Nursing, Computer Science, Hospitality

Post-study Work Permit

Graduates can apply for an OPT -a 12-month temporary work permit.

The Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP) lets graduates from eligible Canadian Designated Learning Institutions (DLIs) get an open work permit to find work in the country.

Permanent Residency Opportunities

Long and slow process including at least five years of employment, after which a Green Card will be granted.

Easy process: Students can apply for permanent residency during their PGWP.

Employment Opportunities

Top MS programmes with high salary potential include Nursing, Business and Management, Chemical Engineering, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering

Some of the high-paying job positions in the country include Architecture, Engineering, Hospitality and Tourism,IT, and Marketing

Note: *The lists of scholarships offered by both countries are non-exhaustive.

MS in USA vs MS in Canada: Comparison of Course Structure

While MS in the US and Canada are majorly similar, there could be these differences between the two. Some of these differences in the course structure of MS in USA vs MS in Canada have been tabulated below:

Parameter MS in the USA MS in Canada
Duration 1.5 to 2 years (could go up to 3 to 5 years for Engineering courses) 1 to 2 years
Type of Study Course- and/or thesis-based Thesis, research paper, practical and course-based
Intakes Primarily intake is the Fall intake with some beginning in the Spring, Summer or Winter Fall, Winter, Spring/Summer
Number of Credit Hours 30-40 30 or higher (Approx.)

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Top Universities for MS in USA vs MS in Canada

Tabulated below are some of the best universities for international students to pursue their MS degree in the USA or Canada:

Top Universities for MS in the USA

Top Universities for MS in Canada

Stanford University

University of Toronto

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

McGill University

Harvard University

University Of British Columbia

University of California, Berkeley

University of Waterloo

Princeton University

University of Alberta

Columbia University

McMaster University

Yale University

University of Calgary

California Institute of Technology

University of Montreal

University of Pennsylvania

University of Western Ontario

Carnegie Mellon University

Queen's University

Quality of Education for MS in USA and Canada

The USA is well-known for its high educational standards. This is what makes the United States the number one favoured destination for MS overseas, particularly in STEM disciplines. It is a country where everyone has the opportunity to explore their options and advance in life. The country is home to some of the world's most important colleges. Because of its great reputation for teaching, research, technology, innovation, and employment prospects, the USA is by far the most popular destination for international students.

On the other side, the Canadian government is concerned about the university's quality and quantity. Canada's educational quality is thesis and non-thesis oriented, i.e. research and teaching-oriented. Any student interested in pursuing a Master's degree should take 36 credit hours of college courses. Less than 36 credit hours will be detained in accordance with university policy.

However, students who prefer research are more likely to choose the US over Canada.

Eligibility Requirements for MS in USA and Canada

A 16-year education (4-year Bachelor's degree) is required for a foreign student to be qualified to pursue an MS degree in the USA. The university also requires a high GPA, GRE/GMAT scores, and IELTS or TOEFL scores.

Similarly, in order to attend any university in Canada, an international student must first pass IELTS or TOEFL as well as the GRE/GMAT. Aside from the Common Test, confirmation of educational funding for the whole course in Canada is required.

Cost of Study for MS in USA and Canada

The cost of studying MS in USA will typically be between USD 25,000 and USD 60,000 per year, with living expenses ranging between USD 12,000 and USD 18,000 per year. Moreover in the USA, the average tuition fee for an MS is charged based on the total number of credit hours required for successful completion of the degree, with 30 credit hours being the minimum requirement.

In comparison, Canada is regarded as the most affordable place to pursue a Master's degree. An individual's tuition and living expenditures differ depending on where they live and which university they attend. The typical tuition rate in a Canadian institution is over CAD 20,000, and an individual's annual expenses are around CAD 10,800.

Hence, if you are choosing between MS in USA vs MS in Canada on the basis of low tuition cost, Canada is a good shot to go. However, the same may vary depending on the university, location, and specialisation, among other things.

Job Opportunities after MS from US and Canada

The overwhelming number of Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in the USA, including the world's largest technology corporations such as Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook. As a result, there are numerous job options for MS graduates in the USA. At the starting level, an MS graduate can expect to earn between USD 50,000 and USD 90,000 per year. High-paying positions are typically accessible in advertising, finance, information technology, engineering, and management.

Having said that, there are numerous job prospects available to students once they have earned their MS degree in Canada. Many companies in Canada are constantly looking for Master's graduates. At the entrance level, master's degree holders can expect to earn between CAD 50,000 and CAD 75,000 per year.

Hence, between MS in USA vs MS in Canada, pursuing an MS in the USA will clearly give you a better ROI (as better salaried job opportunities) on your investment.

Immigration after MS from US vs Canada

The immigration process in the US is quite rigid, which makes settling in the US somewhat difficult. However, after Joe Biden came to power in 2021, immigration rules and policies introduced by the Trump administration are being reversed. This will, in the coming years, make it easier for international graduates to live and work in the US.

In Canada, with an Immigration Levels Plan for 2021-23, the country expects to welcome over 400,000 immigrants every year, making Canada more accepting of migrants than the US. Also, Indians were the largest group by 'country of origin' to be issued express entry and other categories of Canadian skilled immigrant visas in 2019, offering greater ease of living and settling than the US.

Work Permit and PR after MS in USA and Canada

The stay back option in the US is a brilliant option for international students after completing their MS in the USA. It is, in fact, ideal for international STEM students. MS graduates can stay in the USA for up to a year by obtaining temporary employment authorization (24 months for STEM graduates).

Permanent Residency is a lengthy and time-consuming process in which the international student must reside and work in the USA for at least 5-10 years. Only after completing a specified period of time in the USA will a Green Card be issued.

On the other hand, a student permit visa is required to study in Canada. If the duration of the course for which you have applied is less than 6 months, a visa is not necessary. It is not difficult to settle in Canada or obtain a permanent Residency Visa or PR.

For professionals, there are three options for obtaining a residence visa: Express Entry, Quebec Skilled Worker Program (QSWP), Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs), and others. If a person is able to obtain permanent or secure work, obtaining a PR from the Canadian government is relatively simple.

Quality of Life in USA and Canada

Overall, the US is more densely populated and warmer than Canada although the climate in both countries varies greatly by state or province. According to U.S. News & World Report, Canada ranks third in Quality of Life Rankings 2023, which is based on factors such as affordability, a good job market, family-friendly, income equality, a well-developed public health system and so on. The US ranks 21st even though it is placed 4th for its job market and 51st for affordability.

Considering all the parameters mentioned above, both Canada and the USA stand out among all other countries in the world in terms of quality of education, tuition, programmes, scholarships and post-study work permit. However, MS from Canada would cost you way less than MS from the USA.

MS in USA vs MS in Canada: Which is a Better Place to Pursue MS?

Both USA and Canada are famous destinations to pursue MS, which makes choosing between the two all the more difficult. When it comes to international university rankings, the USA clearly dominates. However, only 7-8 Canadian universities are listed in the World Top 200.

In the USA, you must usually apply directly to the University or Department. In Canada, it is common practice to contact a potential thesis supervisor before filing an application to the University. Expenses in Canada are 30-40% lower than in the United States. The cost of living in Canada is also lower than in the USA. However, in the USA, you can earn 30-40% more.

Obtaining a PR is slightly easier in Canada, whereas it is slightly more difficult in the USA. When compared to the US market, career possibilities in Canada are more abundant and more stable. The job market in the USA is larger than the work market in Canada. Overall, it is entirely dependent on your goals for your MS degree.

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Are MS tuition fees higher in the United States compared to Canada?

Yes, generally, MS tuition fees in the United States are higher than in Canada. However, there are variations depending on the specific institution and program. Students can thoroughly compare the costs of the tuition fees and also should check the living expenses. 

Are there more scholarship opportunities in the United States or Canada for MS?

The United States tends to have a wider range of scholarship opportunities, but Canada also offers various scholarships and funding options for international students. Several governmental, non-governmental, private and universities offer a varied range of scholarships to draw students. 

Which country has better job prospects after completing an MS?

Both the United States and Canada offer excellent job prospects for MS graduates, but it may vary depending on the industry, location, and individual circumstances. The flourishing job market creates several opportunities for students that help them earn high salary packages.

Can international students work while studying MS in the United States or Canada?

Yes, both countries allow international students to work part-time during their studies, with certain restrictions and regulations. It is important to adhere to those rules and regulations so that they can work without hassle and earn well at the same time. 

What are the post-study work opportunities for international students after completing an MS in USA or Canada?

US has the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program of one year that provides an extension of 24 months while Canada has the Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP), which allow international students to work temporarily after graduation for up to 3 years. 


Is it better to do MS in USA or Canada?

The answer to this question about which is better to do between MS in USA vs MS in Canada depends on a lot of factors like your financial situation, your course specialisation, university, interests, and more. In short, your decision is entirely dependent on what you want from your MS program. If you want to pursue a master's degree at a low cost, Canada is the greatest option, but if you want to study at world-class universities, the US is the way to go.

Can you work while studying MS in USA?

Yes, you can or are allowed to work while studying MS in USA. International students are permitted to work 20 hours a week on college or university grounds. Indeed, the work will assist to alleviate the financial pressure. Improve your talents before flying to the US to apply for an assistantship or a scholarship.

What is the eligibility for MS in USA?

Although the eligibility for studying MS in USA varies from university to university and the specialisation that you will be choosing, but generally, the basic eligibility criteria include that you must have a 16-year education qualification. This includes a 4-year bachelor's or equivalent in related fields with an 80% or better grade point average. In addition, you must pass English proficiency tests such as IELTS and TOEFL and meet the university's minimum criteria. You must also have GRE/GMAT/LSAT/MCAT results depending on the degree you choose.

Name some of the best colleges to study MS in USA?

Some of the world-class universities to study MS in USA include prestigious names like Harvard, Yale, MIT, Columbia University, UCLA, NYU, Cornell, Stanford, UC Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pennsylvania, Penn State, Caltech, and others.

Do American Institutions accept the 10+2+3 academic system of India for admission to MS?

Yes, American universities do accept the 10+2+3 academic system of India for admission to MS. Many universities in the USA recognise a 15-year academic system, however, certain courses require a 16-year academic term.

Do Canadian institutions accept the 10+2+3 education system of India for admission to MS?

Yes, Canadian institutions do accept the 10+2+3 education system of India or admission to MS. Although the system is approved for postgraduate diploma programs, practically all universities in Canada demand 10+2+4 for MS in Canada. However, on a case-by-case basis, some universities may accept 10+2+3 for master's degrees in specific programs.

What is the academic calendar for MS at US universities?

The academic calendar for MS at US universities consists of the two most well-known periods Fall (August-September) and Spring (January). The other period is the Summer intake, but admissions are rarely granted during this time. Notably, the US Summer intake only offers a limited number of courses.

Can you work while studying MS in Canada?

Yes, you are allowed to work while studying MS in Canada. Indian students are permitted to work 20 hours a week during the school year and full-time during vacations. Depending on the length of your program, you may also be eligible for up to three years of post-completion extension. For a one-year program, you can obtain a one-year work permit, whereas programs lasting 2-4 years can obtain a three-year work permit.

How long does it take to complete MS in Canada?

A full-time master's degree in Canada will take you 1-2 years to complete. MS in Canada is a 1-2 year program of study. Part-time master's degrees in Canada, on the other hand, can be completed in 2-6 years through online seminars, evening courses, or a distance learning program.

How can one apply to become a permanent resident after completing MS in Canada?

To become a permanent resident after completing MS in Canada, you may apply for the Canadian Experience Class, the Federal Skilled Worker Program, or the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP). Some of those categories necessitate qualifying Canadian work experience. If you want to work in Canada after finishing your MS program, you must apply for a work permit through the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program.

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