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Studying an LLM (Master of Laws) Program in CanadaFind an LLM in CANADA
There are many universities in Canada that offer LLM programs including the Osgoode Hall Law School of York, University in Toronto, University of British Columbia, the University of Calgary, Toronto University, Queens University, the University of Ontario and the University of Victoria, and these institutions offer the LLM courses on full-time, part-time and sometimes even on a distance-learning basis.
Canada – the lowdown
As the world’s second largest country by total surface area (after Russia), Canada is a diverse and interesting country, featuring breath-taking scenery, a wealth of cultural activities, fabulous outdoors’ activities and amazing working opportunities, all great reasons to study in Canada. It is a federation consisting of 10 provinces and three territories – each offering something different to prospective postgraduate students, however students should bear in mind that each province will have different rules and requirements so it's worth checking these out before choosing your LLM program.
These regulations will also affect the possibilities of overseas students staying on in Canada to work after they have completed their program – so make sure you research this thoroughly to avoid disappointment if you want to pursue your post-LLM career in Canada. In many cases international students must obtain a study permit before they can study in Canada – so make sure you research what documentation you need – we have more information about international student visas later in this article.
Please note, studying an LLM program in Canada does not necessarily qualify the student to sit the Canadian Bar exam or to practice law in Canada, but there are still many reasons why you should opt to do your postgraduate program in Canada – not least of all because it is a great opportunity to study and live in a fabulous country!
Reasons to study your LLM in Canada
There are many reasons to choose Canada for your LLM studies – here are siome of them.
1. There is a good ratio of domestic to international students in Canada. In fact, the Canadian government has stated that they wish to encourage international students to study in Canada, which has led to an increase in the number of international students opting for Canada for their studies. For postgraduate students gaining an LLM in Canada is a brilliant way to add an international dimension to their careers.
This table illustrates the numbers of students attending five of the best university in Canada and the percentage of these students that are international students.
Number of Students
Percentage of International Students
University of Toronto
University of British Columbia
Université de Montréal
2. The legal system in Canada is a combination of Common and Civil Law, so students can choose to specialise their LLM in either system. This choice means that many students will also be able to use their qualifications when they return home.
3. Due to the expansive geographic nature of Canada, most universities are substantial as they are offering educational service to a large area both in geographic terms and in population. This means that most Canadian universities have excellent facilities including large sporting facilities, which is great for your down time. Many law schools in Canada have been operating for over a hundred years and this means that they often also have extremely well stocked law libraries, for example McGill University Faculty of Law was established in 1848. This can be very useful when you’re working on your thesis.
4. Every law school in Canada has a Student Legal Society or Association, for example the University of Western Ontario. These organisations are in place to ensure that all of the students attending the law school have an advocate and can act as a liaison between the law school and the students. Some law schools also have many more legal societies or associations in many diverse groups or interest areas, like the University of Toronto. These can be groups interested in certain areas of the law or students organising social occasions, and one of these groups is a great way to settle into your new life in Canada. Undergraduate students often dominate these societies, so you may find your law school may have a separate organisation for postgraduate students.
5. The Pro Bono Students Canada (PBSC) is a national law student organisation that has chapters in 22 of the 23 law schools in Canada. The PBSC has over 1,600 student members across Canada, all aiming to learn practical legal skills, offer excellent free legal advice to non-profit organisations and low-income individuals, and to promote the culture of offering pro bono work within the legal profession. Founded in 1996 at the University of Toronto, the PBSC has become an integral part of legal education in Canada often giving students their first taste of legal practice.
6. Law schools in Canada has a huge range of specialist subject areas to concentrate on, in part because the universities will often be serving such a large area. Subject areas that LLM students can choose to focus on include Civil Law or Common Law, Tax Law, International Human Rights, Natural Resource Law, and Environment and Energy Law.
Canada has a huge immigrant population of around 20%, so this means that life in the cities is diverse and a true mixing of cultures. The large cities of Toronto, Calgary, Montreal and Vancouver are all exciting centres of international festivals and celebrations, so there is plenty to do when you're not studying. Canadians often holiday outside of the cities in large parks and enjoy popular activities like camping, hiking and canoeing. In the areas outside of the big cities, there are large areas of sparsely populated land with small rural farming communities.
To the north of Canada, there is an area known as Nunavut, which has been home to the native Inuit people for over 4,000 years. To the east is Quebec, which is the French-speaking part of Canada and this part of Canada can often feel more like France than North America. To the far east is Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, which is where many Scottish and Irish immigrants settled and these parts of Canada can sometimes feel a lot like Scotland and Ireland, especially when socialising in the pubs.
Canada is a huge country and the climate varies massively across the country. In the south west of Canada is British Columbia and this is a popular place for people to live, as the climate is generally not as harsh or cold as much of the rest of Canada. The temperature in the winter tends to keep above freezing and during the summer the temperature is usually around 20C. The most populated region of Canada, along with the border with the US, the summer temperatures can reach 35C and temperatures can regularly go down as low as -25C during the winter. Check with your law school for the local conditions and be financially prepared to buy appropriate clothing when you get to Canada, rather than trying to guess what would be best.
Canada has dual official languages of French and English, and this is one of the most striking things about living in Canada. All advertisements, packaging and information are printed in both languages, and unless you have lived in a country with more than one official language before you won't be expecting it. It's a great opportunity to become fully fluent in French or English if you are not already!
Admissions to a Canadian LLM program
To gain entry to an LLM program in a Canadian institution applicants should generally hold a degree of LLB or its equivalent. Applicants with degrees or qualifications in a language other than English will probably need to demonstrate their English language skills by obtaining exam scores in one of the following:
- TOEFL: Minimum paper-based score of 600 or a total score of 100 with at least 25 on each of the individual skill areas (internet-based)
- IELTS: Minimum band score of 7.0
- PTE: Minimum score of 68
Tuition fees & living costs
If you are planning to study at a Canadian university, you should budget for approximately $20,000 Canadian dollars per year to cover your tuition fees and living expenses.
However bear in mind that many institutions offer graduate students some form of financial assistance, be it in the form of scholarships, studentships, research assistantships or other awards – so check the website of your preferred institution to see what sort of financial assistance is on offer to help you with funding for your LLM program in Canada.
Some Canadian universities will also have an application fee, this can be around $100 Canadian Dollars for Canadian nationals and around $150 Canadian Dollars for international students – so factor this into your overall costs.
Life in Canada as an International LLM student
Life in Canada is diverse, and lifestyles vary across the country. This means that moving away from home and to a new city in Canada can feel just as different for a Canadian student as it would do for an international student coming to Canada for the first time to study and live. Here are a few guidelines to prepare you for life in Canada.
Eligibility to study
As an international student, to be eligible to study a Master of Laws in Canada you must demonstrate the following:
- You must have been accepted by an educational institution in Canada.
- You must prove you have enough money to pay for your tuition fees, living expenses, return transportation home.
- You must have no criminal record and may have to provide a police certificate to prove this.
- You must be in good health and may need to complete a medical examination to prove this.
- You have to prove to an immigration officer that you are going to leave Canada once your study/work permit comes to an end.
Do some research before you leave and find out if there is an existing committee of students or residents who share a similar background to you. Have a look at the resources your law school has for new home students or if relevant international students. You'll find that there will be plenty of social events and activities across the year, especially in the early weeks, which will enable you to make friends easily. Remember, life away from home for the first time is a valuable learning experience, so try to enjoy it.
Ready for arrivals
Check out what you need to bring with you to your new home and specifically what items you are allowed to bring into Canada before you head off, to save yourself a headache on arrival. Double check your Canada Student Visa and make sure you know exactly which documents you will need to present at Canadian Border Control. That way you'll arrive calm, ready to meet new people and start settling in.
Canada student visa – the lowdown
The Canadian immigration service has a reputation for bureaucracy, just like many other countries, and applying for a Canada student visa – known as a study permit in Canada – before embarking on your LLM program can feel complex and difficult. However, the system is fairly straightforward for many international students, as Canada hosts around 200,000 international students every year, and the forms can often be completed entirely online. Here’s our simple step-by-step guide to getting a student visa for Master of Laws study in Canada.
1. How to apply – potential LLM students can apply either online or in paper format. Check the CIC website or with your local Canadian embassy for a Study Permit Pack and this will provide you with the method of application that is best for you. If you are applying online, then you'll need a scanner or camera to upload documents, and a credit or debit card to pay the necessary fees.
2. When to apply – if you want to study an LLM in Canada as an international student then you should apply for your study permit as soon as possible. You need to have a letter of acceptance from a Canadian university or law school before you apply, and you should check the processing times before you send off your Canada student visa application. These can be as little as one week and up to six weeks, and there are ways that you can speed up the process if you come from some countries. If you are resident in China, India, the Philippines, or Vietnam, then you can apply through the Student Direct Stream, which is a little quicker. Otherwise, you have to apply through the regular study permit application route.
3. Correct application procedure – once you've gathered the documentation you need for the online application it is fairly simple. First, you will also have to answer a few questions about yourself, and this will let you know if you qualify for online application. If you do qualify, then you will be sent a personalised checklist that is valid for 60 days, and if you don't then you will have to apply with a paper application form. Some students may then be asked to attend an interview at their nearest Canadian Embassy.
4. Necessary documentation – the documentation you need depends on the country you are applying from, but all students need a letter of acceptance from the Canadian university they are attending. Students are required to provide evidence that they have enough funds for their studies, and this is at least $10,000 to $11,000 per year of study in addition to funds for tuition fees and for your return journey home. Students who have not completed their education in English must have valid English Test Scores. In addition to this, students from Europe, the Middle East and Africa are required to provide fingerprints and additional photographs.
5. Arrival in Canada – when you arrive in Canada you will need to show the passport that you made your Canada student visa application with to the Canadian Border Control, unless you come from the island of St Pierre Miquelon or the United States. You will also need to provide proof of your finances and your letter of acceptance from the Canadian law school or university. Students who come from countries that require a visa for residency or an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) will also need to have these, the eTA is connected to your passport number and isn't a physical permit. These are issued to you at the same time as your study permit and it is vital that you enter Canada with the same passport you applied for your study permit with – so check your passport expiration date before starting the application process.
6. Potential restrictions – as with most countries, there are restrictions on the number of hours students can work outside of their studies. It is usually restricted to 20 hours per week for study permit holders who are in full-time study, and you can work during the school holidays as well. You will need to get a Social Insurance Number from the Canadian Government before you start working. Once you have completed your course study permit holders have 90 days to either leave Canada or to apply for a post-graduation work permit, which is valid for up to three years.Find an LLM in CANADA
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