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How Long is an Academic Year in Canada?

How Long is an Academic Year in Canada?

Wondering how long a school year lasts in Canada? An academic year is different from a regular calendar year (from January to December). Keep on reading for the ins and outs of the academic calendar. We’ll also cover how to apply for a study permit in Canada, to help you prepare for your study abroad adventure.

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The Academic Year in Canada

The academic year in Canada is organized into semesters. Depending on the educational level, the number of semesters may vary.  At primary and secondary schools, the academic year typically has three semesters, which span from September to June. At the post-secondary level, there are typically two semesters: one running from September to December, and the other from January to May.

The post-secondary academic year in Canada usually, but not always, looks like this: 

  • “Fall” Semester: September to December 
  • “Winter” Semester: January to April 
  • “Summer” Semester: May to August

Note:  At the post-secondary level, each institution may have its own academic calendar. This leads to variable semester start and end dates from institution to institution.

Summer Programs

Many Canadian post-secondary institutions offer summer programs during warmer months, specifically between May to August, which may be considered a “third” semester. Summer semesters can be especially helpful for students who want a shorter semester, or to plan ahead for their studies, or to stick to a routine during the summer break. 

Read our blog to find out if a summer semester is right for you

An illustration of a stamp, passport, and visa-related documents, symbolizing how to apply for study permit in Canada.

How to Apply for a Canadian Study Permit 

Planning on becoming an international student in Canada? In order to apply for a study permit in Canada, you’ll need to be enrolled in a study program at a designated learning institution (DLI) first. After you’ve applied to a program, the college or university will review your application. This can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. If you are accepted, their admissions team will send you a letter of acceptance (LOA), and you’ll have to pay your tuition deposit. 

Note: Planning to study in Québec? If so, you’ll also have to apply for a Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (Certificate of Acceptance to Québec, or CAQ).  

An illustration of application documents, symbolizing applying for a study permit in Canada.


Once you’ve been issued your LOA, it’s time to fill out all the documents you’ll need for your Canadian student visa. 

It’s always a good idea to check the official website for the Government of Canada for the latest updates on necessary documents. We advise applying at least 90–120 days before the start of the academic semester. Some documents and information you’ll need to prepare include:

Note: Provincial Attestation Letters (PAL) have been in effect as per Canada’s temporary two-year cap on Canadian study permits. A PAL proves that a student’s enrollment aligns within the national limit for study permit applications.  

You may also need to demonstrate or complete: 

  • Attestation of issuance of your CAQ (Quebec students only) 
  • Custodian declaration (minor students only)
  • Purpose of visit
  • Medical exam
  • Travel history
  • Ties to your home country

Read our blog to learn some do’s and don’ts when applying for a Canadian student visa.

Tip: Before you submit your application, make sure to go through your documents carefully and make sure they’re all completed. Remember, if any of the documents are in languages other than English or French, they will need to be officially translated. So, make sure to leave extra time to get that done.

An illustration of travel luggage.


Once your Canadian student visa is issued, you’ll need to prepare for your adventure abroad by:

  • Physical copies of important documents
  • Cash 
  • Any prescription medication
  • Electronic devices
  • Weather-appropriate clothing  

An illustration of a travel airplane landing.


When traveling to Canada,  pack the following documents in your carry-on luggage so you can access them easily:

  • Your passport
  • Your study permit
  • Your Letter of Acceptance/Admission as well as your institution’s address and contact details 
  • Personal identification documents
  • Proof of financial support
  • Accommodation confirmation and full address 

You’ll have to show these documents to Canadian immigration officers at the airport, and have a short interview with them. During your interview, it can be helpful to: 

  • Mention specifics about your program and institution
  • Share examples of job opportunities in your field after you study abroad  
  • State your intentions and make sure to mention you plan to leave Canada once your studies end

We hope this blog helps clear up how long an academic year is in Canada, as well as how to apply for a Canadian study permit. With enough preparation, you can pursue your studies in Canada with confidence. Best of luck on your study abroad adventure! 

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