Checklist for Graduate Students

After you have received Your Admission Letter...

1. Complete the International Student Online Orientation

Prepare for your U of A experience and complete the International Student Services Online Orientation.

Online Orientation consists of nine modules and is a self-paced e-Class, accessible through Bear Tracks with your CCID. Each module contains valuable information on the unique aspects of student life at the U of A.

2. Want to Live on Campus? Apply for Residence

Living on campus is a great option, and international students who prefer living in residence do so because of the convenient location. The organized program of activities helps students build new friendships and offers academic support. You can arrange housing before arriving in Edmonton.

Learn more here and apply now.

3. Apply for your study permit with your admission letter

Things to consider regarding a study permit:

  • A study permit is the document from the Canadian government that gives non-Canadians permission to study in Canada
  • You need a study permit if you plan to study for more than six months.
  • It is difficult to change your status once you are in Canada. If you might study in Canada for longer than six months, apply for a study permit.
  • To be able to work while you study, you need a valid study permit and to be registered full-time.
  • If your studies continue after your study permit expires, you will need to renew.

Apply Early

  • Your official letter of admission to UAlberta is posted in your Bear Tracks account. Download the letter and immediately begin the study permit application process after reviewing our Study Permit information.
  • You should not start your studies at UAlberta without the proper permit.

Note:

  • Are you an international student already living in Canada? Information is here.
  • Participating in a co-op or internship program? Find out what immigration documents you need on our Study Permit information site.
  • Questions? Connect with our regulated immigration advising team if you have any questions during the process. Find out how to contact them here.

When your study permit is approved, the visa office will issue you a “letter of introduction” to say you are approved. This letter is not your study permit. Review the Travel to Canada information for more details.


Bringing Family

Your decision to bring your family with you will depend on your financial situation and the ease of obtaining immigration documents for family members. It is important to start the process as early as possible. There is no guarantee that they will be granted visas if you wait until you are in Canada to apply. 

Study Permits for Family Members

Spouses require study permits if they wish to study in Canada. They may be applied for after your spouse arrives in Canada. The process for obtaining immigration documents within Canada can take up to two months to complete.

To study at a primary or secondary school, your children may be required to apply for a study permit for entry to Canada but do not need to maintain it once in Canada. However, dependents of study permit holders are still required to maintain valid visitor status.

Connect with our regulated immigration advising team if you have any questions during the process. Find out how to contact them here.

These resources may also be helpful.

4. Register for courses

If you are an undergraduate student starting your degree at the U of A, once you accept your admission offer, you need to pay your tuition deposit to secure your place and become eligible to register for your courses

  • Graduate, incoming exchange, and IVSP students are exempt from paying the tuition deposit.
  • Learn about registering in courses in Registration 101
  • You can find your course registration start date in your Bear Tracks account 
  • Check your Faculty website for program-specific course registration information. Faculty advisors are best suited to answer questions about your course enrolment, course requirements, and/or program progression.  
5. Decide when to arrive in Alberta and book your travel

If you are studying at one of our Edmonton campuses, you should arrive in Edmonton before January 4. 

If you are living in a campus residence, you can move into your residence on January 4. Check your ualberta email regularly and follow the instructions to register for your move-in time. It is best to arrive before January 4 so that you can move in the same day to take advantage of the many services that will be available. Flights are often delayed, so a same-day arrival and move-in plan is not recommended and often is not possible.

If you plan to live off-campus, it is recommended that you arrive in mid-December or on January 1 to allow time to find a suitable place to live. Most rental agreements start on the 1st of each month, and it’s always good to be settled before classes begin on January 8. Explore Edmonton’s off-campus housing options.

Note:

6. Arranging for money for the first few weeks

The best way to send money is to transfer funds from your bank at home to your Canadian bank. The option you select will depend on the amount of funds being transferred, service charges and the timelines of each option. Learn more about Banking.

When you arrive, we recommend that you have at least $100 Canadian in cash. A currency exchange service is usually available at the airport from 4:30 a.m. to midnight. We also recommend that you have enough money to cover at least your first month’s expenses, often around $3,000 for a single student. This is for costs such as paying an extra month’s rent as a security deposit, purchasing warm clothing, textbooks and supplies, furniture and household items. 

7. Understanding work options in Canada

Working in Canada

You may be able to work in Canada, but you should not rely on potential employment to meet your financial needs. When you budget and plan your academic and living expenses, be sure you have enough secure funding for the duration of your entire program. 

If you will be working as a Graduate Teaching Assistant or Research Assistant, take some time to understand the current Collective Agreement (CA) as it details your rights and responsibilities as an employee, including pay information.

Summarized Document: Graduate Student Assistantship Info Sheet

Spouse Work Permits

Your spouse must have a work permit before beginning any employment. If you are a full-time student and your spouse is not, your spouse may be eligible for an open work permit that is valid for any employer. Restrictions may apply to those spouses who have not completed an immigration medical. These permits can be obtained within Canada. Visit our website for more information.

More information is available on our Working in Canada page.


Before you Travel to Alberta...

1. Register for Orientation Activities

Orientation prepares you for life as a U of A student in your new Canadian home. The U of A community offers online and in-person orientation experiences.

Join an online pre-departure information session before departure to ask any questions you may have. There are several dates available, and registration is not required.

Plan to come to the Campus Check-in Drop-in Orientation to get a welcome bag and useful information to start your life in Edmonton. No registration is required.

Register for the Orientation for New International Students.

2. Help your parents to register for a Parent Information Session

The U of A International Parent Info Session is an opportunity for parents and guardians to learn about the various campus services available to support their students throughout their time at the University of Alberta.

3. Register for an airport taxi voucher

Sign up now to get a discount on your taxi ride from the Edmonton International Airport to Edmonton. A taxi is the easiest way to get to your temporary accommodation with all your luggage.

4. Understand Health Insurance Options

Arrange travel health insurance to cover the gap in coverage between when you leave your home country and are able to enroll for health insurance coverage in Canada.

Your in-Canada health insurance options will depend on whether you're studying in Alberta for a short time or a full degree. You do not need to enroll before you arrive in Alberta, but it should be one of your first tasks in your first two weeks in Alberta.

You will also be enrolled in the GSA Health and Dental Plan which is a supplementary health insurance plan. The fees will show on your Bear Tracks account and should be paid with your tuition fees. If you do not require this coverage, you must opt out by the deadlines listed on the Studentcare website.

This supplemental insurance provides coverage for important services that are not covered by a basic healthcare plan, such as:

  • Prescription drugs
  • Dental care
  • Eye exams, eyeglasses or contact lenses
  • Visits to physiotherapists, massage therapists, chiropractors, and more.

Your GSA Health & Dental Plan does not replace mandatory basic insurance but is good to have in addition to the mandatory insurance.

Note that exchange students are not eligible for the GSA Health & Dental Plan. View Health insurance information for exchange students.

5. Organize your finances and apply for Scholarships

Learn more about undergraduate program tuition, including fee payment options and important deadlines.

Note: To avoid extra charges, all Fall fees must be paid by September 29, 2023, and Winter fees must be paid by January 31, 2024. If you plan to take courses during the Spring/Summer Terms (May through August), ensure that you budget for additional instructional and other fees.

Your cost of living depends on a number of factors, including:

  • If you live in University or non-University housing
  • If you live alone or share with roommates
  • If you shop carefully and cook your own meals, or you frequently eat out.
Budget for your daily expenses and tuition
6. Pack for your trip

Learn what to bring with you and what you should wait to purchase after arriving in Alberta.

Gather Important Contacts

Be sure that you have a designated family member or guardian who is your emergency contact outside of Canada. This person’s information should be in your Bear Tracks account. 

If your emergency contact’s information changes, it is your responsibility to update your emergency contact’s information on Bear Tracks. If you have an emergency while at the U of A and cannot contact your family, university staff will contact your designated emergency contact.

Visit and bookmark uab.ca/emergency for emergency procedures as well as regular updates in the event of an emergency on campus.

We also recommend you find the nearest consulate location and contact details for your country of citizenship. 

Free phone apps to download: 


Your First Week in Alberta...

1. Arriving in Canada

Learn what happens when you enter Canada at the port of entry. The port of entry can be the first international airport that you land at or a land border crossing from the United States. If you've entered Canada through a different airport than the Edmonton airport, review that airport's website in advance for help with navigation and what to expect. 

Check out the video introducing Edmonton International Airport.

2. Participate in campus orientation activities

Once you arrive, don’t hesitate to visit campus to explore and figure things out. Visit the International Service Centre and take advantage of our drop-in orientation service, Campus Check-in.

During the first week of January, join the orientation activities that you have registered for. This is a great time to meet people and learn more about campus life.


Getting settled...

1. Finalize your accommodation

If you are living on campus, talk to your roommates about the best places to buy household goods.

Check out our information about living off-campus here.
2. Arrange for your important identification documents

After you arrive, you should plan to pick up or apply for the following pieces of identification

Keep in mind:

  • Keep your documents secure.  
  • Save pictures of your passport, study permit (and visa, if relevant)
  • Keep insurance and rental agreements saved securely somewhere electronically for future reference. Put a reminder in your phone or calendar so you know when your documents expire in advance (eg. three months early). 
3. Open a Canadian bank account
Visit our Banking in Canada resources page for more information.
4. Get a Canadian cell phone plan

Set up a phone plan that works for you (you can find websites online or visit your local mall to compare plans) 

Once you have a Canadian cell phone number, be cautious of scam phone calls/texts. Do not share your personal information with people you cannot verify over the phone or email. To learn more, check out our “Be Advised” page.

5. Learn more about University Services

The Graduate Students’ Association offers services for Graduate Students. Among these services are support and advice about the student-supervisor relationshipwhich is one of the most important relationships during your graduate degree.

International Student and Visitor Services (ISVS) provides programs, services and events for international students, including exchange and visiting students. Our team of licensed immigration consultants and student advisors offers immigration advising and support to help you to succeed at the U of A.

The Student Service Centre is a good place to start when you have a question or need information about tuition, course registration and other issues related to your academic life.

6. Connect with Community
Note: You will receive a weekly email to your ualberta.ca email address with the subject International Students Digest. We encourage you to take the time to read these weekly messages, as the information may be important to you as an international student.