Economic Development News & Insight


The Higher ED Blog: Come study in Canada (and enjoy progressive policies)

Paul Parker and Michelle Madden / December 5, 2016

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The Higher ED Blog: Come study in Canada (and enjoy progressive policies)

Normally, Higher ED is a platform for sharing economic development knowledge but today, we present an open invitation to progressive Americans (and others) to come study in Canada. Last year, we elected a young Prime Minister known for his progressive, inclusive and “sunny” ways. The proposed policies of President-elect Trump have generated many contrasts with his Canadian counterpart, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The Washington Post went as far to say that Trudeau is the “anti-Trump” on many important issues like diversity, immigration, foreign affairs, climate change. If that sounds appealing to you, then read on.

Why study in Canada?

Lower costs and a smaller student loan

The most practical reason to study in Canada is the cost.  For comparison, let’s look at average tuition for undergraduate programs in public four-year colleges. In Canada, the average tuition for an international student is $21,932 CAD per year, or $16,500 USD using last Friday’s exchange rate of $0.75. The average tuition in the US is $22,958 USD if you’re from out-of-state. If you’re an in-state student, the cost would be lower than studying in Canada, but where’s the adventure in that?

P.S. your Canadian study permit lets you work part time during the academic year and full time during breaks. There are also scholarships available to soften the blow.

Foreign, yet familiar

Speaking of adventure, studying in Canada will provide you with a foreign experience without the same kind of culture shock you’d get elsewhere. You’ll be able to find out why Lonely Planet named Canada the best country to travel to in 2017, millennials named us the second best country to live in, and expats love it here. You can discover these things while feeling safe and getting excellent health care.

Meanwhile, you can keep speaking English, catch your favourite TV shows, and maintain your usual diet. You can hold on to all the American culture you want, but I suspect that one day, you’ll find yourself ordering a maple dip donut with your double-double at Tim Hortons, and holding the door for someone on your way out, while saying sorry for no particular reason.


Most importantly, Canadian schools are high quality and our degrees are internationally recognized. QS World University Rankings have included 26 Canadian universities among the world’s best. The education system a whole is recognized as one of the best in the world. This quality, and government emphasis on education, are likely why Canada has the largest share of post-secondary-educated adults of all the OEDC countries.

Why study at the University of Waterloo?

The Higher ED Blog is a publication of the University of Waterloo. Therefore, we think the University of Waterloo is the bee’s knees and would love if you came here. The blog is also focused on economic development so we will be shamelessly promoting our Master of Economic Development and Innovation program.

If innovation, technology, entrepreneurialism, and practical learning are of interest, then you’ll likely find the University of Waterloo attractive. It has been ranked as Canada’s most innovative university for 25 years based on its emphasis on co-op programs, experiential learning, entrepreneurship and the support of a start-up culture anchored by Velocity, the largest free incubator in the world. Since its inception in 1957, UWaterloo has played a key role in the development of the local tech sector, built on a thriving innovation ecosystem that has spawned heavyweights like Blackberry and Open Text and attracted the likes of Google, Square and Electronic Arts. Steven Woods, the Director of Engineering at Google Canada notes that the Toronto-Waterloo Region Corridor has the second highest concentration of start-ups on the planet after the Silicon Valley.

We have over 100 undergraduate programs and almost 200 master’s and doctoral programs to choose from.

If you’re reading this blog, there’s a good chance you’ll be interested in our newly updated Master of Economic Development and Innovation. It’s a one-year program (if done full time) for people who want to facilitate prosperity, sustainability and inclusive growth in cities and communities. We have incredibly close ties to the economic development field, run professional short courses and leverage these professional connections to keep content fresh and to provide networking opportunities for our students.

Environment and Climate Change

The programs also have strong ties to the environment field. We’re situated in Canada’s largest Faculty of Environment, which brings social and environmental values into even our most business- and development-focused teachings. Topics include how to build a low carbon future through social innovation and green entrepreneurship. The Faculty even created North America’s first Master of Climate Change to teach a unique blend of science, mitigation and adaptation strategies. With 10 programs and over 600 graduate students in the Faculty of Environment, we have students who share your interests and have a passion to create a better future.

The deadline to apply for Fall 2017 is February 1st (but late applications will often be considered).


Canada offers a stimulating environment and a striking contrast to the federal policies expected in the USA. If you prefer to live and learn in a country with progressive policies and top notch education for a bargain, we hope you’ll consider Canada.


About the author

Paul Parker is the director of the Economic Development Program and a professor in the Faculty of Environment. His research focuses on building sustainable communities by creating win-win opportunities for the environment and economy. Paul combines his research background with direct experience engaging local representatives from communities across Canada and overseas to envision and build local capacity, vitality and sustainability.

Michelle Madden is the editor of Higher ED. She is also the Outreach Manager for the Economic Development Program and a graduate of the University of Waterloo’s Local Economic Development program (now the Master of Economic Development & Innovation).  She has authored many Higher ED articles sharing information relevant to economic development practitioners. She has published several of her own blogs on as well. Follow her on Twitter at @michelle_mad.

About the series

Higher ED: Insights for the Next Economy is a platform for students, guest speakers, staff and faculty of the University of Waterloo’s professional and graduate economic development programs to share knowledge with the field at large. The series takes works destined for an academic audience and reworks them into a fresh, easy-to-digest blog article.

Established in 1987, the Master of Economic Development and Innovation (MEDI) is one of the only graduate programs in Canada focused exclusively on economic development. Students learn economic development theory and practice, and are exposed to leading edge knowledge, tools, and approaches to address contemporary challenges in cities and communities across Canada and internationally.

The Economic Development Program is a nationally-accredited provider of professional training. It delivers certification programs and seminars that offer a deep understanding of the Canadian context in a convenient block format. Peer learning is combined with informative lectures and practical case studies to provide dynamic instruction that is beneficial for junior and senior-level practitioners.


2 responses to “The Higher ED Blog: Come study in Canada (and enjoy progressive policies)”

  1. amea says:

    Great Article. Very useful information for students who are planning to study in canada.

    Study in Canada