In Canada, the academic calendar system varies from university to university, but the two
systems usually used are the semester system and the quarter system.
The semester system divides a year of study into two equal semesters: Fall and Winter.
The first semester, which runs from mid to late August to late December, is called the Fall
Semester, or fall semester. The second semester, which runs from January to mid-May, is known
as Spring Semester; and the rest of the year, late May through late August is summer vacation,
which is a longer period. This is the system used by most of Canada’s ninety-six public
The so-called “Quarter System” divides the study time into three quarters. The first
quarter, which is generally from mid-September to early December, is the Fall Quarter. The
second quarter, which runs from January to March, is the Winter Quarter. The third quarter,
which runs from early April through mid-June, is the Spring Quarter. The rest of the summer
quarter is vacation. Post-secondary institutions that use a quarter system will have fewer hours of
education than those institutions that use a semester system. Most undergraduate programs in
Canada have two starting dates in an academic year, namely in January and September, but a few
post-secondary institutions and programs have three delivery dates (including a May quarter,
sometimes called “Intersession”). The fall semester starts at the very beginning of September,
about the same date as in China, and the spring semester starts in early January.
For those institutions that offer spring and fall enrollment units, there is not much
difference between a spring enrollment and a fall enrollment, except that they have slightly
different curricula, teaching content, and training objectives at different times of the enrollment
program, but there is no difference in the final qualifications obtained. However, some postsecondary institutions fill up their Winter Term classes during the preceding fall, so that few
spaces will be left in Winter Terms classes; indeed, some will be full before the end of
December. Consequently, any international student who tries to begin his or her academic year
may be disappointed in the limited selection of courses available.
These terms are in a parallel relationship and do not conflict or overlap with one another.
Some applicants will fail to apply for fall admission can choose to continue to apply for the next
year’s spring admission. Some applicants may fail to apply for spring admission, and therefore
must wait fall admission.
Here is a look at the difference between the application for spring and fall admission for
undergraduate study in Canada. The differences are mainly categorized into the following points:
Different application times and deadlines?
The opening date for application to the Fall Term admission application is generally
around in the previous March through May; the deadline depends upon the particular institution.
The opening for spring admission application is generally around October. This term generally
begins in May.
Canadian universities do not have standardized application deadlines, and they are
subject to change, depending on the application situation at the time. If a great many students
apply for a competitive program, for example, the university will take longer to process the
applications for that program. Different degree programs actually have different entrance
International students who have decided to study in Canada should keep an eye on the
particular university’s website to avoid missing important application deadlines. And only once a
student has received a formal offer of admission may he or she apply for the appropriate
Canadian travel documents.
Graduation dates, on the other hand, vary only slightly. Since the academic program is
fixed, different entry dates mean different graduation dates. Students who enroll in the fall
semester usually graduate (convocated) in late May or early June, whereas those who enroll in
the spring semester may graduate in November Convocation—if the institution in question holds
such a convocation.
Scholarships for international students tend to be awarded for the Fall Semester or Fall
Term. Only one per cent of Canadian undergraduates hold significant scholarships, and only the
top three universities (McGill, the University of Toronto, and UBC) have significant
endowments to fund scholarships for international students.
Spring admission is generally not as good as fall admission. There are far more
enrollments in the Fall Semester than in the Spring Semester. Canadian university enrollment is
mainly concentrated in the fall semester, and more and more comprehensive majors offer a full
selection of courses only to students who are registered in the Fall Semester. Almost all of the
ninety-six public universities have Fall enrollment, and the majors open in the Fall Semester are
more comprehensive and more suitable for students applying to Canadian universities from
domestic secondary schools. Rarely do Canadian secondary school graduates begin their
undergraduate studies in the Winter Term.
Not all ninety-six universities have spring admissions. On the other hand, even if an
institution has a spring intake, the number of students enrolled is likely to be far less than the
enrolment for the Fall Term intake, usually one-third or even less than the Fall Term intake, and
it may only be part of the majors that are open, but the admission standards are not necessarily
From the point of view of a suitable crowd?
From the point of view of the suitable crowd, spring admission is mainly suitable for
students who are late for their examinations abroad, who have failed an the examination for
graduate school, have graduated from undergraduate program, or have applied for the Fall Term
but have not been accepted. Because the opening of spring enrollment is usually in January, the
end of October of the previous year is the application deadline, making the Winter Term a good
choice for the above groups. On the one hand, starting studies in January saves students nearly
half a year’s time; and it also facilitates the continuity of study; however, far fewer courses will
actually be open in the Winter Term. Canadian universities expect most students to start their
studies, whether undergraduate or graduate, in the Fall Term. Accordingly, international students
should plan to arrive in Canada at he beginning of August.