How to Apply to a Nursing Program in Ontario

Updated September 13, 2022

Canadian nursing schools graduate thousands of nurses each year, all of whom then move on to work in hospitals, nursing homes, home care agencies, community centers, medical clinics, and many other healthcare settings. The diversity of opportunities and spaces where nurses can practice their profession is one of the many reasons why nursing is such a popular career path in Canada. In fact, each semester, over 20,000 people apply to the more than 100 nursing programs available, and that's just in Ontario.

Are you part of the growing group of people who are considering nursing to be their life's career? Then keep reading to find out how to get started on your journey to becoming a nurse in the province of Ontario.

Read more about How to Transition from PSW to Nursing?

How to Apply to a Nursing Program in Ontario

Applying to nursing school in Ontario is often a four-step process

Applying to nursing school in Ontario is often a four-step process:

Step 1: Choose a program

One quick search online will reveal that almost all universities in Ontario have at least one nursing program and many have more than one. To choose the right program for you, first base your search on location, duration, level, and budget. Then, look for specific coursework, clinical practice, infrastructure (labs, classrooms), and reviews from current and former students. Once you narrow your search down to 2-3 options, you can move on to the next step.

Step 2: Meet admission requirements

This is an essential part of the process. You need to familiarize yourself with the most common requirements asked by colleges and universities in Ontario to know exactly what your chances are to get admitted. Keep in mind that in most cases, apart from the basic school eligibility requirements, there are also program-specific requirements that you need to meet.

Step 3: Start your application

In Ontario, there are two application services for colleges and universities, which are the Ontario College Application Services (OCAS) and the Ontario Universities Application Centre (OUAC). To start your application you need to find out which service is used by the nursing school of your choice. Once you know this, then you can proceed to pay the initial application fee and check the documentation needed to complete the process. Note that you will be able to choose more than one nursing program from the same university, and you can also apply to more than one university at a time. You should also know that fees and requirements vary depending on your status in Canada (citizen, resident, future international student, etc.)

Step 4: Submit your documents to complete the application

The final step of the process is gathering all the documentation required and getting everything ready for submission. Common documentation includes high school transcripts, or college transcripts if you are transferring or you've already graduated from a different program in the past. Ensure all the information you submit is correct, and check for spelling errors or missed documents. When you're ready, complete the application and wait for your desired nursing school to make a decision.

Requirements to be Admitted to a Nursing Program in Ontario

As previously stated, most nursing schools in Ontario will require you to submit past transcripts from high school or other post-secondary institutes you've attended, but that's just one in a list of many requirements, depending on your particular situation.

Related: A Day In the Life of a Nursing Student

The most common nursing school requirements in Ontario

Tips for a Successful Application to a Nursing Program

To make a successful application to a nursing program in Ontario that will lead you to a positive academic experience, there are some things you need to consider:

Read More: Can a Nursing Student Work as a PSW?

FAQs About Nursing Programs in Ontario

These are the most frequently asked questions about applying to nursing programs in Ontario:

What are Canada's best university nursing programs?

According to 2022 rankings, the best university programs in Canada are offered by:

  1. University of Alberta (Faculty of Nursing)
  2. The University of British Columbia (UBC School of Nursing)
  3. The University of Toronto (Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing)
  4. McGill University (Ingram School of Nursing)
  5. McMaster University (McMaster School of Nursing)
  6. University of Calgary (Faculty of Nursing)
  7. University of Ottawa (School of Nursing | Faculty of Health Sciences)
  8. Dalhousie University (Dalhousie's School of Nursing)
  9. Université de Montréal (Faculté des sciences infirmières)
  10. University of Western Ontario (Western's Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing)

What are the top nursing colleges in Canada?

The top nursing colleges in Canada are listed above, according to multiple sources. Apart from the aforementioned top 10 nursing colleges, there are three others that stand out: Queen’s University with its nursing program, the University of Victoria with its UVic School of Nursing, and York University with its School of Nursing.

What are the top nursing schools in Ontario?

According to multiple sources, these are the top nursing schools in Ontario:

  1. The University of Toronto, in Toronto, known for the Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing
  2. McMaster University, in Hamilton, known for the McMaster School of Nursing
  3. The University of Ottawa, Ottawa, is known for its School of Nursing, which is part of its Faculty of Health Sciences
  4. University of Western Ontario, in London, known for the Western's Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing
  5. Queen’s University, in Kingston, known for its prestigious nursing program

Are there any free nursing programs in Ontario?

No, currently, there are no free nursing programs in Ontario. However, Ontario's Ministry of Health and Ministry of Long-Term Care offers the Tuition Support Program for Nurses (TSPN) which offers tuition reimbursement to recent nursing graduates from rural and remote communities across the province.

What are the worst nursing schools in Canada?

Canada has a wide array of universities and while a few of them have ranked poorly on academic lists at any given point in their history, they all have programs and perks that make them stand out one way or the other.

Are there any cheap nursing schools in Canada?

Post-secondary education is an investment and it often costs dozens of thousands of dollars, which is why in many countries of the world, including Canada, students may need loans, scholarships, grants or government support to be able to pursue a degree. Fortunately, if you are looking for cheap nursing schools in Canada, you'd be glad to find out that there are many options for you and that the cost of enrolling in a nursing program varies from one province to the next, so you'll be able to choose depending on your education budget.

Are nursing programs competitive?

Yes, nursing programs are competitive. Nurses are considered the backbone of the healthcare field, so nursing programs are becoming more and more selective when it comes to admitting students. In fact, last year the CBC reported that Canadians looking to become nurses were facing tougher entry requirements and fewer training spots. In light of this situation, many provinces are exploring possibilities to increase the number of qualified nurses entering the healthcare system.

Are nursing programs hard to get into?

Yes. Currently, Canadian and international applicants are facing stiff competition for acceptance into post-secondary nursing programs, as only those with top grades get in.

Are there nursing programs online in Canada?

Yes, while many nursing schools are still focused on on-campus programs, most of the universities offering these programs are also offering distance education online.

How long are nursing programs in Canada?

To become a registered nurse (RN) a student usually needs to complete a four-year post-secondary university nursing program, but there are accelerated programs that can last anywhere between 1.8 years to 3.5 years, but these are more selective when it comes to admission, as candidates need to comply with certain requirements.

How much do nursing programs cost in Canada?

According to multiple sources, tuition fees for a bachelor's degree in nursing colleges in Canada can range from $50,000 CAD to $150,000 CAD.


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Can A Nursing Student Work As A PSW?

In closing, before you apply to a nursing program in Ontario, take your time to learn everything you can about the admission process but, most importantly, what it's like to dedicate your life to nursing. Keep in mind that nurses in Ontario and across Canada play an integral role in the health care sector, so before you take such a big step, know what you're getting yourself into. One way to do this is through social media, where you will find numerous active nurses who share their work experiences with their followers and who have created positive communities online to support other nurses and nursing students as well.

A final tip before you apply to a nursing program in Ontario, or anywhere else in Canada, is to set goals for yourself and try to picture the path ahead of you to achieve those accomplishments. This will truly help you prepare for a successful career in nursing in the healthcare sector. You could also sign up to Caring Support to start developing your career with the numerous employment opportunities we have available.

Good luck with your nursing school application and thanks for reading!

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