Canadian High School Explorer

Your Canadian High School a lower cost

Welcome to our NEW Canadian High School Explorer program! In this lower-cost, no-choice academic year option, CISS places you in an Ontario city or town where you'll be one of only a few international students in the school. Placement locations are in "off the beaten path" locations, giving you a truly unique Canadian high school immersion experience. 

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How does this program work?

You submit your application to us, and we choose where in Ontario you will go. 

To be eligible, you must be:

  • aged 15 or 16 years / Ready to enter Grade 10 or 11
  • seeking to study for the full school year (10 months, September-June) or a semester (5 months, September-January OR February-June) - short term not available
  • prepared to remain in Canada for the full duration of your program
  • seeking an English-language placement (French placements not available)
  • a good student with 70% or higher average and no specific course requests (other than covalidation needs - extra fees may apply)
  • at an intermediate+ English proficiency level (recommended CEFR B1+) and can easily integrate into high school classes without need for English language support
  • in good health with no allergies or other needs that could seriously affect your homestay placement
  • open-minded about your host family, knowing that they will be ready to welcome you into their home regardless of their cultural origin or family composition
  • open to being placed in any of the communities as selected by CISS for this program
  • not expecting any special or high level sport or artistic pursuits outside what is offered through your school or community
  • independent and ready to work through challenges on your own, with minimal support (English only) - you can do it!

Where are the placement locations?

Our placement options are subject to our ever-changing inventory.

Locations are currently situated in Central and Northern Ontario. 

Communities range in population from approx 8,500  to over 50,000 residents.   
All locations have opportunities for student recreation, including shopping areas (may be a small shopping centre, department stores or local boutiques), movie theatres, coffee shops, libraries, recreational centres and more.
Public transit is not guaranteed in each location.

Selected communities may have one local high school so you will attend school with all other teens in the town, or there may be two or three high schools.
Average size of a high school ranges from 400 students to 1000+.

Transportation to school will depend on how far your host family home is from the school.  School bussing is typically provided if you live more than 3.2km from the school (varies by location).
Students who live within that distance will either walk or ride a bike.  If the town/city has public transit, students can also use public buses to and from school.

Application Deadline

For a September 2021 start
(5 or 10 months):  

Applications open on January 1 and close on April 15, 2021.
Location and school placements are confirmed by May 1.

For a February 2021 start
(5 months only):

Applications close on October 15. 
Location and school placements are confirmed by December 1.

Program Date Options

Start End
Full Year: 10 Months Early September End June
Semester 1: 5 Months Early September End January
Semester 2: 5 Months Early February  End June

Please contact us for fees.

LocationSpecifically selected locations in Ontario
Ages15 or 16 years old
Grades10 or 11
Session Length5 or 10 months


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  • Ontario public high school 
  • Ontario catholic-public schools
  • Schools typically have between 400-1000 students in Grades 9-12
  • Schools follow a semester system:
    • Semester 1:  (September to January) 4 classes, fully completed
    • Semester 2:  (February to June) 4 new classes, fully completed
  • Schools are equipped with course-specific classrooms, lockers, library, gymnasium(s), sports fields, cafeteria and more
  • Students will either walk to school, take public transit or be eligible for a school bus (depending on the distance from the home)
  • Uniforms are not required

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  • Students live with a local host family and receive:
    • private bedroom in the home
    • 3 meals daily (including a packed lunch for school days)
    • family interaction and support
    • English-speaking environment
    • For more details please refer to our homestay information section


  • Legal custodianship document
  • 24-hour Emergency telephone assistance
  • Meet & Greet on arrival + transfer to community.  Departure transfer also included.
  • Local English-speaking coordinator to support you and your homestay family
  • Covalidation assistance is possible with a supplemental fee


Schools in different regions have slightly different time schedules. In general however, students will follow a timetable similar to this: 

Monday - Friday
School begins between 8:00 and 9:00 am  

Typically are 70 to 80 minutes in length & students usually take four or five classes daily  

Usually one class period or one hour in length – between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm  

School Ends
Between 2:30 and 3:30  

For Parents

Does my child need a visa to enter Canada or to attend this Programme?

Students planning to attend a full-year school programme (6 months or more) will require a Canadian Study Permit. This permit must be received prior to the student’s arrival in Canada. Students coming from certain countries may also require a Temporary Resident Visa (TVR). Please refer to the Canadian Citizenship and Immigration website for a complete outline of the requirements and policies for study in Canada:

Do we have any choice as to where our child will study?

In this program, no.  CISS will decide the community and high school for your child.  If you want to choose the destination, or if your child isn't eligible for this program, we invite you to consider our regular High School program.  

Who will receive my child when he/she arrives at the airport? 

CISS staff or your child’s host family will meet your child at the airport upon arrival. If your child is registered as an Unaccompanied Minor (UM), the person CISS has designated during the UM registration will personally receive your child.

What is the minimum level of English needed to apply to a Canadian School? 

For this program, CISS recommends that students have at minimum an Intermediate level of English proficiency. 

NOTE: Students who require covalidation, especially at the Grade 11 level, must have a high English proficiency to have the best chance to be placed in the required courses and grade level. Students applying for Grade 11 with a lower English proficiency may still be accepted, but specific courses required for covalidation cannot be guaranteed as some courses may be "ESL" versions and not suitable for covalidation. CISS is able to assist with the covalidation of documents for an extra fee.

Do I need to purchase emergency travel medical insurance for my child?

All students attending a school program in Canada must be covered by emergency medical and dental insurance. CISS works closely with a third party insurance provider called Guard Me Student Insurance offering a comprehensive and affordable plan to all of our students. In most locations, you can purchase your own insurance for your child, either through a company in your own country, or through an insurance company in Canada, so long as the coverage is comparable to the Guard Me plan. 

Does my child need to wear a uniform at school? 

The schools selected for this programme do not require a formal daily uniform. All schools, however, follow a dress code reflecting good judgement and taste. Offensive slogans, torn jeans, and hats are generally not permitted at school.

My child needs to co-validate his/her transcripts at the end of the stay. Is this possible? 

Provided your child has attended one full semester (5 months) or a full school year (10 months) at his/her Canadian school, has written all necessary exams, has successfully completed all required work, and has obtained a passing grade, he or she will be granted a credit for each class completed. In Ontario students take 4 classes per semester.  All academic results will be provided to you on an official school transcript.

You can request CISS assistance with the covalidation process here in Canada, including the authorizations by both the Canadian government as well as your own country's embassy/consulate. Please allow six weeks to eight weeks from end of the school year/semester for this process to be completed.  Additional supplemental fees apply.

Can my child graduate from a Canadian high school? 

In this program, no.  This program only offers placements in Grades 10 or 11.  If you are interested in a graduation pathway, we invite you to consider our regular High School program where we can manage multi-year placements that include completion of Grade 12. 

Must the student maintain a certain grade point level to remain in the program? 

The minimum standard in Canadian schools is generally 50%. Anything less is considered a failing grade. Provided the student maintains over 50% in most of his/her classes, the student will be able to remain at the school. If the student wishes to return for a second year, schools may require a grade point of 60% or higher to consider them for re-enrollment. 

Must my child begin school in September and end in June? 

If the student intends to study for the full academic year (10 months), then yes, he/she must begin in September and end in June.

If the student is interested in a semester program (5 months), he/she has a choice of Semester 1 (September - January) or Semester 2 (February - June). 

My child is very involved in his/her school’s sport teams and social clubs. Will he/she have this opportunity in Canada?

Yes! All schools encourage international students to get involved in school teams and clubs. Selection of sport teams and clubs will depend on when the student comes to Canada, how long he/she stays, and what is offered at his/her school. School teams may require that the student be enrolled for the entire duration of the sport season. In competitive sports, students must “try out” for teams and show sufficient skills to be selected as a team member. Unfortunately, CISS cannot guarantee that a student will be selected for a competitive sports team.  Schools may also have recreational sport opportunities over lunch and/or in the afternoon.

How will my child travel to and from school? 

In cases where the student lives close to the school, he or she will walk to school. This is safe and normal in Canada. 
The student may be eligible for a yellow school bus if he/she lives more than a set distance from the school (typically 3-4 km).