Travel to Study

Education System in Canada

Advantages of Coming to Canada to Study

The Canadian degree or diploma is instantly recognized around the world as being of the highest standards. Tuition fees for international students and the cost of living in Canada are much lower than comparable countries. With over 90 universities and 150 colleges and technical institutes, virtually every program imaginable, Canada may just be the place of your dreams.

Education in Canada is under the complete jurisdiction of the provinces and territories and as such, there is no federal education system in Canada. In keeping with the national commitment to education, public education in Canada is free up to and including secondary school in all the provinces.

The Canadian education system covers elementary, secondary and post-secondary education. Education in Canada is governed by each provincial and territorial government, so there are slight differences between the education systems in each province and territory. For instance, the grades at which each level begins and ends vary. All provinces and territories provide universal, free elementary and secondary schooling for 12 years, with the exception of Quebec where it is for 11 years. Education is compulsory to the age of between 15 and 18, depending on the province.

Types of Institutions

Elementary

Children usually enter kindergarten at age 5. Elementary school generally includes grades 1 through 6 in regions that then have 2 years of middle school or junior high school, and in areas without these, elementary school goes up to grade 8. In Quebec, elementary school is grades 1-6, and students then go straight into high school.

Secondary

Secondary school–most often called high school–typically includes grades 9 through 12. In regions with middle school and junior-high, it also includes grades 7 and 8. In Quebec, high school covers grades 7 through 11, and students then go to CEGEP for 2 years before applying to university.

Post-secondary

Post-secondary education includes Career College (also known as vocational school), community college, and university and grad school.

Language programs

Language programs (English or French as a second language) are offered at middle schools, high schools, colleges, universities and private language schools.

Structure

School districts: Provinces are divided into school districts, and school districts have school boards (elected officials) which implement policy and curriculum set out by the province. A school district usually serves one or more cities or towns, depending on their size.

Religious affiliation

In Canada, schools can be secular (no religious affiliation), Catholic or Christian (various Protestant denominations). Some provinces have separate school boards for religious and non-religious schools.

Public and private

Canada’s education system includes public schools, which are free and funded by the government, and private schools, for which students have to pay. At the post-secondary level, public colleges and universities still require students to pay tuition, but it is substantially less than tuition at private universities.

However, each provincial system, while similar to the others, reflects its specific regional concerns, and historical and cultural heritage. At the post-secondary level, institutions are divided into community colleges and universities.

Post-secondary education is offered by four types of educational institutions:
  • Universities
  • University Colleges
  • Community Colleges/Technical Institutes
  • Career Colleges
Universities

Canadian universities are largely public funded, and, as a result, offer consistently high quality education at lower tuition rates for international students than their counterparts in competing countries. They offer a broad range of courses and degrees from undergraduate to doctorate and also certificate and professional degrees.

University Colleges

As a component of the Canadian university system, university colleges offer students a choice of either academic oriented university degree programmes or the more practical-oriented college diplomas and certificates. As a part of the Canadian college system, university colleges are distinguished by their strong student support services, small classes and strong campus environments. They also offer combined degree/diploma programmes and university transfer programmes.

Community colleges and technical institutes

They typically have more vocational-related curricula, with small classes, off-campus course offerings, a greater ratio of laboratory space to class room space, and an interactive teaching style. The uniqueness of Canadian colleges lies in the combination of employer-centered curricula. These institutes have the primary function of responding to the training needs of business, industry, and public service sectors. Most colleges and technical institutes offer diplomas and certificates rather than degrees, however, more and more now grant degrees and applied degrees.

Technical/ Career College

This is a privately owned and operated school with the main objective of preparing students for the job market after a short period of instruction. The emphasis at career colleges is on practical skills over a broad range of programmes. They specialize in such areas as business, computers, and secretarial skills. Although privately owned, these institutes are provincially approved and regulated, ensuring that programmes standards and quality are maintained.

The academic year usually starts in September and ends in May, and is normally divided into two semesters. Some institutes operate on a semester or trimester system and admit students in January and/or May as well as September. Many institutes offer a limited number of courses and special programmes during the summer session.

Type of Certification

  • Certificate is a qualification awarded upon successful completion of a programme which is usually one year in length, and is offered at colleges.
  • Diploma is the qualification awarded on the basis of one or two year’s successful study, and is offered at colleges.
  • Undergraduate/bachelor’s degrees are awarded by a university after four years of full-time study, and lead to graduate level studies.
  • Graduate/post graduate degrees lead to advanced degrees, diplomas and certificates. A pre-requisite to participate in graduate studies is a bachelors/undergraduate degree (4 years).
  • M.B.A. programmes will typically require a minimum of two to three years of relevant work experience, GMAT score of 580-600, TOEFL score of 560-600, and a 4 year degree, and are generally 2 years in duration, though a few institutes offer a fast track option.
  • Pre-requisites to participating in a master’s programme is a four year bachelor’s degree with high academic standing equivalent to a minimum mid-B grade in Canada (mid 70’s); at least two academic letters of reference; and other qualifications as specified, i.e., TOEFL, GRE general and/or subject test. Master’s programmes generally require two years to complete full time, and usually require a combination of course work and thesis.
  • Doctorate or Ph.D. is a degree ranking above a master’s degree, and generally requires four to seven years to complete full time. A combination of course work, original research, and a thesis is required. Prerequisites are typically a master’s degree, although direct entry from a bachelor’s degree to a Ph.D. programme may be possible depending on the school and programme. Minimum high-B grade in Canada (high 70’s) is required; where relevant, demonstrated research competence equivalent to at least a B+ grade; at least two academic letters of reference; and other qualifications as specified, i.e., TOEFL, GRE general and or subject test.
  • Post-doctoral programmes are much more specialized, research oriented programmes. One of the most important factors in granting post-doctorate fellowships is the personal network established between the interested applicant and the faculty member within the institution.

Top Reasons to Study in Canada

  1. A degree or diploma from Canadian educational institutions is instantly recognized around the world as being of the highest standard.
  2. Tuition fees for international students in Canada are much lower than comparable countries.
  3. Canada spends more per capita on education than any other country in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
  4. There are 100,000 international students from all parts of the world annually in Canada. Your educational experience is sure to be truly international.
  5. Canada is renowned all over the world for its tradition of hospitality and tolerance. A remarkable multicultural society ensures that you will be welcomed and made to feel at home during your stay in Canada.
  6. Canada is a world leader in software development, telecommunications, aerospace, engineering, urban transport, biotechnology, mining technology and environmental industries. As a student, you have a wealth of research and scholars to draw upon a variety of disciplines.
  7. Canada offers a wide choice of over 90 universities and 150 colleges and technical institutes, featuring virtually every program imaginable.
  8. For all that it offers Canada has a remarkably low cost of living. Its inflation rate has remained one of the lowest in the industrialized world.