Understanding Canadian Education



In public universities, there are three types of degrees: bachelors, masters, and doctoral.  There are 1.7 million students studying in more than 15,000 undergraduate and graduate programs at 100 private and public universities. Due to this increase, one million CAD of net new jobs were created for university graduates in the past seven years.

Tuition fees range from 8,800 to 35,280 CAD a year depending on the type of program and location of the institution. 


There is no official university ranking system in Canada, therefore students should aim for a good fit rather than a ranking university. Students should select the right university based on location, size, and program. There are many types of universities in Canada such as larger, research-based institutions and smaller, undergraduate-based institutions.

Unlike in the United States and other countries, college and university are not interchanged and do not describe the same type of education. Colleges offer 1-3 year certificate programs and diplomas based on technical training, whereas universities focus on offering bachelors, masters, and PhD programs.

Some professional degrees from the university include law, medicine, pharmacy, architecture and more.

Admission criteria changes between universities, generally needing high school transcripts, SAT results, and an interview. The deadlines are often set in winter.


Certain universities in Canada have entrance scholarships based solely on academic performance. These scholarships can be renewable depending on the university. Other scholarships such as full or athletic scholarships exist but are fairly limited.

Other resources for students seeking to study in Canada are CICIC, Universities Canada,Colleges and Institutes Canada, Bureau of International Education and Study in Canada.

With the education prices of the UK and USA often not being affordable to many international applicants without scholarships, it is worth considering continuing your education in Canada - a country which has a lot of opportunities for its students, in particular its international students.


The information from this article is articulated from the ‘Canadian Post-Secondary – What’s the difference?’ talk at the IACAC 2016. The featured contributors to this talk are Meagan Vooren (Huron University College), Matt Stiegemeyer (Concordia University), Lauren Cullen (Saint Mary’s University), and Emily Mancuso (Humber College).


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