Higher Education in Canada

Canada is an alliance made out of ten provinces and three territories. In Canada, the constitutional responsibility for universities rests with the provinces and territories.

Canada, the world’s second biggest nation, provides a broad range of higher education choices and life-enriching experiences at its universities and colleges. Consistently, numerous students from different nations pursue their educational goals in Canada. Among G7 countries, Canada has the highest proportion of post-secondary education graduates in the workforce. There are 98 universities in Canada that are independent post-secondary education institutions with degree-granting authority. Seven of these universities are in Montreal, Quebec.

The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC), an organisation composed of Canadian universities, defines two distinct types of higher education institutions in Canada: universities and colleges.
  • Universities grant university degrees, which include bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and doctoral degrees. In some cases, universities must be a member of AUCC to be able to grant university degrees.
  • Colleges/ community colleges, provide diplomas.
The Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) issued the Canadian Degree Qualifications Framework, which describes degree categories, statements of procedures and standards for assessing new degrees and new degree-granting institutions and sets out degree-level criteria.

Higher education in Canada is offered by two types of educational institutions: Public and Private

The differentiation between public and private institutions is generally based on the type of funding sources upon which these institutions depend. Public institutions are largely funded by the public purse, whereas, private institutions survive mostly upon revenue they engender through tuition and fees.
  1. Public Post-secondary Institutions

    The Public post-secondary institutions include:

    - Universities

    Canadian Universities are mostly publicly funded, secular and degree-granting institutions. They offer a broad range of courses and degrees from Undergraduate to Doctorate and also certificate and professional degrees.

    There are four broad categories of public universities in Canada:
    • Special-purpose universities that offer university degree-level education in specific fields such as art and design or agriculture;
    • Small universities that concentrate mainly on undergraduate education.
    • Universities that provide a wide range of activities including research and programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels, including professional degrees.
    • Large research-intensive universities offer a broad array of Ph.D. programs in integration to other graduate and undergraduate programs.

    Community Colleges
    Community Colleges focus on career oriented, practical/ technical related curricula.

    Polytechnic Institutes are privately owned and operated with the primary aim of preparing students for the job market after a short period of instruction. The focus is on practical skills.

    - University colleges and degree granting within the public college sector
    University Colleges offer students a choice of either academic oriented university degree programs or the more practical-oriented college diplomas and certificates.
  2. Private Post-secondary Institutions

    The private, post-secondary institutions are structurally flexible and because of its intricacy and fluidity, this sector is frequently omitted from analyses of Canadian post-secondary education. Private institutions encompasses of:

    - Private Institutions-Not for Profit: Institution, controlled or overseen by a body most of whose members are not selected by a public agency, that is not established for the purpose of distributing profits to individual directors, employees, owners or shareholders.

    - Private Institutions- For Profit: Institution controlled or managed by a body most of whose members are not selected by a public authority. Such establishments are set up for the purpose of distributing profits to individual directors, employees, owners or shareholders.
  3. Indigenous Institutes of Higher Learning (Public or Independent)

    In Canada, private and public institutions have been set up, referred to as Indigenous Institutes of Higher Learning (IIHLs), with the specific aim of accommodating Aboriginal people.
  4. Unregulated Institutions

    The institutions that only offer programs in non-career and non-academic areas (such as English/French as Second Language training) fall under Unregulated Institutions.

Higher Education Qualifications

The qualifications you can attain at a university or higher education institution are as follows:
  • Associate degree
    - Duration - Two years
    - Completed following - Year 12 or equivalent

  • Bachelor Degree
    - Duration - Three years
    - Succeeding - Year 12 or equivalent

  • Bachelor Degree Honours
    - Duration - Four years (3-4 years full-time 1 additional year's successful completion allows entry to a research Masters or Doctorate)

  • Succeeding - Bachelor Degree

  • Master Degree (by Coursework and By Research)
    - Duration – Two years
    - Completed following - Bachelor Degree (Honours) or Bachelor Degree

  • Doctoral Degree (Research and Professional)
    - Duration – Four years to seven years
    - Completed following - Masters Degree

Canada as an International Study Destination

Canada acts as a host to more than 180,000 International students in any given year. Increasingly, Canada is becoming the land of choice for students from all sections of the globe. Canada is a leading worldwide education Powerhouse with some of the world’s best infrastructure and educators and providing a range of quality study options to local and international students.

Quick Facts

  • World's Second largest country by area.
  • Canada ranks as the world’s most popular study destination for international students.
  • Canada offers a plethora of degree and diploma programmes which are globally recognized.
  • Canada amid the top 3 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries in spending per capita on public post-secondary education.
  • Academic programs are offered in English and French.
  • Canada’s universities are among the world’s best.
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