The Education System in Canada
Due to the great importance placed upon learning within the country, Canadian schools have very high academic standards and are well-organized first-rate education system across all provinces. Qualifications earned in Canada are valued internationally, and graduates of institutes of higher education in Canada go on to make great contributions to society.
The Canadian education system draws students from all over the world and is maintained to a high standard by each of the provinces and territories. The Council of Ministers of Education is a forum for education ministers to discuss matters related to education, coordinate education activities and share information. Canada boasts one of the highest rates of post-secondary education in the world, with 6 of every 10 adults between the ages of 25 and 64 having completed some form of post-secondary education.
There are more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate degree programs available in Canadian universities, from certificates to PhDs and everything in between.
Universities and university colleges focus on degree programs but may also offer some diplomas and certificates, often in professional designations. University degrees are offered at three consecutive levels:
- Bachelor’s level students can enter after having successfully completed secondary school or the two-year cégep program in Quebec. Bachelor’s degrees require three or four years of full-time study, but this depends on the province and whether the program is general or specialized.
- A Master’s Degree typically requires two years of study after the bachelor’s degree.
- For a Doctoral Degree, three to five years of additional study and research plus a dissertation are the normal requirements.
For regulated professions such as medicine, law, education and social work, the education system in Canada generally requires an work placement to obtain a license to practice.
Degree-granting institutions in Canada focus on teaching and research. Teaching is the other key function, whether at the small liberal arts universities that primarily offer undergraduate degrees or at the large, comprehensive institutions that offer more. Registration varies from about 2,000 students at some institutions to a full-time enrollment of over 62,000 at the University of Toronto, Canada’s largest English-language university.
Bear in mind that unregulated educational institutions in Canada are privately run commercial enterprises with no regulations. It’s recommended to know the states of an educational institution to understand the quality of a certain program.
Types of Schools and Colleges in Canada
Universities in Canada
Universities in Canada range in size from a few hundred to 35,000 students, and offer over 10,000 high-quality undergraduate and graduate degree programs. A Bachelor’s degree program in Canada usually lasts from three to four years, sometimes with an extra year for honors programs.
Master’s degree programs in Canada generally run for two years, and doctorate research and study goes on for four to five years. Some universities also offer diploma and certificate education programs.
Besides offering educational programs and qualifications, universities in Canada usually have athletics, accommodation, counselings, scholarships, study-skills workshops and career-placement services for its students.
Universities in Canada are almost always publicly funded with varying tuition fees. The school year runs from September through May, divided into either semesters (two study terms) or trimesters (three study terms). University education programs in Canada are usually offered in either French or English.
Degrees earned at universities in Canada have the same merit as those earned in the US or other commonwealth countries like Australia and the United Kingdom. It is often possible for a student to continue their education which was started in another country at a school in Canada, and vice versa, depending on the university.
Technical Institutes and Colleges in Canada
There are over 170 technical institutes and community colleges located in Canada. These educational institutions focus on offering certificates, diplomas, and attestation programs, the completion of which earns graduates a diploma, degree or applied degree. Class sizes are usually smaller than those at universities.
Technical institutes and community colleges in Canada provide education through professional programs ranging from one to three years in duration. These programs are career-oriented, meeting the needs of businesses, industries, adult education and secondary school graduates. Programs often change their curriculum according to the economic and social needs of the community. Many students choose to attend community college for two years before transferring to a four-year university.
Career colleges in Canada are privately owned educational institutions which provide students with practical skills molded specifically for the job market. Study periods are usually relatively short, and the courses emphasize practical skills. Canadian career colleges specialize in areas such as business, IT and secretarial skills.
Entry Requirements for Education in Canada
Specific entry requirements in Canada vary from one institution to another. There is no general entry exam for universities; each university has its own criteria and you apply directly to them. Therefore, it is important to check what documents you need to supply and make sure you apply well before the closing date to increase your chances of getting accepted.
Generally students need to submit the following documents:
- Completion of an undergraduate degree from an accredited/recognized university
- High level of academic achievement in previous studies
- Strong reference letters
- Written Statements
- Standardized tests such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT)
Undergraduate Admission Requirements
For admission into bachelor-level programs, students usually must have completed secondary school. There may also be course-content requirements or grade-point average minimums. As undergraduate schools have limited space, there is competition for admission. For most, the greatest competition comes from high school students, meaning the two most basic entrance criteria are the successful completion of high school and competency in one of the two official languages (English in most of Canada, and either English or French in Quebec and New Brunswick).
Graduate Admission Requirements
For admission into a master’s degree program in Canada, students must complete a bachelor’s degree and submit the documents required by the university.
For entry into a doctorate degree program, students must have completed their masters. Students must have the fundamental theoretical knowledge to carry out their independent studies. In order to determine a candidate’s suitability for a PhD, students will generally have a supervisor to “vouch” for them.
Study Costs & Tuition Fees in Canada
Tuition fees in Canada vary by institution and province, but the cost is more affordable when compared to other countries around the world.
The average price for international undergraduate students ranges between CA$14,000 (US$10,414) per year. While the average price for international postgraduate students is around CA$42,000 (US$31,243) per year. Institutions which do not grant degrees to students are usually cheaper than universities.
However, more specialized fields of study, tuition fees in Canada range from CA$12,183 (US$9,143) for nursing graduate programs or CA$13,962 (US$10,478) for Education degree, to CA$53,105 (US$39,855) for an undergraduate dentistry degree.
Scholarships are available for both undergraduate and graduate studies and they can be helpful covering tuition fees in Canada, and some of them also cover living expenses. Start early to search for scholarships or grants, it takes time to gather all the documents and prepare an outstanding application.
Language in Canada
Canada has two official languages: French and English. Both are used in the country’s federal government institutions. The country also has over 60 aboriginal languages, from the Algonquin Cree to the Inuit Inuktitut, reflecting Canada’s long history and colonial roots.
Around 95% of the population speaks English. French speaking Canadians are a much smaller percentage of the population, and more than 90% of them live in Quebec — the only province where French is the language of daily life. New Brunswick is the only Canadian province that has both English and French as its official languages to the same extent.
Interested in learning English or French?
For those looking to learn a new language in Canada, they can enroll in courses of either English as a Second Language (ESL) or French as a Second Language (FSL). Students may want to learn a language for general, business or specific personal reasons – whatever the motivation, the French and English language courses are available for anyone who’s eager to to learn.
As there are a high number of immigrants who enter Canada each year, the ESL program is excellent. FSL courses are also well-esteemed, and are usually offered in both public and private schools in Quebec. Requirements and intake dates are flexible for most ESL and FSL programs, allowing students to study when it most suits them. Students may study FSL and ESL programs in Canada for up to 6 months without a study permit.
Language Requirement for Universities
English-speaking universities and schools in Canada require proficiency in English, and non-native English speakers will have to demonstrate their proficiency through TOEFL or IELTS exam scores. For French-speaking schools, there is no standardized qualifying test. Instead, students’ language skills are assessed individually.
City Guides Via Canada
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Montreal is Canada’s second largest city and the second largest primarily French-speaking city in the world (French is their official language with many residents speaking French at home). This international flavor makes Montreal a great destination to study abroad.
The capital of Canada, Ottawa, is said to have the one of the highest standards of living in the entire world. Canals, tulip festivals, world-class museums and bustling tourism industry are just some of the reasons you should considering studying abroad in this great city.
Toronto is Canada’s biggest city and is the business and economic hub of the country. A diverse culture, vibrant nightlife, and easily accessible nature escapes make this city the perfect destination for students of all backgrounds and fields of study.
Known for its majestic mountains, rainforests and sparkling ocean. Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Students coming to Vancouver will enjoy the city’s multiculturalism, top entertainment, gourmet food, world-renown universities and more.
Student Visas in Canada
Student visas in Canada may vary depending on a student’s country of citizenship, country of legal residence, province they want to study in, and time they want to stay in Canada. International student wishing to enroll in a higher education program in Canada for more than six months should have a study permit before they enter the country.
Before applying for a student visa in Canada, you must first get a letter of acceptance from the university. The letter must be issued by the Canadian institution (e.g. school district, University, etc.) on official letterhead, show the exact amount of tuition fees you are required to pay, the anticipated starting and finishing dates and the date by which you need to register.
Once you have your acceptance letter, you can complete and submit an application online for a study permit. To study in Quebec, students must obtain a Certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ) issued by the Ministère de l’Immigration, Diversité et Inclusion (MIDI). The educational institution should provide the student with all the details related to applying for a school in Quebec.
Entry Requirements for Higher Education in Canada
In addition to providing an acceptance letter from the university, to get a student visa in Canada you must demonstrate to the officer that you:
- Meet the requirements of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, including leaving Canada at the end of your studies.
- Proof of financial support.
- If the duration of your studies in Canada will be less than a year, proof of financial support for the duration of your studies in Canada.
- If the duration of your studies in Canada will be more than a year, proof of financial support for the first year of your studies in Canada.
- Have no record of criminal activity. You may be asked to provide a Police Clearance Certificate.
- Medical examination to prove that you are in good health.
For more information about student visas in Canada, please contact your local Canadian embassy, which can provide guidance on which study permit is required for you and how to apply.