Canada has a large selection of universities and university colleges located in both urban and rural settings in every region of the country. Canadian universities are internationally known for the quality of teaching and research. Degrees from Canadian universities are considered to be equivalent to those from American and other Commonwealth universities. Canadian universities are largely publicly funded; as a result they are of a consistently high quality, regardless of location or area of study.
Canada has a well-established education system looked after independently by each province. There is no general entry exam for admission to universities in Canada; each school has its own application criteria. For admission into bachelor’s degree programs, students usually must have completed secondary school. There may also be course-content requirements or grade-point average minimums. For admission into a master’s degree program in Canada, students must complete a bachelor’s degree. International students are expected to start planning for their studies in Canada one year in advance.
Full-time student enrolments at individual universities range from over 35,000 to less than 1,000. In addition, most universities have a large number of part-time or continuing education students. They offer a broad range of courses and a full range of degrees from undergraduate to doctorates, and can also offer certificates and professional degrees. Fees for universities differ depending on the province, institution and program of study.
The university year usually runs from September to May. Some universities are on a semester or trimester system, with all courses available even in the summer. There is no Canada-wide entrance test: each university sets its own admission standards and assesses the qualifications of each applicant individually.
As Canada has two official languages – English and French – an international student can take a degree either at an English language or French language institution. Some universities offer instruction in both languages. However, students do not have to be fluent in both languages to attend a Canadian university.
To qualify for a degree program at most English-speaking universities, students for whom English is not a first language must have passed an English examination test. The TOEFL is commonly accepted but Canadian universities often have their own tests for students or may accept other English examination tests such as the IELTS.
Colleges and Technical Institutions
Colleges and Technical Institutions are popular education choices in Canada; they offer professional programs of 1 to 3 years (often including a work term) that are highly applicable in the job market. Some community colleges offer university transfer programs that allow students to take courses that are parallel to those offered for the first two years of a four year university program. Students must still apply to the university to gain admission to complete the last two years of the four year program.
The uniqueness of Canadian colleges lies in the combination of employer-centred curricula within comprehensive learning institutions which respond to national economic policy. Colleges are dynamic institutions, constantly changing to meet the economic and social needs of the communities in which they work.
Career Colleges in Canada are privately owned institutions that offer training programs that provide students with practical skills for the job market after a short period of instruction. Students seeking short-term training programs in multimedia, film studies, computer/internet studies, graphic design and hospitality to name a few, may want to consider applying to a career college.
A technical/career college 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 technical/career colleges is on practical skills over a broad range of programs. They may specialize in specific areas such as business, computers and secretarial skills. Although privately owned, these schools are provincially approved and regulated, ensuring that program standards and quality are maintained. Career colleges have highly competitive fee structures.
University Transfer Programs
Students intending to acquire a degree at a university can complete their first two years of study at a community college or university college and earn credits. Most of the credits earned in this type of program may be transferred to universities as the first and second years of a degree program. Community colleges and university colleges that offer transfer programs usually have an established relationship with nearby universities however, it is important to check with the college to determine which universities will accept the transfer credits. You must ensure that the courses you take are appropriate to the degree you plan to enter in university