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Canadian Education System

Canada attracts the greatest numbers of international students by providing a well-structured education and a clear pro-immigration stance. Canadian Diplomas are valued and recognised by employers worldwide.

Canada has an excellent and high-quality education system which is recognized globally. According to the latest US News & World Report, Canada has been ranked first for quality of life, the second-best country overall, the third-best country for education, and the fifth-best for women worldwide. The country attracts the best minds from all over the world by offering diverse, prestigious, and quality programmes in various fields and disciplines. Also, students choose Canada due to high standards of living and safety, internationally recognised diplomas, a multicultural environment, and additional opportunities for immigration. All of these factors make Canada an attractive destination for education. The most popular destinations for students are: Montréal, Toronto, Vancouver, Quebec City, and Edmonton.

Being the world's second-biggest country with ten provinces and three territories, Canada offers a well-funded public education system, largely managed provincially. Although the system and curriculum are overseen by each province, the similarities far outweigh the differences. The education system is a high priority for the Canadian government. In fact, Canadians have a high level of educational achievements compared to the global average. In 2015, 90 percent (aged 25 to 64) possessed at least a high school diploma, and 66 percent held a post-secondary educational credential. Therefore, the Canadian education is a valuable investment in the future.

Under the Official Languages Act of 1969, English and French are the country's official languages. English is the primary language of schooling; however, French is available throughout some provinces (mostly spoken in Quebec).

The Canadian education system is comprised of four levels:

Canadian education provides different educational options at all levels: private education, secular and religious schools (Catholic and Protestant schools), and homeschooling is legal across the country. Because the education is overseen provincially, children can start and finish school programmes at different ages following local requirements.

Pre-school Education

Depending on jurisdictions, children might attend pre-elementary programmes at 4 or 5 years of age prior to beginning primary school at age six. In provinces such as Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, pre-elementary education (kindergarten) is compulsory for children who turn five by a certain date in the school year. In other provinces, preschool education is optional for children until primary school level. Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta offer a few additional years of free preschool, while others provide only one year. Before official preschool programmes, children might be enrolled in private daycares and childcare.

All programmes are designed to prepare children for schooling education in the relaxed sphere. Children learn the alphabet and develop fundamental skills, including counting, reading, music, and arts. The main focus is to teach them to play and communicate with other children and society as a whole.

Schooling Education

Canadian school education is divided into Primary (elementary school) and Secondary (intermediate and high schools). In most provinces and territories, children start primary school from the age of 6-7 and study there until they turn 16 (except Ontario and New Brunswick where children have to study up to 18), and this education is compulsory.

Many schools are available, such as public schools, publicly-funded Catholic and Protestant schools, charters, and private schools.

Each provincial government is responsible for the school programmes; therefore, each area offers its own ministry-established curriculum. However, the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) has united all provinces to develop best standard practices. 

At the primary level, students tend to have only one teacher in the same classroom with the same students across six years. Primary curriculum might differ provincially; however, most of them cover subjects such as math, reading, English or French language, history, science, music, social studies, physical education, and art.

The intermediate school comprises two years that give students time to adjust to switching classrooms and teacher changes. The focus is to prepare students for high school and more complex programmes.

High school spans four years or more, depending on the student's achievement and province's requirements. The programmes include a careful and thoughtful curriculum with diverse disciplines. Some areas offer job training at the high school levels.

The school year usually runs for about ten months (from September to late June). Classes are held from Monday to Friday from 8 am to 3 pm. For citizens and residents of the country, schooling is free of charge. For international students, the average tuition fee is from 8,000 to 14,000 CAD per year.

Post-Secondary Education

Graduates of Canadian schools have a wide range of study programmes in numerous fields and disciplines. After completing programmes, graduates can apply to any higher education provider of their choice.

Public universities and colleges are mainly funded by the provincial governments, with the rest paid for by the minimum tuition fees and research grants and partly from the federal government. Tuition fees for public universities average between 7,500 and 22,500 CAD per year, while tuition for private universities tends to be higher.

In Canada, more than 200 public and private institutions award degrees, and they differ from province to province. These can be universities, university colleges, colleges, institutes of technology, and specialised institutes. In Canada, all higher education institutions are approved by degree-granting authority via an Act of Ministerial Consent from the Ministry of Education of the individual province.

Students can work for up to 20 hours a week during their studies during term and full-time during school breaks. The academic year runs across two semesters (from September to December and from January to April). Summer classes are also possible.

Canadian students are allowed to bring a spouse/partner and children who will have the permit to work or study in accordance with student admissions.

Professional Education

Professional Institutions are presented in vocational colleges, career colleges, community colleges, institutes of technology or science, colleges of applied arts or applied technology, which offer practical skills and abilities. Colleges provide a variety of post-secondary programmes in both Vocational education & training (VET) and academically fields. Post-secondary institutions issue vocational certificates, diplomas, and related degrees. In the province of Quebec, after grade 11, children can choose a 2-year vocational training at CÉGEP. After that, they can continue their studies at university. Students obtain professional programmes to prepare for higher education or to pursue employment opportunities.


Canadian Universities

As of 2021, Canada encompasses 97 universities across the country. Canada prides itself on its many high-ranked universities among the world's leading academic and research universities. There are 26 universities in Canada that are ranked in the QS World University Rankings (2020). Three universities are in the world's top 50, and more than ten are in the world's top 300.


Higher education in Canada is divided into:

Bachelor degree (A Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science is an undergraduate degree)
Admission requirements: school certificate.
The term of study is 3-4 years.

Master's degree (A Master of Arts or Master of Science is known as a graduate degree)
Admission requirements: bachelor's degree.
The term of study is 1-3 years.

Ph.D. - postgraduate study, doctoral studies (The Doctorate or Ph.D. degree is a specialised postgraduate degree).
Admission requirements: Master's degree. 
The term of study is 3 or more years.

Students can obtain any number of advanced degrees in Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Veterinary Medicine, and the Law.

English Language Schools

Canada offers high standards in providing language courses to study either English (ESL) or French (FSL) as a second language. There are over 200 language schools across the country. Students have the opportunity to immerse themselves in unique culture with two official languages. Canada also includes a multi-cultural community, a vibrant and welcoming environment, beautiful and natural landscape that make the studying process informative and exciting. Programmes are designed to help prepare students for Canadian universities or college courses. Schools provide short-term programmes, intensive immersions, courses for test preparation in English or French (CAEL, IELTS, TOEFL, TEF Canada or TCF), business or technical English and French, and teacher training. Most universities and colleges have ESL courses. 

Almost all language schools are very flexible in enrolment requirements and intake dates. 

The price depends on the provinces; but, the cost for a 12-week programme in different areas varies from 3,500 to 4,000 CAD.


Prospects after studying in Canada

First of all, Canadian diplomas are accepted by employers all over the world. Therefore, after completing university programmes, graduates will have an opportunity to build a career not only in Canada, but globally. In cases where students decide to live and work in Canada, the Canadian Government is known to have a friendly attitude toward foreigners. Thus, graduates can apply for a post-study work permit that allows students to continue to stay in the country for a maximum of up to three years. In fact, students who have completed Automobile, Construction and Healthcare programmes are known to find a job quickly compared to others. Apart from that, a student's success depends on personal traits, ability, qualities, communication skills, and even the provider's reputation.

How to apply to study

To study in Canada, students must obtain a Canadian study permit to look at an accredited institution (Designated learning institutions). To apply for this study permit, students need to fill in an application and provide the required documents to Immigration Canada.

Study Compare agents are pleased to help you with the selection of the necessary educational provider according to your requirements and desires and offer visa support for obtaining the visas for you and your family.