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Education System

Everything you need to know about the education system in Canada.

Canada makes a large investment in its education system. In fact, Canada is one of the world’s top education performers and among the top three countries in spending per capita on public post-secondary education, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).


The post-secondary education system in Canada is divided into:

  • Certificate level, generally for a year
  • Diploma level, for one or two years
  • Advanced diploma, generally two or three-year programs
  • Bachelor degrees, awarded after four years of full-time study
  • Postgraduate diplomas/certificates, for one or two years of study
  • Master’s degrees, available after a bachelor degree to excel in a certain subject, for one to two years
  • Doctorate or PhD, generally four to seven years.

Academic Year 
Most colleges and universities typically offer classes from early September until the end of April or early May. The winter session is usually divided into two terms that operate from September to December and then from January to April. There are several different kinds of summer studies offered between May and August. There are also a few select schools in Canada that offer year-round schooling.

Depending on the university, undergraduate degrees can take either three or four years to complete. Depending on the type of degree, postgraduate degrees take between one and two years to complete. Master’s programs generally take between one to two years and PhD programs are longer than in other countries. They usually take between four and seven years to complete.

Teaching and Leaning Style
As well as Canadian universities being devoted to research and high-quality teaching, they also aim to provide opportunities that improve students’ learning, career and life. Classes at university are a combination of lectures and tutorials. Lectures are taught by professors and can contain anywhere between 30 to 200 students. They usually have a linked component such as a lab or a tutorial.

A tutorial or lab allows a more in-depth discussion of topics within a course. The sizes of tutorials generally range anywhere from 20 to 30 students.

Fees and Scholarships

Education costs
There’s no doubt that it can be expensive for students to study overseas. However, in comparison to the UK, Australia, New Zealand and the US, Canada offers the lowest tuition rates for foreign students.To cover tuition fees, you will need between CA$7000 and CA$29,000 a year. However, this is a general guide only and cost varies in relation to the institution and program you are applying for, as well as the location and lifestyle.

Generally speaking, humanities, education and arts courses are cheaper, while subjects such as medicine and engineering are likely to be more expensive. If you wish to study at postgraduate level, the tuition fees are typically higher and the costs vary depending on the program. As with most other countries, MBA programs are often the most expensive. The average cost for these programs is around CA$42,000.

Some Canadian universities and schools offer scholarships and awards for international students who achieve outstanding results. The amount of money available and type of award varies between the various institutions. Getting a scholarship is competitive and you must generally apply directly to the school that offers them.

Listed below are some of the more popular scholarships.

Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan
This program is designed to enable students to pursue programs of advanced study and research at the master and PhD level in Commonwealth countries other than their own. The award comprises travel, living allowance and all compulsory tuition fees.

Shastri Indo - Canadian Institute
Offers several fellowships at various levels from graduate to postdoctorate and from research to training fellowships.

National Research Council of Canada (NRCC)
Research associateships are offered to master degree holders in engineering and PhD holders in natural science or engineering disciplines.

Ontario Graduate Scholarship Program
For graduate students in a wide variety of disciplines. Students must accept an offer from a university in Ontario and obtain a valid student permit (visa).

Supports both basic university research through research grants and project research via partnerships of universities and industry.

Quebec Provincial Government Scholarship
For students studying in Quebec. Financial assistance is available to students studying master’s level or above. Each application is assessed on its own merit.

Ontario Trillium Scholarship
First announced in November 2010 for the best doctoral students from around the world to study in Ontario. Each scholarship is worth $40,000 annually, renewable for a maximum of four years. 75 scholarships are awarded each year.

Ontario universities are responsible for selecting and awarding scholarships to international PhD students based on merit and program.

Information That You Need To Know

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