Institutes & Universities
in Canada

Canada’s Universities & Colleges

Canada’s education system is controlled within the provinces and territories, rather than through a federal system. While there is overall similarity, the concerns, and historical and cultural background, of each region is reflected in the make-up its education. At the post-secondary level, institutions are divided into community colleges / technical institutes and universities. Today there are around two hundred technical institutes and community colleges in addition to approximately one hundred universities in Canada, and enrollment at this level is now around one million.

Community colleges and technical institutes

Broadly speaking, these serve much the same role as the community colleges in the US and the TAFE colleges in Australia. They tend towards a more vocational emphasis and the curriculum is influenced by the input of Canada’s employers, to ensure it meets the needs of industry and the public service sector. In addition to community college and technical institute, colleges may come under the titles of university college or Cégep, but all of them (in total, 175) are represented by the Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC).

Community College Programs

Community colleges are continually evolving to fulfill their function of responding to the training needs of business, industry, the public service sectors and the educational needs of vocationally oriented secondary school graduates. Despite this, around eighteen colleges are now offering degree courses in some subjects, although typically they run one, two or three year courses with a vocational emphasis leading to certificates and diplomas.

Community Colleges as a Pathway to Universities

As with the community college system in the US, there is a system of articulation agreements between some Canadian community colleges and some universities in Canada. Articulation is a process whereby a student can transfer from a community college to a university, using the college qualification as a credit towards his or her bachelors, with a proportionate reduction in the time needed to complete this. Because the Canadian system is highly decentralized, it is important to ascertain what rules apply in each region and each college, and what agreements they have to facilitate articulation. States and territories have information on all the ins and outs of this process, including lists of colleges and universities which allow for articulation and in which subjects etc. Try looking at the British Columbia Council on Admissions and Transfers (BCCAT) for an example of this:

Course Fees

Course fees vary according to the type of course studied and its duration, but as a general guideline, it works out at around US$3000 per year, including course materials. It is always advisable to check out the individual colleges for universities in Canada or more specific information, since there is considerable variation between courses and institutions. Foreign students enrolled in a full-time, post-secondary study program are automatically authorized to work up to 10 hours a week on the campus of the institution at which they are studying. See our Canada Country page for more detailed information on comparative living costs.

Why Study in Canada?

There are plenty of reasons for considering Canada as your study destination. As a country, it offers a low crime rate, high standard of living, low costs, a clean and beautiful environment and it has a very multi-cultural make-up. From the point of view of studying it has many advantages:

  • International recognition of diplomas and degrees
  • Relatively low tuition fees
  • High levels of public spending on the education system
  • Over 100,000 international students annually
  • Wide choice of location, institute and courses at universities in Canada
  • A hospitable and welcoming environment

For further information on studying in Canada, take a look at our Canada page. For more information on community colleges and technical institutes, go to the association website on:


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