Blogs on 'Study in Canada'

Education System In Canada

8 min read
Blog Summary Discover the Canadian education system, renowned for its quality and international recognition.

Canada has become a flourishing centre for international students who dream of staying in the country where they completed their education. Formerly an unnoticed study destination, Canada today offers a course or direction to permanent citizenship - which many students are after.

Canada is one of the top ten best countries to live in, with an education system that is ranked among the best. The country is also popular for offering less expensive methods of studying internationally than the United States. Canadian universities are now giving distinguished degrees as those in the US, most often at inexpensive costs.

The standards of education in Canada are always high because the Canadian government places great significance and value on learning. The country has almost one hundred universities, with five universities rated among the world's top 100. These are the University of Toronto, McGill University, University of British Columbia, Universite de Montreal, and the University of Alberta.

Study Levels in Canada

The provincial governments of Canada are the ones managing its education system. This is why the study levels lie in different groups and with different names. So that you can understand which education program is right for you, you must first understand the study levels in Canada. Here is a summary.




Certificates and Diploma

1-2 years

Vocational training and job-oriented, technical programs 

Associate Degree

2 years

Amounts to the first 2 years of a bachelor's degree of 4 years. It is a 60-credit, foundational undergraduate program in an area of studies such as Arts or Sciences, and comprises a specialization in an area of interest similar to a Major

Bachelor’s Degree

3-4 years

It is an undergraduate degree, and needs the completion of secondary school.  Most courses last for 4 years, although the duration depends on the type of program and the province where you’re studying.  Quebec, for example, has a bachelor’s degree of 3 years.

Bachelor’s Honors Degree

4 years

This level requires you to get a specific GPA (grade point average) or credits, a specialized program or a Majors.

Postgraduate Diploma

1-2 years

This is a post-bachelor’s degree qualification.

Master’s Degree 

(by thesis)

1-2 years

Also referred to as Research Masters, requires submission of thesis for evaluation and completion of the course. 

Master’s Degree

(by non-thesis)

1-2 years

Taught Master’s Degree.  Thesis not required.

Doctorate or PhD

4-7 years

Awarded upon completing a dissertation and defending their work before chosen faculty members. 

Post-Doctoral Programs

no limit

Research-oriented programs, specialized.

Pre-Elementary Education in Canada

Also termed "kindergarten", pre-elementary education is the first stage of Canadian education. It is offered to and attended by children ages 4 or 5. This is done before they start elementary school. Pre-elementary is optional in most provinces in Canada, but in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, it is optional.

Pre-elementary is offered by federal, private, or public schools. In many areas, the first year of pre-elementary education is public and free. Some provinces provide additional years with free tuition. Quebec province has free kindergarten for students coming from low-income families, and those with disabilities.

Pre-elementary has a relaxed teaching curriculum. Young students are given the chance to learn the alphabet and some basic skills such as music, art, pre-reading, and how to play in groups. This program is designed to prepare children for the next step: primary school.

Primary (Elementary) Education in Canada

Also termed elementary school, primary education in Canada is compulsory for children aged 6 to 12 years old, as required by rules. They start from Grade 1 up to Grade 6.

Subjects covered in this level are Math, Reading, English language (in Quebec it's French), science, history, music, social studies, art, and physical education. As students advance in their grades, the difficulty of the courses also advances.

Parents or guardians of students in Canada can choose a school system depending on the location of their residence. Some options include paid private schools, public schools, at-home education and English and French schools.

Secondary Education in Canada

There are two levels of secondary education in Canada: (1) Junior High School and (2) High School. Junior High School is also called intermediate education. This is the level that immediately follows elementary school. Its duration is 2 years and includes Grade 7 and Grade 8.

The junior high school teaches grades between primary (elementary) and secondary (senior). However, not all provinces have this concept. Others have the "middle years" divided between primary/elementary and secondary/senior.

The 2 years duration is a good chance for students to adapt to the changes of switching teachers and classrooms throughout the day. This level helps students prepare for the next step of learning, with course difficulty likely increasing.

High School Education

High school is the second and last part of secondary education after Grade 8. Students stay in this stage for 4 years until Grade 12, at ages 16 - 18 depending on the province and your child's circumstances.

The Canadian provinces law requires that students stay in school until they're 16 years old, despite what grade they are in upon reaching that age.

New Brunswick and Ontario rule that students be in school until 18, or until they have earned a high school diploma. Quebec has a different law, where secondary education ends in Grade 11. Generally, this is followed by CEGEP, which is a 2-year pre-university program. CEGEP is a French acronym for "general and vocational college" in English.

High school curricula have been thoughtfully and carefully designed to prepare students for higher education. In some provinces, job training is offered at the high school level.

Post-Secondary Education in Canada

This is the college and university level.

After graduation from high school, students can apply to study in colleges and universities. A college in Canada is a specific trade school or a smaller community college which usually offers one-year certificate programs, and 2-3 years diploma programs. Today, some colleges offer bachelor's degrees; and others offer master's degrees. In addition to in-class studies, college programs have practical hands-on training, apprenticeship, and pre-trades.

Canadian universities are where students can pursue higher education and obtain academic degrees in a wide variety of subjects. Most degrees can take 3-4 years to complete in full-time studies. In a university, you can earn 3 types of degrees: bachelor's degree, master's degree, and doctoral degree. Graduates of medicine, law, education and other regulated professions must complete their internships and pass the standard exams before they can be issued their licenses to work.

Most public universities and colleges get funds from the provincial governments. The remainder is paid through minimal tuition fees, research grants, and part from the federal government.

Vocational Schools and Apprenticeships

Canadian vocational schools and apprenticeships provide training to students in important fields that are essential for today's society. From business to healthcare, to skilled trades, to beauty - and everything between these points - vocational schools offer specific skills and knowledge about diverse occupations.

While academic degree programs from universities and colleges allow you to be ready to seek a range of entry-level jobs within certain fields such as IT or business, vocational training is designed to provide you with the competency needed to hold a specific position - like chef, hairstylist, a job in electrical and construction.

Vocational schools and apprenticeship in Canada, whether private or public is the right place to get career training programs, which can lead to credentials such as an associate degree, a diploma or a certificate.

Canada's public education system is strong and well-funded, as it is managed largely by respective provinces. As a result, some aspects of the system differ between provinces. However because the federal government oversees Canadian education, it can maintain its high standard throughout the country.

Public and private education systems are available in Canada, and the government subsidizes heavily on it, from kindergarten to post-secondary level.

Many Canadian universities in rural and urban locations are recognized internationally. Degrees awarded from these universities are equivalent to those awarded by other universities in the UK, the US, and worldwide.

Do you have queries or concerns about the Canadian educational system? Please contact AECC by dropping us a line at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. As a popular and largely reputed study abroad consultant, we can give you the best career advice and offer you our expertise in all things related to studying abroad, including visa processing and coaching. You can always expect a swift response from our team. AECC is your number one resource in finding the right university in Canada for your educational goals. So don't waste any more time; contact us today and let's discuss how we can help you. We will be delighted to speak with you!

Frequently Asked Questions

How does the education system in Canada differ from that in other countries, and what are its key features?
The Canadian education system is known for its high quality, accessibility, and emphasis on research-based learning. It includes both public and private institutions.
Are there specific entry requirements for international students looking to study in Canada, and do they vary depending on the level of education?
Entry requirements for international students can vary based on the level of education and the institution they wish to attend. These requirements may include academic qualifications and language proficiency.
What are the benefits of pursuing higher education in Canada for international students, and how does it enhance their career prospects?
Studying in Canada offers international students access to world-class education, diverse cultural experiences, and excellent post-graduation work opportunities.
How does Canada's education system foster innovation and research, and what opportunities are available for international students to engage in research projects?
Canada's universities are known for their research programs, and international students can often participate in research projects, gaining valuable experience.
What role does the Canadian government play in supporting international students, and are there scholarships or financial aid options available to them?
The Canadian government offers support to international students through various initiatives, and there are scholarships and financial aid options available to help with tuition costs.

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