Canada is one of the best most ideal places for post-secondary education studies in the world. It is highly sought after by many prospective international students. The country has a detailed education system that encourages international students to pursue other endeavors during their Bachelor’s or Master’s degree program and still allows them to stay and work after graduation.

The Canadian government allows each province and territory to deliver its education programs. Despite regional differences, Canadian post-secondary institutions across all levels use similar terms to describe common pathways and credentials. Canada offers a number of certificates, diplomas, bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. These programs qualify students to undertake employment opportunities, they may be useful for immigration purposes.

The length and composition of these programs is also an essential part for potential foreign students, as it may have a direct effect on eligibility for a post-graduation work permit and immigration opportunities in Canada. The undergraduate education system in Canada allows for the completion of senior secondary or high school. The full duration of standard undergraduate education is normally three to five years.

International students should budget a minimum of four years to complete an undergraduate (bachelors) degree program. With a completed bachelor’s degree program, international students may decide to pursue a Master’s degree, which requires completion of a bachelor’s degree.

4 Types of Post-Secondary Education in Canada

Canada tops the charts for the most sought-after schools in the world for quality education. In order to know which program is right for you, you must first understand the different levels of degrees or certificate courses the country offers. There are broadly four different types of post-secondary education each with different purposes.

1. University

A university is a post-secondary educational institution that is authorized to award degrees. Every university offers Bachelor’s Degree programs, and many also offer Master’s Degree programs and Ph.D. programs. Most universities in Canada are public-funded and are autonomous in terms of academic matters such as staff recruitment, quality of programs, and policies and procedures.

2. College

A college is a post-secondary educational institution that cannot award degree certifications, though there are some exceptions to this. Instead, they normally offer programs resulting in certificates and/or diplomas.

In general, college courses are more career-oriented programs when compared to universities. A college graduate may complete hands-on, vocational, or practical training in employable skills, like language training, graphic design, or culinary skills. Some Colleges also have training programs or apprenticeships in skilled trade occupations like welding or carpentry.

3. Trade School/Apprenticeships

A skilled trade refers to a specialized occupation, usually focusing on some form of manual labor, which requires basic training and formal education.

A skilled trade does not require a Bachelor’s Degree, so education in the skilled trades usually occurs through trade schools, which are often smaller programs contained within vocational schools or colleges. Once an aspiring tradesperson has acquired sufficient training, they may undertake an apprenticeship. As an apprentice, they work closely with an experienced tradesperson to improve their skills in the trade.

4. Vocational School

Vocational programs equip students with hands-on technical skills required to perform the tasks of a specific job. These programs prepare students to enter into the workforce, either in skilled or low-skilled jobs.

While there are separate terminologies for different types of schools at the post-secondary levels these terms mean different things in various locations around the world, so a college, for example, may be referred to one type of school in Canada but something different in Germany or France. Also, sometimes these schools overlap, there can be colleges affiliated with universities or trade schools within colleges.

List of accredited schools in Canada

Different Types of Degrees in Canada

In Canada, there are different types or levels of degrees for many disciplines and subjects. Basically, these four types of degrees are rendered by universities in the various Canadian provinces and territories:

Associate Degree

An Associate Degree in Canada is a foundational undergraduate program in a field of studies (such as Sciences or Arts). Unlike certificates and diplomas, Associate Degrees comprises a series of general academic subjects such as Associate of Arts (Business) and Associate of Arts (Science).

The Associate Degree allows students to start their studies at one university or college and transfer into third-year coursework at a university, pending approval by the receiving institution.

Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s degree in Canada signifies the completion of four to five years of full-time regular post-secondary education. Subject areas most often include conventional academic subjects in General Sciences, Engineering, Business, the Arts, or Humanities. In this arrangement, students are expected to gain foundational knowledge in their first two years, and then specialize in a major. Some universities offer a fifth professional year course comprising a supervised practicum (for example, for business or teachers’ certifications). Admission into a bachelor’s degree program requires a completed senior secondary or high school program in Canada.

Master’s Degree

Master’s degrees comprise one to three years of advanced post-graduate study, and can also lead to professional practice. Master degrees are conferred by universities and tend to build on previous study areas explored at the undergraduate or bachelor’s level. Programs often expect the student to conduct extensive academic research leading to a major project, thesis, and/or comprehensive examination. Master’s degree programs usually require completion of a bachelor’s degree.

Doctorate Degree

Doctorate degree in Canada comprises at least three to four years’ equivalent full-time study in comprehensive and analytical coursework, followed by an independent thesis or dissertation. PhDs and other doctorate degrees are required for many professions such as university professors and doctors, health care, or high-level administration jobs in government. The average timeframe to complete a Doctorate degree program is four to six years.

Colleges and institutes

In addition, Canada also offers a number of certificates and diplomas at the undergraduate level. While these do not qualify students to directly undertake a Master’s degree in Canada, they may be useful for employment and immigration purposes. Many of these colleges and institutes are entirely private, while some are recognized by the government. Colleges and institutes usually offer one to three-year programs.

Colleges and institutes that usually offer these types of programs issues diplomas and certificates that qualify graduates to work in specific jobs within many fields. These fields include:

  • business
  • computer and mechanical technologies
  • health
  • social services
  • agriculture
  • trades (such as electrician, carpenter, and plumber)
  • many others

A growing number of recognized colleges and institutes now offer bachelor’s degrees and, in some cases, master’s degrees.

FAQ for Post-Secondary Education in Canada

Q. Are Post-secondary education free in Canada?

A. Most post-secondary schools in Canada do not offer free education. Though many of them are publicly funded by the federal government and by their respective provincial governments, they do not offer free tuition to both domestic and international students. Only Public high school or secondary is free in Canada for residents of the country.

Q. What is Canadian post-secondary education?

A. Postsecondary Education, also known as tertiary education, is the education level that follows the successful completion of secondary education, often referred to as high school. Postsecondary education includes universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools. Postsecondary education usually leads to a diploma, certification, or academic degree.

Q. What is secondary and post-secondary education in Canada?

A. Secondary or high school is called secondary education in Canada. It is the level of education that preceded post-secondary education. Any studies beyond high school are called post-secondary. Postsecondary education includes universities and colleges, as well as trade and vocational schools.

Q. Is a diploma a post-secondary Education?

A diploma is of two different levels. It can be undergraduate or postgraduate. While an undergraduate diploma does not require a degree, a postgraduate requires completion of a graduation degree. A post-graduate diploma is a diploma course done after your graduation

Q. What are post-secondary education quality assessment boards in Canada?

A. Postsecondary Education Quality Assessment Board is an advisory agency of the federal government. It makes recommendations to the federal Minister on applications for ministerial consent for institutions not authorized to offer all or part of a degree program.

The Board was established to ensure that new degree programs offered by Canadian colleges, universities or private institutions provide the highest quality of education that is expected from degree-granting institutions in Canada.

Q. Which degree is most valuable in Canada?

A. Canada’s post-secondary schools offer a number of degree programs that cut across many fields of endeavors. Most valuable degrees are measured by the high-paying jobs they offer and the demands for them. Based on the highest graduate salaries in Canada, IT and Engineering related degrees are often considered most valuable.

Q. Do colleges and universities in Canada offer the same credentials?

A. Generally speaking, colleges offer certificates and diplomas, while universities offer bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.

More recently, however, accredited public colleges in Canada now also confer bachelor’s degrees and a limited number of diplomas and graduate certificates. Many Canadian universities also confer post-graduate certificate and diploma programs.

Q. What is the highest degree offered by post-secondary schools?

A. The doctorate degree is the highest degree you can earn in a post-secondary school. This shows that you have achieved the highest level of academic mastery in your chosen field of study, and can work as a university professor, professional researcher, high profile jobs with the government, or in an executive leadership role.

A student visa and temporary resident visa may be required to study in any of Canada’s post secondary schools. How to obtain Canada Study Visa