Type of Higher Education in Canada

Undergraduate degrees in Canada can take either three or four years to complete, depending on the university. Postgraduate degrees last between one and three years to complete, depending on the type of degree. Different types of higher education providers in Canada include: universities (which carry out research and provide both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees), community colleges and technical, applied arts or applied science schools (which grant certificates, diplomas, associate’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees).

As universities in Canada are managed by provincial governments, you’ll find there will be slight differences in how education is carried out. Quebec, in particular, is markedly different to the rest of Canada, with different term times and length of study. For instance, students finish secondary school a year early and must take a mandatory pre-university General and Vocational College (CEGEP) course, essentially eliminating the freshman year of university.

1. Public College/University

A public institution is one that receives funding from the provincial, territorial and/or federal government, although tuition revenue and private funding also contribute to their financial stability. These educational institutions may follow province-wide admissions requirements, or have their own individual campus requirements. These institutions are also controlled or managed by a body most of whose members are elected or appointed by or under the scrutiny of a public authority. Faculty research grants typically are important to public university faculty, and bring numerous practical research opportunities to you. These public universities often may have large departments which offer numerous degree options for you, from associate degrees to doctoral and postdoctoral programs. Public/Provincial universities generally are less expensive than private institutions.

2. Private College/University

A private institution generally does not receive funding from the provincial, territorial or federal governments, instead receiving private funding through alumni donations, faculty research grants and tuition fees. Large endowments and private funding often allow for more resources to be available to the students and faculty.