Postsecondary Education in Canada refers to education that is pursued after high school, typically at colleges, universities, or vocational schools. This form of education is vital for students who want to acquire the skills, knowledge, and credentials necessary for success in their chosen career fields. Postsecondary schools Canada

Postsecondary education in Canada is known for its quality, accessibility, and diversity, making it an attractive destination for international students. This article will explore the different kinds of postsecondary institutions available in Canada and what kind of programs each offers.

Postsecondary schools Canada


Colleges in Canada offer diploma and certificate programs that provide practical skills training for business, healthcare, and technology. These programs are usually shorter in duration and less expensive than university programs, which makes them an attractive option for students who want to enter the workforce quickly or need lower tuition costs. Some of Canada’s most popular college programs include nursing, computer science, and hospitality management.


Canada is home to some of the world’s top universities, which offer various undergraduate and graduate degree programs in multiple fields such as engineering, sciences, humanities, and social sciences.

University programs are usually more theoretical and research-based, providing students with a deeper understanding of their chosen fields. Popular university programs in Canada include engineering, computer science, and business.


Institutes in Canada offer programs focused on specific areas of study such as arts and design, technology, or health. Institutes often provide students with hands-on experience and practical skills in their chosen field, making them an attractive option for those who want to gain specialized skills and knowledge. Some popular institute programs in Canada include graphic design, culinary arts, and information technology.

Most postsecondary schools divide the school year into two main terms and an optional summer term.

  • Term 1: September to December
  • Term 2: January to April
  • Optional summer term: May to August

Each province and territory ensures each school and its programs meet a particular set of standards. Schools aren’t officially recognized until they’re certified.

A recognized school can grant

  • Degrees
  • Diplomas
  • Certificates
  • Other qualifications

Study at a university

Studying at a university in Canada is a great way to get a top-quality education in a multicultural and welcoming environment. Canada is home to many world-renowned universities that offer a wide range of academic programs, including undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees.

Whether you are a domestic or international student, there are many things you need to know to make the most out of your university experience in Canada.

Studying at a college or institute in Canada is an excellent way to gain specialized skills and practical knowledge to prepare for a successful career. Canada is home to many reputable colleges and institutes offering various diploma, certificate, and apprenticeship programs in multiple fields, including business, healthcare, technology, trades, and hospitality.
Whether you are a domestic or international student, there are many things you need to know to make the most out of your college or institute experience in Canada.


Statistics Canada has reported that postsecondary institution revenue in 2018–19 increased to $41.5 billion (in 2001 constant dollars):

  • Government funding is the largest revenue source for postsecondary education institutions. 45.8 percent of postsecondary funding comes from the government.
  • Student fees accounted for 29.4 percent of total postsecondary education revenue.
  • Bequests, donations, nongovernmental grants, sales of products and services, and investments brought in another 25 percent

Tuition Fees

In 2021-22, Canadian undergraduate students at public universities paid $6,580 in tuition fees, while international undergraduates paid an average of about $32,000 yearly. Education is also funded through money governments transfer to individual students—through loans and grants.

Attendance and Graduation Trends

The past few years have seen a significant increase in postsecondary education enrolments, whether measured by the number of students or the proportion of the population attending college or university. While women continue to make up the majority of students on both university and college campuses, they are still in the minority in skilled trades.

University Attendance and Graduation

According to Universities Canada, in 2019, There were about 1,116,000 full-time and 299,000 part-time students in 2022. Source: Universities Canada 2022 Fall enrolment survey, AAU 2022 Fall enrolment survey, COU 2022 Fall enrolment survey and BCI 2022 Fall enrolment survey.

University Governance

Publicly funded universities are given considerable autonomy in how they operate. They set their own admissions standards and degree requirements, manage their financial affairs and program offerings, and have flexibility in how they do so. Government intervention is generally limited to funding, fee structures, and introducing new programs.

Most Canadian universities have a two-tiered system of governance that includes boards of governors and academic senates. Commissions are generally charged with overall financial and policy concerns, while academic senates are responsible for programs, courses, admission requirements, degree qualifications and educational planning. Their decisions are subject to board approval. Students are often represented in both bodies and alums from the community.

University Activities

The majority of degree-granting institutions in Canada focus on teaching and research. As of 2020/21, Canadian universities performed $15.9 billion in research and development, about 45 percent of the national total.

Teaching is the other essential function, whether at the small liberal arts universities that grant only undergraduate degrees or at the large, comprehensive institutions. Registration varies from 3,000 students at some institutions to a full-time enrolment of over 97,066 at the University of Toronto, Canada’s most prominent English-language university. Read more

University Programs

More than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate degree programs are offered in Canadian universities, as well as professional degree programs and certificates. Most institutions provide instruction in either English or French; others offer education in both official languages.

Between March 2012 and March 2022, 2,169,700 new jobs were created for university graduates, three as many as those designed for graduates of all other types of postsecondary education combined.

Source: Universities Canada approximation based on Labour force survey data, 2022

University Degrees

Universities and colleges focus on degree programs but may also offer some diplomas and certificates, often in professional designations. University degrees are offered at three consecutive levels:

  • Students enter at the bachelor’s level after having completed secondary school or the two-year collèges d’enseignement général et professionnel (cégep) program in Quebec. Most universities also have special entrance requirements and paths for mature students. Bachelor’s degrees typically require three or four years of full-time study, depending on the province and whether the program is general or specialized.
  • A master’s degree typically requires two years of study after the bachelor’s degree.
  • The standard requirements are three to five years of additional study and research for a doctoral degree, plus a dissertation.

The Canadian Degree Qualifications Framework outlines the degree levels in more detail. One must complete an internship in many professional fields before receiving a license to practise.

Governance in Colleges and Institutes

Government involvement in publicly-funded colleges and institutes can extend to admissions policies, program approval, curricula, institutional planning, and working conditions.

Most colleges have boards of governors appointed by the provincial or territorial government, with representation from the public, students, and instructors. Government officials also participate in program planning through their appointments on college advisory committees.

College Activities

There are thousands of public and private colleges and institutes in Canada. Of these, over 150 are recognized public colleges and institutes. These educational institutions may be called public colleges, specialized institutes, community colleges, institutes of technology, colleges of applied arts and technology, or cégeps. Private colleges are most often called career colleges.

College Programs

Colleges, institutes and other institutions offer a variety of programs related to vocational training in various fields. These include business, health, applied arts, technology and social services. Some institutions specialize in a single lot, like fisheries or arts paramedical technology; others provide training in more than one area.

Many institutions offer literacy and academic upgrading programs such as pre-employment and pre-apprenticeship programs. Some workshops and short schedules are available for skilled workers and professionals who need to upgrade their skills or obtain new ones quickly.

College Credentials

Diplomas are generally awarded for completing two- and three-year college and institute programs, while certificate programs usually take up to one year. Some colleges and institutes offer university degrees and applied degrees; others provide university transfer programs. Les cégeps in Quebec offer two-year academic programs that are prerequisites for university study or three-year technical programs that prepare students for the labour market or further postsecondary study.

Colleges in their Communities

Colleges work closely with business, industry, labour, and the public service sectors to provide professional development services and specialized programs and, on a broader basis, with their communities to design programs that reflect local needs.

Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition

Many postsecondary institutions allow students to use prior learning assessment and recognition (PLAR) to help them gain entrance into programs. Some universities also recognize PLAR, and many provinces offer it to adults at the secondary school level. The process allows adults to demonstrate and gain recognition for learning they have acquired outside formal education settings.


In summary, postsecondary education in Canada offers students various options, including colleges, universities, and vocational schools. Each institution provides unique programs that cater to different interests and career aspirations.

Whether a student wants to pursue a degree in engineering or acquire practical skills in welding, Canada’s postsecondary program can meet their needs. With its world-class education system, diverse population, and welcoming environment, Canada is an ideal destination for students looking to further their education.

List of Post-secondary Institutes


Postsecondary Education