Study levels in Canada

Since the education system in Canada is managed by the provincial governments, the study levels and educational stages may lie in different clusters with different names. Here’s a synopsis:

Qualification Duration Description
Certificates and Diploma ۱ to 2 years Vocational and job oriented programs, mainly technical
Associate degree ۲ years Equivalent to first two years of a 4-year bachelor’s degree
Bachelor’s degree ۳ to 4 years And undergraduate degree which requires successful completion of secondary school. The duration of your course depends on the province and type of program although most courses last for 4 years. Certain provinces like Quebec have bachelor’s degree of 3 years.
Bachelor’s Honors degree ۴ years This will require getting a specific GPA or credits, a majors or a specialist program
Postgraduate diploma ۱ to 2 years A post bachelor degree qualification
Master’s degree (by thesis) ۱ to 2 years Often referred to as research masters, this requires mandatory submission of thesis for assessment and course completion
Master’s degree (by non-thesis) ۱ to 2 years This is a taught master’s degree, not requiring thesis submission
Doctorate or PhD ۴ to 7 years Ph.D. is awarded when students complete dissertation and successfully defend their work before a panel of faculty members
Post-Doctoral Programs No time limit Specialised research-oriented programs

Types of institutions

There are different types of qualifications offered by various institutions of Canada.

University: Students can apply for undergraduate degree, postgraduate certificate, diploma and degree, professional degrees and doctorate in universities of Canada.

University colleges: Programs offered by university colleges include diploma and university transfer programs.

Community colleges: Students can get certificate, diploma, associate degree, undergraduate degree and postgraduate diploma in community colleges.

Career and technical colleges: Certificate and diploma offered for technical education.

Co-operative education

This unique platform brings together classroom-based education and practical work experience making for more structured and pragmatic learning. This is an exceptionally wonderful avenue for international students who do not wish to consume themselves in a completely lecture-based education. Note that 50% of the program will include work experience therefore you must have a work permit.

Academic year

September is the main intake in Canada and witnesses maximum number of student admissions. While most colleges and universities offer the September and January intake, you may also be able to get admissions in the Summer intake that starts around April/May.

Pedagogy in Canadian classrooms

Active participation, research and analysis via presentation, assignments and lab tests are the basis of Canadian learning. Classes are usually a mix of lectures, tutorials and lab sessions having a student strength of about 30 to 200. While lectures may have a higher number of students, tutorials are generally held within small groups for better and in-depth understanding of the concept. Canadian universities focus on providing a holistic experience wherein students get opportunities that improve their learning, career and life.

Here’s an overview of the kinds of scholarships you can apply for based on your study level.

For undergraduates (UG)

Merit-based scholarship

Provincial Government scholarship

Need-based grants and bursaries by college

Tuition waiver

Commonwealth scholarship

Private/Organizational scholarship

For Postgraduates (PG)

Merit-based scholarship

Provincial Government scholarship

Research associate-ship

Professional Development award


Teaching assistantship

Commonwealth scholarship

Private/Organizational scholarship

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