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Advanced Education
Citizenship and Immigration Canada


Where do you go for more education or training?

In Canada there are various opportunities for education beyond secondary school. You can study at a community college, at a university or at a professional school.

  • At community colleges you can learn a trade or acquire technical or administrative skills. After you successfully complete your studies at a community college you usually receive a diploma.
  • Universities offer programs of study in a wide variety of areas, usually leading to an undergraduate degree.
  • You will usually need an undergraduate degree for acceptance into a professional course, such as law, medicine or social work.

Community College

At community colleges you can learn a trade or acquire technical or administrative skills. For example you can study to be an electrician, health care worker or to work in business.

After you successfully complete your studies at a community college you usually receive a diploma and not an academic degree.

What else are community colleges called?

The provinces have many names for community colleges. They can be called:

  • colleges of applied arts and technology,
  • institutes of applied arts and sciences,
  • technical/vocational and university-oriented colleges,
  • institutes of technology or technical institutes,
  • in Quebec, they are known as collèges d'enseignement général et professionnel, or CEGEPs.

There are also training institutes specializing in fields such as forestry, fisheries and transportation.

In many cases, it is possible to transfer from community college to university. You should confirm this with the schools ahead of time.

How long does it take to get a diploma from a community college?

It depends on your course of study and previous education. It is possible to earn a diploma in less than a year, particularly from colleges that run 12 months a year. Courses such as computer programming, communications or administration can take from two to three years.

Where can you get trades and technical training?

This varies from province to province. Generally, training is offered at community colleges or vocational centres. It is also sometimes available at work through government-funded training programs designed for particular regions or certain groups of people such as newcomers or Aboriginal Peoples.

How do you become registered to practice a trade?

Qualifications for trades such as hairdressers, electricians and carpenters are controlled in each province. You begin as an apprentice. After fulfilling the requirements of training, on-the-job experience and examinations, you progress to becoming a registered trades person. If you move to another province, you may have to re-qualify.

Re-qualifying in Canada

If you have been practising a profession or trade in your country of origin you may be expected to re-qualify in Canada. This will probably involve attending courses and gaining Canadian job experience.


How do you qualify for university entrance?

You must have a high school diploma or equivalent. Popular courses in colleges and universities get many applications so you will need above average marks to be accepted. Apply at least a year in advance.

Many colleges and universities allow adults over 25 or 30 to enter as mature students, based on their individual abilities and background instead of based only on previous education.

How long does it take to get a degree from a university?

A bachelor's degree normally takes three or four academic years of eight months each. An honours bachelorís degree usually requires four academic years. Bachelorís degrees are offered in arts (BA, BA Hon) and in sciences (B.Sc., B.Sc. Hon).

Some universities offer courses throughout the calendar year. This allows students to complete a degree more quickly. Or if you need to earn money for your education, you can work during some parts of the year.

How much does it cost to get a diploma or degree?

You must pay fees to attend college or university. Tuition costs range from $3,000 to $9,000 for an eight-month term, depending on the province, program and university. Living expenses, books and supplies etc., are additional costs.

Medicine, science and business programs generally cost more than the humanities and arts.

You may be able to get a scholarship, bursary or student loan to help you pay university costs. Many university students get a part-time job to help pay for their education. Many graduate students support themselves financially through bursaries, scholarships, and loans or by working as teaching assistants.

Professional Education

How do you acquire professional qualifications?

To enter a law degree program (LL.B.), you usually need a bachelor's degree or at least two years of undergraduate courses, plus high marks in a standardized examination. The course of study lasts three years. After completing the program, law students article with a law firm for one year, and then pass bar examinations to be granted professional status.

Degrees in medicine (M.D.) normally take three to four years after completion of the qualifying undergraduate courses. Then medical students intern for one or two years, after which the provincial medical boards license them.

Professional degrees are also offered in:

  • Engineering;
  • Accounting; and
  • Social Work

as well as in many other fields.

Lawyers or doctors who move to another province must re-qualify.

Graduate degrees take, on average, two years at the master's level and a further three to six years, or more, at the doctorate level.


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