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Canadian Education System

2018-11-15 10:14:18

n Introduction


In Canada, the provinces and territories are individually responsible for primary, secondary and higher education. Every province has a Ministry/Department of Education for educational policy, funding and quality assurance. Since 1967, the separate education departments have remained in regular contact through their participation in the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC). This description will deal with education in the different provinces, including the 2 most significant provinces, Ontario and Quebec. On the whole, the education systems of the remaining provinces are similar to that of Ontario.

Some higher education institutions are bilingual, such as the University of Ottawa and the Laurentian University. During the 18 th and 19 th centuries, education in Canada was influenced by French and British rule, but in the 20 th century influence came increasingly from its neighbour, the United States. It is for this reason that many elements of the Canadian education system resemble the American system.

The education system in Canada is varied, containing differences in level, content and quality. However, these differences are less pronounced than in the neighbouring United States. In contrast to the United States, most universities are public. Canada has almost no private universities, although the number has increased slowly over recent years. In that time, Canada has also become a popular country in which to study. The 2 main reasons for this are that tuition fees in Canada are generally lower and the immigration procedures less rigorous than in the United States. Increasing popularity also has a drawback: institutions are placing higher and higher demands on potential students.

Canada is a bilingual country, the official languages being English (67% of the population) and French (13%, mostly in Quebec). 20% of the population has a native language that is neither English nor French. The language of education is either English or French. French is mostly used in Quebec.

In Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and North-West Territories education is mainly offered in English, but also in some cases in French, while Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, British Columbia and Yukon offer their education solely in English.

In most provinces education is compulsory from age 6-16. The academic year runs from September until May/June.


n Common diplomas of Canada


l High School Diploma


a) Duration of schooling: 4 to 6 years.

b) Type of education: general secondary education.

c) Purpose of diploma: admission to higher education.


l Diplôme d’Études Secondaires (DES)


a) Duration of schooling: 5 years.

b) Type of education: general secondary education.

c) Purpose of diploma: admission to pre university education - Diplôme d’Études Collégiales (DEC).


l Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD)


a) Duration of schooling: 4 to 6 years.

b) Type of education: general secondary education.


l Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) with 6 university preparation courses of Ontario Academic Courses (OACs)


a) Duration of schooling: 4 to 6 years.

b) Type of education: general secondary education.

c) Purpose of diploma: admission to higher education.


l High School Diploma with a relatively large number of academic courses in the 11th and 12th year with good grades


a) Duration of schooling: 4 to 6 years.

b) Type of education: general secondary education.

c) Purpose of diploma: admission to higher education.


l Diplôme d’Études Collégiales (DEC) with the extension ‘préuniversitaire’ (2 years)


a) Duration of schooling: 2 years.

b) Type of education: general secondary education.

c) Purpose of diploma: admission to higher education.


l Diplôme d’Études Collégiales (DEC) with the extension 'de formation technique' or 'de formation en métiers d’art' (3 years)


a) Duration of schooling: 3 years.

b) Type of education: general secondary education with vocational components.

c) Purpose of diploma: admission to higher education.


l Certificate obtained at a college


a) Duration of schooling: 1 year.

b) Type of education: higher professional education.


l Diploma obtained at a college


a) Duration of schooling: 2 years.

b) Type of education: higher professional education.


l Associate Degree obtained at a college


a) Duration of schooling: 2 years.

b) Type of education: higher professional education.

c) Purpose of diploma: admission to the second or third year of a university bachelor.


l Bachelor’s degree (3 years)


a) Duration of schooling: 3 years.

b) Type of education: professional or research oriented.

c) Purpose of diploma: admission to university masters.


l Bachelor’s degree (honours) obtained at a university (4 years)


a) Duration of schooling: 4 years.

b) Type of education: professional or research oriented.

c) Purpose of diploma: admission to university masters.


l Bachelor’s degree (honours) obtained at a college (4 years)


a) Duration of schooling: 4 years.

b) Type of education: higher professional education.

c) Purpose of diploma: admission to university masters.


l Master degree


a) Duration of schooling: 1 to 2 years.

b) Type of education: professional or research oriented.

c) Purpose of diploma: admission to doctorate programmes, upon successful completion of entrance examinations.