Everything you need to know about the education system in Canada.

Canada makes a large investment in its education system. In fact, Canada is one of the world’s top education performers and among the top three countries in spending per capita on public post-secondary education, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

How does it work?

The post-secondary education system in Canada is divided into:

  • Certificate level, generally for a year
  • Diploma level, for one or two years
  • Advanced diploma, generally two or three-year programmes
  • Bachelor degrees, awarded after four years of full-time study
  • Postgraduate diplomas/certificates, for one or two years of study
  • Master’s degrees, available after a bachelor degree to excel in a certain subject, for one to two years
  • Doctorate or PhD, generally four to seven years.

Academic year

Most colleges and universities typically offer classes from early September until the end of April or early May. The winter session is usually divided into two terms that operate from September to December and then from January to April.

There are several kinds of summer studies offered between May and August. There are also a few schools in Canada that offer year-round schooling.

Depending on the university, undergraduate degrees can take either three or four years to complete. Depending on the type of degree, postgraduate degrees take between one and two years to complete.

Master’s programmes generally take between one to two years and PhD programmes are longer than in other countries. They usually take between four and seven years to complete.

Teaching and learning style

Apart from being devoted to research and high-quality teaching, Canadian universities also aim to provide opportunities that improve students’ learning, career and life.

Classes are a combination of lectures and tutorials. Lectures are taught by professors and can contain anywhere between 30 to 200 students. They usually have a linked component such as a lab or a tutorial.

A tutorial or lab allows a more in-depth discussion of topics within a course. The sizes of tutorials generally range anywhere from 20 to 30 students.

Education costs

In comparison to the UK, Australia and New Zealand, Canada offers the lowest tuition rates for foreign students.

To cover tuition fees, you will need between CAD 7,000 and CAD 29,000 (indicative costs) a year. However, this is a general guide only and cost varies in relation to the institution and program you are applying for, as well as the location and lifestyle. You can explore the cost of studying in Canada in detail here.


You can apply to several government and non-government Canadian scholarships available for eligible international students. However, the amount of the scholarship and eligibility criteria varies on the university and program. You can read up on the available scholarships here.