difference between college and university in Canada

Last Updated on December 24, 2022

It could prove frustrating to try and understand some information found on the internet on some articles, or to get your head around it in the first place, especially if you don’t have prior knowledge about the topic. Finding the right information on it might also prove challenging. Not to worry though as the article below puts you out of the stress of fretting about the difference between college and university in Canada.

What is the Difference between College and University in Canada? [2022]

Roughly 53 percent of Canadians over the age of 15 have completed some level of postsecondary education, attending either a university, college, vocational school, or collège d’enseignement général et Professionnel (CÉGEP). In Canada, each province or territory is responsible for designating schools at the post-secondary level, and each post-secondary institution has its own set of rules on how to apply, which level of English or French language is required, and what the associated fees for application and study will be. This article focuses on the differences between college and university in Canada, and how to choose the right option for your educational and employment goals.

College in Canada

Unlike the United States, where the term college refers to local or community schools that offer undergraduate degrees, the college system in Canada was developed to provide technical training and diplomas that respond to shifting labour trends and the needs of a changing economy.

As explained by Kevin Kamal, Associate Director of Institutional Client Relations for WES:

In short, colleges typically focus on specific employment skills, career training, and trades. For more information on colleges in Canada, visit Colleges and Institutes Canada.

In addition to the specific focus on employability, colleges also tend to have smaller class sizes, with a lower student-to-instructor ratio. This is beneficial for students who learn best with individualized attention and the ability to engage more directly with teachers. These programs can also provide additional practical experience through bridge-to-apprenticeship training options as well as language and skills upgrading.

Many international students or professionals with previous degrees also appreciate the shorter certificate and diploma programs offered by colleges in Canada. Especially in the context of continuing education and professional development, college programs can be used to complement a degree from outside of Canada as a stackable credential.

Also Read: Difference Between College And University In Canada, is college easier than university canada, difference between college and university ontario, what is the difference between college and university, difference between college and university in canada quora.

Difference Between College And University In Canada

University in Canada refers to academic institutions that are regulated by provincial legislation but are autonomous in terms of academic matters such as quality of programs, instructors, and policies and procedures. Distinct from colleges, which grant diplomas, universities in Canada are defined as degree-granting institutions that provide bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Universities typically focus on analytical skills (the ability to understand and use information), and academic and professional programs. For more information on universities in Canada, visit Universities Canada.

Because of the longer length of time, it takes to complete a university program—typically three to four years—these programs are sometimes less attractive options for international students or professionals who are interested in a quicker, stackable credential. University degrees do come at a higher financial cost than college programs but information on financial aid is readily available.

For those who would like to obtain their first undergraduate degree, or who are interested in a professional program like medicine and law, universities are a good option. Obtaining a university degree is also necessary for anyone who is interested in working in academia or research-based professions.

Choosing a College or a University in the USA

With a higher student-to-instructor ratio, university programs offer more independence than many college programs. This necessitates a strong sense of time management and self-motivation. In the later years of an undergraduate program, during a master’s, and doctoral degree, the number of self-directed studies increases, and students are able to focus on more specific areas of interest.

Continuing Education in Canada

Continuing education and professional development are valued in the Canadian workplace, and as shared by a recent Spotlight on Success, can be a useful step in your career journey. Whether you choose to enroll at a college to obtain a certificate or diploma or at a University to obtain a bachelor’s or postgraduate degree, continuing your education can lead to new and rewarding career pathways.

Also Read: how many years is university in canada, college vs university in canada for international students, college vs university pros and cons canada, should i go to college or university.

is college easier than university canada

First, it is important to understand the Indian post-secondary education system. In India, generally speaking, there are large universities, which are responsible for creating, defining and delivering courses in various streams. These universities design multiple Bachelors, Masters and PhD programs in almost all education streams, such as science, technology, arts, management, engineering, commerce etc. In addition to universities, there are several colleges that are affiliated to these universities and are responsible to run the university programs. The colleges cannot make any changes to the approved curriculum and are guided by the regulations of the universities. Colleges usually specialise in offering a smaller subset of programs which are offered by the universities. For example, an engineering college affiliated to a university will only offer engineering programs to students, as approved by that university, but not programs from other faculties.

How College Differs in Canada and the US

In Canada, however, the system is very different. Universities and colleges work independently and are mutually exclusively responsible for design and delivery of their programs. Education is a provincial responsibility in Canada, so the provincial governments govern all universities and colleges present in each province. This also ensures that the quality of education throughout the province is consistently very high irrespective of the type of institution. So, if students choose either a university or a college, one thing is certain – the quality of education is going to be very high.

What’s the difference then, you may ask. For easier understanding, I have listed the highlights of both these systems below. I am intentionally not drawing a comparison here as I strongly believe that the students should themselves make a comparison and choose the institution type best suited for “THEM”. A student fit for a university might not be a good fit for a college and vice versa. So, this decision completely depends on the student’s profile, academic background, financial position and other preferences.

difference between college and university ontario

Known for offering undergraduate and post graduate degree programs. Some universities also offer PhD options where international students are eligible to apply.Known for offering post-secondary Diploma programs.
Offer a large range of Bachelor degree programs and selected Master’s programsA one-year program is called a Certificate, a two-year program is called a Diploma and a three year program is called an Advanced Diploma. A one-year program at a post-graduate level is called a Graduate Certificate while a two-year program at a post graduate level is called a Graduate Diploma.
Research-based approach with an intention to prepare a graduate with knowledge related to all branches of a particular field.Practical approach intended to prepare graduates for the job market. The programs are focussed on developing a particular skill set to make students employable in the same field.
For example, if you choose a Bachelors in commerce, you’ll be taught everything related to commerce – accounting, economics, management, marketing, etc. Another example could be an engineering program – if you choose, let’s say, an electronics engineering program, you’ll need to learn everything related to electronics – microprocessors, embedded systems, instrumentation, power engineering, etc.For example, a student looking to make a career in electronics engineering will study just one field of electronics engineering and not everything related to the wider stream. So, programs like embedded systems or electronics systems will prepare students for jobs in these respective fields.
A university graduate has a holistic understanding of a wider subject area. After gaining valuable work experience and creating solid track record in the industry, university graduates are usually preferred candidates for leadership roles.Colleges offer the shortest and most relevant route to employment, if the students know what they want to do. I would advise the students to research well before they finalise a program, so that they are fully aware of the future prospects and career opportunities.
The tuition fee per year generally ranges between CAD 25-40K for Bachelor degree programs and CAD 25-75K for Masters Programs.The tuition fee at colleges generally range between CAD 12K and 25K.
After successful completion of 4 year Bachelors program or a 2 years Master’s program in a public university of Canada, students are eligible to apply for up to 3 years of work permit, which allows them to stay back in Canada to gain the valuable Canadian work experience.The work permit rules are exactly the same for colleges as they are for universities. If students successfully complete a one-year program, they qualify to apply for a one year work permit and if they successfully complete a 2 or 3 years program, they qualify to apply for up to 3 years work permit.
Many merit-based scholarship options are available for eligible students at universities.Not many scholarship options are available to international students but with the tuition fee is already quite competitive, unavailability of scholarships is usually not a big deterrent for international students.

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