The Difference between Canadian Universities and Colleges

The words “university” and “college” do not have the same meaning in all English-speaking countries. This is no different in Canada. Canadian universities and colleges are very different especially when it comes to the kinds of programs that are offered. In this post, we will discuss the distinction between the two so that you can make an informed decision before you join any higher learning institution in Canada.


Colleges in Canada are more direct regarding career-orientation than universities. What does this mean? Well, they offer hands-on or practical training. A certificate program generally takes a year or less while diploma programs can take 2-3 years. Colleges will also offer apprenticeship training, skills upgrading, and language training. Some colleges in Ontario focus on health science, agriculture, military, or art programs.


Canada is the home of various top universities in the world. According to the World University Rankings of 2016-2017 done by the Times Higher Education, 26 universities were counted as the best globally. Compared to the US, Canada offers cheaper studying options, increased chances for permanent residency, and a simple application process.

Some of the best institutions you can consider are:
• University of Toronto
• University of Western Ontario
• British Columbia University
• McGill University
• Montreal University
• University of Alberta

Canadian universities are institutions that have the ability to grant degrees to students who finish their programs successfully. All universities have undergraduate degrees (Bachelor’s), and many do have graduate programs (Doctoral and Masters). Ontario universities are independent. Even though they get funding from the Advanced Education and Skills Development Ministry, each university governs itself and regulates its admissions, faculty, and programs.

An undergraduate degree in a university in Canada will take 3 to 4 years to complete if a student studies full-time. The fourth year is required for anyone who wants to enroll in a graduate program. Most universities will let their students combine subject areas, like enrolling in a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Chemistry, into double majors. Most schools will also provide professional programs like dentistry, law, and medicine. In some cases, one can choose to register for these professional programs after 2-3 years of the undergraduate studies.

Canadian universities are famous for sponsoring a global outlook by enrolling international students, encouraging international collaborations, and offering jobs to international faculty too. This means once you have joined any of the universities in Canada, you will get that cosmopolitan feeling desired by many while on campus. For more information, please visit University of Western Ontario to find additional resources.

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