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Understand the Canadian education system

Are you thinking about studying abroad in Canada? Or sending your child to study in Canada? Canada is recognized for its quality education at all levels. Canada’s provincial and territorial governments are responsible for education. They follow government standards to ensure high quality public education across the country. School is mandatory for children from about the age of six years old to 18 years old. Our study environments are safe and welcoming. You’ll discover a world of possibilities!  

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How Canada’s Education System Works

⇅ Transcript

Are you interested in studying in Canada, and want to know more about how our education system works?

Canada is known to have one of the best education systems in the world.

Each of Canada's 13 provinces and territories  runs their own school system and follows government standards to ensure high quality public education across the country.

School is mandatory from about the age of 6 years old to 18 years old.

After secondary school, students may choose between college and university.

Both education systems help students prepare for their futures.

Here's why a Canadian post-secondary education may be a great choice for your future.

At college, students can get hands-on, practical or technical skills training for a specific career.

You can study things like graphic design, web development, culinary arts, occupational health and more.

Colleges often work with employers in different industries to develop the latest curriculum. 

Depending on your college program, you might study anywhere from one to three years.

When you graduate, you'll receive a certificate or diploma. 

At university, students often study in-depth, theoretical subjects, like law, medicine, art history, engineering and much more.

Depending on your program, you might study anywhere from three to seven years.

When you graduate, you'll receive a Bachelor's, Master's or PhD degree.

In the province of Quebec, the education system is unique.

After secondary school, you can attend a collège d'enseignement général et professionnel, known as CÉGEP.

There, you may choose a three-year technical program to prepare you for a job in your field, or a two-year academic program to prepare you for continued studies at university.

No matter in which province you study, choosing between college and university depends on your interests and goals.

Consider this: Canadian colleges and universities offer flexibility.

If you study at one school and wish to transfer to another, you might receive academic credit for courses you've already completed. 

Several of Canada's universities appear on well-known university rankings lists.

Some Canadian college and university programs offer co-operative or work-integrated learning experiences where students alternate between studying in class and working in their field of study.

Some people even choose to attend both college and university.

Whatever your choice, Canada is a great place to study.

For more information about studying in Canada, visit

Education options in Canada

Elementary school

Are you moving to Canada with your children or thinking about sending your child to study abroad? Canada offers excellent elementary or primary school education options.

High school

To prepare your child for university, college or to offer them an international experience, consider Canada for high school studies. Find out about our secondary school options.

Colleges and vocational schools

Canada’s colleges and vocational schools offer practical, hands-on learning. When you graduate, you’ll receive a certificate or diploma.


Canada is an international research leader and has some of the top universities in the world. When you graduate, you’ll receive a Bachelors, Masters or PhD degree.

Graduate studies

Start here to discover the range of graduate study options available across Canada, including master’s degrees, PhD and doctoral programs.

Professional certifications

Earn a professional certification or designation in your field and open the door to career opportunities in Canada, your home country and beyond.

Language schools

Study English or French while visiting or working in Canada or upgrade your language skills so you can study at a college or university. Canada’s language schools offer high-quality programs.

Online and distance learning

Canada is a leader in online learning and distance education. Study from home and get the full benefit of a high-quality Canadian education.

Keep exploring

Credentials and qualifications

Learn about how to get your academic credentials and qualifications assessed.

Common pathways to college and university

Canada's education system is flexible. Discover all the paths you can take to achieve your goals.

A quality education

Learn more about the academic standards and quality education you’ll find in Canada.

Learn more

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