While there are significant differences between the systems in the provinces of Canada, learning opportunities are available from coast to coast, with each of the ten provinces and three territories having its own system of elementary, secondary and post-secondary education.
Canada has more than 100 public and private not-for-profit universities and university-degree granting institutions, giving students a vast choice of undergraduate and post-graduate programs, as well as professional designations, certificate and diploma courses, and short career-focused programs. Three types of degrees are offered: 1) Undergraduate programs lead to a bachelor's degree after three or four years of study depending on province. An honor degree usually involves more concentration and additional credits; 2) Master's or Graduate degrees; 3) Doctoral or PhD programs.
Students can specialise by choosing from a huge range of programs, from social science, biology, and computer technology to nursing, media studies and agriculture. Students can also choose to apply to universities ranging in size from very large, research-intensive institutions to much smaller, primarily undergraduate focused campuses.
There are over 135 colleges and polytechnics offering credentials that are sanctioned by provincial and territorial governments. Public colleges may also be known as institutes of technology, community colleges, polytechnics, college of applied arts and technology, and in Québec, colléges d'enseignement général et professionnel (cégeps). They offer a wide range of education programs in a vast array of technical and professional fields, including business, agriculture and agri-food, health, social services, broadcasting and journalism, technology, sciences, information technology, engineering, environment, language, and arts. Programs take from a few months to four years including:
- Certificates (1-2 years) and Diplomas (2-3 years);
- University Transfer Program (2 years)
- Academic and applied degrees (3-4 years)
- Post-graduate diplomas (1 year)
There is no national set of entrance exams for universities and college - instead, your prior academic records will be reviewed as part of the admission process. Hong Kong students may enter universities or colleges in Canada after the completion of Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) Examination / GCE A Level / IB Diploma Program. Some colleges that offers foundation program may accept students of F.5 (grade 11) standard.
International students must demonstrate proficiency in either English or French, depending on the college or university. This may involve writing tests such as the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or Test de francais international (TFI). Many institutions offer English or French as a Second Language programs to international students who do not already have language proficiency.
There are public and private primary and secondary schools. Public schools usually do not provide boarding facilities. They are intended for local students but they also accept international students and provide a Homestay Program with Canadian families. Many private schools provide residences. Some are sponsored by missionaries and many are keen on accepting international students.
In all provinces other than Quebec, students may seek admission to university after 12 years (Grade 1 to Grade 12) of primary and secondary schooling.
Admission to most secondary schools in Canada is based generally on the students' past two years and current year academic performance.
Elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities offer English or French Second Language Programs that can shape students' accent and vocabulary to fit Canadian education needs and future professional life. In addition, there are private schools and colleges that are dedicated to the teaching of English and French, often exclusively to international students and new immigrants. They are funded through tuition fees.