Canadian colleges are good

University landscape in Canada

Canada is becoming increasingly popular as a study country. There are many reasons for that. One of the main reasons is that at almost every university the Quality standards extremely high are. And that although there is no uniform quality assurance in Canada. Education is a valuable common good for Canadians and for this reason the state and individual provinces and territories invest heavily in this area.

The higher education landscape in Canada is extremely diverse and at first glance it seems a little confusing. Since Canada is a federal state, the ten provinces and three territories are each responsible for the education and study system. The university landscape is predominantly shaped by the statebut the universities are highly autonomous. There are very few private universities, especially when compared to the higher education landscape in the USA. However, there has been a slow but steady growth in recent years.

Types of higher education institutions in Canada

© Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Like most higher education institutions in Canada, the fledgling Kwantlen Polytechnic University in British Columbia is a government institution.

Unlike in Germany, in Canada there is a distinction between academic (academic) and professional (professional) Training didn't make a big difference at first. Both belong to the large area of Postsecondary Education and can be offered by one and the same institution. A university degree is nothing out of the ordinary in Canada and ultimately it all depends on the type of degree.

Roughly speaking, there is in the Canadian higher education landscape two types of universities:


  • Universities in Canada (Universities): They award both undergraduate and graduate degrees and are largely focused on academic education and research. Often they also offer vocational programs with certificate or diploma degrees.
  • Colleges in Canada: Your programs are primarily practice-oriented and prepare you for a direct entry into the profession. Originally they only awarded certificates and diplomas. However, some colleges now also offer academic programs and degrees, such as transfer programs, associate degrees, and even special bachelor and master degrees.

There are a number of them Criteria that describe the individual universities in more detail and differentiate them from one another should. Above all, they serve applicants and interested parties as a benchmark and orientation within the university landscape in Canada.

Degree-granting Institutions vs. Non degree-granting institutions

In Canada, higher education is between Degree-granting Institutions and Non-degree-granting institutions differentiated. This is about whether a university is entitled to academic degrees (Bachelor, Master, PhD) to be awarded or not. Universities are basically Degree-granting Institutions. Colleges generally do not award degrees and therefore fall under the category of Non degree-granting institutions. In recent years, however, the boundaries in the Canadian university landscape have become increasingly porous:

  • In many cases there are collaborations between universities and colleges, one easy transfer enable.
  • Some colleges now even offer undergraduate degrees applied focus on, for example the Applied Bachelor’s Degree.
  • A few colleges even have specific, practice-oriented master's degrees in cooperation with universities (Applied Master’s Degree) on offer.

Colleges are so not fundamentally Non degree-granting institutions. Those colleges which award academic qualifications in addition to vocational certificates and diplomas are in the, together with the universities Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) summarized.

Degree-granting Institutions

There are different ones in the individual provinces Degree-granting Institutions:

  • Universities
  • Colleges
  • Institutes of Technology
  • Specialized Institutions

The The offerings range from small liberal arts colleges to large universities with a wide variety of undergraduate, graduate and career-oriented programs. In total, there are more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate programs in Canada.

Non degree-granting institutions

With the so-called Non degree-granting institutions it is above all about that many different colleges within the higher education landscape in Canada. You belong to the Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC). Since they “only” award certificates and diplomas and no academic degrees such as Bachelor or Master, they fall into this category. They are primarily for that initial and continuing vocational training responsible. The programs are strongly tailored to the labor market and often include so-called Work Terms, so practical phases.

Depending on the province or territory, the public ones are called Non-degree granting institutions differently:

  • college
  • Regional College
  • Center
  • College of Applied Arts and Technology
  • Community College
  • Institutes

Recognized, authorized or registered / licensed

This is the legal status a public or private university within the Canadian higher education landscape. It relates to whether and to what extent this is entitled to award academic degrees:

  • Recognized (accepted): The public / private university is generally entitled to award academic titles and other degrees, whereby the quality of the programs offered is guaranteed.
  • Authorized (authorized, authorized): The public / private higher education institution has a limited right to award degrees, diplomas or other degrees for certain programs, the quality of which can also be guaranteed.
  • Registered (registered, registered) / Licensed (licensed, approved): These exclusively private institutions have the status of commercial enterprises that offer further training programs without an official qualification. The provincial governments check that the institutions and their programs meet certain requirements.
  • Non-registered: These are exclusively private institutions, the quality of which is not checked and therefore not guaranteed.

Public, private and church institutions

The distinction between public, private and church institutions is about the administrative status. The higher education landscape in Canada is predominantly state-dominated. So the majority of universities and colleges are public.

There is just one time five private, recognized (recognized) Universities, not counting the large number of theologically oriented universities.

  • Private for-profit: Controlled / managed by a body whose members have not been elected by any public body. The facility was established for the purpose of generating profits for individuals.

There are a number of private universities (profit and non profit), although not recognized, but authorized are. This means that they are entitled to award specific degrees within the framework of specific courses of study.

Some public and private universities and university colleges have one religious / denominational affiliation. They offer theological courses that prepare students for their future careers as clergymen. Some of these institutions also have other subjects in their programs.

There is one in the higher education landscape of Canada large number of private colleges. They usually award certificates and diplomas. Most are entrepreneurs and offer very specialized job-related courses and programs. They are often called Career Training Institutes, Vocational Schools or Academies.


The single ones Provinces / territories fund public universities directly. For this they receive funds from the Canadian federal government in Ontario. The universities are increasingly financed by research funds from business and industry and by international collaborations.

All post-secondary institutions in Canada, except for the CÉGEPs in Quebec, have tuition fees. These can vary considerably and depend on both the university and the chosen program. At most universities, tuition fees for international students are considerably more expensive than for local students. Private institutions usually charge higher fees than public ones because they do not receive government grants.

Quality assurance and accreditations

In Canada there is no national organization responsible for quality assurance and accreditation of programs. The Responsibility here again lies with the provinces and territories. In this context, however, plays an important role Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC). All universities in Canada that are allowed to award academic degrees are united here.

Also There are no official rankings in Canada. However, the Maclean’s Guide to Canadian Universitieswho plays an influential role in this area. It offers comprehensive information on the individual universities and evaluates them according to certain criteria.

Designated Learning Institutions

The Canadian government has taken various measures to make the Canadian university landscape, which appears confusing for foreigners, more accessible and even more attractive. The government wants to ensure that international students receive the quality education they expect from the country's universities. Because of course there are “black sheep” here too. Students from abroad only receive a study permit for their studies in Canada if they are at a so-called Designated Learning Institution (DLI) are registered. Only institutions whose programs meet certain standards are on this list. The current DLI list can be found on the website of the Council of Immigration Canada (CIC).

Internationalization and competition

© Camosun College

The internationality of the student body is playing an increasingly important role in the Canadian university landscape.

In the course of globalization, Canadian universities and colleges are increasingly trying to recruit students from abroad and to become more internationalized. Under the keyword Diversity management the federal government calls on universities to integrate First Nations more closely and to attract international students.

Diversity is to one decisive quality feature of universities and internationalization is now a primary goal of universities. They are making increasing efforts to integrate international, global and intercultural dimensions into their profile. Be it in the field of teaching, research or in the field of service. They attract bachelor and master students from all over the world with internationally oriented courses, with the LLM and MBA programs being particularly popular.

In connection with the intended internationalization, a burgeoning competition determine between the universities. Due to the state-dominated university landscape, the idea of ​​competition in Canada - in contrast to the pronounced competitive situation in the USA - actually hardly played a role before.

Other special features of the higher education landscape in Canada

  • Outside of Quebec there are many provinces at least one French-speaking universitywho offers degree programs. There are a number of English-speaking universities in Quebec.
  • In some provinces there are universities, colleges and institutes that offer programs specifically aimed at First Nations and Métis.
  • Canada is among the leading nations when it comes to Distributed learning (Distance and online study) and thereby expand access to higher education. All provinces have corresponding offers.