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All You Should Know about Colleges in Canada + Introducing the Best Canadian Colleges

colleges in Canada

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High on academic quality but affordable tuition fees, we all know Canada is one of the best study destinations for international students. Until the pandemic, this country experienced almost 70000 international students studying at all levels, which explains its popularity across the globe. However, let us back to a fundamental question; what are colleges in Canada, and how are they different from universities?


In this guide:

  • All Differences between Universities and Colleges in Canada
  • All Differences between American Colleges and Canadian Colleges
  • Some of the Best Colleges in Canada
  • Conclusion


All Differences between Universities and Colleges in Canada

The universities and colleges in Canada are different institutions. Colleges have various programs than universities do. If you plan to study in Canadian colleges, first you should know the differences between these institutions and universities.

The words “university” and “college” have different meanings in various English-speaking countries. Colleges in Canada focus on career training and trades in Canada, but universities focus more on academic and professional programs. Let us take a closer look.

colleges in Canada

What are Colleges in Canada?

Colleges of applied arts and technology have a full-time and part-time diploma and certificate programs. Many also offer Bachelor’s degrees in applied areas of study.

These higher education institutions are more career-oriented than universities. It means they offer practical or hands-on training. Generally, a certificate program is one year or less, and a diploma is 2 or 3 years.

Colleges offer pre-trades and apprenticeship training, language training, and skills upgrading too.


What are Universities in Canada?

Universities are institutions that can grant degrees. All universities have undergraduate degrees, and many have graduate programs. Most Canadian universities are independent.

Although they receive funding from the government, each institution is self-governing and regulates its programs, admissions, and faculty.

Undergraduate degrees usually take 3 to 4 years to complete if you study full-time. If you plan to continue a graduate program, an Honors Degree is required. Many universities allow students to merge subject areas into a Double Major.

Many universities offer professional programs, such as Law, medicine, and dentistry too. Sometimes, you can begin these programs after finishing 2 or 3 years of undergraduate study.


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colleges in Canada

All Differences between American Colleges and Canadian Colleges

Knowing the differences between college and university in Canada, let us see differences between Canadian colleges and American ones.

From government structure to educational system, there are some essential differences between the US and Canada.

If you are considering attending colleges in Canada or the United States, you should know some factors from the cost of tuition to the campus experience.

The following are ten ways colleges differ in the US and Canada based on a paper by Joel Westheimer, a full professor at the University of Ottawa.


  1. In Canada, what Americans Call College is Called University

Colleges in Canada are called universities; however, smaller educational institutions in Canada are called colleges that grant certificates and diplomas instead of typical degrees.

In the US, whether you attend a college or a university, it’s usually referred to as college.


  1. American Colleges Cost more than Canadian Ones

The average tuition in Canada is $6653. It is $35676 for a private university in the US.

A college education usually costs less in Canada. It is just one reason why a growing number of international students opt to attend school in this country.

The US’s average cost of private tuition for the 2018-2019 academic year was $35676, with public, in-state tuition averaging $9716. The average tuition for Canadian students varies from $6653 to $2172.

One of the significant cultural differences between the US and Canada is that Canadians view education as a typical right than a privilege.


  1. Admission to Canadian Universities is based Mostly on GPA

Standardized exams are part of the application process in American universities, but admission to Canadian universities is a little easier.


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Outside of Quebec, where students must complete a Diploma of Collegial Studies, Canadians need a secondary-school diploma to apply for undergraduate programs.

Universities and colleges accept applicants with a GPA of 70% or higher.


  1. The Canadian Application Process is not as Competitive

Without the pressure to outdo regulated testing, Westheimer said the application process is more relaxed in Canada than in the US.

Moreover, students apply to universities independently rather than with a universal applying tool.


  1. In the US, there is a Bigger Emphasis on the Dorm Experience

Unlike in the US, where four-year colleges make it obligatory for students to live on campus for at least part of their education, Canada’s residential experience is rarer.


  1. It is more common for Canadian Students to go to a University Close to Home

In the United States, people apply to colleges throughout their area and even across the country; however, that is not true in Canada, where it is more typical for students to live at home and commute.

According to a 2012 survey in Canada, only 10% of students leave their area for university.


  1. Class Year is not as important in Canada.

While American college students often enjoy their graduating-class year, graduating is not as big a deal in Canada.

Most Canadian universities offer three or four-year education, but there is less emphasis on how long it takes you to finish your courses.


  1. School Years Have Different Names in Both Countries

Rather than calling school years sophomore or Junior, as they do in the United States, Canadians usually say Second Year, Third Year, and so on.


  1. Most Canadian Universities tend to be Bigger than Universities in the US

For example, the University of Toronto has more than 90000 students, including over 55000 undergrads. That is an even bigger student society than at the most prominent US state school, the University of Central Florida, where about 66000 students are enrolled.


  1. There are More Experimental Colleges in the US

The United States has a larger community than Canada, 327 million people compared to 37 million, so there is more versatility for experimental education models.

For more information about challenges in Canada read this article:

Some of the Best Colleges in Canada

Every year, many students look to harness the benefits that come with the experience of studying abroad. Canada, famous for its high-quality educational system and safe and friendly environment, is a significant source of interest worldwide.

In addition, every student has different standards for choosing their preferred institution, such as the institution’s location, reputation with their course of study, and cost of living. One common factor that affects their decision is the cost of tuition.

Many inexpensive colleges in Canada appeal to international students looking to take advantage of their growing educational sector to pursue their careers and future path.

These colleges and universities are open to international students who meet all the requirements and are ready to pursue their studies in this country.

This section provides a list of 6 Colleges in Canada with affordable tuition fees to aid and guide students, who consider the tuition fees an essential factor:

colleges in Canada

Selkirk College | Colleges in Canada

Average Tuition Fee: 9800 CAD

The Selkirk College is in British Columbia, Canada. It was established in 1966 and has become a remarkable institution since then. This college offers certificates, diplomas, and associate degrees in various programs to international students.

Internationals comprise more than 10% of its students with an endowment of 75 million CAD. The interest of this institution goes beyond just academic activities but also on mental health and physical fitness. Most with terminal degrees, the lecturers go the extra mile to ensure students understand the topic being taught.

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Memorial University of Newfoundland

Average Tuition Fee: 12000 CAD

Memorial University began in 1925; this institution has the lowest tuition fee in Atlantic Canada. 15% of its student population comprises internationals, and they can have an entrance scholarship up to $6000.

It has a friendly environment with people ever ready to answer any questions you might have. It also offers many internship opportunities to students, so they can apply and go for training.


Loyalist College | Colleges in Canada

Average Tuition Fee: 14335 CAD

Loyalist College is in Belleville, Ontario. This institution started in 1969, and it is ranked as one of Canada’s top colleges. Its best programs are the applied art and technology programs.

Its friendly and approachable staff provides a sound support system for the student, facilitating an easy learning experience.


Lambton College

Average Tuition Fee: 14800 CAD

Established in 1969 and located in Ontario, it is ranked the number one public research college. Applied arts, business management, healthcare, etc., are its most popular programs. About 3500 students from over 26 countries are enrolled full-time in the institution. It offers financial aid to them up to $7600.


Thompson Rivers University

Average Tuition Fee: 14832 CAD

A public research university was established in 1970, with campuses spread across Kamloops and Williams Lake. Home to more than 3500 international students from over 100 countries. It offers over 140 programs on campus, and more than 60 online programs, along with amiable professors.


University of Winnipeg

Average Tuition Fee: 16650 CAD

It is a public research university currently housing over 1000 international students from all over the world. Its small class sizes allow students to have a more personal relationship with their lecturers, positively affecting students’ performance.

Do you want to know about Most Popular Majors in Canada? read this article:



As we explained, colleges focus on career training and trades in Canada; but universities focus more on academic and professional programs. Colleges in Canada that offer applied arts and technology have full-time and part-time diploma and certificate programs. At the same time, universities in this country are institutions that can grant degrees.

If you plan to study in Canadian colleges, first you should know the differences between these institutions and universities. This post gives all information you need to have on colleges in Canada and their differences with universities.

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