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Canadian Colleges vs Universities – Know the difference

Nov 08, 2021

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Canada, one of the leading study overseas destinations is the top choice of students when it comes to pursuing higher studies abroad. The country hosts nearly half a million international students each year and all the credit goes to the excellent quality of education offered by Canadian institutions at an affordable tuition fee. 

The Academic institutions in Canada are majorly divided into two categories i.e., Colleges and Universities. As both these terms are also widely used in India and South Asia, students generally misinterpret that the Canadian colleges and the universities are similar to the Indian colleges and the universities. 

So, in this article, we are going to understand how colleges in Canada are different from Canadian universities and what are the entry requirements to study at the respective institutions. Let us begin! 


The Canadian Education System 

Canada as a country has a strong and well-funded system of public education. There are both public and private educational institutions in Canada that comprises of the following: 

  • Colleges- Community Colleges, Private Colleges 
  • Universities 



The community colleges and the private colleges in Canada are popular for offering practical exposure and hands on learning experience. These institutions offer UG Diplomas, University Transfer programs, Bachelor Degree and PG Diploma Courses in Canada in a wide range of study areas. 

A one-year program at the Canadian college is called a certificate program whereas a two-year and a three-year program is known as a Diploma program and an Advanced Diploma respectively. A one-year program at a post-graduate level at the Canadian college is called a Graduate Certificate while a two-year program is called a Graduate Diploma or a PG Diploma. 

The Canadian colleges intend to prepare students as per the job market and provide them with hands-on learning experience in order to excel in the thriving corporate world. Here is the list of some of the best colleges in Canada for international students

  • Seneca College 
  • Durham College 
  • Fanshawe College 
  • Fleming College 
  • George Brown College 
  • Humber College 
  • Sheridan College 
  • Centennial College



Canadian universities offer a research-based approach with the intention to provide students with in-depth knowledge related to all branches of a particular field. They offer Bachelor, Master's, and Ph.D. programs. The duration of a bachelor’s degree is of four-year whereas for a master's and Ph.D. it is of two years and up to 5 years respectively. 

With a wider understanding of the subject area, university graduates are suitable for the role of researcher, professor, etc after the successful completion of a degree program. Some of the leading universities in Canada are as follows: 

  • University of Toronto 
  • McGill University 
  • University of British Columbia 
  • University of Montreal 
  • University of Alberta 
  • McMaster University 
  • University of Waterloo 

Entry Requirements 

The entry criteria to study at the Canadian colleges is flexible however when it comes to the Canadian universities, it is quite high. Read here!



UG Diplomas: 12 years of full-time education with minimum 50-55% in 12 STD


PG Diplomas: 15 years of full-time education with minimum 50-55% and above in Bachelors


Bachelors: 12 years of full-time education with minimum 60% in 12 STD


Masters: 16 years of full-time education with 65% and above in Bachelors







Tuition Fees 

Higher education in Canada is quite affordable on the pocket compared to other study overseas destinations like the US, UK, and Australia. The tuition fees at the colleges differ from those at the universities as per the chosen degree program. Here is the average bracket for the tuition fee: 

  • College: CAD 12K and 25K 
  • University: CAD 25-40K for Bachelor, CAD 25-45K for Master Degree 

Post-Study Work Visa 

At Canadian colleges, after the successful completion of a diploma program students qualify for the work permit. For a one-year diploma or a certificate program, students are offered one year of post-study work visa whereas, on the successful completion of a 2 to 3 year of diploma program, they are offered up to 3-year of work visa. At the Canadian Universities, after the successful completion of a 4-year bachelor's and 2-year master’s program, international students are eligible to apply for up to 3 years of post-study work visa. 

Internships and Co-ops 

The Colleges in Canada widely offer internships and co-operative program options at the end of the program, providing students an opportunity to gain professional work experience to prepare them for the thriving job market. However, co-ops are available only for selected programs and at the selected colleges. When it comes to Canadian universities, they do not offer any internships or co-ops rather they focus on providing in-depth knowledge related to the study field. 

Canada is a land that has something for every student. It is a country that promises excellent quality of education, a high standard of living, and lucrative work prospects. Pursue your higher education in Canada and take the first step towards your dream of studying overseas. Connect with our Canada Experts for any kind of assistance in the Canadian application process. Book a free consultation NOW!

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