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Photo ©Carolyn B. Heller

Public schools in Canada

Canada pro­vides free pub­lic edu­ca­tion to all Canadian cit­i­zens and per­ma­nent res­i­dents from kinder­garten until they com­plete sec­ondary school, typ­i­cal­ly at age 18.

Each province admin­is­ters its own edu­ca­tion sys­tem, so poli­cies and require­ments vary from province to province.

If you have a valid Canadian work per­mit, Canada immi­gra­tion should issue your chil­dren a per­mit that will allow them to reg­is­ter in pub­lic school for free.

If you arrive in Canada with­out a per­ma­nent res­i­dent card or a work per­mit, you have to apply for a study per­mit for your chil­dren, who would be clas­si­fied as “inter­na­tion­al stu­dents.” Your child could attend pub­lic school, but you’d have to pay tuition – and that tuition could be near­ly as much as you’d pay at a pri­vate school.

Learn English in Canada

Many peo­ple come to Canada to learn English. A list of accred­it­ed English Language Schools can be found at Languages Canada.

Want to learn English at a rec­om­mend­ed English lan­guage school? Visit our free refer­ral ser­vice and we’ll rec­om­mend an English lan­guage school in the Canadian city of your choice.

Canadian Colleges and Universities

Most of Canada’s col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties are pub­lic insti­tu­tions, oper­at­ed and fund­ed by the provin­cial gov­ern­ments. Historically, the only pri­vate post-sec­ondary edu­ca­tion­al insti­tu­tions have been reli­gious ones.

Unlike the United States, Canada does not have an exten­sive net­work of pri­vate col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties. Canada’s first pri­vate, sec­u­lar, non-prof­it uni­ver­si­ty – Quest University in British Columbia – opened in 2007.

Canada has approx­i­mate­ly 90 uni­ver­si­ties and about 150 col­leges. In Canada, a “uni­ver­si­ty” is a four-year degree-grant­i­ng post-sec­ondary insti­tu­tion, while “col­lege” typ­i­cal­ly refers to a two-year post-sec­ondary school, sim­i­lar to a U.S. junior or com­mu­ni­ty col­lege. A stu­dent might attend “col­lege” for two years, and then trans­fer to a uni­ver­si­ty for the remain­ing two years. Canadian stu­dents plan­ning to attend a four-year post-sec­ondary school don’t say they’re going to col­lege – they’re going “to university.”

More than 9,000 Americans are cur­rent­ly study­ing in Canada, in part because Canadian uni­ver­si­ties are rel­a­tive­ly inex­pen­sive com­pared with U.S. insti­tu­tions. Most Canadian uni­ver­si­ty stu­dents pay less than $5,000 for their annu­al tuition. Even for stu­dents com­ing from out­side of Canada, inter­na­tion­al tuition is still a rel­a­tive­ly rea­son­able aver­age of $13,200.

A good source of infor­ma­tion about Canadian post-sec­ondary edu­ca­tion is the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. Also check out this use­ful edu­ca­tion plan­ner from the Canadian Council of Ministers of Education.

– Excerpted (in part) from the book, Living Abroad in Canada. To read more, buy the book.

Photo ©Carolyn B. Heller