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Canada Education System for International Students

Canada, the world's largest educational centre, has a government-run system of public education administered, provided and funded by local, provincial, and federal governments. Each province oversees the curriculum and jurisdiction of the public education system.

Canada's education system includes private and government-funded schools, including language schools, summer camps, community colleges, technical institutes, secondary schools, career institutes, universities and colleges.

Due to the education system being administered by the central government, the standard of education in Canada has consistently been set at a higher level than in the entire country. Provincially well managed, its education system got stronger day by day and gained immense popularity among international students.

The country has public and private educational institutions, which have long been administered and run by the Government of Canada. The central government in Canada spends approximately 6% of its GDP on education, which means institutions operating from Kindergarten to secondary level are under the government.

Domestic children attend Kindergarten voluntarily for 1 to 2 years at the age of 4 to 5 years. Their grades start around the age of 6. Depending on the region, secondary educational institutions range up to 11th or 12th grade. After attending all these, they go on to college or university studies. When choosing a school or educational institute in Canada, a student must consider a particular institute's size, type, and location.

Quick Read:  Why Study in Canada?

Canada Education System Ranking

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What type of Education System does Canada have?

The education system in Canada is generally divided into four types, which include pre-primary, primary, secondary and post-secondary education. Depending on each region and province, the number of school years varies. However, school usually starts in September and runs into June. Let's discuss studying levels briefly.

Canada Education System for Pre Elementary Schools

Pre Elementary School, widely known as Kindergarten, is the major study stage after preschool education. In Canada, pre-primary programs are offered to children around the age of 4 to 5. Most authorities offer 1-year public pre-primary education, with Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Quebec providing further preschool.

All children must attend pre-elementary school before the age of seven. However, depending on your area, Kindergarten may be optional. Canada has three significant provinces where early attendance is mandatory, including Prince Edward Island, British Columbia, and New Brunswick.

Depending on parents' choice, they can choose any pre-elementary school, be it a private, public or government school. In most provinces in Canada, early elementary education for children is free. Some provinces offer kindergarten studies free of charge for further years. Quebec offers free pre-primary study to financially unstable families or low-income students.

Pre elementary school is less strictly designed than the compulsory stages of secondary and elementary school. This study stage depends on various costs, the type of preschool, the program, and the cost. The curriculum taught in other pre-primary courses and kindergartens is far from inflexible.

Students are introduced to the alphabet, music, dramatics, pre-reading, math skills, etc. All pre-primary schools are designed to prepare students for primary study by understanding how to collaborate with other children in the classroom and good habits. Alternatively, you can enroll your child in a daycare where they are cared for and supervised by childcare centers.

Eligibility Criteria for Pre Elementary Schools

Students must be around 4 to 6 years old to attend Kindergarten in three Canadian provinces, including New Brunswick, British Columbia, and Prince Edward Island. For childcare, daycare, and preschool, the age must be three to five years.

Canada Education System for Primary Schools

Elementary or primary education in Canada is mandatory for all children. This level of education usually begins at age six or seven with grade one. A student must be six years of age to get admission in class 1 in a primary school. Most primary schools operate from Grade 1 to Grade 7, covering ages 6 and 13.

Elementary education in Canada offers excellent learning capabilities, a developed brochure, and excellent faculty. Did you know that Canada ranks third in the world's leading country regarding educational quality? In the primary grade of study, students receive instruction in the same class through qualified and experienced instructors.

The prospectus at the elementary stage of education includes various subject areas, including language arts, mathematics, reading, history, social studies, science, geography, art, music and physical education.  Most Canadian provinces offer education to international students in both English and French languages.

Eligibility Criteria for Primary Schools

  • Evidence of Language proficiency test in French or English.
  • A report card or school results from where the student has studied.
  • Passed particular grades that were associated with Canadian grade levels.

Canada Education System for High Schools

Canada High School offers some of the best options internationally to prepare for the next stage of education to attend a college/institution/university for secondary education. Canada's secondary education contains two different levels, including high school and Intermediate or Junior High School.

Intermediate High School

After completing primary education, students are promoted to Junior High School. Junior High School depends on the 2-year educational stage, including Grade 7 (age 12 to 13) and Grade 8 (age 13 to 14). In Class 7, when students are between the ages of 12 and 13, they are familiarised with attending a class with multiple teachers for each class.

All these mentors and teachers have the expertise and deep knowledge of the subject they will teach. The major objective of Junior High School is to prepare the candidates for the next process of High School. Students are taught subjects they have already learned in elementary school. Some subjects are also included in the prospectus in junior high school in various teaching modes such as English, Spanish and French.

High School

Students who have completed Grade VIII will be promoted once again. The level of high school is categorised into 4-year programs, including Grade 9 (age 14 to 15), Grade 10 (age 15 to 16), Grade 11 (age 16 to 17), and Grade 12 (age 17 to 18). The high school curriculum is designed to provide the skills to acquire proficient knowledge once you graduate and to prepare for university or college studies. A wide range of job training and academic courses is offered at this stage, depending on the jurisdiction. Some institutes also offer credit programs to prepare students for high school and post-secondary education.

Eligibility Criteria for High Schools

To be part of Canada's high school, students must fulfil the given requirements:

  • Proof of proficiency test in French or English. ( Language Skill Test)
  • Completed particular grades associated with grade levels in Canada
  • Home Country's report Cards or School Results.

Post Secondary Education System in Canada

After passing out of high school, students are allowed to apply to a Canadian university or college of their choice. The term college includes technical, applied science, or applied arts schools and community colleges. In Canada, these institutions are known as post-secondary colleges in Canada, designed to offer diplomas, certified, and other relevant degree courses. Students can get admission to a Canadian university to pursue an undergraduate degree and a postgraduate education. The degree courses at these universities are largely similar to those in the US.

Quick Read: Best Colleges In Canada

Bachelor's degree

BSc or BA, popularly known as Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts, is a full-time three-year UG-level course. Depending on the class availability and province, the duration of the course varies.

Quick Read: Best Courses to Study in Canada

Master's Degree

MSc or MA, popularly known as Master of Science and Master of Arts, is a full-time two-year PG-level course. These are also known as graduate degree courses.

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Masters in Canada
MBA in Canada

Doctorate Programs/ PhD

Doctorate courses are specialised courses that include research and academic knowledge. These types of courses usually take 3 to 6 years to complete.

Being one of the largest educational hubs, few institutes offer advanced specialised degrees in pharmacy, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Dentistry and Law. All these universities and colleges are part of particular regions and provinces.

The local government provides financial assistance to these institutions to enhance their government post-secondary institutions. In Canada, almost all post-secondary institutions have the power to grant academic accreditation. Simply put, universities can offer Bachelor's, Masters and PhD courses. In contrast, institutes/colleges offer proficiency-based degrees, diplomas and certification courses.

Eligibility Criteria for Post Secondary Education

  • Students should have passed Bachelor's degree or equivalent from a recognised education institution.
  • Students possess 1 to 2 years of work experience.
  • Proof of proficiency test, such as IELTS, etc.

According to the Canadian Constitution, education in Canada is a territorial responsibility, which can be understood given the significant differences between the education systems of the different provinces. However, Canada's education system is uniformly high around the country. To know more about Canada's education system or how to study in Canada as an international student, you can consult AECC.


AECC is one of the world's leading educational consultancies with versatile expert professionals ready to help you with any queries you may have. Contact us so we can be of assistance to you in your journey to achieving your dream.

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