What is post-secondary education?

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In Canada, post-secondary education is the term for any education completed after high school. At post-secondary schools, individuals can learn skills specific to certain career fields. Post-secondary education in Canada is a broad term that includes university, college, trade schools, and institutes. These schools can grant degrees, diplomas, certificates, or other qualifications.

What is post-secondary education?

The Basics

The college category includes community college, colleges of applied science and technology, and institutes of technology or science. Colleges, such as Bow Valley College or Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) in Calgary, offer a wide variety of programs and experiences.

Attending College

Programs offered by colleges and institutes are usually 1-3 years long. College certifications can qualify you to work in fields including business, computer technology, mechanics, health, and more.

Some students attend college for two years to improve their grades in order to gain acceptance to a university.

University Degrees

Universities, such as the University of Calgary and Mount Royal University in Calgary, offer three types of degrees:

  • Bachelor’s degree, the most basic degree. This degree takes 3-4 years to complete on a full-time schedule.
  • Master’s degree, the intermediate degree granted by Canadian universities. A master’s program takes 1-3 years to complete, following completion of the Bachelor’s degree.
  • Doctoral degree (PhD), the most advanced degree offered by Canadian universities. A PhD requires an additional three or more years of study after completion of the Master’s degree.
University Programs

For some occupations, such as medicine, law, and education, students need to pass standard exams and fulfil additional requirements to earn their qualifications. This is necessary before they are able to practice their profession.

Areas of study in Canada are widely varied. Most universities have faculties for Arts, Science, Medicine, Business, Nursing, Kinesiology, and more.

Choosing a Program

When choosing a program, people often consider which field interests them and research the appropriate schools. Admission requirements must be met for every school you apply to in order to gain acceptance. For competitive programs, potential applicants might need to exceed program admission requirements to be considered.

Some schools require you to take a standard language test if English is not your first language.

Universities Canada is a good online resource for exploring your program options.

Applying for a Program

You can apply for post-secondary education programs online. Schools post all their application information on their websites. If you have any questions regarding specific programs, you can contact school representatives directly through email addresses provided online.

Funding Post-secondary Education

Post-secondary education can be costly as students will need to pay for tuition and textbooks in addition to living expenses. In Canada, you can subsidize these costs by applying for:

  1. A government student loan, which you will have to repay after graduation.
  2. A student line of credit with a private bank, which you will have to repay after graduation. In addition, you will have to make interest payments while in school.
  3. Grants, scholarships and bursaries, which do not requirement repayment.
For More Information

To find out about government student loans in Alberta, visit https://alis.alberta.ca/explore-education-and-training/pay-for-your-education/loans-and-grants/.

Schools can assist students in finding grants, scholarships, and bursaries to apply for. As well, schools can help you with loan applications.

CIES Guides are a volunteer-led project made possible through contributions from the community.

Thanks to Francesca Gimson for help with this guide. If you want to suggest a correction to this guide, or want to submit one of your own, please contact us.

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