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University vs College Canada: Difference Between College And University In Canada

Yocket Editorial Team

University vs College: What’s the Difference? Especially in the context of studying in Canada?

The distinction is simple. Canadian universities offer undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctoral programs, whereas Canadian colleges offer graduate and diploma programs only. The program structure, course curriculum, method of teaching, educational goals, and course duration vary for the same course at a Canadian college and a university. Canada is home to 223 universities and 213 colleges. Among these, 28 Canadian universities are listed in the QS World University Rankings 2024, and 31 Canadian universities are listed in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2024, making the country a popular destination for international students.

It is essential to choose the right college/university and course to meet your educational and career goals. If you’re wondering which would be the best for you - a university, or a college in Canada, connect with Yocket’s experts on a PC call to get personalized counseling support. Our dedicated counselors will help you shortlist the best programs, and find the suitable institution that aligns with your goals and aspirations.

This blog will guide you in gaining a complete understanding of the two types of educational institutions and the differences between the two so that you can find your fit.

Table Of Contents

Universities in Canada 

Under the Canadian education system, a university is an academic institution that is governed by the provincial government but operates independently in terms of academic topics such as program quality, teachers, and policies and procedures. The most renowned Universities in Canada are degree-granting institutions that award bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees, as opposed to colleges that offer only diplomas. 

One of the major differences between colleges and universities in Canada is that universities usually place a strong emphasis on analytical abilities as well as academic and professional programs. The following table provides an overview of the universities in Canada:

Overview of the universities in Canada

Type of approach


Disciplines under which programs are offered


Public health


Average tuition fee

CAD 21,000 to CAD 36,000 (INR 1,323,000 to INR 2,268,000)

Top Universities in Canada

University of Waterloo

University of British Columbia

McGill University

Ryerson University

University of Alberta

Types of universities

Public and Private

Language of Instruction

English and French

Admission intake

Fall, Winter, Summer/Spring

Types of courses offered

Undergraduate, Postgraduate, Ph.D. with co-op (co-operative education, a program that balances classroom theory with practical, hands-on experience)

 Top 13 Public Universities in Canada

There are multiple pros, as well as cons of studying in a university in Canada, that can help you determine your decision. Let us look at them:

Advantages of Studying at a Canadian University

  • Diverse Programs: The availability of a wide range of program alternatives is one of the most significant distinctions between Canadian schools and universities. You can pick from a variety of programs at the university. Canadian universities make sure that there are numerous programs and courses for overseas students to pick from, whether it is an undergraduate degree or a post-graduate program.
  • Real-world Overview: The professors at Canadian universities are experts in their respective fields. They train students with practical knowledge about the present market demands and incorporate this knowledge within the study program.
  • Multiple Facilities: Universities in Canada offer a range of educational facilities to assist the learning experience of students. From study rooms to labs and even research centers, universities offer great student facilities during their study program.
  • Funding opportunities: International students may face high costs at universities overseas. Fortunately, some Canadian colleges provide scholarships that help students pay for their education. The majority, or practically all, of their living expenses are also covered by this subsidy.
  • Recognized Qualifications: Last but not least, having a recognized Canadian degree provides you with an advantage over others. It will have a stronger impact on the academic front because it is acknowledged by an excellent educational system. Additionally, the hiring process will go more quickly as a result.

: Top Colleges in Canada for Masters

Disadvantages of Studying at a Canadian University

  • Longer Study Duration: University study programs work as per the course undertaken. For instance, with UG programs in Canada, the program is for 3-5 years, depending on the field chosen. Few international students would prefer a shorter study duration and instead spend more time studying the right skills for a better career opportunity.
  • Expensive Fees: The fees for each university in Canada are different. For students studying here with a tight budget, catering to the fees will be difficult. For instance, if you study at any university in Edmonton, Canada, on a per-term basis, the fees range from CAD 700 (INR 44,100) to CAD 3900 (INR 245,700).
  • Theory-Based Learning: The majority of Canadian universities prioritize a theory-based learning strategy. Although there is a practical approach, the former still prevails. 

Colleges in Canada

Unlike in the USA, where the term ‘college’ refers to local or community colleges that offer undergraduate degrees, Canada's college system provides technical training and diplomas that respond to changing labor trends and the demands of a changing economy. They are different from universities, as has been stated in the table below:

Overview of Colleges in Canada

Type of approach


Programs offered


Average Tuition Fee

CAD 10,000 (INR 630,000) per annum

Popular Colleges in Canada

George Brown College
Centennial College
Seneca College
Mohawk College
Reeves College

Types of colleges

Public and Private

Language of instruction

English and French

Admission intake

Fall, Winter, Summer/Spring

Types of courses offered

Diploma, Diploma with co-op

Confused about choosing a university or a college for your education in Canada? Fair enough. We understand that it can be quite a task. Before you make a decision, check out Yocket College Finder to have a better idea of hundreds of universities and colleges in Canada. And the best news? It’s free to use!

Coming back to the discussion, there are multiple advantages as well as cons of studying in a college in Canada, that can help you determine your decision. Let us take a look at them:

Advantages of Studying at a Canadian College

  • Shorter Programs: When compared to Canadian university programs, diploma programs are brief. Depending on the program a student chooses, they provide a 1- or 2-year program. More overseas students prefer applying to colleges here because of the shorter course duration.
  • Skill Development: The goal of this agenda is to assist students in developing the necessary skills for the chosen course. In Canada, colleges don't typically teach the entire curriculum for one program. Students are trained to hone the talents necessary to develop expertise in their chosen field.
  • Easy Apply to Masters: After completing a diploma program, you can begin applying for master's degree programs. When you apply for a master's program at any Canadian university, this qualification is accepted.
  • Affordable Fees: The fees at the colleges in Canada are relatively cheaper when compared to the universities in Canada. The tuition fees for studying at the top colleges in Canada range between CAD 10,000 (INR 6,12,470) and CAD 77,440 (INR 47,17,890) per annum.
  • Individual Student Attention: The class capacity for diploma programs is usually smaller. This acts as an advantage, as students can receive individual attention from experts teaching them in any field.

Disadvantages of Studying at a Canadian College

  • Limited Knowledge: The diploma program’s main agenda is to educate students on the skills. Thus, their programs are limited to this only. Unlike universities in Canada, which cover all the subjects, colleges in Canada are limited to teaching one topic under the chosen course.
  • Lesser Scholarship Opportunities: Scholarship opportunities in Canada are higher at universities when compared to colleges in Canada. Since the fees are affordable, this funding opportunity is not required. 
  • Focused on skill-building only: Colleges in Canada are more focused on building the right skills for students. They don’t provide a complete picture of the other subjects under a set field. This limits the knowledge and options for students here.

Universities and colleges in Canada offer multiple scholarships for International students. If you’re wondering how to find the best scholarship for your study abroad experience in Canada, book a free 1:1 consultation with Yocket’s counselors to get personalized guidance on scholarships and more!

Differences Between College And University In Canada

Around 3,20,000 Indian students move to Canada for education every year, because of its excellent academics and career opportunities. This makes it important to understand the differences between college and university in the country, and what makes it a popular destination for international students. But before we can head to the details of college vs. university in Canada, let’s have a quick overview of the two for a better understanding of the education system in Canada:




Type of programs



Study approach


Research and Practicals

Course Duration 

Undergraduate – 3-5 years
Postgraduate – 2 years
Ph.D. – 1-3 years

1-2 years


All the subjects relevant to the chosen course will be covered in the course curriculum.

Students can choose the subject to develop their desired skills. All subjects in the course are not covered.


To deliver complete knowledge in the chosen course

To develop and mold the skills chosen by the student for the course.

Scholarship opportunities


Selective Colleges offer limited scholarships

Tutor-student ratio

Less as the number of students per class is high

High individual attention as the class size is small

Average tuition fee

CAD 21,000 to CAD 36,000 (INR 1,323,000 to INR 2,268,000)

Approximately CAD 10,000 (INR 630,000) per annum

Note: Use this table as a reference before making your decision to comprehend the distinction between college and university.

From the Desk of Yocket

The education system in Canada is rich and diverse and allows numerous options to the students in terms of institutions. Canada has colleges and universities with different characteristics, which allow students to make their best choices. However, with so many colleges, universities, courses, and specializations offered, it is crucial to make the right choice. If you need any assistance in making your decision, feel free to reach out to Yocket counselors, who will help you through every step of the process. 

Yocket offers personalized end-to-end counseling and assists you in everything you need to reach your dream university, or college in Canada. From profile evaluation to scholarships, loans, and visas - you name it, we have it all. Explore Yocket Premium today to get started on your study-abroad journey to Canada.

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