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

Yocket Editorial Team
University vs College Canada: Difference Between College And University In Canada Image

Canada is home to 223 universities and 213 colleges. Out of these, 28 Canadian universities are listed in the QS World University Rankings 2023 and 31 Canadian universities are listed in Times Higher Education - World University Rankings 2023. Canadian universities offer undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral programs, whereas Canadian colleges offer graduate and diploma programs. The program structure, course curriculum, method of teaching, educational goals and the course duration vary for the same course at a Canadian college and a Canadian university. It is essential to choose the right college/university and course to meet your educational goals. This blog will be your guide to gain complete understanding of the two types of educational institutions and the differences between the two.

Table Of Contents

Canada Colleges And Universities: Universities

In Canada, 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. Universities in Canada are characterised as degree-granting institutions that award bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees, as opposed to colleges, which grant diplomas. One of the major difference between college and university Canada is that universities usually place a strong emphasis on analytical abilities as well as academic and professional programs.

Overview of the universities in Canada

Type of approach


Disciplines under which programs are offered


Public health


Average tuition fee

61,25,000 INR/10,000 CAD-49,00,000 INR/80,000 CAD per annum

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

Private/public universities in Canada

Having the college vs university pros and cons Canada will determine your decision better. Thus here are the top ones in detail:

Advantages of Studying at a Canadian University

  1. Diverse Programs: One of the top factors for Canada colleges and universities differences is the program choices available. At the University, you have a range of programs to choose from. Whether it is an undergraduate program or a post-graduate program, Canadian universities ensure that there are multiple programs and courses for international students to choose from.

Best course to pursue in Canada

  1. Overview of Real-world: The teaching staff at the Canadian universities are well versed in the field they are teaching. They are aware of what the current market demands and blend this knowledge during the study program to prepare students for what is expected of them.
  2. Multiple Facilities: What Canada colleges and universities offer also play a huge role in choosing the right academic institute. 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.
  3. Funding Opportunities: Universities abroad can be expensive for international students. Luckily multiple universities in Canada offer scholarship opportunities that fund their study program for them. This funding also covers almost half or most of their living expenses as well.
  4. Recognized Qualifications: Lastly, getting a recognized Canadian degree gives you a better advantage than others. Since it is recognized by a great educational system, it will create a better impression from the academic front. This will also speed up the process of job applications.

Disadvantages of Studying at a Canadian University

  1. 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 having a shorter study duration and instead spend more time studying the right skills for a better career opportunity.
  2. Apply to Jobs after Graduation: Once a student graduates from the university, they can then start applying for full-time jobs. Unlike students who undertake a diploma program, they have a shorter course period and can join a job immediately after.
  3. Expensive Fees: The fees for each university in Canada are different. For studying here with a tight budget, catering to the fees will be difficult. For instance, if you study in any university in Edmonton, Canada, on a per term basis, the fees range between 3,900 CAD- 700 CAD.
  4. Theory-Based Learnings: Most of the universities in Canada focus on a theory-based learning approach. While a practical approach is present, the former still takes the lead. There are multiple projects, workshops, etc to be conducted which could drain the attention of students.
  5. Covers All Subjects: Universities in Canada cover every subject listed in the field chosen. For instance, if you choose Commerce, you will still have to learn about accounting or finance even though you won’t cater to it in your career path.

Canada Colleges And Universities: Colleges

Unlike in USA, where the term college refers to local or community colleges that offer undergraduate degrees, Canada's college system was created to provide technical training and diplomas that respond to changing labour trends and the demands of a changing economy.

Overview of Colleges in Canada

Type of approach


Programs offered


Average Tuition Fee

10,000 CAD/6,12,470 INR-77,440 CAD/47,17,890 INR 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

Advantages of Studying at a Canadian College

  1. Shorter Courses: Diploma programs are short when compared to university programs in Canada. They have a 1 year or 2 years based program depending on the programs chosen by the student. Due to this shorter course period, more international students prefer applying to Colleges here.
  2. Develops Skills: The agenda here is to help students develop skills for the course chosen. Colleges in Canada don’t prefer teaching the whole academics for one program. They educate students on the skill they wish to achieve to work in the field chosen.
  3. Easy Apply to Masters: After you complete a diploma program, you can start applying for a Masters’s program. This certification is accepted when you apply for a Masters’s program in any Canadian university.

Top colleges for Masters in Canada

  1. Affordable Fees: The fees in the Colleges in Canada are relatively cheaper when compared to the universities in Canada. The tuition fees for studying in the Top Colleges in Canada range between 10,000 CAD/6,12,470 INR-77,440 CAD/47,17,890 INR per annum.
  2. Individual Student Attention: Since the application for diploma programs is less, the class size for such students is smaller. This proves to be a benefit here as students can receive individual attention from experts teaching them in any field.

Disadvantages of Studying at a Canadian College

  1. Limited Knowledge: The diploma program’s main agenda is to educate students on the skills they need to ace their career better, thus their programs are limited to this only. Unlike Universities in Canada, which cover all the subjects, Colleges in Canada are limited to teach one topic under the chosen course.
  2. Lesser Scholarship Opportunities: Scholarship opportunities in Canada are higher in universities when compared to colleges in Canada. Since the fees are affordable, this funding opportunity is not required
  3. 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 offered under a set field. This limits the knowledge and options for students here.
  4. No Mistakes in Career Choice: When you decide to upskill, you need to be confident about it. If you’re unsure it would be of no value to pursue a career in that field. This is one of the reasons why students are urged to decide confidently which skill they wish to grasp before applying to Colleges in Canada.
  5. Not enough to apply for Ph.D. Programs: While you can pursue a Masters program after completing a diploma program, this same doesn’t apply to Ph.D. students. Having merely a diploma program certificate isn’t enough when applying for any Ph.D. program.

Difference Between College And University In Canada

Approximately 53% of Canadians over the age of 15 have finished some form of postsecondary education, whether at a university, college, vocational school, or CÉGEP. There are definite differences between college and university Canada. But before we can head to the details of Canada college vs university, let’s have a quick overview of the two for a better understanding of education system in Canada:




Type of programs



Study approach


Research and practical

Course Duration 

Undergraduate – 3-5 years
Postgraduate – 2 years
PhD – 1-3 years

1-2 years


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

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


To deliver complete knowledge in the chosen course

To develop and mould 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 are high

High individual attention as the class size is small

Average tuition fee

61,25,000 INR/10,000 CAD-49,00,000 INR/80,000 CAD per annum

2,57,000 INR/4,200 CAD-12,25,000 INR/20,000 CAD per annum

Note: Before you make your choice, use this table as a cheat sheet to understanding the difference between college and university. 

Wrapping up

With comprehensive knowledge of the kind of student experience and education you will receive at a university in Canada vs a college in Canada, this blog helps you make the decision on the type of institution you must choose. With so many colleges, universities, courses and their 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 our Yocket counsellors at any time.

Frequently Asked Questions About University VS College In Canada

Ques: Is Canada College vs University the same?

Ans: No, Canada Colleges and universities are different. Colleges in Canada offer diploma programs and have a shorter study period whereas Universities in Canada offer a diverse range of programs in UG, PG, and Ph.D. The study duration depends on the course undertaken.

Ques: Should I go to College or University Canada?

Ans: It depends on your choice of study. If you’re looking to enhance the right skills for your job, applying to a College in Canada is better. If you’re looking to pursue a Canadian degree, then applying to a University here is better.

Ques: Which is easier, College degree vs University degree Canada?

Ans: No program is easy whether it is pursuing a College degree or a university one. It depends on the program entirely.

Ques: Which is cheaper, University vs Colleges Canada?

Ans: The fees of Colleges in Canada are cheaper than the Universities here. The average fee structure ranges between 2,57,000 INR/4,200 CAD-49,00,000 INR/80,000 CAD per annum. 

Ques: Which are the best universities to study in Canada for international students?

Ans. University of Toronto, University of Alberta, University of Calgary and Western University are some of the best universities in Canada for international students.