University vs College Canada: Difference between College and University in Canada Image
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University vs College Canada: Difference between College and University in Canada

Yocket Editorial Team
15 mins read

Canada has always been a prominent choice amongst international students to pursue any type of education.  The country offers two post-secondary education choices for students, Universities, and Colleges. This last choice is taken seriously as most international students start to weigh the differences between college vs university pros and cons Canada. The provincial government in Canada takes care of the educational sector thus ensuring the quality of education between College or University Canada, is of high standards. While you might consider these the same, in Canada, there is a difference between them both.This college and university difference matters as the choice will determine the structure of the academics as well as other related factors.  To guide you on this University vs College Canada journey, this blog will be your guide.

Table of Contents: 

  1. An Overview of University vs College in Canada
  2. Universities in Canada
  3. Colleges in Canada
  4. Frequently Asked Questions about University vs College in Canada


An Overview of University vs College 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

Undergraduate, Post Graduate, Ph.D. programs

Diploma Programs, Certificate Programs, Graduate Programs

Study Approach


Practical Based

Program Duration

As per the program ( Bachelors- 3-5 years, Masters- 2 years)

As per the program choice ( 1 year, 2 years)

Subjects Covered

As per the field, all the subjects will be covered. ( ex: MBA- Accounts, Finance, Business, etc)

Covers only the subject that the student wants to develop their skills upon. Doesn’t cover related subjects under the field


To share complete knowledge in the field and program chosen

To help develop skills required for the current market under the field

Scholarship Opportunities


Very few

Student Attention Rate

Less as student size is big

More as student size is less

Cost of Studying

Expensive. The average fee ranges between 10,000 CAD- 80,000 CAD/year

Cheaper. The average fee structure ranges between 7000 CAD - 20,000 CAD/ year.

Suggested: A complete guide to understand the grading system in Canada!

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

Universities in Canada

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.

Here is a quick overview of the universities in Canada:

Type of Approach


Programs Offered

Medicine, Public Health, Psychology, Business, Law, Engineering, Humanities, Science, etc

Average Fee Structure

10,000 CAD- 80,000 CAD/year

Popular Universities in Canada

University of Waterloo, University of British Columbia, McGill University, Ryerson University, University of Alberta, etc

Type of Universities

Public & Private

Language of Instruction

English, French

Admission Intakes

Fall, Winter, Summer/Spring

Types of Courses Offered

Undergraduate, Postgraduate, Ph.D., Degree with Co-Op

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

● 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.

● 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.

● 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.

● 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.

● 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.

Suggested: 10 best cities to study in Canada for international students!

Do You Know:


  • Canada is home to the oldest English language university ( University of New Brunswick)
  • The country is home to the oldest institution of higher learning in French (Universite Lavel)
  • Established the first public broadcaster radio system (University of Alberta)
  • Founded the world’s first organized hockey team (McGill University)


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 having a shorter study duration and instead spend more time studying the right skills for a better career opportunity.

● 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.

● 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.

● 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.

● 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.


Colleges in Canada

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.

Here is a quick overview of Colleges in Canada:

Type of Approach


Programs Offered

Theology, Business, Technology, Arts, Engineering, Design, Aviation, Healthcare, Philosophy, etc

Average Tuition Fees

7000 CAD- 20,000 CAD/ year

Popular Universities in Canada

George Brown College, Centennial College, Seneca College, Mohawk College, Reeves College, etc

Type of Colleges

Public & Private

Language of Instruction

English, French

Admission Intakes

Fall, Winter, Summer/Spring

Types of Courses Offered

Diploma, Diploma with Co-Op

Suggested: How to study in Canada after 12th: A complete Guide!


Advantages of Studying at a Canadian College

● 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.

● 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.

● 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.

● 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 7000 CAD- 20,000 CAD a year.

● 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

● 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.

● 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.

● 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.

● 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.

● 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.

Suggested: A complete guide to study bachelors in Canada!

Canada has always been a preferred student destination for international students. Their educational system is recognized and creates quite an impression during a job search. With this difference between University and College in Canada, you can choose your educational path better. If you are still confused about choosing between college degree vs university degree Canada, connect with our Yocket counsellors!


Frequently Asked Questions about University vs College in Canada


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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 7000 CAD- 20,000 CAD/ year.


  1. What is the difference between College and University in Canada?

Ans: There is a difference between University vs College Canada, to name a few are:




Type of Programs

Undergraduate, Post Graduate, Ph.D. programs

Diploma Programs, Certificate Programs, Graduate Programs

Study Approach


Practical Based

Cost of Studying




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