What is the difference between college and university in Canada?
Universities focus on academic and professional programs. Colleges focus more on career training and trades.
The words "college" and "university" have different meanings in different English-speaking countries. In Canada, colleges and universities are different institutions - usually, colleges have different kinds of programs than universities do.
Colleges of applied arts and technology have full-time and part-time diploma and certificate programs. Many also offer Bachelor degrees in applied areas of study.
Colleges tend to be more directly career-oriented than universities. This means they offer practical or hands-on training. Generally, a certificate program is 1 year or less, and a diploma program is 2 or 3 years.
Colleges also have pre-trades and apprenticeship training, language training and skills upgrading.
Some Ontario colleges focus on agriculture, health science, art or military programs.
Universities are institutions that can grant degrees. All universities have undergraduate (bachelor's) degrees, and many have graduate (Master's and doctoral) programs. Universities in Ontario are independent. Although they receive funding from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, each institution is self-governing and regulates its own programs, admissions and faculty.
Undergraduate degrees usually take 3-4 years to complete, if you study full-time. An "honours degree" (the fourth year) is usually required if you want to go to a graduate program (Master's degree). Many universities allow students to combine subject areas (e.g., a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Biology) into a "double major."
Many universities also offer professional programs, such as medicine, dentistry and law. In some cases, you can begin these programs after 2 or 3 years of undergraduate study.
An educational institution cannot grant a degree in Ontario unless the provincial government has given it this right. There are private institutions in Ontario that have been given partial degree-granting authority. All of these schools are denominational, which means that they have a religious affiliation.
For more information
- Ontario Universities - A list of Ontario's universities, including website links and contact information.
- Ontario Colleges - A list of Ontario's colleges, including website links and contact information.
- Undergraduate Calendars of Ontario Universities - Links to the undergraduate calendars of Ontario universities provided by the Ontario Universities' Application Service (OUAS). The calendars provide information on programs, fees and admissions.
- Search for programs at Canadian Universities - Use this database to search for programs by location, field, language of instruction and more.
- Search for programs at Ontario Colleges - Use this database to search for programs by location, program length, availability and more. You can also apply for programs online.