Kanan Team

Updated on 04-05-2023


College vs University Canada: Know the difference

College vs University Canada: Know the difference

The difference between Colleges and Universities is that Colleges focuses on programs that help to build your career while Universities are degree-granting institutions that focus on professional and academic programs. Universities in Canada offer undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctoral programs, whereas Colleges in Canada offer graduate and diploma programs. Various factors such as course duration, structure, method of teaching, and educational goals vary from each other.

Canada has a total of 436 higher education institutions, which include 223 universities and 213 colleges. Among these institutions, 28 Canadian universities are ranked in the QS World University Rankings 2023, while the Times Higher Education Rankings 2023 includes 31 Canadian universities on their list. If you are planning to study in Canada, you need to know the difference between college vs university in Canada in detail and this article is for you.

Table of Contents

Know more about Canadian Universities

In Canada, universities are educational establishments that provide various programs such as undergraduate, graduate, master’s, and Doctoral degrees. Universities in Canada are known for their high academic standards as well. Choosing a university is crucial for students who want to expand their knowledge and pursue a professional degree. 

A detailed overview of universities is given below.

Type of approach Research based
Types of Universities Public and Private
Types of courses offered Undergraduate, Postgraduate, Ph.D. with co-op
Disciplines under which programs are offered Medicine
Public health
Average tuition fee 12,81,106.49 INR / 21,100 CAD - 21,91,656.99 INR / 36,100 CAD - per annum
Top Universities in Canada University of Toronto
McGill University
University of British Columbia
University of Alberta
Ryerson University
Language of Instruction English and French
Admission intake Fall, Winter, Summer/Spring
Years of study 3 to 5 years

Advantages of Studying at a Canadian University

Understanding the pros and cons of college and university in Canada will help to make your decision better. Check out the below points to know the advantage and disadvantages of studying in universities in Canada.

  • Multiple programs – The main difference between Canada Colleges and Universities is that universities offer a wide range of programs to choose from. Many universities allow students to combine different subject areas to gain a double major.
  • Great Facilities – Universities in Canada offer various facilities to students during their study program. From study rooms, and labs to research centers, universities offer a range of educational facilities.
  • Quality & Excellence – Canada offers high-quality education. The teaching staff is well experienced in their field of study. They make sure to update themselves knowing all the market demands and guide the students accordingly.
  • Scholarship Programs – Canada Universities are famous for their immense scholarship opportunities. It is one of the major advantages for international students. Half or most of the student's living expenses are covered under the scholarships.
  • Career Growth -  Graduating from recognized universities will be a great start for your career. Canada will not compromise on the quality of education thus getting a recognized Canadian degree will create a better impression from the academic front and it speeds up the process of job applications as well.
  • Cultural diversity - Students from different parts of the world will come to pursue higher studies in Canada Universities. Thus, they have a diverse student community which will allow students to interact in a wider range of social groups and feel more confident in themselves as well as in their interactions with others.

Disadvantages of Studying at a Canadian University

  • Theory-Based Approach – Canadian Universities majorly focus on a theory-based learning approach than a practical approach. 
  • Longer Duration of Study – The duration of the study programs vary depending on the program you have chosen. Primarily when you choose the UG program it takes about  3 – 5 years long depending upon the course taken. 
  • Expensive Fees – If you are planning to study at Canada University without a scholarship, managing the expenses would be difficult. The fees will differ for each university. An average of CAD 18,000 (INR 9,54,000) costs for an international student, per year.
  • All Subjects Covered – Canadian universities offer a comprehensive range of subjects within each field of study. For instance, if a student chooses Commerce as their major, they will be required to study topics like accounting and finance, even if those subjects are not directly related to their career path.
  • Less personalized attention - Due to the less student-to-instructor ratio, professors and academic advisors offer lesser personalized attention to students.

Know more about Canadian Colleges

Colleges in Canada typically refer to local or community colleges that provide full-time and part-time diploma programs, as well as technical training. Students who are interested in careers that require practical training rather than academic study should consider enrolling in a college.

A detailed overview of colleges is given below.

Type of approach Research based
Types of Colleges Public and Private
Types of courses offered Diploma, Diploma with Co-op
Disciplines under which programs are offered Theology
Average tuition fee 10,000 CAD/6,12,470 INR - 77,440 CAD/47,17,890 INR per annum
Top Colleges in Canada Mohawk College
Reeves College
George Brown College
Centennial College
Seneca College
Language of Instruction English and French
Admission intake Fall, Winter, Summer/Spring
Years of study 1-2 years

Advantages of Studying at a Canadian College

  • Shorter courses  – Colleges offer diploma courses that have 1 or 2 years depending upon the program you choose. Due to this short course period, many students prefer colleges.
  • Personalized Attention - As fewer students will enroll for colleges in comparison with university, colleges can able to offer personalized attention which is a great advantage.
  • Apply to Masters – After the completion of the diploma program, it is easy to apply for a master’s at Canadian College.
  • Affordable Fees – The fees in College in Canada are lower when compared to Universities. To study a bachelor degree, 550-56,000 CAD/year.
  • Hands-on experience - In Canada, colleges have a mix of learning formats to enable students to gain real-life experiences and training in their chosen fields than lecture-based programs like universities.
  • Co-ops option – Many colleges widely offer the co-operative education option which gives students the opportunity to gain work experience while they are studying, which prepares them for the job market. Students should check if the programs they are opting for include co-op or not.

Disadvantages of Studying at a Canadian College

  • Limited Knowledge – The main aim of the diploma program is to educate the students on the skills that are required for career growth. Thus, it does not cover all the subjects like the universities.
  • Focus only on skills  – Unlike universities, College does not cover all the subjects related to the course they have chosen and focus on the skill. This limits the students from gaining knowledge.
  • Need to have a clear roadmap– You need to have a clear picture of the career you chose and the skills you decide to upskill. If you are unsure about it then choosing a college would be a downside.
  • Fewer Scholarship Opportunities – Scholarship opportunities are higher in universities than in colleges. 
  • Applying for Ph.D. Programs – Applying for the Ph.D. program after completing the diploma program is not possible but you can apply for a master's with the diploma certificate.
  • Limited job opportunities - Due to a lack of industrial partnerships, college students have to struggle more at the time of placement and have limited job opportunities.

What is the difference between Colleges and Universities in Canada?

The difference between Colleges and Universities is that Canadian Colleges focus more on career training and trades while Universities focus on professional and academic programs.

Given below are the detailed difference between colleges and universities which will be helpful for you to understand. It depends upon various factors like profile, academic qualification, interests, financial position, and so on.

Factors University College
Type of programs Undergraduate
Course Duration Undergraduate – 3-5 years
Postgraduate – 2 years
Ph.D. – 1-3 years
1-2 years
Scholarship opportunities Yes Selective Colleges offer limited scholarships
Study approach Research-based Research and practical
Subjects 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 related to the course are not covered.
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
Aim To deliver complete knowledge in the chosen course To develop and mould the skills chosen by the student for the course.
Application Deadline 8 to 10 months before the course starting date There is no specific deadline. Applications get closed as soon as the seats get filled
Tutor-student ratio Less as the number of students per class are high High individual attention as the class size is small

Related articles


The detailed information and facts about college vs university given in this article will guide you to make a right choice. Irrespective of the institution you choose, Canada provides high-quality education. With many courses, colleges, and universities offered it is crucial to make the right choice that suits you.


1. What is the difference between college & University in Canada?

Colleges focus more on career training and trades while Universities are degree-granting institutions that focus on professional and academic programs

2. Is a college degree worth it in Canada?

Yes. Colleges generally offer programs of study that can be applied to their a career. Some colleges offer courses that include doing certification in specific areas. It focuses more on practical training.

3. Is college better than University in Canada?

It depends on your choice of study. If you're looking to incorporate 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 is better.

4. Do colleges offer master’s degrees in Canada?

No Colleges does not offer master's degrees but Universities do. With the help of the diploma certificate, you can apply for a master’s degree at universities.

5. Does a Canadian degree have value in India?

Yes, Canada is known for its quality of education, and degrees from Canadian Universities are accepted by all countries.

6. Which university is better in Canada?

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

7. Is college cheaper in Canada?

Since the course duration is less and tuition is subsidized by the government, it is cheaper than universities. The average fee structure ranges between 2,57,000 INR/4,200 CAD-49,00,000 INR80,000 CAD per annum.

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