Life Planning Information Website - Education Bureau



The Education System

While there are significant differences between the systems in the provinces of Canada, learning opportunities are available from coast to coast, with each of the ten provinces and three territories having its own system of elementary, secondary and post-secondary education.

(a) Universities

Canada has more than 100 public and private not-for-profit universities and university-degree granting institutions, giving students a vast choice of undergraduate and post-graduate programs, as well as professional designations, certificate and diploma courses, and short career-focused programs. Three types of degrees are offered: 1) Undergraduate programs lead to a bachelor's degree after three or four years of study depending on province. An honor degree usually involves more concentration and additional credits; 2) Master's or Graduate degrees; 3) Doctoral or PhD programs.

Students can specialise by choosing from a huge range of programs, from social science, biology, and computer technology to nursing, media studies and agriculture. Students can also choose to apply to universities ranging in size from very large, research-intensive institutions to much smaller, primarily undergraduate focused campuses.

(b) The College System

There are over 135 colleges and polytechnics offering credentials that are sanctioned by provincial and territorial governments. Public colleges may also be known as institutes of technology, community colleges, polytechnics, college of applied arts and technology, and in Québec, colléges d'enseignement général et professionnel (cégeps). They offer a wide range of education programs in a vast array of technical and professional fields, including business, agriculture and agri-food, health, social services, broadcasting and journalism, technology, sciences, information technology, engineering, environment, language, and arts. Programs take from a few months to four years including:

  • Certificates (1-2 years) and Diplomas (2-3 years);
  • University Transfer Program (2 years)
  • Academic and applied degrees (3-4 years)
  • Post-graduate diplomas (1 year)

There is no national set of entrance exams for universities and college - instead, your prior academic records will be reviewed as part of the admission process. Hong Kong students may enter universities or colleges in Canada after the completion of Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) Examination / GCE A Level / IB Diploma Program. Some colleges that offers foundation program may accept students of F.5 (grade 11) standard.

International students must demonstrate proficiency in either English or French, depending on the college or university. This may involve writing tests such as the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or Test de francais international (TFI). Many institutions offer English or French as a Second Language programs to international students who do not already have language proficiency.

(c) Elementary and Secondary Schools

There are public and private primary and secondary schools. Public schools usually do not provide boarding facilities. They are intended for local students but they also accept international students and provide a Homestay Program with Canadian families. Many private schools provide residences. Some are sponsored by missionaries and many are keen on accepting international students.

In all provinces other than Quebec, students may seek admission to university after 12 years (Grade 1 to Grade 12) of primary and secondary schooling.

Admission to most secondary schools in Canada is based generally on the students' past two years and current year academic performance.

(d) Language Education

Elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities offer English or French Second Language Programs that can shape students' accent and vocabulary to fit Canadian education needs and future professional life. In addition, there are private schools and colleges that are dedicated to the teaching of English and French, often exclusively to international students and new immigrants. They are funded through tuition fees.

Tuition fees and other expenses

Average full-time annual fees for studying in Canada

(in C$)

Elementary/Secondary School



Tuition fees




Living costs (including accommodation and food, insurance and books)

(Home stay)



Total costs




Notes: Fees will vary between institutions, specialised program, housing options, personal spending and with variations between Canada.

Hong Kong / Canada Education Conversion Chart

Application Procedures

Students are advised to start applying for admission nine months prior to the term's commencement date. Application forms may be obtained on the websites of the schools / colleges / universities or school district boards. For post-secondary level applications, some provinces allow you to complete one form online through an agency that submits your application to a number of institutions, such as OUAC in Ontario, ApplyBC in British Columbia, and Apply Alberta in Alberta. Email applications are now widely accepted. Upon completing the application form, the applicant should return it together with the required supporting documents and application fees before the closing date. After the university, college, school / school board have evaluated the application, it will issue a provisional letter of acceptance to the eligible applicant. Formal letters of acceptance will usually be given upon receipt of tuition fees.

Students who have been accepted are urged to proceed to the  Canada visa application centre immediately to apply for a student visa.

Visa Application Procedures

For information on how to apply for a Study Permit, please visit the Visas and Immigration section of the Consulate General of Canada in Hong Kong or Canada visa application centre website:

Consulate General of Canada in Hong Kong :

Canada visa application centre:


This webpage serves only as a general guide to studying in Canada. Further information is available at the official education website:

For general enquiries, please contact:

Consulate General of Canada in Hong Kong and Macao
5/F, Tower 3, Exchange Square ,
8 Connaught Place, Central, Hong Kong
Tel : 3719 4700
Fax : 2847 7441
Email :
Website :

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