Overview Of Canadian Education



  • The basic structure of Canadian education system is generally 3 tiered — Elementary, High School, and Tertiary Institutions.


Elementary School

Elementary education covers six years of basic education and additional two years of middle school. Parents who want early education can also enroll their children for two years kindergarten education when the child is 4 years old.

Grades: 1 to 8 because most elementary schools especially in Ontario have extra two years of education called Middle school.

Age group: 6 to 13 (approximately)

Major Semesters: September to January and January to June. However, elementary students are admissible anytime of the year except during holidays.

Elementary covers the first six years of compulsory education, and the curriculum focuses on basic subjects such as Mathematics, sciences, languages, Social Studies, Physical Education, introductory arts and health, which are all necessary for the child to function and be a useful member of society.

For immigrant parents with children within this age group, it is advisable to bring documents such as transcript/report card, course outlines and even samples of the child’s previous school work. These documents will help with placing the child in an appropriate grade, where s/he can excel.


High Schools

Grade: 9 – 12

Age Group: 14 – 17 (approximately)

Semesters: Fall and Spring

Fall Semester: Early September – Mid January

Spring Semester: Early February – Late June

Major Semesters: September to January and January to June

High school covers the final four to six years of compulsory education

In the first years of Secondary Education students take mostly compulsory courses, with some options, but as they advance in the system, students are allowed more options and less compulsory courses. The hope is that by this time, students would have had a good idea of their interests and strength, and as such, starts to focus on them. This also prepares them for the job market and makes them more suited to meet the differing entrance requirements of postsecondary institutions. When students complete the requisite number of compulsory and optional courses, they are awarded a secondary school diploma

For students who are good with their hands and rather pursue a vocational career, vocational programs are offered in most secondary schools. If there are no facilities for that at the school, technical and vocational programs will be offered at a separate, dedicated vocational training centre.

For immigrant parents interested enrolling their children through a Canadian high school, it is advisable to bring documents such as transcript/report card, course outlines and even sample projects which your child has done. These documents will help with placing the child in an appropriate grade, where s/he can excel.


Tertiary Institutions

Degree Awarded: Post-secondary certificate, post-secondary diploma, Associate degree (Advanced diploma), post-graduate certificate, post-graduate diploma, Bachelor’s degree, Masters and Ph.D

Age group: 18 and above (In most cases)

Major Semesters: Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer

Fall Semesters: September to December

Winter Semesters: January to April

Spring semester: May to June/August (depending on schools)

Summer semester: July to August


After secondary school, students can attend vocational schools, colleges, or universities. At a university they will first earn a Bachelor’s degree, which usually takes three to four years, depending on the student and the part of Canada the school is situated. The student can continue studies to receive a Master’s which typically takes two years to complete. Some go on to pursue a doctorate degree, and this takes between three to five years.

Canada has over 10,000 post secondary degree programs and certificates, offered in its universities and colleges. What this means is that students are not pigeon holed into conventional courses, instead, they have the opportunity to study courses they are actually interested in and are inclined towards.

Admission requirements depend on what school is being applied to and are usually program specific.