What is Post-Secondary School in Canada? Post-secondary education is an educational program occurring at a level above the twelve-grade elementary and secondary school system. There are a few different types of post-secondary education each with different purposes; Universities, Colleges, Trade schools,s, and vocational schools.

What is Post-Secondary School in Canada: Postsecondary Education Systems in Canada

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What is Post-Secondary School in Canada

However, at most post-secondary schools, the school year is divided into 2 main terms and an optional summer term. In CA, a recognized school can grant Degrees, Diplomas, Certificates, and Other qualifications. So, if you’re not sure if a school is officially recognized, contact your ministry or department of post-secondary education.

Below is the list of post-secondary education in CA are;

  • University.
  • College.
  • Trade/Apprenticeship Program.
  • Vocational Studies.

The above-mentioned schools are referred to as post-secondary education. It is done after completion of secondary/high school.

The University

The university is one of the post-secondary education in CA. It offers programs on a wide range of topics at different levels of difficulty and complexity. After you have successfully completed a university program, you’re awarded a university degree that reflects the type of program you went for. There are 3 types of degrees, they’re as follows;

Bachelor’s degree: This is the easiest degree offered by Canadian universities. It takes 3-4 years to complete.

Master’s degree: Master’s degree is a more advanced degree that usually takes 1 – 3 extra years of study after you get a bachelor’s degree.

Doctoral degree: Doctoral degree is the most advanced degree offered by Canadian universities. This degree can take another 3- 4 more years of study and research following a master’s degree.

However, in regulated professions, students must complete an internship or pass a standardized test (or series of tests) after getting the degree.


The college offers shorter programs than the University. The program lasts between 1-3 years. It’s an educational institution that cannot grant degrees, though there are some exceptions to this. Moreover, they usually offer programs resulting in certificates and/or diplomas.

Nevertheless, generally, college programs are more directly career-oriented when compared to universities. Let me explain more; a college graduate may complete hands-on, practical training in an employable skill such as graphic design or culinary skills.

These Colleges often have courses to improve students’ skills and employability, such as language training. And also, many colleges have training programs or apprenticeships in skilled trade occupations like carpentry or welding.

Trade School

Trade school has to do with a specialized occupation, that is usually emphasizing some form of manual labor, which needs hands-on training and formal education. The skilled trade rarely requires a Bachelor’s Degree.

Therefore education in the trades usually occurs through trade schools, which are often smaller programs contained within colleges or vocational schools.

Furthermore, once an aspiring tradesperson has sufficient training, they may undertake an apprenticeship. And as an apprentice, the student works closely with an experienced tradesperson to refine their skills in the trade.

Vocational Education

A vocational Education may have educational programs at either the secondary or post-secondary level, so it is not always necessary to have a high school diploma in order to attend vocational school. In this Vocational program, students learn the technical skills required to perform the tasks of a specific job.

However, it prepares them to enter directly into the workforce, either in skilled or low-skilled occupations.

Nevertheless, there are different terms for different types of schools at the post-secondary level and these terms mean different things in different countries around the world, that is to say, a college may refer to one type of school in Canada but something different in the US.


Is post-secondary the same as college?

Not exactly. Post-secondary education generally refers to any education or training that takes place after high school, including college, university, vocational schools, and other institutions.

College typically refers to post-secondary institutions that offer two-year associate degree programs and/or certificates, while universities generally offer four-year bachelor’s degree programs and graduate-level programs. However, the terms college and university can vary in meaning depending on the context and the country, so it’s important to understand their specific definitions.

What is the difference between high school and post-secondary in Canada?

In Canada, high school education generally refers to secondary education for students between the ages of 14-18 years, where they earn a high school diploma. Post-secondary education, on the other hand, refers to any education after high school.

Post-secondary education comprises universities, colleges, and institutes that offer undergraduate and graduate-level programs, apprenticeships and trades, and vocational certificates and diplomas. In general, post-secondary education provides students with the opportunity to specialize in a particular field of study, whereas high schools provide a more generalized curriculum to prepare students for post-secondary education or the workforce.

What is a Canadian high school diploma called?

In Canada, the high school diploma varies by province and territory. Some common names for the high school diploma include the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD), the British Columbia Certificate of Graduation, and the Alberta High School Diploma.

Each province and territory has its own set of diploma requirements, but in general, students need to complete a certain number of credits in various subjects, including English, mathematics, science, social studies, and others, in order to earn their high school diploma.


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