Students who have never been to Canada often have an image of it as the land of snow and hockey. What they find when they come to the country is quite different. Polar bears stick to the northern regions and there are beautiful seasons other than winter in Canada. Hockey is our national game but there are a thousand other sports and activities to choose from—some on sunny beaches, some near vast lakes or oceans, and some in the midst of busy modern cities.

Canada is a land of rich diversity, encompassing urban sophistication and abundant nature and wildlife. It is safe yet also exciting; stable yet also filled with adventure. It features cutting-edge technology, inspiring cultural icons, and a vibrant society that is open to everyone. Canadians tend to be modern, welcoming, and open-minded.

Across Canada are examples of excellence, innovation, and beauty, all of which—along with top-notch educational institutions—make Canada one of the leading study abroad destinations in the world.


Canada is a country in North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometres, making it the world’s second-largest country by total area.

Canada Is a Wonderful Place to Live and Study: Since 2004, the United Nations has regularly ranked Canada in the top 10 countries in the world in its Quality of Life Index. Combining excellent educational institutions, an innovative economy, a tolerant and safe culture, and extraordinary beauty, Canada is an ideal destination for international students. In addition, praised for their overall stability, multiculturalism, clean environments, and world-class healthcare, and education systems, Calgary, Vancouver, and Toronto are ranked fourth, sixth and seventh, respectively, in the 2018 Economist Intelligence Unit ranking of the world’s most livable cities.

Canadian Education Is World Class: Canada is also ranked #1 by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for higher education achievement—more than half of its citizens between the ages of 25 and 64 have a post-secondary education. The Times 2018–2019 World University Rankings placed nine Canadian universities in the top 200 (and four of these in the top 100). As well, Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s 2018 Academic Ranking of World Universities placed four Canadian institutions in its top 100, and 18 in the top 500.

Canada’s secondary school students excel in science, reading, and mathematics. In the 2015 PISA results testing Grade 10 students from 65 countries around the globe, Canada ranked 9th on the Reading Scale, 7th in Science, and 10th in Maths ahead of the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, and France. High-quality French and English language teaching are also reasons students choose Canada.

Canada Is Multicultural and Open to the World: Canada is officially bilingual (English and French), and across the country, more than 200 languages are spoken. The biggest cities, Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal, are home to many immigrant communities and one finds all sorts of ethnicities across the country. A tolerant culture is among the top Canadian values—informally, on the streets and public venues, and formally, in Canada’s laws and government. Of particular note is the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that enshrines equality for all.

Population and Culture 

Canada’s population is now just over 36 million, which is relatively small for a country of this size (Canada is the second-largest country in the world). Much of Canada’s vast area is still wilderness and most Canadians live in highly urbanized centres in the south; 80% of the population is concentrated within 160 kilometres of the southern (US) border.

According to the last census in 2016, the largest Canadian cities are Toronto (5.9 million), Montreal (4.0 million), Vancouver (2.4 million), and Ottawa-Gatineau (1.3 million) and Edmonton (1.3 million).

Canada is a multicultural and diverse country. The majority of Canadians are of European ancestry, primarily descendants of the early French and British colonists, as well as later immigrants from eastern and southern Europe.

Canada's Systems of Education

  • Five Essential Points 
  • Wherever students study, at whatever level, they can be sure of getting a degree, diploma, or certificate that will be recognized the world over. Canada is among the leaders in the G8 in terms of its per capita investment in education, leading to high-quality and well-respected faculty, programs, and institutions.
  • Each Canadian province and territory has its own quality assurance mechanisms to ensure high educational standards are met, and there are robust laws, policies, and procedures that govern the operation of all K-12 and post-secondary institutions. Each province also offers students the ability to study in English, in French, or in both.
  • Canadian students are consistently ranked among the top academic performers in reading, math, and science according to ongoing OECD and PISA research. Moreover, students gain practical skills and hands-on training and generally have easy access to professors.
  • There are excellent resources to help agents/students find out how to evaluate how/ whether their existing academic credentials will be accepted in Canada. One of these resources can be found at, a website that provides information on education credential assessment in Canada.
  • Canada has an excellent reputation for transfers between levels/types of education, making studying here flexible and exciting—students don’t run into the bureaucratic roadblocks common in less flexible education systems. Moreover, Canada is known for its laws allowing eligible students to work in Canada while studying and after graduation, and for providing opportunities for eligible graduates to attain permanent residence.

The graphic above shows which educational pathways are available to students in various regions of Canada.

All school boards across Canada offer educational programs for children aged five to 17–18 years old. The levels range from Kindergarten to grade 11 (in Quebec) or grade 12. However, school structures and grade groupings vary throughout Canada’s provinces:

Elementary schools instruct students from kindergarten or grade 1 to grade 4, 5, 6, 7, or 8.

Middle schools typically enroll students in grades 5, 6, 7 and 8; however, the specific grades offered may vary by school and region.

Junior high schools include grades 7, 8, and sometimes 9, offering a transition for students from elementary to high school.

Secondary schools (high schools) begin with grade 8, 9, or 10 to 12, except for Quebec, where high school includes grades 7 to 11. Where offered, students may enroll in the International Baccalaureate Program or take Advanced Placement (AP) courses. It is also becoming increasingly popular for public schools to offer elite athletic and arts academy programs.

The typical school day includes five to six hours of class time, with the exception of kindergarten, which is half-day in some regions. The school year runs from September to June although some schools also offer a program year-round.

International students can expect to pay between $9,500 and $14,000 in tuition a year to study at the public elementary or secondary levels in Canada. Private or independent schools may have a higher tuition, particularly if they offer a low student–teacher ratio or enhanced/specialized learning opportunities. Tuition and boarding fees for K-12 private or independent schools in Canada, for example, ranges from $45,500 to $65,000.

Canada is a well-educated nation at the post-secondary level. The proportion of Canadians aged 25 to 64 with a post-secondary degree or diploma is 53%, the highest in the OECD. Graduate degrees from Canadian universities, including masters and doctoral degrees, are highly regarded internationally and generally offer competitive tuition fees.

University and college semesters generally run as follows:

First semester: early September to mid-December

Holiday break: mid-December to early January

Second semester: early January to early May

Summer holidays/Summer courses: May to September