Canadian Colleges Vs Universities - Know the Difference, Which is Better


Meridean Overseas

Updated On 17 January 2023 & Read Time 6 minutes



In the past few years, Canada has achieved a remarkable reputation for being the best study-abroad destination in English-speaking countries. It is an affordable destination, and the quality of education that international students receive in Canadian universities and colleges exceeds the tuition fee charged by them. Every year around 8,00,000 international students move to study in Canada. Apart from this, it is one of the safest countries where you can enjoy a high standard of living at an affordable cost. While planning to study in Canada, you must be wondering which is better for you, college or university? Let's explore the answer to this question in this blog.

Difference Between Canadian Colleges and Universities

Canadian higher education system offers two choices, i.e., Universities and Colleges. The country is home to around 223 universities and 213 colleges. It is very crucial for international students to choose the right university/ college to fulfil their future goals. The below table will tell the difference between colleges vs universities in Canada.




Programs Offered

undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral programs

graduate and diploma

Average Tuition Fee

15,000 CAD - 80,000 CAD per annum

10,000 CAD – 60,000 CAD per annum

Course Duration

1 to 5 years, depending upon the level of study and type of course.

1 to 2 years, depending upon the level of study and type of course.

Range of Courses

Wide Range of Course options

Limited range of course options


To deliver complete knowledge in the chosen course/ field.

To equip students with supporting skills to pursue a career in that field.

Faculty-student ratio

The number of students per class is high and thus has a high ratio

The class size is small and more attention is paid to individual student

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

Canadian Universities

Canadian universities are government-managed educational institutions which are operated independently by the committee members of the university. The committee operates all the decisions regarding academic topics such as program quality, teachers, and policies and procedures. The universities focus on students’ professional and academic development. Students can either choose to study in private or public universities in Canada. Some of the top Canadian universities include:

  • University of Toronto

  • McGill University

  • McMaster University

  • University of Waterloo

  • University of Alberta

  • University of Montreal

  • University of Ottawa

  • Queen's University

  • Simon Fraser University

  • University of Victoria

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Advantages of Studying at Canadian Universities

Here are some advantages of studying at universities:

  • Canadian universities offer a wide range of course options to international students at all levels. No matter what career you choose to enter in, Canadian universities offer it all to support your dream career.

  • You get an opportunity to acquire knowledge from the top industry experts. The teaching staff at Canadian universities are well-versed in the field they are teaching. Generally, they focus on providing students with the subject's practical and theoretical aspects.

  • Canadian universities have huge industrial connections where university students can get opportunities for industrial visits and internships. Also, they'll be given priority while applying for jobs in those industries/ companies.

  • Generally, universities facilitate huge campuses with all the modern tools and laboratories for students' personal and professional growth.

  • Many universities offer financial aid or scholarship opportunities to international students. Through scholarships, they aim to attract bright and talented students from all around the world.

Disadvantages of Studying at Canadian Universities

Degrees from Canadian universities are highly valued worldwide. However, there are some disadvantages too, which are mentioned below:

  • The course duration in Canadian universities is long compared to colleges. Generally, the programs last from 3 to 5 years, depending upon the course and level of the program.

  • The tuition fee cost of Canadian universities is generally higher compared to colleges.

  • It could be disadvantageous for students who wish to learn only practical aspects of the subject, as Canadian universities also combine theoretical knowledge along with practical teaching.

Canadian Colleges

Canadian colleges are independent educational institutions that offer international students diploma and certificate programs. Generally, the colleges' primary focus is on career training and trades. Some of the top Colleges to study in Canada includes:

Advantages of Studying in Canadian Colleges

Here are some advantages of studying at Canadian colleges:

  • The course duration at the colleges is generally short. This helps students to complete their education earlier and apply for jobs.

  • Most Canadian colleges have adopted a practical approach to teaching. They believe in equipping students with multiple skills to excel in their careers.

  • Have low-class size. Thus, more attention is being paid to individuals.

  • Generally, Canadian colleges' acceptance rate is higher and has easy admission criteria as compared to universities.

  • The tuition fee at colleges is comparatively low.

Disadvantages of Studying in Canadian Colleges

Though every year, Canadian colleges receive a large number of applications from international students, it still has some disadvantages:

  • Canadian universities generally offer diploma or certificate programs, which only offer limited field-relevant knowledge to students.

  • Generally, Canadian colleges do not offer scholarship opportunities to international students.

  • Due to a lack of industrial partnerships, college students have to struggle more at the time of placement and have limited job opportunities.


Q: Should I go to College or University in Canada?

A: Depending on the course you decide to take. Applying to a Canadian college is preferable if you want to improve the necessary abilities and skills for your work. However, one must apply to a university in this country if one wants to pursue a Canadian degree and have the core knowledge of the field.


Q: Is Canada College vs University the same?

A: No, Canadian Colleges and universities are different. Generally, colleges offer diplomas and certificate programs and focuses on career training. Whereas universities offer degree programs and focus on student's professional and academic growth.


Q: Is a college called a university in Canada?

A: In general conversation, many people do refer to colleges and universities as the same. However, in actuality, there is a difference between Colleges and universities. 


Q: Is college cheaper than a university in Canada?

A: Yes, Canadian colleges are cheaper than universities in Canada. The average tuition fee at colleges ranges from 10,000 CAD to 60,000 CAD per annum. Whereas the average tuition fee at the university ranges from 15,000 CAD to 80,000 CAD per annum.

Contact our counselors for application details

Moreover, if you are planning to enrol in the upcoming intake in Canada, i.e., September 2023, contact our expert counsellors at any branch of Meridean Overseas Education Consultants (MOEC). You can also take free online counselling through our website. Our expert counsellors will provide you with the best support and guidance for the admission and visa process. For more information or any queries, you can mail us at or call us at our toll-free no. 1800-1230-00011.

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