Overview of Canadian Education

Canada’s academic institutions are open to international students. The developments in education in the past decade have drawn thousands of internationals interested in undergraduate and post graduate degrees.

Compared to the infamous costs of study in the United States of America for international students, Canada offers adequate academic programs for less. Lower tuition and a lower cost of living will get you an educational qualification that is equivalent to what others get from schools in either the United States or other Commonwealth countries.

The basic structure of Canadian education is 3-tiered – elementary, secondary and post-secondary.

Elementary

Grades 1 – 6 (Nigerian equivalent is Primary 1 – 6)
Semesters: September to January = First semester; January to March or April = Second semester; March or April to June = Third semester

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 and introductory arts and health, which are all necessary for the child to function and be a useful member of society.

NB – For immigrant parents with children within this age group, it is advisable to bring documents such as transcripts/report cards, course outlines, and even samples of the child’s previous schoolwork. These documents will help school staff to determine the appropriate grade to place the child.

Secondary

Grades 7 – 12 (Nigerian equivalent is JSS 1 – SSS 3)
Age Group: 13 – 18 (approximately)
Semesters: Early September to Mid January = Fall Semester; Early February to Late June = Spring Semester

Secondary School covers the final four to six years of compulsory education. In the first years of secondary education, students take compulsory courses, with a few 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 where their interests lay and what their strengths are and start to focus on those. This also prepares them for the job market and makes them more suited to meet the differing entrance requirements of post secondary 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 would 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.

Post Secondary

Qualification Awarded: Certificates, Diplomas, Full Bachelor degrees
Typical Age: 18 – 24 (Depends on the individual)
Semesters: Early September to late December = Fall Semester; Early January to Mid/Late April = Winter Semester; May/June to August = Summer Semester

After secondary school, students can attend either vocational schools, colleges or universities. At a university they will earn a Bachelor’s degree first, (which usually takes three to four years, depending on the student and the part of Canada where the school is situated). The student can continue studies to obtain a Master’s degree (which usually takes two years to complete). Some go on to pursue a doctorate degree (which takes between 3 to 5 years).

Canada has over 10,000 post secondary degree, diploma and certificate programs. This means that students are not pigeon-holed into conventional courses; instead they have the opportunity to study courses that they are actually interested in and are inclined towards.

International students are entitled to a work permit visa upon graduation from University or College, and can work in Canada for three years. However, after one year of working, those students can apply to become Canadian Permanent Residents under the Canadian experience class.

Documents Required for Admission Processing

Admission requirements depend on the school that is being applied to, and are usually program-specific. However, the following is a general list of requirements for undergraduate and post graduate applications:

Undergraduate Applications

  • WAEC/NECO result (with at least six credits including English and Math) + scratch card
  • Duly completed application form
  • International Passport data page or a copy of student’s birth certificate
  • SSS1 – SSS3 transcripts (not all schools require this)
  • IELTS [academic] results (selected schools)
  • 2 recent passport-sized photographs

Post graduate Applications

  • WAEC/NECO results + scratch card
  • Degree certificate or statement of results
  • University transcripts
  • Duly completed application form
  • Post-secondary qualifications (if applicable)
  • Curriculum vitae showing history of work experience (if applicable)
  • Statement of purpose/letter of intent
  • Reference letters