Education in Canada is administered by the individual provinces and territories. There are small differences between some, yet the basic terms used to describe study programs at universities, polytechnics, and colleges across the country are largely the same.
The composition of programs is also similar throughout, which is of benefit to the international student looking to work and live in Canada following completion of the study.

Undergraduate Study Opportunities Canada

A student who has completed secondary school may move onto an undergraduate study program at one of Canada’s many universities or colleges.
An undergraduate program – which leads to a Bachelor’s degree – will last between 3 to 5 years, and international students are strongly advised to budget for 4 years.
Students can also study for a Master’s degree, which follows on from a successful undergraduate course. Once a degree is awarded the student may be eligible for one of the many provincial and federal immigration schemes.
This may also be so for students who have studied other post-secondary diploma or certificate programs. Experience and language ability also play a part in the immigration process.
Following are brief descriptions of the available undergraduate study programs:

Certificate Programs – Up to two full-time semesters or under a year

Business, IT, and Health Care are some of the subjects that are popular at the certificate level, and the course will last between three to eight months.
The program will cover a specific, single subject. A certificate provides skills for the student to enter the job market. Qualifying secondary-school awards are required for entry onto a certificate program.

Diploma Programs – Minimum of two years

Studied at either a college or a university in Canada, a diploma program is designed for students who need to learn a specific trade or vocation and can last as long as four years.
A certificate can be extended to become a degree in some cases. The diploma will involve – in most cases – an internship or apprenticeship as part of the qualifying criteria. Qualifying secondary-school awards are required for entry into a diploma program.

Associate Degree – Two years

Essentially a foundation for a full degree that will follow, associate degrees are usually studied in the arts and sciences, and award 60 credits – half that required to obtain a Bachelor’s degree.
Associate degrees involve studying a specialist subject alongside a broader selection of other areas of study. The student may study at a college for two years before moving to a university to complete the degree.

Bachelor’s Degree – Four or five years

The Canadian Bachelor’s Degree program, which is studied at one of the many universities, covers at least four years and involves specialist as well as more general study. Subject areas are usually such as Business, General Sciences, Engineering, the Arts, or Humanities.
The student may wish to study the fifth year to obtain, for example, a teaching certificate. A degree such as this is helpful when applying for permanent residence.

Graduate Study Opportunities Canada

Postgraduate Diplomas and Certificates – Up to one year

The Canadian education system offers the opportunity for international students to study for a post-graduate certificate or diploma, usually over two or three semesters.
These programs are either complementary to a Bachelor’s degree covering a specific subject, or they can be extension converting to a Master’s degree. Usual subjects are in the Business Studies area.

Master’s Degree – Up to 3 years

Comprising specialist study and generally requiring an intense thesis as well as coursework and examinations, a Master’s Degree may be studied by those who have completed a Bachelor’s degree and will often lead to professional practice. The duration can be as long as three years.

Doctorate – Up to 6 years

A Doctorate or Ph.D. may be required for those wishing to work as a doctor, in high-level government, health, or educational jobs, or as a professor and many other professional positions. The coursework will be comprehensive, and a doctorate may last as long as six years to complete.