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Levels of Education in Canada

Updated: January 13th, 2023

Canada is known globally for its good quality education. Education in Canada is split into four categories: pre-school, elementary school, secondary education, and post-secondary education. Our educators are highly qualified and bring diverse and inclusive viewpoints to the classroom. Most university educators hold an international degree. Canada takes pride in its education system and happily welcomes international students to come and learn here!

The four levels of education in Canada


Canada offers preschool to young children, ages four to five years old, before they begin elementary school at age six.

Most provinces offer one year of preschool education, which is most often called Kindergarten.

Provinces such as Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta offer additional years of free preschool education prior to a child starting primary school, for example to children younger than age four.

If your province does not offer free preschool to children under the age of four, you have the option of enrolling your child at a private school until they reach the eligible age to attend public preschool in your province.

Elementary school

Primary or elementary school is mandatory for all children. Students receive six years of primary education. Beginning in grade one at age six or seven and ending in grade six at age eleven or twelve.

Students in primary school are usually taught by the same teacher for the whole year and they receive all their lessons in the same classroom.

Special education programs may have one to four teacher assistants in the classroom to assist the teacher during the day. The number of teacher assistants present depends on the type of disabilities the students have as well as the severity of the conditions.

Secondary Education


Secondary education in Canada is divided into two levels: grade seven, with children ages twelve to thirteen and grade eight, with students ages thirteen to fourteen.

In grade seven, students begin attending different classrooms throughout the school day, and they have different teachers for every class as well.

The same process applies to students in grade eight. The purpose of intermediate education is to prepare students for high school by creating a similar routine to that of a high school environment.

High School education

Once students complete grade eight successfully, they are promoted to high school.

High school in Canada consists of four years: learners begin in grade nine, at ages fourteen to fifteen, and finish in grade 12 at ages seventeen to eighteen

Post-secondary education

Once students complete high school (called Secondary V in Quebec), they can apply to study at a college or university if they wish to do so.

How does College work in Canada?

In Canada, college refers to:

  • community college
  • technical institution, or:
  • applied science school

Colleges grant certificates, diplomas and associate degrees.

Many students attend colleges as a way to prepare themselves for university education, while others attend college to obtain a qualification that will allow them to enter the workforce immediately after they have completed their course.

Private vocational (trade) schools and internships

If you’re not interested in attending a college or university, you might want to enroll at one of Canada’s vocational or trade schools, or even gain experience in a work environment and work as an intern.

Vocational schools and trade schools offer hands-on training for certain jobs. Students who attend these institutions can enter the workforce after they have completed their program.

Want to Study in Canada? Here How!


So now that you know all how education works in Canada, you might be interested in experiencing the great quality education Canada has to offer.

Whether you are a family immigrating to Canada and want to enroll your child in school, or if you are a student who wants to study in Canada, we know how you can make that happen.

Can my children attend school in Canada?

The short answer is YES! Your child can attend any primary or secondary school in Canada. If you (the parent) apply for a Canada study permit, you can include your child on your application.

This will allow you to enroll them in a primary or secondary school in Canada. Most schools in this country are public schools, which means that no fees are required. If your child is included on your study permit, they can enjoy the outstanding educational opportunities Canada has to offer.

How to apply for a Canada study permit

Step 1: Be accepted at a University in Canada

Before you can apply for a study permit, you first need to apply and be accepted at a Designated Learning Institution (DLI).

A DLI is a school or tertiary institution that has been approved by a provincial or territorial government, to allow international students to attend that institution and complete their qualifications there. DLI’s include primary schools, secondary schools and post-secondary institutions.

Step 2: Apply for a Canadian study permit

In order to apply for a Canadian study permit, you will require the following:

  • An acceptance letter from a Designated Learning Institution (DLI)
  • A valid passport or travel document
  • Proof that you can financially support yourself
  • A custodian decla, If you are a minor

Depending on which country you are from, you may need additional documents such as:

  • A letter of acceptance
  • a certificat d’acceptation du Québec (CAQ)

Canadian study permit fees

Canada Study Permit Fees
Fee Amount in Canadian dollars (CAD)
Study permit (per person) $150
Restore status = $200 + new study permit = $150 $350
Biometrics (per person) $85
Biometrics - Maximum fee for a family of 2 applying at once $170
Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) $7

Step 3: Await your application results

The waiting period for your application results is usually 16 weeks. However, the amount of time it takes to process your application can differ depending on the country you are applying from.

So now you know all about education in Canada, ready to make your way over there? We’ll take the stress out of immigrating and make your visa application process simpler.

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