Before leaving to study at one of Canada’s universities, it is better to understand the local education system and know what to expect in terms of courses, housing, fees …

The English Canadian system

The Canadian university system is different from the European system, nowadays under the “License-Master-Doctorate” formula. The latter decomposes higher education into 3, 5, and 8 years and imposes on students a learning rhythm that is not always adapted. From this perspective, the advantage of the Canadian system is twofold:

  • On the one hand, its breakdown is more flexible : it is possible to make university courses of very variable duration : 2 years, 3 years, 4 years, 6 years … there are many programs with various objectives that can meet to your expectations.
  • On the other hand, the content of semesters is flexible : you can increase or decrease your workload per semester by choosing more or less subjects to follow.

The second point of divergence between the European training offer and its North American counterpart is the rigidity of the curriculum. Canadian universities highlight the need for a student to “build” his own education. The result is a flexible curriculum, which looks like you, and is, for the most part, à la carte. Indeed, each course is assigned a number of credits, and it is these credits that you will “buy” each semester. Therefore, you can choose the number of courses you want according to the workload that suits you.

You also have the opportunity to study different fields of study within the same degree through a game of major (main field of study) and minor (field of secondary studies). So it is quite possible to do a program in Biology with a minor in philosophy!

The Canadian rating system is also different from the system used in France. Each grade obtained in class is expressed as a percentage (eg 60% instead of 12/20). Each percentage range has a letter A +, A, A-, B +, B, B-, C +, C, C-, D and F. For example, the percentage range corresponding to an A + is 90-100%. The one corresponding to a B is 72-75%. For a course to be validated, you must have an average of C over the entire semester, ie 60-63% (12/20). Although, at first glance, this may scare a foreign student, the goal is perfectly attainable. The average of all the courses of the semester is called the TGPA (Term Grade Point Average), which conditions the GPA (Grade Point Average) – your overall average at the end of your program.

Canadian degrees

  • There are more than 200 post-graduate institutes in Canada. Here is some information to find you in the wide variety of institutions of higher learning.
  • It is important to note here some equivalences with the European LMD system. After 4 years, you will validate a Bachelor Degree, which is the equivalent of the License in France – this implies that you must have validated 4 years of study to be able to go to the next level in Canada. To integrate a Master, you should have already validated an M1.


  • Colleges are the first option in Canadian studies. These institutions offer different types of diplomas, often short (1 to 3 years) and professional (comparable to the DUT / BTS) but can also offer Bachelor’s degree (equivalent to the French license).
  • These are often smaller institutions than universities with a higher student / faculty ratio and therefore better monitoring. This is an ideal first option for an international student studying abroad for the first time.
  • Professional degrees validated in colleges can be recognized by universities and it is not uncommon to see students complete their training by validating a Bachelor.

The universities

In North America, the term “university” refers to any institution offering 1st and 3rd cycle diplomas. Most Canadian universities are very specialized: some are recognized for their medical programs, others are better known for their political science programs, and so on.

The campuses of Canadian universities are much larger than the colleges and offer all the necessary amenities (gyms, shops, coffee shop …) These are real small towns!

Entry to Canadian universities may be subject to strong selection. The path of each applicant is studied under the magnifying glass The GPA (your overall average) is very important because it determines your eligibility in certains programmes.

The selection

The selection of students is done on file. The level of English is a determining factor. You will need to take the IELTS or TOEFL before leaving and obtain the marks required by the Canadian university in question. If you feel that your English needs a little help before passing the IELTS, the universities also offer intensive courses in language school, internships after which you will integrate directly a program of studies. We are at your disposal to advise you on English exams.

Your file will include all your results and diplomas obtained since the Baccalaureate (Bac included). You can also add a cover letter, CV, see one or more letters of recommendation. The immigration reference will accompany you to build your file and ensure that it is optimized.

Brice Obam
Deputy Marketing Director
Immigration Reference


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