Community colleges are government-regulated post-secondary institutions offering 1- to 2-year academic and pre-professional certificates, diplomas, 2-year associate's degrees and even 3- and 4-year specialized bachelor's degrees. More than 150 community colleges represent approximately 900,000 full-time and 1.5 million part-time learners at over 900 campuses across Canada. Close to 6,000 international students come to Canada for community college study each year.
Canada's community colleges are also sometimes called institutes, institutes of technology, technical colleges, regional colleges, CEGEPS (in Québec), university colleges or simply colleges. They aren't just lesser versions of universities; community colleges fill a unique niche in Canada's education system, combining high quality, comprehensive academics with employer-centred programs, industry connections and internship opportunities. Community colleges offer academic courses in the arts and sciences as well as specialized career and language training. The college itself may be a general education school offering a variety of programs in different fields (such as health, business, technology, trades, academic upgrading, applied and creative arts, social services, hospitality and university preparation), or it may be a single field-, industry- or culture-specific college (for example, college of forestry, art and design, justice and public safety, or Native studies). Community colleges may also be faith-based, offering specialized Christian programs in leadership, ministry and theology.
Compared to universities, community colleges have smaller classes, more options for off-campus courses, a greater ratio of laboratory space to classroom space, more interactive teaching, more co-op and practicum opportunities and more inclusive admissions requirements. Many community colleges have university transfer agreements, so you can transfer your credits toward a university degree program.
Whether you want a quick, quality credential or you're just getting started on your education, community colleges in Canada are a great option for building your future.