Education in Canada

Considering moving to Canada? Especially if you plan on moving to Canada with a family (or plan to start one soon 😉) it pays to understand the basics of education in Canada. Read on to learn more about the structure and contents of education in Canada. Class is in session!

Receive 5 free moving quotes
Start saving today!

Education Levels in Canada

For American families considering moving to Canada, much of the Canadian education system will appear familiar. Education levels in Canada span kindergarten through the 12th grade, and typically follow a similar academic calendar as in the US.

However, certain details vary per province, such as the school starting age or if late elementary/early secondary school years are grouped into middle (or junior high) schools.

Because access to education in Canada is free and funded through local taxes, the quality of education in affluent communities is often reflected in property prices.

AgeSchool typeGrade
6-7Elementary school1
7-8Elementary school2
8-9Elementary school3
9-10Elementary school4
10-11Elementary school5
11-12Elementary school6
12-13High school7
13-14High school8
14-15High school9
15-16High school10
16-17High school11
17-18High school12

Elementary Education

Children are eligible to start in public schools between ages 4 – 5. Many parents choose to wait until their child is five years old, especially if their four-year old’s birthday lies close to the ‘cut-off’ date for enrollment. There are certainly things you can start too soon!

Canadian law mandates that all children attend elementary school, with grade-level skipping or withholding an accepted but not so common practice.

Elementary education in Canada is noted for the early introduction of second-language learning, with an emphasis on French as other of Canada’s two official languages.

Secondary Education

Secondary education in Canada (or high school) may or may not include grades six through eight, which would be separated into middle (or junior high) schools. This varies by province and school district.

In Canada it is compulsory for students to attend school until age 16, or the 10th grade. However, in certain provinces this mandatory age is 18 (such as in Ontario, Manitoba, and New Brunswick).

Because public education in Canada is so well funded, there is little need for private schools at the secondary level. As a result of the standardized curriculum of Canada’s public schools, Canadian school children receive a uniformly high-quality education. Smart to be smart!

education in canada

Studying in Canada

University students in Canada enjoy a wide range of top universities. In fact, of Canada’s 98 total universities, 26 rank among the top 100 in the world! The University of Toronto and McGill University top the list as the two highest ranking among these.

While post-secondary education in Canada is not free, it is significantly more affordable than in the US. On average, tuition at Canadian universities costs $5,000 per year for a standard four-year program– in contrast to the $32,000 American average!

However, this tuition rate is only available to Canadian citizens and residents, as international students are subject to higher tuition rates. Bummer…

Like many American universities, those in Canada utilize a campus model and provide on-campus housing for students. In some cases, however, securing a spot can be competitive and there is a growing popularity of students leasing independent apartments (especially in larger cities).

Moving to Canada?

Are you considering moving to Canada? Then read our full expat relocation guide on everything you need to know before heading to the Great White North. Or check out the articles linked below for further reading. Good luck!