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Programs and Fileds of Study in Canada

Picking the right study program is key.

Post-secondary students in Canada may tailor their study experience by selecting from hundreds of distinct programs. Each program of study has unique requirements, such as coursework and examinations, that students are expected to complete. When enough of these requirements are successfully completed, the school will grant an academic credential such as a certificate, diploma, or degree. A completed credential is an important part of qualifying for a job or continuing to a higher level of education.

Example Areas of Interest

While specific study programs in Canada number in the hundreds, most belong to one of these general categories or areas of interest:

Courses and Credits

Programs of study are comprised of discrete units called courses. For example, when studying commerce, students may have to complete coursework in the subject areas of economics, accounting, and entrepreneurship. Students in the same program may be required to complete different courses depending on their specific study areas; for example, a student in a real estate marketing program will have very different coursework from an accounting student, even though both these students may belong to the "School of Business & Management."

Most courses in Canada comprise a series of weekly lessons, exams, and independent coursework in a given subject area, and last for about 12 weeks. When the requirements for an individual course are successfully completed, the school will grant the student "credit" towards completion of the study program. A study program is complete when sufficient credits have been attained to fulfill the requirements of the program. For example, a Bachelor degree in Canada usually comprises a total 120 credits, and each completed course generally contributes three credits to that total.


The academic year in Canada is organized into terms, usually referred to as semesters. Most schools in Canada use either the semester or trimester system, meaning the year is divided into two semesters of equal length, or three semesters of equal length. For practical reasons, students should keep in mind that September is the beginning of the academic year in Canada.

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