Newfoundland and Labrador - a rare find

The Canadian System


Newfoundland and Labrador provides a safe, supportive, and inspiring environment for children to grow and learn. Students begin school at age 5, completing Kindergarten, then moving on to grades 1 through 12, which are usually completed by age 17.  The stages of the K-12 system are typically referred to as primary, elementary, junior high, and high school. Most students are part of the publicly-funded education system; however, there are four private schools in the province. Many English schools offer French immersion programs.


Newfoundland and Labrador is a popular post-secondary education choice for students near and far, thanks to the high quality of education options and favourable cost of living and tuition. Both public and private institutions are available, offering degrees, diplomas, and certificates depending on the nature of the institution and the length of the program. Below is an overview of the Canadian education system. Please visit the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials for more information.


University degrees are offered at three successive levels — bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral — with the completion of a degree from the lower level generally a prerequisite for admission to the next. Universities typically have a strong tradition of research, with certain institutions being known for their expertise and facilities specialized in certain areas of inquiry.


  • Diploma

    • Many universities offer diploma and certificate programs, often in professional designations. Generally speaking, university diplomas and certificates require one or two years of study.

  • Undergraduates

    • Students at the baccalaureate, or bachelor’s, level are known as undergraduates. Completion of a secondary-school program is the normal prerequisite for admission to undergraduate study. Most universities also have special entrance requirements and paths for mature students.

      Bachelor’s degrees normally require three or four years of full-time study, depending on the province. An honours bachelor’s degree involves a higher degree of concentration in the major subject, as well as a higher level of academic achievement, and, in some cases, an additional year of study.

  • Professions

    • For regulated professions such as law, medicine, education, and social work, an internship is generally required and, in some cases, additional years of formal study.

  • Master's Degree

    • A master’s degree typically requires two years of study after completion of either a general or an honours baccalaureate program.

  • Doctorate (PhD)

    • A minimum of three years of study and research, including the completion of a dissertation, are the normal requirements for a doctorate.

  • Annual Calendar

    • The academic year at most degree-granting institutions is divided into two semesters, from September to December and from January to April. Most institutions also offer spring and summer sessions, and a few operate on a trimester basis.

Learn More About Memorial University of Newfoundland.


Public colleges offer vocationally-oriented programs in a wide range of professional and technical fields, including business, health, science, agriculture, applied arts, technology, skilled trades, and social services. Some specialized institutes offer training in a single field, such as art, fisheries, paramedical technology, or agriculture. Some may also offer bachelors and applied degree programs.


  • Diploma

    • Diplomas are generally awarded for the successful completion of two- or three-year programs, while certificate programs most often take one year to complete.

  • Transfer to University

    • Several college systems offer university transfer programs, providing the first two years of a university undergraduate program. Universities and colleges also cooperate on integrated programs for which graduates receive both a degree and a diploma. Cooperative education is part of many programs, with work placements being a requirement in addition to academic study.

  • Trade Apprenticeship

    • Apprenticeship is an industry-driven program that has established training and certification standards in more than 50 designated trades and occupations. Employers support the program by employing apprentices and giving them the opportunity to develop their skills on the job. Colleges offer the in-class portion of apprenticeship programs, providing up to eight weeks of class instruction in each year of the apprenticeship. The length of apprenticeship programs differs by trade, but is usually four years, with graduation resulting in a certificate.

Learn More About College of the North Atlantic.
Learn More About Private Institutions.