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Difference between colleges/universities/institutes in Canada

  1. Mar 14, 2010 #1
    What's the difference between colleges/universities/institutes in Canada(I know in America they refer to universities as colleges as though they were the same, it's different here though).

    I think that colleges offer a more 'hands on' techincal approach, where as a university offers a more academic knowledge/theory based approach. What does an 'institute' offer then... in particular what would the 'University of Ontario Institute of Technology' offer?


    I'm thinking about attending this university for a health sciences degree but first I want to make sure that the degree I would receive would be a legit degree... would it be viewed by the workforce the same way a BHSc would be viewed from say the University of Toronto? What about grad school... what would be the best way to gurantee that if I wanted to attend grad school or medical school that this degree would be acceptable... can you just contact the school you plan on attending and ask them if in 4 years time when you potentially graduate with this degree that you could apply to their graduate programs?

    Thanks for reading this... I also wasn't sure where this should go, I know we have a 'career guidance' and forums geared more towards schooling but I felt this was more of a general discussion topic. (Since my main question is the distinction between university/college/institute).
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 14, 2010 #2


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    Re: Question

    There are no official limits on calling yourself a university in Canada - so you get lots of language schools called the university of ....

    The nearest thing to an official list is http://www.aucc.ca/ [Broken] an association that represents univeristies. But just because a school isn't on this doesn't mean it isn't legit - a lot of small liberal arts colleges aren't.
    There are also a few polytech/technical colleges like BCIT and SAIT that are a lot better regarded in some technical fields than a lot of universities.

    For a health degree you should probably check wether provincial bodies accept it, like the local paramedic/nursing associations.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  4. Mar 14, 2010 #3


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    Re: Question

    People in the US generally use the terms college and university interchangeably, but they actually are NOT the same. In order to be a university, the institution needs to offer graduate programs (master's or Ph.D.) in addition to offering bachelor's degree programs. If their highest degree is a bachelor's degree or lower (associate's), then they are a college.
  5. Mar 15, 2010 #4


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    In the US being a college or an Institute isn't necessarily bad.
    Dartmouth college, MIT and Caltech are ok-ish
  6. Mar 15, 2010 #5
    Re: Question

    Make sure program is accredited as mgb said. I don't know what kind of work you will be doing with Health Science degree but you might need to put few years more before (after 4 years) you can do some health related work (pharmacists, doctor, etc .. )
  7. Mar 15, 2010 #6
    Re: Question

    Yeah, I would like to apply to Med school to obtain my M.D. depending on how I like the field though I may try to apply for a research position related to biology. (so instead of med school go on to grad school for a Ph.D. or Masters)

    I guess the best way to determine if this is possible would be to call the grad/med school directly and ask them?

    @Mgb, thanks for the link. I looked through it and it appears that UOIT is in the list... I'm not 100% sure if that means that the degrees given by the various institutions are of similar merit though. hmmm.

    @Moonbear, wow I never realized that. I always just thought that in America university/college were the exact same thing.
    Based on the information you've given I'm gonna assume the reason it's both a university AND an institution is because it provides graduate degrees in multiple fields but it has a pretty focused research which qualifies it also as a Institute.

    Thanks guys :smile:.. another question though. What would be the best way to get into contact with a graduate school or med school? Just call their admissions people?
  8. Mar 15, 2010 #7
    Re: Question

    Yeah I agree that it isn't necessarily bad but I just want to make sure that if I attend this university when I graduate I won't have spent 11 grand a year for something not actually recognized.

    I assume however that if you got a degree from MIT and compared it to a similar degree at another university that they would be comparable (aside from MITs huge reputation).
  9. Mar 15, 2010 #8
    Re: Question

    Yes, in Canada, universities are academic post-secondary institutions that grant degrees and graduate programmes. Colleges grant diplomas and certificates and are more practical application learning rather than academics although some of them offer some courses that count as university transfer courses for credit towards a university degree. Technical institutes teach, mostly, post-secondary trades and certificates from them are required before moving to an apprenticeship to learn and/or practice a trade such as being an electrician.

    I can see where your confusion comes in, zomgwtf, about this particular school because it has both the words "institute" and "university" in it. If you read farther down the page, it discusses the issue vis confusion with the school's name. However, it offers bachelor's degrees along with Masters and PhD programmes, it just has a different format for classes and research and has a sciences focus. It's, apparently, a university and I would hazard a guess that any of the courses you took at it would transfer to any other university. I'd check to make sure if there's another school you'd like to finish up at, but it doesn't appear that this school is an "institute" in the regular Canadian school usage in that you'd get a diploma from it and have to start from scratch if you wanted to go to university.
  10. Mar 15, 2010 #9
    Re: Question

    Most universities are having march open houses.. go to those and ask the university people.. it would be hard to get information from med school ...
  11. Mar 15, 2010 #10
    Re: Question

    Finally! For all of the years that we've been friends, Moonbear, you've not told me this distinction. I've mentioned more than once that the two are very different institutions in Canada and thought that the words were interchangeable in the States. I wish you would have set me straight sooner! But, now I know, so thank you. :smile:
  12. Apr 2, 2010 #11
    Re: Question

    Well, I've submitted my application to UOIT. It's going to be a bit more expensive than attending the other universities in the area (even compared to say UoT or Waterloo) but that's because of the 'mobile learning' aspect (it costs $1500).
    I've chosen this school specifically because I'm interested in the focus it has on sciences and technology, if I don't feel it's for me (assuming my acceptance) then I'll attempt to transfer out.

    Wish me luckk!!!!
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