Person standing on two arrows pointing in different directions

Deciding between college and university is a tough decision, and it is  important to consider one’s strengths and interests when making the decision. It is also important to keep in mind that there are many colleges with transfer programs, which allow students to move to university from college in second or third year. Similarly, some students who begin at university later choose to complete a college program. A brief description of what can be expected at college and university is given below.



7 students sitting at a round table, discussing while working with a variety of papers scattered at their table.Colleges tend to be more directly career-oriented than universities. They often offer practical or hands-on training in smaller classes, which can lead to greater student-teacher interaction.

Colleges offer a range of programs, including apprenticeships, certificate programs, diplomas, and degrees. Programs range from less than 1 year up to 3 or 4 years.

Students who have an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (or equivalent from another province) can apply for college programs. Students who have not completed high school, but are at least 19 years old are also eligible to apply for some college programs. Regardless, students typically need to have completed pre-requisite courses to be accepted to their chosen program, which may have been attained in high school, an adult education program, or through college prep courses. Different programs and schools may have additional requirements, so be sure to check the program website for more information.


A variety of students sitting and taking notes in an auditorium.Universities generally offer programs that are more theory-based and academic than colleges. Instruction tends to be lecture-based, and many classes are quite large in size, meaning professors may not have the opportunity to get to know students on an individual basis.

Universities generally offer 3 and 4 year undergraduate programs (a bachelor’s degree), as well as graduate programs (master’s and doctoral degrees). The 4-year program (sometimes called an honours degree) is usually required to apply to a graduate program.

To apply to university, an Ontario Secondary School Diploma or equivalent is required, often with a certain number of high school credits in university-preparatory courses. Each university has its own admissions policies, so be sure to check their website for individual program requirements.

Making a Decision

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