Postsecondary Education in Newfoundland and Labrador

ToC / TdM Provincial overview

The public postsecondary education system in Newfoundland and Labrador consists of Memorial University of Newfoundland and College of the North Atlantic. Memorial University includes the main campus and the Marine Institute, both in St. John's; Sir Wilfred Grenfell College in Corner Brook; the Labrador Institute in Happy Valley-Goose Bay; a residential campus in Harlow, England; and the Institut Frecker on the neighbouring French island of St. Pierre.

Memorial University (2009) enrolls 17,604 undergraduate and graduate students and conducts award-winning research in oceans, health, natural resources, energy and the environment, culture and heritage, and other areas. Consequently, Memorial has outpaced the other top 50 Canadian research universities in research funding growth, with an increase of 117% over the five years from 2002-07. Memorial's external research support totaled over $90 million in 2008-09.

The continued growth of Memorial University's graduate program enhances its research and development capacity and that of the province. The number of graduate students enrolled at Memorial University has grown from 1,608 in 1999 to 2,673 in 2009, a 66% increase. To support this growth, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador allocated an additional $1 million for Graduate School Fellowships in 2009 and an additional $2 million in 2010. Some examples of graduate research and activities include: a multimillion dollar project to develop a new drill-bit design to improve oil and gas industry productivity; the first paper in the field of obesity research to discuss using weight gain instead of weight loss in genetic research; and the first research program in North America with a focus on “green” process engineering.

College of the North Atlantic is the province's public college, enrolling 6,745 in 2009. It is one of the largest non-university postsecondary educational and skills-training institutions in Atlantic Canada. It operates 17 campuses across the province and a campus in the Middle East State of Qatar.

College of the North Atlantic also contributes to the research and development activities of the province. Current projects include: wave-powered pumping of seawater for onshore use and electrical generation in Burin; development of wireless technology at Seal Cove for oil and gas industry applications; geospatial research in Corner Brook for assessment of provincial terrestrial resources; a manufacturing technology centre to help the province's manufacturers access applied research and advanced technological capabilities; and an agricultural training and research centre to support the province's agriculture industry.

The Council on Higher Education promotes collaboration in this public postsecondary education system by providing recommendations to Memorial University, College of the North Atlantic and the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills on shared program areas. The Council also compiles an annual transfer guide that includes transfer of credit arrangements for courses and programs within the provincial postsecondary system.

The Council was originally established in 1992. In 2005, the province released Foundations for Success: White Paper on Public Post-Secondary Education. This policy document was commissioned as part of government's continued commitment to provide affordable and accessible postsecondary education opportunities. In light of the recommendations put forth in the White Paper, a reconfigured council was recognized in legislation through the Council on Higher Education Act which was proclaimed January 26, 2007.

Private training institutions (PTIs) have operated in the province for more than 35 years. Today, 25 institutions offer a wide variety of employment-oriented training programs on a user-pay and sponsored basis. Over 3,000 students were enrolled at PTIs in 2009 in a variety of programs such as apprenticeship training (including industrial trades), business, health sciences and information technology.

ToC / TdM History

Memorial University was founded in 1925 (as Memorial University College), and achieved degree-granting status in 1949, the year the province entered Confederation. The university grew rapidly during the 1970s. Program offerings expanded, especially in the areas of ocean and marine sciences, and another campus -- Sir Wilfred Grenfell College -- was opened in Corner Brook in 1975.

The Marine Institute was founded in 1964 as the College of Fisheries, Navigation, Marine Engineering, and Electronics. It became part of Memorial University in 1992, and today offers diploma, certificate and degree programs in areas such as aquaculture, fishing technology, marine engineering, ocean technology and maritime studies.

Today, Memorial University's six faculties and nine schools offer a wide variety of degree programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

The province's vocational school system was established in 1963 with nine schools located throughout the province. Six more schools were added to the system in 1972. The schools provided pre-employment training in the traditional trades, as well as academic upgrading.

In 1985, the vocational school system was reorganized into a provincial public college system that included three institutes and five colleges with a total of 22 campuses across the province. In 1992, this system was merged into five regional colleges with similar mandates. In 1996, a further refinement of the system resulted in College of the North Atlantic. College of the North Atlantic offers programs in Applied Arts, Business Studies, Health Studies, Engineering Technology, Industrial Trades, Tourism and Natural Resources and Information Technology.

ToC / TdM Programs and credentials offered

Programs and credentials offered by degree-granting institutions

Memorial University of Newfoundland offers a full range of programs leading to degrees at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels. Memorial's campus in Corner Brook, Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, offers bachelor's degree programs in arts, science, fine arts, business administration, education and provides support services to the Western Regional School of Nursing.

Most bachelor's degrees require four years of full-time study. Other undergraduate degrees (in social work, education, or engineering, for example) require five years of full-time study. Honours degrees generally require a higher level of concentration in the honours subject, as well as a higher level of academic performance, and are often prerequisites for study at the master's level.

Memorial University is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its distance education and learning technology initiatives. Distance education programs allow Memorial University to reach potential students nationally, internationally, and throughout the province, including those living in rural and remote communities. A variety of credit and non-credit courses are available on-line including more than 350 credit courses to complete degree programs from 10 faculties and schools. In 2007, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador committed $1.5 million for distance education. To date, this commitment has allowed the development of 62 new courses, with further courses in development. Since 2007, Memorial University has also developed an additional 61 courses using existing university resources.

Memorial University has also partnered with College of the North Atlantic, the Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation and Desire2Learn and implemented a new learning management system for use in distance education and on-campus courses at both institutions. This partnership has been recognized by the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education with the 2010 national Award for Excellence and Innovation in Partnership and Collaboration. This award recognizes initiatives that contribute to supporting open and distance education within the primary, secondary and postsecondary sectors.

As part of Memorial University, the Marine Institute provides training in areas of fisheries and oceans, and marine technology. Degree programs include a bachelor of maritime studies, bachelor of technology, a master of marine studies (fisheries resource management), master of technology management and master of maritime management. These programs cater to students seeking careers in the marine transportation and aquaculture industries respectively.

The Marine Institute also offers one-year advanced diploma programs, three-year diploma of technology programs, two-year technical diploma programs and one-year or less technical and vocational certificate programs. It also offers shorter programs, such as industrial response and professional development training programs, on a regular basis.

Programs and credentials offered by non-degree granting institutions

College of the North Atlantic delivers educational services throughout the province and offers over 100 full-time diploma and certificate programs in Academics and Applied Arts, Business and Information Technology, Engineering Technology, Health Sciences, Industrial Education/Trades and Tourism and Natural Resources. College of the North Atlantic also offers a full range of more than 300 part-time courses and apprenticeship training.

  • Two- and three-year programs leading to a diploma;
  • Full-time occupational courses leading to a certificate;
  • Adult Basic Education and academic upgrading programs;
  • Career enhancement and personal development programs;
  • Courses conducted in formal institutional settings, and courses delivered in communities to meet local needs;
  • Various skills training programs funded through the federal Department of Human Resources and Skills Development (HRSDC); the administration of this funding devolved to the province in 2009.
  • Applied research and technology transfer;
  • Courses conducted in partnership with other publicly funded institutions, community agencies, and the private sector;
  • Special interest, hobby, and craft courses offered in the evenings, part-time, or in workshops.

College of the North Atlantic's Distributed Learning Service serves remote learners throughout the province, across Canada and internationally. Distributed Learning course offerings and enrolment grew by approximately 9% in 2009, with over 300 courses and 4,714 course enrolments. Distributed Learning continues to support student enrolment from nearly 400 Newfoundland and Labrador communities, every Canadian province and territory, and international locations including Qatar.

There are 25 private training institutions (PTIs) offering postsecondary education in the province, the majority of which are located on the Avalon Peninsula. Currently, PTIs offer a wide variety of programs, approved by the Department of Advanced Education and Skills, both on a user-pay and sponsored basis in information technology, health sciences, business and apprenticeship training (including industrial trades). PTIs are governed by the Private Training Institutions Act and Regulations. PTIs may also have credit transfer agreements with other institutions (e.g., colleges and universities) outside the province.

Apprenticeship programs are offered through PTIs and College of the North Atlantic. Apprenticeship training in Newfoundland and Labrador is composed of a combination of Red Seal and provincially designated trades. Most apprenticeship training programs involve entry-level training, followed by on-the-job training interspaced with additional classroom training. Most programs are four years in duration. Apprenticeable trades training (including certification) offered in Newfoundland and Labrador includes:

  • Automotive Service Technician
  • Blaster (provincial designation only)
  • Boilermaker
  • Boom Truck Operator (provincial designation only)
  • Bricklayer
  • Cabinetmaker
  • Carpenter
  • Concrete Finisher
  • Construction Electrician
  • Cook
  • Hairstylist
  • Heavy Duty Equipment Technician
  • Heavy Equipment Operator (provincial designation only)
  • Industrial Electrician
  • Industrial Mechanic (Millwright)
  • Instrumentation and Control Technician
  • Insulator (Heat and Frost)
  • Ironworker (Generalist)
  • Lather (Interior Systems Mechanic)
  • Machinist
  • Metal Fabricator (Fitter)
  • Mobile Crane Operator
  • Motor Vehicle Body Repairer (Metal and Paint)
  • Oil Heat System Technician
  • Painter and Decorator
  • Plumber
  • Powerline Technician (operating)
  • Powerline Technician (construction) (provincial designation only)
  • Power Systems Operator (provincial designation only)
  • Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanic
  • Residential Electrician (provincial designation only)
  • Roofer
  • Sheet Metal Worker
  • Small Equipment Repair Technician (provincial designation only)
  • Sprinkler System Installer
  • Steamfitter/Pipefitter
  • Stonemason (provincial designation only)
  • Truck and Transport Mechanic
  • Welder

For further information, visit

Not all programs are offered at all College of the North Atlantic campuses or PTIs. Students are advised to contact College of the North Atlantic or PTI for further information.

ToC / TdM Admission Requirements

Newfoundland and Labrador's secondary school curriculum includes three years of intermediate school and three years of senior high school -- levels 1 through 3 -- leading to a provincial high school diploma.

For admission into undergraduate programs, Memorial University requires provincial students to complete the high school graduation requirements set by the Department of Advanced Education and Skills and to obtain two credits in English, academic or advanced mathematics, laboratory science, social science/modern or classical language, and electives, with an overall average of 70 percent or above in courses at the 3000 level. Mature applicants over the age of 21, who have not fulfilled these requirements, may be admitted to the university with the approval of the university's committee on admissions. Different requirements exist for lifelong learning and graduate programs. Applicants are advised to contact the Registrar's Office, Memorial University, for further information (

Admission requirements to the Marine Institute vary from program to program. Diploma programs generally require high school graduation with a minimum average of 60 percent in level three mathematics, language, and science. Certificate programs require high school graduation or the equivalent. Advanced diploma programs require successful completion of a three-year diploma program or a university degree. Applicants who do not meet the regular requirements, but who are at least 21 years of age, may be admitted as mature students. Applicants are advised to contact the Marine Institute for further information ( or Marine Institute degree programs are governed by Memorial University regulations. Applicants are advised to contact Memorial's Registrar's Office for further information (

It is the policy of College of the North Atlantic to maintain an ‘open admission policy'. Students are admitted into a program on a first-come first-serve basis as assessed by the date of receipt of their application and on the proviso that the candidate student meets the minimum qualifications prescribed. Admission requirements to the College varies from program to program. Certificate programs usually require high school graduation or the equivalent. Diploma programs usually require high school graduation or the equivalent, and an overall average of at least 60 percent on specific level three courses. Applicants who do not meet these requirements, but who are at least 19 years old, can apply in writing for admission as mature students. Applicants are advised to contact the College for further information ( or 1-888-982-2268 (North America only)).

PTIs offer a variety of programs with varying admissions requirements. Applicants are advised to contact the appropriate PTI for further information on their admissions requirements.

ToC / TdM Tuition and financial assistance

Between 2001-02 and 2003-04, Newfoundland and Labrador was the only province to reduce university tuition fees. Since that time a tuition freeze has been in place. Tuition at Memorial University is the lowest in Atlantic Canada and, with the exception of the rate in Quebec for Quebec residents only, the lowest of any province.

For 2010-11, full-time undergraduate tuition fees at Memorial University are $2,550 for 30 credit-hours. International students are required to pay $8,800 for 30 credit-hours.

At the Marine Institute, fees for technician and diploma of technology courses are $173 per course; maximum $690 per term. International students are charged $865 per course; maximum $3,450 per term. For advanced diploma programs, tuition is $345 per course; maximum $1,380 per term. International students are charged $1,730 per course to a maximum of $6,900 per term.

At College of the North Atlantic, fees have been set at $1,452/year since 1998/99. The same fees applied to sponsored refugees, but tuition for most international students is set on a cost-recovery basis.

PTIs in Newfoundland and Labrador are responsible for setting their own tuition fees. Tuition rates at PTIs vary by institution and program and applicants are advised to contact individual PTIs for information on tuition and scholarship opportunities.

The provincial government operates a student financial assistance program for provincial residents to supplement the Canada Student Loans Program. Highlights of Newfoundland and Labrador's student financial assistance include an up-front, needs-based grant, the Debt Reduction Grant and the elimination of interest on the provincial component of student loans. A number of scholarships and bursaries are also available to provincial residents through Memorial University, College of the North Atlantic and various private institutions. Applicants should contact Memorial University's scholarships and awards office at (709) 737-3956 or email for information. For more information on College of the North Atlantic's scholarships and awards, applicants visit or call 1-888-982-2268 (North America only).


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