Programs and credentials offered by degree-granting institutions
Ontario universities offer a full range of undergraduate and graduate programs in a wide variety of educational settings. The University of Toronto, with a total enrolment of more than 50,000 students, 129 academic departments, and 75 doctoral programs, is the largest English-language university in Canada and a major centre for research and graduate studies. The University of Ottawa is North America's oldest and largest bilingual university, offering a wide range of programs in both English and French.
Students can choose to study at large urban universities or smaller undergraduate institutions such as Trent or Brock. The intimacy and personal attention that are typically found at smaller universities are also available at most of the province's larger institutions through their federated and affiliated colleges and universities.
The University of Waterloo is a world leader in the field of cooperative education, combining academic studies with on-the-job training. Ryerson University specializes in particular fields, such as applied professional programs.
General undergraduate degrees at most universities in Ontario require three years of full-time study. Honours degrees, involving a higher level of concentration in the honours discipline and a higher level of academic performance, generally require four years of full-time study. Most universities also offer diploma and certificate programs in various specialized fields. These can vary in length from two to three years, depending on the program and the institution. The Ontario Government has been working to ensure that postsecondary programs are more responsive to the needs of local communities. This includes establishing a new standard for a four-year baccalaureate degree in nursing, to improve quality of health care available in Ontario. University calendars are the best sources of information about specific program requirements.
Most universities offer part-time and distance-education programs, often through community cable television and other telecommunications media. In 1986, the government established Contact North/Contact Nord, a distance-education network that delivers university, college, and secondary-school courses to some 100 communities across northern Ontario. Network sites are equipped with computers, audio and video conferencing equipment, and other telecommunications technologies. In 2007, elearnnetwork.ca was established to provide residents in eastern and southern Ontario with increased and direct access to learning and training opportunities. The Node Web site contains a database of all distance-education opportunities at Ontario universities, and is a valuable resource for those interested in university-level distance learning. Courses listed are offered through traditional distance-education delivery methods such as print correspondence, and also through technology-mediated learning methods, such as the Internet.
In addition to the publicly supported universities, 17 privately funded institutions in Ontario — all with religious affiliations — have restricted degree-granting authority through an Act of the Ontario legislature. A number of other private and out-of-province public institutions have been granted authority by the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities to offer specified degree programs in Ontario. Information about the degree-granting status of any institution in Ontario is available through the Postsecondary Accountability Branch of the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. Visit PEQAB Web site for more information.
In Ontario, public colleges of applied arts and technology have also received authority from the ministry to offer baccalaureate programs in applied areas of study. A complete list of these programs can be found at on PEQAB Web site.
Programs and credentials offered by non-degree-granting institutions
Together, Ontario's 24 public colleges of applied arts and technology, with more than 100 campuses across the province, offer some 700 programs in business, social services, health sciences, applied technology, applied arts, communications, and a host of other fields. Most college programs are career-oriented and are intended to prepare students for employment in their desired fields. Many programs have been created to meet the needs expressed by employers for people trained in specific employment skills, and have been developed with the active involvement of local experts.
Most college programs fall into two categories: diploma programs that vary from two to three years in duration and certificate programs that generally require one year of full-time study or less. College programs include not only traditional postsecondary programs but also post-basic programs, college preparatory programs, and adult-training programs funded by the provincial government.
In addition to this broad range of programs, colleges offer extensive and varied career development, personal development, and special-interest courses during the day and in the evening. Custom-tailored courses and programs, designed to meet the training needs of particular businesses and industries, are available in many fields on a contract basis. Colleges also provide the classroom training portion of apprenticeship training.
Recent initiatives in distance education and alternative delivery strategies are also widening the choices available to students in accessing postsecondary educational services. Colleges are actively involved with Contact North and elearnnetwork.ca in the delivery of college programming to over 110 northern communities. The French-language colleges rely heavily on distance-education modes of delivery in their operations and, in cooperation with bilingual universities, have formed the Franco-Ontarian Distance Education Network. Other innovations in delivery modes include videoconferencing and computer-mediated instruction.
A system of prior learning assessment (PLA) has been implemented in all Ontario colleges. PLA allows for the evaluation of past learning against established academic standards so that college credits can be awarded.
The province's three agricultural colleges and one school of horticulture offer two- and three-year diploma and certificate programs leading to careers in areas such as field-crop and livestock production, agribusiness management, food and nutrition management, and horticulture.
Hospital-based programs include diploma programs in areas such as medical-laboratory technology and radiotherapy. Most of these programs require 24 to 32 months of study. The Michener Institute for Applied Health Sciences offers three-year diploma programs in areas such as nuclear-medicine technology and respiratory therapy.
For over 100 years, private career colleges (PCCs) have had an important role in preparing Ontario students for entry into occupations. About 570 PCCs across Ontario offer approximately 3,000 registered programs to approximately 36,000 students in 70 communities. PCCs must be registered and have their programs approved by the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities under the Private Career Colleges Act, 2005. This Act ensures that private career colleges meet certain standards for the programs they offer and for their advertising, refund policies, and instructor qualifications.
PCCs are independent organizations that offer certificate and diploma programs in fields such as business, health services, human services, applied arts, information technology, electronics, services, and trades. Some PCCs operate as for-profit businesses; others operate as not-for-profit institutions. Registered PCCs range in size from small ones offering one program to large multi-campus organizations with on-site student-support services.
Registered PCCs and approved programs can be found using the on-line search tool. It is important to note that students enrolled in an unregistered college or an unapproved program are not covered by the protections provided by the government under the Private Career Colleges Act, 2005.