Canada - Country Commercial Guide
Education and Training

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2020-03-06

Capital:     Ottawa
Population:      37,694,085 (July 2020 est.)
GDP: 1.774 Trillion USD (2017 est., Purchasing Power Parity)        
Currency:     Canadian Dollars (CAD)
Language:     English, French (official)

UNESCO Student Mobility Number:
Canada has 49,386 students studying abroad according to UNESCO.

CIA World Factbook:
27.13% of the Canadian population is under 24 years old.


In Canada, education falls separately under the responsibility of the country’s ten provinces and three territories.  Each province and territory is controlled by a department or Ministry of Education and led by a Minister of Education.  The education ministers are responsible for planning, finance, curriculum development, and assessment of knowledge, as well as serve on the Council of Minister of Education Canada (CMEC.)  CMEC is an intergovernmental body of ministers of education established to do the following: discuss policy issues, undertake activities, projects, initiatives in areas of mutual interest, consult and cooperate with national education organizations as well as the federal government, and represent the education interests of the provinces and territories internationally.

Post-secondary education is funded through a combination of public sources including funds allocated by the provincial governments, educational institutions, and other sources like corporate donations, increased tuition, or specialized fee programs.  A large portion of university funding also derives from the enrollment of international students in Canada.

There are several options to obtain a post-secondary education in Canada originating from universities, colleges, polytechnics, CEGEP (a mandatory one-year program in Quebec before students enroll in post-secondary education), apprenticeships, and some large private vocational institutions. Schools operating in Canada must be registered and need to follow strict curriculum and graduation requirements.  Few U.S. institutions operate in Canada however those that do include the New York Institute of Technology and Farleigh Dickinson University operating campuses out of Vancouver, and Northeastern University operating in Toronto.  

As of 2019, Canada contributed US$1.15 billion to the U.S. economy, and ranked fifth as the largest source of international students attending higher education institutions in the United States at 26,122; a modest increase of 0.8 percent from 25,909 for the year 2017/18.  Comparatively, the number of U.S. students enrolled in Canadian post-secondary institutions reached 8,799 for the same period. 


Higher Education

Higher education remains a competitive service export sector in the bilateral trade relationship with 26,122 Canadian students having attended U.S. schools in the 2018-19 academic year according to EducationUSA.

In the 2018/19 school year, 12,470 students from Canada were enrolled in undergraduate courses, 0.09 percent less than in 2017/18. During the 2017/18 school year, Business Management represented the most popular field of study for Canadian students, followed by other fields of study (15.7%,) health professions (14.7%,) and social sciences (11.0%).

The percentage of graduate students attending U.S. institutions in 2018/2019 declined by 0.5 percent when compared to 2017/2018.

Approximately 2.3 percent of Canadian students in the U.S. attended non-degree programs (also known as “short term programs” or “non-credit programs”) during 2018/2019, representing a 0.3 percent decrease compared to the previous year.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)
The number of Canadian students pursuing OPT options in the United States increased by 11.4 percent in the 2018/2019 school year, indicating that receiving OPT education has become an increasingly popular option amongst Canadians.


The Canadian government places a big importance on international education opportunities for Canadian students. Canada has launched a five-year International Education Strategy (IES) that encourages Canadian students to study and work abroad, especially in key global markets. This program, ending in 2024, has an allocated budget of US$111.96 million for outbound student mobility, followed by US$6 million per year of ongoing funding. The long-term goal of the IES is to have more Canadians participating in the global market, acquiring international competencies and integrating into international networks.

U.S. academic institutions can explore exchange programs and partnerships with Canadian educational institutions, some of which can include cross-border tuition agreements, reciprocity programs or in-state tuition for Canadian students.  Athletic scholarships are very popular options that attract Canadian students to the United States.

Opportunities for U.S. universities and colleges could also be explored in Canada’s Arctic and the North, as governments in these regions have set priorities in 2019 for new investments and approaches to offer higher education indigenous curriculum, community-developed courses for Indigenous and non-Indigenous northern students through the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning, and Inuit-led post-secondary programs. 


Canada Bureau for International Education Exhibition
Winnipeg, Manitoba, November 17 - 20, 2019

Edmonton Career Fair & Training Expov
Edmonton, Alberta, November 19, 2020

Options Career Fair
Kingston, Ontario, January 7, 2020

Recruit in Canada
Montreal, Quebec, February 29
Toronto, Ontario, March 1, 2020


•    Industry and Analysis, Office of Supply Chain, Professional & Business Services:
•    UNESCO student Mobility number:
•    CIA World Factbook: 
•    Universities Canada:
•    Council of Ministers of Education: 
•    Fulbright Canada:
•    EducationUSA Canada 
•    Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials (CICIC): 


Luz Betancur, Commercial Specialist 
U.S. Commercial Service – Ottawa, Canada
+613 688 5411