Ultimate Survival Guide for New Immigrants to Canada

June 22, 2022

University vs Colleges in Canada

If you have been looking up, you might have noticed already that there are very few universities compared to colleges, and that is because they have massive functional differences. Unlike in India or other South Asian countries, we use university and college interchangeably. Today, we will touch on some crucial topics from both academic and immigration perspectives.

There are about 30 major universities. Out of these 30, we can narrow it down to the big ones. They are about 15-20. There is a group of top 15 research-centric universities. It is called the U-15 group. The University of Manitoba is one of them. So, if you want to get into good universities, these should be your target for bachelor's, Master's, or Ph.D.  

So, now you know the difference, I guess. Universities primarily grant degrees and sometimes diplomas. Whereas colleges grant diplomas and certificates and rarely grant undergraduate degrees. I have not yet seen any college granting a master's degree. Academics is a vast topic, and one needs to be aware of everything before deciding. So, I'll put everything that I know out.

Which is better?

It varies on your long-term goals. If you want to acquire new knowledge and pursue education further, then universities are better. You get there, get an undergrad degree, get a master's, and then a Ph.D. The academic paths are pretty much very straightforward.

If you already have a bachelor's degree and want to pursue a master's degree, choose the one with a thesis. It would enable you to pursue a Ph.D. in the future. A course-based master's degree will bring an end to your Ph.D. prospects. You will most likely get some funding for a research-based masters or a Ph.D. It is something that is not an option in postgraduate diplomas.

Infrastructure and Facilities

The government funds most universities. Therefore, the infrastructure and facilities are undoubtedly superior. To give a perspective, a college could operate in a 2-3 story building, whereas universities have tens of buildings with numerous research labs. Universities also receive millions of dollars in research grants. These funds are transferred to the students as fellowships, bursaries, and research grants. Additionally, they offer numerous recreational facilities and have larger libraries.


Both undergraduate degrees and diplomas cost about the same, roughly somewhere around 20,000 CAD a year. The annual price doesn't vary much, but one thing to consider is that diplomas usually take two years, whereas degrees take anywhere between 3-4. Postgraduate diplomas and course-based Master's can cost around 10,000-20,000 CAD a year. Things are in a grey zone with research-based students. Some get fully funded, and some may be able to earn a lot of money while they study. I know a few who managed to make about 50-60k CAD.  

The Master's fee is ~14k CAD at the University of Manitoba, which drops significantly with scholarships. Additionally, UofM charges only continuation fees from the second year. So, roughly the fees from the second year are 3,000CAD. A Master's fee doesn't depend on the number of courses in this university.

Global Ranking

Never consider colleges if you want the tag of a top academic institute. All the U-15 universities fall among the top 1000 best universities in THE and QS rankings. Colleges cannot fulfill the criteria of these rankings, so getting a rank is out of the question. Rankings don't matter as much for masters and Ph.D. students. I have seen numerous students ditching top-ranked universities for a better research project and a good supervisor in medium-ranked universities. The medium also ranks somewhere around the top 500.

Immigration policy

Although immigration policy varies a lot in each province. The best thing is to look it up on their website. But the general rule is –

1-year course – 1-year work permit

2-year course – 3-year work permit.  

In some provinces like Manitoba, you can start your PR application process immediately or after six months of working here if you have done your students in Manitoba. As far as I know, PR applications usually don't care as much whether you have a degree or a diploma. So, it should not matter if your prime focus is only on immigration.

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