There are 2 types of high school available to Vietnamese students in Canada – state schools and private high schools. There is not a huge difference in price and both offer high quality education. All schools offer the Canadian high school curriculum of their province and some may also offer the International Baccalaureate.

It is worth noting that in Quebec province, French is either required to enter the school or a compulsory subject.

1. State High Schools

  1. Available in every town in every province.
  2. Students live with host families.
  3. Very reasonable prices.
  4. High quality of education.
  5. Good, well-rounded social life for international students.


2. Private High Schools

  1. Have a higher number of international students.
  2. May offer boarding or homestay.
  3. May offer extra English language programmes.
  4. May be more expensive than state schools (depending on their region and  the facilities offered) although often the difference is very small.
  5. May offer smaller classes than in state schools.


A “pathway” is a special programme designed for international students to allow them to prepare for and enter mainstream education. In Canada this is still quite a new concept. There are 2 types of pathway programmes: on-campus pathways, offered within universities, and special degree transfer programmes offered by Colleges.

On-Campus Pathways: These are alternative Year One programmes designed for international students who need to improve their English, Study Skills and also sometimes their academics before joining the mainstream Year 2 at a Canadian 4-year university. They are taught on the campus of that university and students then merge with the regular student population in their second year.

Undergraduate pathways can be joined directly by students who have completed 12 years of schooling in their own country.

A few universities also run their own international pathway courses in parallel with the regular programmes, usually through their English Language Institutes.

Pre-sessional English courses are available for all students who do not yet meet the English requirements of their pathway programme.

The main private on-campus pathway provider in Canada is Navitas (at Simon Fraser University, BC and the University of Manitoba) and Study Group has a program at Royal Roads University, BC.

Degree Transfer Programmes:

All state and private Colleges in Canada offer degree transfer programmes. Students can study 1, 2 or 3 years at a College and then transfer to a 4 year university to complete their degree. Colleges tend to have partner universities in their province, but students can also transfer across provinces.

Some Colleges offer their own 4 year degrees, and for subjects such as Hospitality they can also arrange work placements for students.

Colleges offer excellent conditions for Vietnamese students to get the credits they need for even the top 4- year universities, and fees are much lower than university fees.

Quebec Province is an exception - the high school and college systems in Quebec are different to the rest of Canada and follow the French model. Students graduate from high school at the age of 17 and attend 2 years at a CEGEP College before entering a 4 year university degree. Although there may be exceptions, it is much more complicated to transfer into or from Quebec province and each case needs to be considered on its own merits. Quebec province also requires all students to have attained a basic level in French before entering its education system.

Masters Pathways

Some University Language Institutes, Colleges  and private pathway providers also offer a Pre-Masters preparation programme (usually in Business/Management) consisting of English language and Business modules. Students usually need to have completed a first degree in their own country before applying.


Canada has a uniformly excellent quality of higher education which is recognized and respected around the world. Although there are minor differences between the education systems in each province, universities recognize the high school qualifications of other provinces and Canadian students can attend Higher Education in any part of the country.

The only province which has a completely different system is Quebec, which has both French and English as official languages and has a different public school system (11 years of high school, 2 years of CEGEP College, then 3 years of university). Private institutions may follow the system more common in other provinces. International students wishing to study in Quebec must have a certain basic level of French before applying to a public institution  (even if their course is in English).

Canada is a multi-racial, multi-cultural country that provides a safe and welcoming environment for international students. Those wishing to study higher education in Canada may choose from the following:

1. State Colleges- these offer 1, 2 or 3 year degree transfer programmes and/or full 4 year Bachelors degrees in a wide range of subjects. It is possible to transfer to any Canadian university from any College. College tuition fees are much cheaper than university fees and offer students a high quality education with strong support for English language and study skills before they transfer to a university. Canadian colleges also have programmes with opportunities for work experience (either as an optional “Co-op”, or built into the program).

2. Private Colleges: these offer similar programmes to state colleges but may be more specialized around certain subjects.

3. State universities -these are divided into the following groups:

  1. Medical Doctoral – this category includes some of the largest schools in the country, namely those that have Medical Schools and conduct a significant amount of research and offer a wide range of undergraduate and graduate degrees.
  2. Comprehensive – these are smaller universities that conduct a significant degree of research and offer a wide range of undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees.
  3. Primarily undergraduate- are generally smaller in size and offer fewer graduate programmes

There are around 80 public universities in Canada and 13 private ones.  There is no official ranking system for universities in Canada, although the weekly magazine, Macleans, has its own league tables.

Vietnamese students can enter 4 year universities directly from Vietnam, although many prefer to take a degree transfer course at a College first. Colleges also allow students to improve their English while they follow their main program in some cases.

Students who wish to enter a 4 year university directly but don’t meet the entrance requirements may choose from one of the pathway routes now available at a few universities.


All Colleges and Universities have their own English language centres to help international students meet the entrance requirements for their courses and to support their studies. These programmes can be applied for together with the main course and entrance to the main course is guaranteed once the student passes the English programme and achieves the required score.


In addition to these, there are many different, private language centres in Canada  which provide a wide range of courses for different needs:


1. Short summer language and activity courses for children, teens and adults
2. Short language courses for working people (eg Business English)
3. Examination preparation courses (for example TOEFL, IELTS etc)
4. English Language Teacher Training courses (eg CELTA, DELTA)
5. Pre-sessional English courses with university placement (for students who have not yet decided on their main course of study)


Vietnamese students and working people can attend summer courses during their annual vacation time, and they can take their pre-sessional English courses with university placement at recognized language schools in Canada which have partnerships with local universities. However, it is difficult, if not impossible, to obtain a Canadian student visa just to study English, especially for a single person with no other study plan.


Generally, for all except summer or short business courses, students should have a clear study plan for the period after they complete their English course and should get an offer letter for their next course or proof that the language school will guarantee a university placement for them in order to get a visa. Most Canadian language schools have a range of partnerships to help students move forward to the next stage of their study plan, offering  university placements or pathway programmes with articulation to universities. 

Scroll To Top