Guide to high school education in Canada for international students

If you are considering sending your children to study high school in Canada, make sure you are making the right decision for their future! Without a doubt, Canada is the perfect destination for your kids to study abroad. They can grow up in a secure and supportive environment, receiving a high-quality education that will ensure their academic and professional success.

High schools in Canada (private or public ones) prepare international students for higher education in Canada or any other country around the world.

Canada is ranked second in the world with more than 92% of the population with a high school education. As the highly qualified teachers and modern curriculums made the Canadian youth among the best educated in the world. 

Through this full guide, you can find everything you are looking for about the high school education system in Canada including cost, requirements, and scholarships. 

Introduction to the high school education system in Canada

The education system in Canada is a priority for the Canadian government. Therefore, efforts had been made to make it one of the greatest education systems in the world. 

The public education system in Canada is controlled by the provincial governments. This explains the differences between Canadian provinces, in terms of programs offered, and minimum and maximum age requirements.

All Canadian provinces offer classes from Kindergarten to the 12th grade (5-18 years old). Education in Canada is compulsory to the age of 16, except for Ontario and New Brunswick, where the mandatory age is 18. 

The Canadian education system has both British and American influence, especially in the school calendar and academic system. The school academic year in Canada consists of 190 school days, and the school year usually begins in September (after Labor Day) and ends near the end of June.

In most Canadian provinces, secondary education continues until 12th grade (age 17-18 years old), except for Quebec, where secondary education ends in grade 11 (ages 16-17). 

Check: 10 Important facts about boarding schools in United States

Structure of the Education System in Canada

Structure of Education System in Canada

The Canadian education system consists of 4 general levels:

  1. Pre-Elementary Education: educational programs offered to young children (4-5 years).
  2. Elementary Education: usually beginning at age 6  to 12 years old.
  3. Secondary education: which begins at the age of 12 and continues until the age of 17 or 18 years.
  4. Post-secondary education: studying in colleges and universities starting from the age of 17 or 18 years.

Note that Canadian secondary education is generally divided into two main stages: intermediate or junior high school; and high school.

Intermediate education in Canada

It takes two years to complete the intermediate level in Canada. This includes studying both seventh and eighth grades. 

The intermediate education level in Canada aims to prepare students for high school levels successfully. 

Subjects taught at the junior high school level are usually comparable to but more difficult than those taught at the primary school level. However, the curriculum includes additional materials such as foreign languages, like French or Spanish.

Check: 5 Reasons why to Choose boarding schools for girls in the US?

High School Education in Canada

After completing intermediate school (eighth grade), Canadian or international students can begin high school education in Canada, which consists of four levels of study:

  • Grade 9 (ages 14–15).
  • Grade 10 (ages 15–16).
  • and Grade 11 (ages 16–17).
  • Grade 12 (ages 17–18).

Curriculums in all Canadian high schools are designed to prepare students for university academic life or a vocational or community college. Furthermore, it equips them with all the necessary skills to succeed professionally once they graduate.

The high school education system in Canada includes compulsory core subjects, like English or French or both languages.

In addition, the curriculum might include mathematics, general sciences, health, sports, social studies, or social sciences (which may include Canadian history, geography, world history, and social problems), plus optional subjects.

Optional subjects in the Canadian high school system begin in the 9th grade to 12th grade. These optional subjects usually form around half of the studied subjects.

High school students begin receiving career guidance counseling throughout their study years to college. These consultations help them to plan their career path and choose subjects related to the fields they choose to pursue later.

For Instance, those who plan to attend college or university are often advised to focus on certain subjects such as biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, English, or French literature. Those wishing to attend community colleges or vocational institutions, on the other hand, should concentrate on other subjects.

Check: Top Reasons Why You Should Choose Studying in Canada

Applying to schools in Canada as an international student

المنهاج التعليمي في المدارس الثانوية في كندا

Between all high schools that the 10 Canadian provinces have, every school has different rules on how to apply. Also, as we mentioned before, each Canadian province and territory is in charge of its own education system.

The first step to applying for high schools in Canada is to choose the school that suits your child’s needs and qualifications. Then, getting your child’s academic credentials and qualifications assessed is an important step.

But no worries about the assessment steps, as the new school in Canada, will assess your child’s report card from your home country to place them in the correct grade of the Canadian system.

However, it’s very recommended to apply 6 months in advance, if you want your child to study at a Canadian high school. We will also help them to choose between the best Canadian cities for international students

Types of high schools in Canada

There are two types of high schools in Canada:

1. Canadian Public High School

Public high schools in Canada are funded at the local level. Where each province provides its own curriculum. 

International students can apply to study at all Canadian public high schools. They can choose either English or French or both as a study language. Canadian public high schools are free to Canadian students, however, international students have to pay tuition fees. 

Check: St. Croix Academy boarding school offer $15,000 scholarship

2. Canadian Private High School

Canadian and international students have to pay tuition fees for Canadian private high schools. These schools offer the same high-quality education as public schools. In addition, they follow the same curriculum as public high schools in the same Canadian province or territory. 

Private high schools in Canada usually have shorter-term durations than public high schools. Also, students can take advantage of the specialized programming.

Canadian private high schools include boarding schools (with on-site accommodations), alternative schools, IB (international baccalaureate) programs, specialized sports programs, or schools for students with learning difficulties.

As an international student, it is way easier to be admitted to a private high school in Canada. As there are more spots for international students compared with public high schools which are usually more competitive. 

Top reasons to choose Canadian high schools for international students

Top reasons to choose Canadian high schools for international students

If you still have doubts about why choosing a Canadian high school, the following reasons will definitely change your mind! 

  • The land of education: Canada has the world’s second-highest high school education completion rate. Besides that, Canadian youth are among the most educated in the world. 
  • High qualified teaching staff: In Canada, no high school teacher is accepted unless they at least have a bachelor’s degree and one year of teaching experience.
  • High-quality education: By completing high school in Canada, students will be able to enroll directly in any Canadian university or even in any university around the world. In addition, students will be able to take advantage of all opportunities and ensure a successful career path in Canada. 
  • Advanced educational curriculum: In order to keep up with the demands of technology and the contemporary era, the educational curriculum in Canadian high schools is updated on a yearly basis.
  • Affordable tuition fees: Canada is the most affordable destination for international students to study in among all English-speaking countries.
  • Diverse environment: Canada is one of the most ethnically and socially diverse countries in the world. Therefore, it provides the best welcoming environment for international students.

Check also: Free English courses up to 6 months in the USA

What is the language of instruction in Canadian high schools?

Even though Canada has two official languages, English is the official language of high school education (except for the province of Quebec). 

There are some high schools in Canada that give students the chance to study in both languages (English and French). Generally, students can choose to study either in English, French, or both. 

Canadian high school tuition fees for international students and is it free?

Local citizens in Canada are entitled to free public high school up to the 11th or 12th grade. International students, on the other hand, have to pay for their high school education in Canada.

For international students, the cost of high school education in Canada ranges from 10,000 to 25,000 CAD for one academic year. Some Canadian high schools may charge extra fees for particular activities, such as joining sports teams or school trips. In addition, housing and food are apart, and international students pay yearly around 12,000 CAD for living expenses.

Canadian boarding schools could be the perfect option for most international students. These schools refer to “room and board”, where students can study and live throughout the school year. However, the cost of attending a boarding school in Canada ranges between 30,000 – 50,000 CAD, depending on the school and location. 

See: Types of boarding schools in the United States of America

High school admission requirements in Canada for international students

In order to enroll in a high school in Canada, international students have to meet the following requirements:  

  • Finished certain grades that correspond to grade levels in Canada
  • Provide a proficiency language test in English or French, or enroll in a preparatory year to study English or French in Canada.
  • School results or report cards from their home country.

To secure a spot in a Canadian high school, international students are recommended to apply 6 months in advance. This ensures that students have time to prepare all required documents, and apply for a student visa. Furthermore, international students need to get health insurance for the duration of their study program in Canada.

Golden Gate experts are here to help!

Many parents prefer to fly to Canada or send their children there to finish their high school education. They believe that it will provide them with a superior higher education experience and open to them more successful university and professional career paths. 

We at Golden Gate study abroad agency can assist you if you are considering sending your children to study at a Canadian high school.

All you need to do is to send us a request, and we’ll be in touch with you within 24 hours to answer your questions and begin the application process. You may also schedule a free consultation with us to discuss available options that are best suited for your children.

Fill in the application and one of our advisors will contact you as soon as possible.  

GGSA Educational Consulting Agency