Best 10 Public Colleges and Universities in Canada [2024]

There is a good reason people consider government colleges in Canada. The importance the country places on education is seen in the sheer number of publicly funded government colleges that exist across the nation. These colleges provide diplomas and other associate programs. Most government colleges in Canada also have tie-ups with universities and also offer conventional degree programs. As opposed to a private higher educational setup, these colleges are accountable and answerable to their respective provincial governments. They are also equally accessible to international students.

Is education free at government colleges in Canada?

There is this misconception that public universities or government colleges are tuition-free. While this might be the case in some Scandinavian countries or in parts of Germany, it is not the case in Canada. However, the tuition fee is comparatively lower when compared to some of the private institutions. The chances of getting a scholarship that cuts down your tuition fee are quite high in a government college.

If it is not free, what is the cost of living and studying in Canada? Let’s take a look.

What is the cost of studying in public universities in Canada?

Your primary expense is the tuition fee. It can range anywhere between CA $10,000 to CA $35,000 per annum, for most typical courses. Medicine, Veterinary Sciences, Nursing and Masters in Business Administration degrees are typically more expensive than others. The following section has more specific information regarding tuition fees in top-ranking government colleges.

Cost of living:

The next important factor that the student will have to take into consideration will be the accommodation expenses, almost all the universities in Canada offer on-campus accommodation for students, and this will cost cheaper than staying outside in an apartment. On-campus accommodation will range from CA $10,000 to $20,000 per year, including a meal plan, and living in an apartment outside will cost anywhere between CAD 1,000 and CAD 3,000 per month. With the current housing crisis in Canada, the costs of renting a place has increased and there is a shortage of student-friendly accommodation. This has also led to the Canadian government capping the number of international student visas. While this has caused a lot of worry for international students, it should not outright stop you from applying to the top government colleges in Canada.

The living expenses include all the other expenses like books and supplies, communication, groceries, and even social activities. CA $20,000 is what you can approximately budget per year. This number will change depending on the province, city, and lifestyle choices.

What are the scholarship options for public universities in Canada?

Each of the public universities has its own scholarship options and funds that are accessible either at the time of entrance or during the course of study. They have different eligibility criteria and are listed in the following section.

However, the government of Canada, through Global Affairs Canada, participates in some of the major international scholarship programs. Some of their featured scholarships are

  • Canada-ASEAN Scholarships and Educational Exchanges for Development (SEED)
  • Canada-CARICOM Skills Training for the Green Economy Scholarships
  • Canada-China Scholars’ Exchange Program
  • Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships
  • Emerging Leaders in the Americas Program
  • Organization of American States Academic Scholarship Program
  • Study in Canada Scholarships
  • Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships

Disclaimer: This video reflects details and rankings from 2023

What are the best government colleges in Canada?

Typically, a college in Canada awards associate degrees such as diplomas and certifications in preparation for a university. A university, on the other hand, bestows conventional degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. However, this distinction is not so watertight. Many colleges, in association with universities, also offer bachelor’s degree courses. The duration of a diploma is typically 2 years, while a degree takes up to three or four years.

That said, let us look at some of the top government colleges. This is a list of the top ten, but there are others too, not mentioned here, like Fanshawe College.  Then there is also the University of Waterloo, which is a public research university.

S.No College Location
1 Humber College Toronto, Ontario
2 Algonquin College Ottawa, Ontario
3 BCIT Burnaby, British Columbia
4 Centennial College Toronto, Ontario
5 George Brown College Toronto, Ontario
6 New Brunswick Community College Fredericton, Miramichi and Moncton, New Brunswick
7 Sheridan College Mississauga, Oakville, and Brampton, Ontario
8 Seneca College Greater Toronto Area and Peterborough, Ontario
9 Vancouver Community College Vancouver, British Columbia
10 Bow Valley College Calgary, Alberta

1. Humber College

The Humber College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning is what is commonly known as Humber College. Founded in 1967, it has two main campuses: the Humber North campus and the Lakeshore campus.

Source: Humber College


Etobicoke, Toronto

Why is it good to study here?

This college has over 150 programs – bachelor’s degrees, diplomas, certificate courses, postgraduate certificate courses, and apprenticeship programs in over 40 fields of study. Their pathway programs are particularly popular. These programs guide you into a specialized degree with a definitive career path. The skill development opportunities here are practically endless.

Fees and Scholarship options

The annual fees for international students range from 12,000 CAD to 35,000 CAD, depending on the course.

Humber College also has international entrance scholarships (amounting to CA $2,000 per student), Bachelor’s degree Scholarships, Awards for EAP Graduates, and other awards instituted by charitable foundations. You can access the entire list here.


  • Class 12 exams (ICSE/ CBSE or State Board) with a minimum score of 70%.
  • IELTS score of 6.0 or above or a TOEFL score of 90 or above in the iBT.

Courses Offered and Admission Process

Some of the top-ranking courses include

  • B.E/ B.Tech
  • A graduate certificate in Business Administration
  • Arts and Media Design
  • Nursing courses
  • Pharmaceutical Management course
  • Hospitality and Travel courses

As one of the top colleges providing diplomas, Humber usually gets more applications than the seats available. So, you first need to pick your program and see the availability. Then, you submit the completed application form with the necessary transcripts. International applicants may be asked to submit an ICAS or WES evaluation to check eligibility. Depending on the program, you might also be asked to submit a statement of purpose, a portfolio, letters of reference, and so on.

2. Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology

Established in 1967, the Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology is a public college in Ottawa. The medium of instruction is English. The educational institution offers bachelor’s degrees, diplomas, and certificates in a range of disciplines and specialties. It is a member of Polytechnics Canada and provides work-centric post secondary education.

Source: Algonquin College


Ottawa, Ontario

Why is it good to study here?

One of the top colleges in Canada, Algonquin College is one of Canada’s largest colleges. The student-oriented atmosphere and multicultural ethos make for an exceptional learning atmosphere. The college is known for its diverse areas of studies and application-oriented on-campus training. The college offers over 200 bachelor’s degrees, diplomas, postgraduate diplomas, and certificate programs. The Algonquin varsity teams have also made a name for themselves by competing in six sports on the provincial level within the OCAA.

Fees and Scholarship options

For an international student, the fee (tuition + health insurance + student services) ranges from CA $16,000 to CA $30,000.

Here are some of the Algonquin College scholarships for international students

  • Arnold Smith Royal Commonwealth Society Scholarship- Ottawa Chapter
  • David Phillipe Duguay Scholarship for Academic Achievement
  • Gary Neville Memorial Scholarship
  • International Student Scholarship
  • Out of this World Scholarship
  • Paramedic Scholarship of Excellence
  • Revera Living Scholarship


For a certificate or a diploma program:

  • Class 12 certificate with a minimum percentage of 60%.
  • IELTS with a minimum score of 6.0

For a Bachelor’s Degree:

  • Class 12 certificate with a minimum mark overall 65% and min 60% min. in required program subjects
  • Academic IELTS with an overall minimum score of 6.5 (with no single test score below 6.0)

For a Post Graduate Certificate program:

  • Bachelor’s degree with a cumulative GPA (CGPA) of 55% or higher
  • Academic IELTS with an overall minimum score of 6.5 (with no single test score below 6.0)

Courses Offered and Admission Process

There are 155 diploma/ certificate courses, 18 apprenticeship programs, 40 co-op programs, 6 collaborative degree programs, and 6 bachelor’s degree programs. Here’s an A-Z list of all programs offered by Algonquin College.

With a fairly high acceptance rate, Algonquin College has a simple admission process. Once the completed application, along with the application fee of CA $110, is submitted, the college responds within 8 weeks of your status. Once you accept their conditional offer, you can begin your study permit application.

3. British Columbia Institute of Technology

Commonly referred to as BCIT, the British Columbia Institute of Technology is a public polytechnic institute in the province of BC. This technical institute has five campuses in the Metro Vancouver region. It also operates as a vocational school, providing education and training to create skilled workers across disciplines.

Source: Post Secondary BC


Burnaby, British Columbia

Why is it good to study here?

The civil, electrical, and mechanical engineering programs of BCIT are accredited by the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB), making BCIT the first non-university to have accredited engineering degree courses. This community college also provides for the healthcare of its students. The school has access to a 300,000-square-foot state-of-the-art Aerospace Technology Campus, a fully-equipped radio and television studio, and Western Canada’s only Marine Engine Room Simulator.

Fees and Scholarship Options

The average tuition fee for an international student ranges between CA $13,500 and CA $27,000.

The school has entrance awards, scholarships, and bursaries on the basis of merit and financial need. Typically, only full-time students are eligible to apply for the awards. Read more about the BCIT Awards here.


Completed Class XII from any of the recognized boards
SAT English scores (minimum percentage varies with the program).

Courses Offered and Admission Process

BCIT has over 300 programs and 1000 part-time courses. You can access the entire list here.

Once the requirements for the course of your choice are met, you submit your application online with the transcripts. Your international credentials must be evaluated and converted to be processed by the BCIT admissions office. There is also an online assessment testing process that you must go through.

4. Centennial College

Established in 1966, the Centennial College of Applied Arts and Technology is one of the most popular government colleges in Canada. The college has five campuses including Morningside, Progress, Ashtonbee, Story Arts Center, and Downsview.

Source: Centennial College


Toronto, Ontario

Why is it good to study here?

Located in Canada’s economic and technical hubs, Centennial College is deeply immersed in the industry. This keeps their courses up-to-date and relevant to the latest needs of recruiters. This community college is also partnered with the University of Toronto Scarborough to grant degrees in the fields of paramedicine, journalism, new media studies, environmental science and technology, and applied microbiology.

Fees and Scholarship Options

The tuition fee ranges from CA $15,693 to CA $35,000. An undergraduate degree in nursing is one of the more expensive programs at Centennial.

Centennial has dedicated scholarships to international students based on merit. Students who have completed two consecutive semesters are eligible to apply for this.


Ontario Secondary Diploma (OSSD) or Equivalent
A Skill assessment to meet your English and math academic requirements

Courses Offered and Admission Process

Centennial College has full-time, part-time, and online programs across various disciplines. You can access the entire list of programs here.

Once you complete your online application and email your transcripts, you can check the status of your application on the student portal.

5. George Brown College

A fully accredited college of applied arts and technology, George Brown College was chartered by the Government of Ontario in 1966. The college has over 160 full-time programs in art and design, business,computer science, community services, early childhood education, construction and engineering technologies, health sciences, hospitality, and culinary arts, and preparatory studies, as well as specialized programs and services for recent immigrants and international students.

Source: George Brown


Toronto, Ontario

Why is it good to study here?

This college, with its emphasis on career development, provides intense certificate and diploma programs that are a blend of both theory and hands-on experience. The emphasis of this school is on real-world learning and therefore, ensures the interaction of their students with real-world industry professionals. It is also located in the economic hub of the country, providing more opportunities for internships and recruitment.


At the undergraduate level, the tuition fee ranges between 14,000 CAD and 19,000 CAD. it might go up to 24,000 CAD for a postgraduate certificate course.

Follow this link for scholarship options at George Brown.


Admission requirements differ quite significantly, depending on the country of origin as well as the course. However, for an undergraduate-level diploma or certificate program, you must have finished 12th grade with a minimum score of 60%. Your English score must be over 50% in standards 10 and 12. For some of the STEM-based courses, a minimum score of 50% in Maths is required. In addition, an IELTS score of 6 or above or a TOEFL iBT score of 85 or above is needed.

Courses Offered and Admission Process

The following are some of the top courses

  • BHM
  • BBA
  • Fashion Management
  • Computer System Technician
  • Dental Hygiene
  • Interactive Media Design
  • Event planning
  • Business Management
  • Marketing Management

Typically, the college takes about 5-6 weeks to process your application. For a course beginning in September 2025, the application deadline is December 2024. It gives you a sense of how much earlier you need to apply.

6. New Brunswick Community College

Shortened to NBCC, New Brunswick Community College is one of high-quality government colleges in Canada, offering specialized programs, post-graduate degrees, apprenticeships, and micro-credentials.

Source: NBCC


Fredericton, Miramichi and Moncton, New Brunswick

Why is it good to study here?

With excellent facilities and hands-on training, NBCC is one of the most popular public colleges for post-secondary education. Whether you are looking for additional up-skilling certificates, diplomas or a full-fledged degree, NBCC has options for you. The college also has co-op programs that you can choose as part of your practical training.

Fees and Scholarship Options

The average annual tuition comes up to about CA 12,000. The college has numerous scholarship options, both from within the foundation and external charitable organizations. They are offered on the basis of merit and financial need.


  • Completion of Class XII
  • IELTS with a minimum score of 6.0 or TOEFL iBT with a minimum score of 80 or equivalent

Courses Offered and Admission Process

With hundreds of programs across its campuses, NBCC offers a range of options. Check out the list of all programs here. Considering the large number of applications the college receives, applications for the Fall intake open in June of the previous year. The college has a first qualified first accept the rule, which means the earlier you apply, the better your chances.

7. Sheridan College

Internationally recognized for its courses in business administration, animation, digital media, and communications and public relations, Sheridan has produced many Academy Award-winning animators. It is one of Ontario’s largest colleges.

Source: Sheridan College


Its main campuses are located in Mississauga, Oakville, and Brampton Ontario

Why is it good to study here?

Sheridan describes its programs as “purposeful”. They are intense, well-planned courses, be it bachelor’s, advanced diplomas, or certificate courses. The college’s emphasis is on learning outcomes, career readiness, social responsibilities, life and work skills.


The tuition fee ranges from 8,000 – 12,000 CAD for its certificate courses. Diplomas are slightly more expensive. Follow this link for Sheridan scholarships.


  • Grade 12
  • IELTS score of 6.5 or above or TOEFL iBT of 88 or above

Courses Offered and Admission Process

  • 4-year animation degree
  • Film and television
  • Community service studies
  • Business and Accounting
  • Performing Arts

8. Seneca College

One of the largest public colleges in Canada, Seneca College offers world-class polytechnic education to its students. Established in 1967, it began as an Ontario provincial initiative to provide career-shaping diplomas and technical education. Today, the college offers diplomas, bachelor’s, Ontario Graduate Certificates (PG Diploma), certificates and microcredential courses to students from all over the world.

It is also one of the top colleges in Canada for applied research and entrepreneurship. It is home to about 45,000 students (acceptance rate of over 85%), out of which more than one-third is made up of international students from over 150 different countries.

Source: Seneca


7 campuses across the Greater Toronto Area and Peterborough

Why is it good to study here?

There are four main reasons why international students choose Seneca

  • real-world experiences (specialised labs/ co-ops / work terms / internships)
  • their applied research facilities
  • their student support services and
  • their entrepreneurship incubator

As an institute of applied arts and technology, you will learn subject knowledge, skills and a business mindset in the duration of your course.

Fees and Scholarship options

The typical tuition fee ranges from about CA $14,900 – CA $27,000, depending on the course of your choosing. There are a number of scholarship options, both during the time of admission and during your course. Each of them has a separate application procedure and requires research and planning. The award amount typically ranges from CA $500 – CA $5,000.


While each program has its own set of eligibility criteria, here are some of the common requirements.

  • Completed Standard 12 for bachelor’s level or other post-secondary programmes.
  • Completed a recognised undergraduate degree for the graduate certificate courses.
  • Minimum TOEFL iBT score of 84 or IELTS score of 6.5 (88 or 6.5 for graduate certificate courses)

Courses Offered

The college offers over 290 full-time and part-time programmes under 13 areas of study. They are

  • Aviation
  • Business
  • Creative Arts, Animation and Design
  • Education, Community and Social Services
  • Engineering Technology
  • Fashion and Esthetics
  • Health and Wellness
  • Hospitality and Tourism
  • Information Technology
  • Law, Administration and Public Safety
  • Liberal Arts
  • Media and Communications
  • Science

9. Vancouver Community College

The largest and oldest community college in the province of British Columbia, Vancouver Community college was set up in 1965.

Source: VCC


Vancouver, British Columbia

Why is it good to study here?

One of the largest and government-accredited vocational colleges in BC, VCC aims at getting its students job-ready. The school has multiple partnerships with titans in the industry for co-op and internship opportunities. The school can also help you secure a PGWP (a postgraduate work permit) to continue working in Canada after the completion of your course.

Fees and Scholarship options

The tuition fee ranges from CA $11,000 to CA $39,000, depending on the course and its duration.

VCC is part of the UMAP scholarship program provided by the Government of Canada.


Applicants must be at least 17 years of age.
Must have completed class 12. You can check the specific program-based requirements here.
English language requirements also vary with programs. You can check them here.

Courses offered and Admission process

You can explore the entire list of programs here. Once you have chosen the program and checked its availability, you can enroll by creating an account on EducationPlannerBC (EPBC).

10. Bow Valley College

Established in 1965 as a community institution, the main campus of Bow Valley College is located in downtown Calgary. The branch campuses are Airdrie, Banff, Canmore, Cochrane, High River, Okotoks, and Strathmore. With a student population of 17,000 this college is one of the premier institutions for higher education in Canada.

Source: Bow Valley College


Calgary, Alberta

Why is it good to study here?

Ranked 101 of the top colleges in Canada by Webometrics, applied research projects are one of the strong points of this school. The learning framework of this college is built around Competency-Based Education. These competencies are carefully curated and built-in students with the help of prospective employers so that a graduate from Bow Valley College is set to meet industry standards upon graduation.

Fees and Scholarship options

The fee ranges from CA $18,000 to CA $35,000 for diploma and certificate courses. Bow Valley College has both entrance and in-course scholarships for international students. They vary across disciplines. Follow this link for more information.


The academic requirements vary with each program. However, when it comes to language proficiency, a minimum score of 6.0 in IELTS or 83 in TOEFL iBT or its equivalent is what is expected.

Courses offered & admission process

Over a hundred courses are offered by the seven specialized schools of Bow Valley College.

  • The Chiu School of Business
  • The School of Continuing Learning (professional development,  continuing education, and open studies courses)
  • The School of Community Studies
  • The School of Technology
  • The School of Foundational Learning
  • The School of Global Access
  • The School of Health and Wellness

List of Public Universities in Canada

As mentioned earlier, the terms colleges and universities cannot be used interchangeably in Canada. Colleges offer more practice-based, career-training trade courses, while universities are more academic and research-oriented. Only universities are authorised to award master’s or doctoral degrees.

Having covered the list of top colleges, let us look at the top universities in Canada.

S.No QS World
University Ranking
1 21 University of Toronto
2 30 McGill University
3 34 University of British Columbia
4 111 University of Alberta
5 112 University of Waterloo
6 114 Western University
7 141 University of Montreal, Quebec
8 182 University of Calgary
9 189 McMaster University
10 203 University of Ottawa

How to apply to Canadian universities with a single app?

While becoming an international student is very thrilling, the prep and paperwork of it all can get overwhelming. The easiest way to reduce your stress is to sign up with TC Global.

We simplify international education, learning, and mobility through connecting students, universities, and a global community on a single platform where there are over 1000+ education providers and over 80,000+ courses.

Our platform enables students to study anywhere in the world in just a few steps. From search and discovery and finding the right course fit for you, to applications, visas and departure – we see you through it all.

To move forward with us, download our app or visit and sign in to create an account on our student platform and onboard with us in quick, easy steps.! 🚀

Then simply set up a visit to pick a Relationships Team closest to you and choose a slot to meet with a Relationship Member. With the support of our RM, find yourself as one of the international students studying in a government college in Canada.

Let’s shape your future together.

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