Holders of U.S. bachelor's degrees should have no trouble listing their education as a credential when applying for a job in Canada or to a Canadian graduate program. Similarly, Canadian graduates will find that their bachelor's degrees are usually accepted as a U.S. equivalent. Bachelor's programs in the United States and Canada are quite similar, with some notable exceptions.
Canadian bachelor's-granting institutions are chartered by the province in which they are located, and hold membership in the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada--this is where they get their legitimacy. This is different than in the United States, which uses several national accrediting organizations recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Professional bachelor's programs in Canada--including nursing, medicine and engineering--are accredited by specialized agencies.
A Canadian bachelor's degree may take either three or four years to complete, depending on the school and program. According to the Government of Canada's website, in Canada, a three-year degree is known as a bachelor's degree. A four-year program usually requires the student to concentrate in an area of study, and is usually required to get into graduate school. Students who complete a four-year course of study earn an honours bachelor's degree.
A three-year Canadian bachelor's program may be good enough for a Canadian student hoping to gain admittance to a U.S. graduate program. Most admissions departments examine students' undergraduate education on a case-by-case basis, and take into account both an individual's grade point average (GPA) and the specific courses elected. Often, however, graduate admissions officers in the United States look for an "honours" designation affixed to a Canadian bachelor's diploma, according to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Office of Graduate Studies.
College in Quebec
Most Canadians attend school until 12th grade. In the province of Quebec, however, school ends at 11th grade. According to a document on the Immigration Quebec website prepared by the Quebec government and its Ministry of Education, post-secondary education includes a stint in a Quebec-style college, a two-year program that prepares students to attend a university. University students receive a bachelor's degree after only three years--more if they enroll in a professional program. Three-year degrees from a Quebec university are considered the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor's degree.
Four-year Canadian honours bachelor's degrees should not be confused with college and university honors programs that exist in both the United States and Canada. Like in the United States, Canadian students who graduate with honors must maintain at least a 3.5 GPA and are usually required to write an honors thesis.
- young guy on a graduation day image by Galina Barskaya from Fotolia.com