Students have more options than ever when it comes to earning online degrees. In Canada in particular, students can find a wide variety of associate, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs at hundreds of postsecondary institutions. Campus-based programs aren't the only game in town, either, thanks to a rise in accredited programs at Canadian online universities.
Higher education in Canada
The road that would eventually lead to a variety of online degree programs in Canada goes back nearly 230 years, to the establishment of the University of King's College in Nova Scotia in 1789. The current provincial university model began more than half a century later, with the opening of the University of Toronto in 1850, and more followed as the years progressed.
As of 2020, there are more than 90 public and private universities in Canada. Canada also is home to numerous community and junior colleges. These institutions serve a population of approximately 2 million full- and part-time students.
Check out this list of Canadian online universities to get a picture of Canada's commitment to distance education.
Featured online schools in Canada
This Alberta-based institution has a long history in higher education, having initiated a distance learning pilot project in 1973 and created the world's first online executive MBA in 1994.
- Athabasca University maintains three brick-and-mortar campuses in Alberta, but also features online programs.
- The student body at Athabasca consists of 40,000+ students, of which 73 percent report holding jobs while they study.
- More than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs are available, including the following:
- Bachelor of Health Administration
- Bachelor of Science in Computing and Information Systems
- Master of Business Administration
- Master of Nursing
- Doctor of Education in Distance Education
This Ontario institution was ranked among the top 12 undergraduate institutions by Maclean's for 2020. In 2014, Laurentian was made an official bilingual English/French university under Ontario's French Language Services Act.
- Laurentian primarily operates as a campus-based university, but does offer business-oriented online degree programs.
- Annual undergraduate tuition was $6,473 for 2017-18, not including room, board, departmental or association fees.
- Online degree options at Laurentian consist of an Honours Bachelor of Commerce (H.B.Com) and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) offered in conjunction with the Certified General Accountants of Ontario.
McGill was founded in 1821 and earns consistently high marks from rankings agencies. On the 2020 Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings list, McGill ranked no. 35 out of more than 1,000 schools surveyed.
- The main campus in Montreal is the university's focus, although online courses may also be available.
- More than 40,000 students were enrolled in fall 2019, including almost 28,000 undergraduates and 10,000+ graduate students.
Royal Roads began as a military college in 1940 but shifted its focus to serving non-traditional and mid-career students with online and blended degree programs. A few bachelor's degrees can be earned here, but the majority of programs are designed for graduates and post-grads.
- Online and classroom-based programs are both offered, with an emphasis on blended programs that integrate on-campus elements into online study.
- According to Royal Roads, tuition rates for their Canadian students in the 2019-20 academic year broke down as follows:
- Doctorate: $85,990
- Master's degree: $23,860 - $43,530
- Graduate diploma: $12,730 - $15,850
- Graduate certificate: $2,500 - $9,900
- Bachelor's degree: $5,700 - $18,340
- A few of the degree programs that can be taken entirely online at Royal Roads:
- Master of Science in Environmental Practice
- Graduate Diploma in Learning and Technology
- Graduate Certificate in Industrial Design
- Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies
Founded in 1970, Thompson Rivers University aims to make education more accessible to non-traditional student populations.
- The main campus of Thompson Rivers University is located in Kamloops, British Columbia, with a satellite campus at Williams Lake and several learning centers available to serve regional populations.
- Thompson Rivers 2019-20 enrollment included more than 20,000 students between those attending on-campus and online students.
- Here are a few of the degree programs available through the distance education program at Thompson Rivers:
- Bachelor's in Business in Real Estate
- Bachelor's in Design
- Bachelor's in Computing Science
- Animal Welfare Certificate
- Water Treatment Technology Certificate
Better known as UFred, this private institution aims to distinguish itself through select partnerships. Partnerships in 2020 included Cisco, the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Society of Safety Engineering.
- All courses at UFred are delivered completely online.
- Here's a list of some programs offered at UFred, along with their 2019-20 tuition rates:
- Executive MBA: $30,385
- MBA: $25,235
- Diploma in Safety, Health and Environmental Management: $4,960
- Certificate in Integrated Disability Management: $1,900
Founded nearly 140 years ago as the first university in western Canada, the University of Manitoba counts individuals from over 100 different countries among its student body.
- Most students at the University of Manitoba attend classes on campus, but more than 140 online courses are available.
- Fall 2019 enrollment consisted of 3,761 graduate students and 25,832 undergraduates. Basic one-year undergraduate tuition for Canadian residents in the 2019-20 academic year started at $4,800.
- Online degree programs and extended education programs at the University of Manitoba include the following:
- Bachelor of Social Work
- Certificate in Interdisciplinary Studies: Emerging Technologies for Learning (ETL)
- Certificate in Business Analysis
- Certificate in Human Resource Management
Yorkville University was founded in 2003 and is growing year over year.
- Students at Yorkville University take all classes entirely online.
- Tuition rates for classes in the 2019-20 academic year started as $450 per credit hour for undergraduate study and $745 per credit hour for graduate work.
- Yorkville offers these online degree programs as of 2019:
- Bachelor of Business Administration (with multiple specializations)
- Bachelor of Interior Design
- Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology
- Master of Education in Adult Education
- Master of Education in Educational Leadership
To find out more about some of the educational opportunities available to you in Canada, be sure to check out our school listings below.