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Online Degrees in CanadaStudents 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 degrees 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 2014, there are more than 200 public and private universities in Canada, including community and junior colleges. These institutions serve a population of approximately 2 million full- and part-time students.

Check out this list of 10 top Canadian online universities to get a picture of Canada's commitment to quality in distance education.

Top 10 online schools in Canada

1. Athabasca University

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 a 2011 survey found 83 percent held jobs while they studied and 36 percent lived full-time in Alberta.
  • 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

2. McGill University

McGill was founded in 1821 and earns consistently high marks from rankings agencies. On the 2014-15 Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings list, only 20 universities in the world ranked higher than McGill.

  • The main campus in Montreal is the university's focus, but online courses and degrees are available in certain academic years.
  • McGill counts approximately 38,000 students among its more than 300 programs.
  • The distance education program in Occupational Health at McGill was suspended for review in 2014, but certain electives and other component courses of on-campus degree plans may be taken online.

3. Thompson Rivers University

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.
  • The Thompson Rivers 2012-13 student body was split almost right down the middle between 13,170 on-campus and 11,794 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 Tourism Management
    • Animal Welfare Certificate
    • Anesthesia Assistant Diploma

4. Royal Roads University

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 are offered 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 2014-15 academic year broke down as follows:
    • Doctorate: $79,460
    • Master's degree: $21,630 - $39,450
    • Graduate diploma: $11,550 - $14,380
    • Graduate certificate: $3,000 - $8,990
    • Bachelor's degree: $13,056 - $17,680
  • 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

5. Laurentian University

This Ontario institution was ranked among the top 15 undergraduate institutions by Maclean's in 2014. In the same year 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 $5,751 in 2014, not including room, board or departmental 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.

6. University of Manitoba

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 2013 enrollment consisted of 3,740 graduate students and 25,363 undergraduates. Basic one-year undergraduate tuition for Canadian residents in the 2012 academic year started at $3,400.
  • Online degree programs at the University of Manitoba include the following:
    • Bachelor of Arts
    • Bachelor of Arts Integrated Studies
    • Bachelor of Social Work
    • Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Education

7. Canadian Virtual University

Canadian Virtual University (CVU) is an association of several accredited colleges and universities from all across Canada, designed to allow greater flexibility for students seeking online degrees in Canada.
All courses offered by CVU are delivered online.

  • CVU reports a tuition range of approximately $400 to $1,000 per course with higher costs for international students.
  • Degree programs can be found in both English and French, at multiple academic levels. Here are a few examples:
    • Certificate in Entrepreneurial Skills
    • Bachelor of Science in Architecture
    • Bachelor of Social Work
    • Master of Public Administration
    • Doctor of Business Administration

8. eCampus Alberta

eCampus Alberta is a similar association of accredited colleges formed to increase online education awareness and access in the Alberta area.

  • The member institutions of eCampus Alberta have campus locations, but courses offered through the association itself are all delivered online.
  • Maximum tuition at eCampus Alberta was listed as $220 per credit hour in 2014. Technology fees of $25 also apply to all scheduled courses.
  • eCampus Alberta offers certificates and diplomas in numerous knowledge areas, including but not limited to the following:
    • Business and Management
    • Early Learning and Education
    • Administrative Studies
    • Community and Protective Services
    • Health Care

9. The University of Fredericton

Better known as UFred, this private institution aims to distinguish itself through select partnerships. Partnerships in 2014 included Cisco, the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Real Estate Institute of Canada.

  • All courses at UFred are delivered completely online.
  • Here's a list of programs offered at UFred, along with their 2014 tuition rates:
    • Executive MBA: $24,500
    • MBA: $19,000
    • Diploma in Safety, Health and Environmental Management: $7,600
    • Certificate in Disability Management: $1,900
    • Diploma-to-Degree program: $1,521 per course

10. Yorkville University

Yorkville University was founded in 2003 and is growing year over year, having added two new degree programs to its roster since 2011.

  • Students at Yorkville University take all classes entirely online.
  • Tuition rates for classes in the 2014-15 academic year were listed as $355 per credit hour for undergraduate study and $560 per credit hour for graduate work.
  • Yorkville offers three online degree programs as of 2014:
    • Bachelor of Business Administration
    • Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology
    • Master of Education in Adult Education

To find out more about some of the educational opportunities available to you in Canada, be sure to check out our school listings below.


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  • "QS World University Rankings, 2014-15," Quacquarelli Symonds Limited,
  • "Athabasca University at a Glance," Athabasca University,
  • "Facts and Statistics," Athabasca University,
  • "Undergraduate Programs," Athabasca University,
  • "Graduate Programs," Athabasca University,
  • "Distance Education (Online) Courses," McGill University,
  • "Distance Education, Occupational Health," McGill University,
  • "Home Page," McGill University,
  • "Partners," Canadian Virtual University,
  • "Fees," Canadian Virtual University,
  • "Programs - Listed by Level," Canadian Virtual University,
  • "Facts and Figures," Thompson Rivers University,
  • "Our Campuses," Thompson Rivers University,
  • "Programs & Courses," Thompson Rivers University,
  • "About Royal Roads," Royal Roads University,
  • "Tuition and Fees," Royal Roads University,
  • "Programs," Royal Roads University,
  • "2014 University Rankings: Primarily Undergraduate results," Maclean's,
  • "Laurentian University becomes the first bilingual university to be recognized under the French Language Services Act," Laurentian University,
  • "CUDO Web Doc 2013," Laurentian University,
  • "Online Degree Programs in Partnership with CGA-Canada," Laurentian University,
  • "About the University of Manitoba," University of Manitoba,
  • "Facts and Figures," University of Manitoba,
  • "Degrees and Programs," Distance and Online Education, University of Manitoba,
  • "Canadian Undergraduate Student Costs," University of Manitoba,
  • "Partnerships," University of Fredericton,
  • "Online MBA with a specialty track in Real Estate Leadership," University of Fredericton,
  • "What to Expect," University of Fredericton,
  • "Tuition, Scholarships and Fees," University of Fredericton,
  • "About Us," eCampus Alberta,
  • "Programs," eCampus Alberta,
  • "Course Details," Human Anatomy, eCampus Alberta,
  • "About," Yorkville University,
  • "Tuition," Fees and Financial Aid, Yorkville University,,-fees-and-financial-aid

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