Elementary and Secondary School

(K-12) Education

The typical school day includes five to six hours of class time, with the exception of kindergarten, which is half-day in some regions

The school year runs from September to June

International students can expect to pay around $14,000 in tuition a year to study at the public elementary or secondary levels in Canada

Tuition and boarding fees for K-12 private or independent schools in Canada ranges from $35,000 to $70,000 CAD

Choosing between public and private schools will depend on a variety of factors: cost (which can vary substantially between the types of school), learning curriculum, extra-curricular activities, and geography/environment (large urban cities, suburban, or rural communities).

Unlike in some other countries, 95% of Canadian parents choose to enroll their children in public schools for an excellent quality of education. Public schools in Canada:

Are provincially accredited;

Follow a provincially approved standard curriculum;

Employ government-certified teachers;

May offer faith-based education in the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario;

May offer many specialized academic, fine arts, and athletic programs.

Independent and private schools offering a Canadian curriculum often also offer enriched or specialized programs, such as:

Single-gender education (i.e., all-boys or all-girls schools);

A religious affiliation (e.g., a Catholic school);

A curriculum of the United Kingdom, France, or other international designation;

A mostly international environment

Arts, sports, or other focus.


Canada values learning and cares about student success, offering support for language development, special needs, adaptive learning techniques, and manageable class sizes.

Standard core academic courses across all school types include:

English, French, or both


Social studies


Computer studies

Physical education


As students progress through grade levels, they can opt for specialized optional courses sometimes referred to as “electives" according to their interests, such as:

Additional foreign languages

History and geography

Chemistry, physics, and biology

Art, music, drama, dance, and photography

Business subjects, such as marketing or accounting

Computer programming, animation, and graphic design

Wood and metal working, and automotive

Home economics, such as cooking and sewing courses


Homestay refers to an international student living with a local family while studying in Canada. This is often one of the most memorable aspects of an international student’s Canadian K-12 experience. Alternatively, he/she may be housed in a dormitory with other students, which is more common with private schools). Being able to answer the questions an international student’s family will have about their child’s living arrangement is as important as knowing about the educational part of their study abroad experience.

International students living in homestay truly become a part of the Canadian family and will be:

Living with a host family;

Fully immersed in the local culture;

Practicing listening and speaking with native English and/or French speakers;

Cared for, supervised, and supported in all aspects of school/home life;

Given a single room;

Provided with three meals daily.

Annual tuition and homestay fees combined range from $18,000 to $27,000 CAD for a full-year program and vary by location depending upon the cost of living.

For private/independent schools, tuition and boarding fees range from $35,000 to $70,000 per year depending on the institution.

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