In Canada, the term "college" usually refers to a technical, applied arts, applied science school or community college. These are post-secondary institutions granting certificates, diplomas, associate's degree, and bachelor's degrees. In Quebec, the term is seldom used; the French acronym for public colleges, CEGEP (College d'enseignement général et professionnel, "college of general and professional education"), is more commonly used as an umbrella term to refer to the collegiate level specific to the Quebec education system that is required to continue onto university (unless one applies as a "mature" student, meaning 21 years of age or over, and out of the educational system for at least 2 years), or to learn a trade. In Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta, there are also institutions which are designated university colleges, as they only grant undergraduate degrees. This is to differentiate between universities, which have both undergraduate and graduate programs and those that do not. In contrast to usage in the United States, there is a strong distinction between "college" and "university" in Canada. In conversation, one specifically would say either "They are going to university" (i.e., studying for a three- or four-year degree at a university) or "They are going to college" (suggesting a technical or career college).
The Royal Military College of Canada, a full-fledged degree-granting university, does not follow the naming convention used by the rest of the country, nor does its sister school Royal Military College Saint-Jean or the now closed Royal Roads Military College.
The term "college" also applies to distinct entities within a university (usually referred to as "federated colleges" or "affiliated colleges"),to the residential colleges in the United Kingdom. These colleges act independently, but in affiliation or federation with the university that actually grants the degrees. For example, Trinity College was once an independent institution, but later became federated with the University of Toronto, and is now one of its residential colleges (though it remains a degree granting institution through its Faculty of Divinity). In the case of Memorial University of Newfoundland, located in St. John's, the Corner Brook campus is called Sir Wilfred Grenfell College. Occasionally, "college" refers to a subject specific faculty within a university that, while distinct, are neither federated nor affiliated—College of Education, College of Medicine, College of Dentistry, College of Biological Science among others.
There are also universities referred to as art colleges, empowered to grant academic degrees of BFA, Bdes, MFA, Mdes and sometimes collaborative PhD degrees. Some of them have "university" in their name (NSCAD University, OCAD University and Emily Carr University of Art and Design)and others do not.
In a number of Canadian cities, many government-run secondary schools are called "collegiates" or "collegiate institutes" (C.I.), a complicated form of the word "college" which avoids the usual "post-secondary" connotation. This is because these secondary schools have traditionally focused on academic, rather than vocational, subjects and ability levels (for example, collegiates offered Latin while vocational schools offered technical courses). Some private secondary schools (such as Upper Canada College, Vancouver College) choose to use the word "college" in their names nevertheless. Some secondary schools elsewhere in the country, particularly ones within the separate school system, may also use the word "college" or "collegiate" in their names.
A small number of the oldest professional associations use "college" in the name in the British sense, such as the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.
Online and distance education (E-learning) use "college" in the name in the British sense, for example : Canada Capstone College.
One use of the term "college" in the American sense is by the Canadian Football League (CFL), which calls its annual entry draft the Canadian College Draft. The draft is restricted to players who qualify under CFL rules as "non-imports"—essentially, players who were raised in Canada (see the main CFL article for a more detailed definition). Because a player's designation as "non-import" is not affected by where he plays post-secondary football, the category includes former players at U.S. college football programs ("universities" in the Canadian sense) as well as CIS football programs at Canadian universities.
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“This universal exhibition in Canada of the tools and sinews of war reminded me of the keeper of a menagerie showing his animals claws. It was the English leopard showing his claws.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)
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