The Province of Ontario in Canada is located in central Canada and is bordered by the provinces of Manitoba and Quebec, the U.S. states of Michigan, New York and Minnesota, and by Lake Erie, Lake Huron, Lake Superior, Lake Ontario and the Georgian Bay.
Approximately 12,500,000 people live in the province of Ontario making it the most populous province in Canada, but the 4th largest in land-mass. English and French are the official languages, although English is the dominant language spoken
The Algonquin and Iroquois tribes first inhabited present day Ontario. The first European explorers arrived in the early 17th century and the area was claimed by both the British and French crowns. The Treaty of Paris in 1763 awarded all of
the French territory in Canada to England. The Province of Ontario was established in 1867. Due to a large immigrant wave of Europeans in the 1950s and 60s, and a large increase of non-European immigrants since the 1970s, Ontario is the most-ethnically
diverse province in Canada.
Primary education in Ontario is free and compulsory beginning at grade 1 and continuing through grade 8. Schools at the primary level of education consist of public and private schools that are supervised by the Ontario Ministry of Education and Training.
Both public and private elementary schools receive financial support from the provincial government.
Secondary school (Grades 9-12) is 4 years long. Grades 9 and 10 are general in nature. Coursework is primarily theoretical and emphasizes critical thinking. Practical courses are added to prepare students for real-world scenarios. Grades 9 and 10 also
include elective coursework that assist students with stream selection and prepare them for courses taken in the last two years of secondary school.
Universities have adjusted academic programs and many degree programs are now four-years in length. Because of these changes, the Ontario educational system is very similar to the United States pattern of education today. Grades 11 and 12 assist students
with training for future options including advanced level education and workplace preparation. In Grade 12, students take courses on the U (University), M (University/College), or C (College) preparatory level. At the end of Grade 12, there is no
provincial external examination; students who have earned a sufficient number of credits with passing grades are awarded an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD). A student's level of achievement in secondary school is documented on his/her transcript
of grades as shown on the Ontario Student Transcript, which is issued by the secondary school.
In 1999, reforms in secondary education were implemented. Grade 13 was dropped years earlier, when the Ontario Academic Credits (OACs) curriculum was introduced which allowed students to complete OSSD requirements in 4-5 and sometimes 4 years (although
many remained in secondary school for 5 years taking extra courses). OACs were taken in the 10th through 13th grades and had been required for admission to universities in Ontario. The 1999 reforms made it easier for students to complete their secondary
education in 4 years and OACs were dropped. In 2003, a group of students in the "double cohort" graduated from high school. The double cohort consisted of students who were taking 13 years to complete their OAC curriculum and students who were in
the first group to complete the new 12-year 4U/M system.
Post-secondary options include universities, colleges of applied arts and technology, or private career colleges. There are 25 colleges of applied arts and technology (CAAT), or as some are now called, college institute of technology and advanced learning
(CITAL), in Ontario. They are primarily vocational and technical in nature and offer one-year certificate programs, two- and three-year diploma programs, and four-year applied bachelor's programs. Some universities in Ontario will not award much,
if any, transfer credit for these programs because they are so vocational and technical and do not include a significant amount of academic coursework.
Admission to universities requires an Ontario Secondary School Diploma with a grade average of 60% and at least 6 Grade 12 4U or 4M courses. Some universities may require a higher average, some require 4U or 4M courses, like English 4U or prerequisite
subjects, and additional tests.
The first level of university study is the bachelor's degree which is 3-5 years long, depending on the field of study. 3-year general degrees were and are used for employment purposes (although more recently they are less useful for this) and 4-year honours
degrees were and are used for employment and as preparation for more advanced study. A Bachelor's (Honours) degree could sometimes be awarded after completion of a "qualifying year" following a 3-year general bachelor's degree. Three-year bachelor's
and four-year honours bachelor's degree are still awarded by some universities in Ontario. The University of Toronto no longer admits students to three-year bachelor's programs, but students who were admitted prior to the introduction of the new educational
policies are grandfathered and are permitted to finish the 3-year bachelor's program if they desire.
Second and Third Cycles
Second level studies require a bachelor's degree for admission and are 2-3 years long, depending on the field of study. Upon completion, students are awarded a Master of Arts, Master of Science or a Master of (area of specialty). Doctoral level studies
require a master's degree for admission. They usually require 2-3 years of coursework and, upon successful defense of a dissertation, students are awarded a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.).
Teachers at the primary and secondary levels must hold at least a Bachelor of Education. To teach in the Province of Ontario, they must sit for and pass the Ontario Teacher Qualifying Test. After passing the test, teachers are awarded a Certificate of
Qualification which permits them to teach in the Province of Ontario.