The Difference Between Private and Public Colleges in Toronto


Toronto is one of North America’s greatest cities. It offers architectural beauty, highly developed culture and a cosmopolitan quality of life. It is also the home to numerous institutions of higher education, both public and private. Toronto’s public and private colleges offer a tremendous variety of experiences and opportunities. Here is a quick run-down of some basic differences between Toronto’s private and public colleges.

When you’re talking about public colleges in Toronto, you’re talking about the University of Toronto, York University, Ryerson University and the Ontario College of Art and Design. With the exception of the Ontario College of Art and Design, which has only 3,000 students, Toronto’s public schools are very large, with enrollments ranging from 30,000 to 70,000 students.

The University of Toronto is Canada’s largest university and offers a very broad range of courses in the humanities and social and physical sciences, as well as professional programs in medicine, engineering, architecture, dentistry, social work and teaching. The U of T conducts many research programs and boasts a world-class medical facility.

York University is a smaller liberal arts institution with a long history dating back to 1859. Ryerson is Canada’s only polytechnic institution, offering notable journalism, multimedia and business programs as well as programs in fields like the Applied Arts or Engineering.

Public schools in Toronto are relatively affordable, costing around $ 12,000 to $ 17,000 Canadian dollars per year for a non-international student living away from home. Toronto’s public schools all offer financial aid and scholarships to high achieving and/or financially needy students.

Toronto is home to dozens of private schools offering an immense variety of experiences, knowledge and training. Unlike their public counterparts, Toronto’s private schools tend to be smaller and more oriented toward specific types of career training.

In the last few years, some of Toronto’s smaller private schools have come under fire for misleading international students into attending what students thought were high quality programs with attractive campuses, only to find shabby buildings and sub-par course offerings. Though some of Toronto’s small private schools fall into this low class, many don’t.

Tuition at Toronto’s private college varies greatly depending on which college. Toronto’s institutions of religious education such as Master’s College and Seminary or Tyndale College and Seminary tend to cost the least, about 8,000 Canadian dollars per year for residents. Other schools, such as George Brown University, which focuses on career training and offers only a few bachelors’ programs cost upwards of 5,000 Canadian dollars per semester.

Many of Toronto’s private colleges, such as Metropolitan College or the Canadian College of Business, Science and Technology offer affordable continuing education and career training that costs a lot less and takes less time to earn than a Bachelor’s degree.

The ultimate difference between Toronto’s public and private schools has to do with the type of experience offered to students. If you want to attend a large school, with lots of young students living on-campus, experiencing an academic community and choosing from a vast array of educational opportunities, sports teams, concerts, clubs and social events, then you would probably appreciate a public college. If you are interested in vocational or career training, continuing education or a religious certification, then you would be best served by a private school.

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