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2006 Census: Educational Portrait of Canada, 2006 Census: Substantial changes to census questions on education

Highest level of educational attainment

The census asks individuals aged 15 and over to report their level of educational attainment. This information can be used to classify the population into six levels of educational attainment:

  • Less than high school (no certificate, diploma or degree)
  • High school certificate or equivalent
  • Apprenticeship or trades certificate or diploma (including 'centres de formation professionnelle')
  • College, CEGEP or other non-university certificate or diploma
  • University certificate or diploma below bachelor level
  • University degree: bachelor's degree; university certificate or diploma above bachelor level; degree in medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine or optometry; master's degree; earned doctorate.

The order of these categories reflects education pathways that require increasing time commitments to schooling. Each person is classified according to the highest level completed. For example, a person holding both a college diploma and a university degree would be counted in the 'University degree' category.

As such, a certificate, diploma or degree identified in this analysis (such as a trades certificate or a college diploma) refers to the highest accreditation attained by the respondent, according to the order provided above.

Moreover, the field of study information analyzed in this document refers to the main subject matter of the respondent's highest level of educational attainment as described above. Similarly, the location of study information analyzed indicates the province, territory or country in which a respondent completed their highest postsecondary level of educational attainment.

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