Alberta takes pride in its high-quality education system. Students consistently earn high scores in sciences, reading and writing, and mathematics. Many adults take advantage of educational opportunities, including English language classes and post-secondary studies. This is your guide to education in Alberta.
You may need to have your education and training credentials translated. Find a translator at atia.ab.ca or call the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Alberta (ATIA) at 780-434-8384.
If you received your education outside of Alberta you may need to get your credentials assessed to prove they meet Alberta standards.
Education in Alberta
Alberta’s school system
Public education for children aged five to 19 years old is free. In Alberta children between the ages of six and 16 must attend school. The school system is divided into 12 grade levels and three school categories (elementary, junior high and high school). As children get older, they progress through the grade levels and school categories until graduation.
High school diplomas
Students receive a diploma after they have passed a provincial examination in English, mathematics, social studies and sciences. Students who plan to go on to post-secondary education must receive a diploma. While in high school, they can choose courses relevant to their future education and work goals.
Types of schools
Your children can attend various types of schools:
- Public schools are open to every child in Alberta. They provide free basic education from Grades 1 to 12.
- Separate schools provide basic education for Roman Catholic or Protestant students in Alberta. This reflects the right to religious education for members of these groups in Alberta. Most separate schools are Roman Catholic schools.
- Francophone schools provide an education in French. French is an official language of Canada, along with English. Francophone schools reflect the rights of parents whose first language is French to have their children educated in the language.
- Charter schools offer innovative or enhanced education programs. They use different teaching methods or learning environments than regular public schools. Charter schools do not charge tuition fees, but they may charge parents for school supplies or materials.
The school year
For most schools, the school year runs from early September to the end of June. Most schools operate the following schedule:
- Daily hours: Monday to Friday, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Schools close at weekends.
- Holidays: Schools close on general (statutory) holidays such as Victoria Day, and between December 25 and New Year’s Day. There is also a one-week spring break holiday in March or April.
- Other closures: Schools also close for four days during the school year for teacher professional development days and teachers’ conventions.
How to enrol your child in school
Step 2: Gather your documentation
You will need:
- your child’s identification document, such as birth certificate, passport or proof of permanent residence
- school documents such as report cards, course outlines and examples of school work from your child's last school
- your child’s immunization record
Step 3: Visit the school with your child
The school principal, or staff at your chosen school, will talk with you and your child to make sure your child is enrolled in the appropriate grade. Call to schedule an appointment before visiting.
Get to know school culture in Alberta
School culture in Alberta may be different to what you or your children are used to. Here are a few things that are good to know:
- Parents are encouraged to get involved in their child’s education. They are expected to attend meetings with teachers, or other events like concerts, sporting activities and science fairs. Visit My Child's Learning to learn how to get involved.
- Teachers are generally informal with students.
- Teachers invite students to express their own opinions.
- Bullying is not tolerated in Alberta schools.
How to get to school
Most schools provide a school bus service to take your children to school and bring them home. Find out what the options are before enrolling your child.
What to do in bad weather?
During severe weather warnings, listen to a local radio or television station for announcements about school closures and changes to school bus schedules. You can also check the school’s website.
Post-secondary education in Alberta
Adults of all ages take post-secondary programs to earn credentials, improve their knowledge and learn new skills.
If you are interested in further education or training, visit Alberta Advanced Education for information, resources and support.
Types of post-secondary institutions and programs
You can choose from a variety of institution and types of programs:
- Universities offer undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
- Public colleges offer certificate, diploma, academic upgrading, university transfer, apprenticeship, continuing education and applied degree programs.
- Private colleges offer certificate, diploma, academic upgrading, university transfer, continuing education and some degree programs. Private colleges are sometimes affiliated with a religious organization.
- Polytechnic institutes offer certificate, diploma, applied degree, apprenticeship and continuing education programs. Most courses are related to trades or technical work.
- Private vocational schools offer training for specific occupations such as auctioneer, bartender, model or computer-aided-drafting technician.
- Apprenticeship training programs provide a combination of classroom and on-the-job training in a trade. There are over 50 apprenticeship-training programs in Alberta. For more information visit tradesecrets.alberta.ca.
Alberta has 26 accredited post-secondary institutions.
Financial help for post-secondary education
Student Aid Alberta provides financial help to students, including student loans, scholarships, grants or bursaries.
Adult education is also known as "continuing education." It consists of classes or courses for adults who want to finish their high school diploma, learn about new topics or gain new skills. You can attend classes in everything from language skills to business.
- Community Adult Learning Programs support learning organizations in every region of the province. These learning organizations provide literacy and adult learning programs.
- Universities, colleges, school boards and community leagues also provide adult education.
Find an adult education program near you.
Why Alberta's education system is better
Alberta is recognized for its education system and for having students who are well prepared to succeed in post-secondary.
Alberta supports every student. Flexible classrooms ensure that the learning needs of each student are met.
For more help with settling into Alberta, find a nearby immigrant-serving agency.
Improve your English
Find free English training resources to improve your language skills.
Date Updated: Fri, 26 Aug 2016 01:10:16