Education Stats: Canada vs. US Education Stats

Canadian and US governments are both spending over 5% of GDP on education. Both countries have impressive education systems, but how do they compare? The differences aren’t big, just like in economies and other categories. Here is a detailed Canada vs. US education comparison!

Top 10 Canada Education Stats & Facts

  1. English and French are the two official languages of instruction in Canada.

  2. The official literacy rate is above 99%.

  3. Canada invests 5.5% of its GDP in education.

  4. Some education is compulsory, and the regulations vary in the province.

  5. The tertiary enrollment percentage was 75.7% in 2019.

  6. 63% of young Canadians have a university or college education.

  7. Canada is investing 35.39% of total education spending for college and higher levels.

  8. The average first salary for university graduates in Canada is USD 36,895 annually.

  9. Only 5.4% of adults with tertiary education in Canada were without a job in 2021

  10. Finance and financial management services are the highest-paying fields of studies for master’s degree holders.

General Canada Education Stats

Canada has two official languages – French and English. The language of instruction depends on the facility and area. Let’s see an overview of the general Canadian education stats!

The Official Literacy Rate is Above 99%, but Canadians Are Struggling With Literacy Tests

WorldAtlas puts the literacy rate in Canada at 99%, but the reality seems different. Statistics Canada published an assessment that one out of six adult Canadians failed to pass basic literacy tests. Immigrants are a part of that equation, but the literacy gap is also due to Canadians not working on their literacy skills.

( CBC )

Canada’s Spending Less on Education Than in the 1990s

In the 1990s, the country spent as much as 7.7% of its total GDP on education. But the last available data shows these numbers dropped to 5.5% during the 2010s. That puts education investment at around the same level as the United States. The US invests roughly 5.62% of its total GDP in education.

( World Bank, NationMaster)

Canada Education Level Stats

Not only is education compulsory in Canada, but children should stay in high school until at least the age of 16. Some provinces require kids to go to school until they are 18 years old or get a high school diploma. Here are the crucial Canada education level statistics!

Three Out of Four Canadians Aim for Tertiary Education

Canada has a strong education system and a well-educated population. The fact that 75.7% of Canadians eligible for tertiary education in 2019 decided to try and obtain a college degree proves that. Furthermore, that is a huge improvement compared to 2010. The tertiary enrollment percentage was about 60% at that point.

( Trading Economics )

63% of Young Canadians Have a University or College Education

Young Canadians have higher education than the average of countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. 63% of adults aged 25 to 34 from Canada have a university or college diploma. The OECD average is only 45%.

( Statistics Canada )

The US vs. Canada Education Stats

Canada and the United States have a six-year compulsory primary education, but the schooling system varies from that point. Check out these interesting details about US and Canadian education!

Canada is Investing 10% More in College and University Education

If we compare the budget percentage allocated to college and university education, Canada is investing more in this area. The government sets aside 35.39% of the total education spending for college and higher levels, which puts Canada in the top five countries in this category. The United States invests “only” 25.65% in tertiary education, but even that is considerably above average.

( Nation Master )

The Average First Salary in Canada is USD36,895 Annually

University graduates can expect decent earnings from their first salary in Canada. The average initial wage for a college graduate is USD 36,895 annually. Although that sounds acceptable, it’s even higher in America. The average first salary for a college graduate in the US is USD 48,127 annually.

( GraduateLand )

The Success of Education in Canada

Optometry, forestry, dentistry, rehab & therapy students have an almost perfect employment rate in Canada. It’s lower for theology, physical, and agricultural sciences, but it’s still about 90%. Here’s other information about the success of employment in Canada!

The Unemployment Rate is Only 5.4% Among Academic Degree Holders

Only 5.4% of adults with tertiary education in Canada were without a job in 2021. The rates are higher among below-upper secondary workers (11.2%) and upper secondary but non-tertiary workforce (7.7%). All three groups have unemployment rates above the OECD average.

( OECD )

Finance Offered the Best-paying Fields of Study in 2017

Finance and business degrees are those that guaranteed the highest earnings in Canada in 2017. Among male master’s degree holders in finance and financial management services, the median earnings in 2017 were CAD 110,518 annually. Business administration and operations, accounting, and related services were also above CAD 100,000 yearly.

Female master’s degree holders earned less. The top field of study was taxation, but the median earnings were CAD 96,416 annually. Finance and financial management and pharmaceutical sciences also were among the best-paying field of study for females.

( Statistics Canada )


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Mehdi Punjwani
Mehdi Punjwani
Mehdi is a writer and editor with over five years of experience in personal finance, writing for brands including MoneySuperMarket, Equifax and The AA. He graduated from Brunel University with a BA and MA, and likes to spend his free time hiking, travelling, and reading.