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Continuing Education studies in Canadian Universities

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Continuing Education studies in Universities in Canada

Continuing education is a broad term for certain types of post-secondary learning. It includes degree credit courses by non-traditional students (eg. mature students), non-degree career training, workforce training, formal personal enrichment courses, and self-directed learning. In some schools, it is also used interchangeably with adult learning, which includes literacy training, English-language training, and GED preparation.

Continuing education can take place in the traditional way, with classroom lectures and laboratories. However, many schools have incorporated distance education in their continuing education curricula. This allows students to study in the manner most convenient to them (to allow for jobs, families, travel, etc.), such as online, video conferencing, and at-home independent study.

Credit study

Some continuing education courses can count as elective credit towards an academic degree, diploma or certificate program. Most courses are short duration, or are scheduled on a weekend or evenings, to accommodate busy schedules. Any courses not successfully completed are usually not recorded on academic transcripts. As well, the content and cost of courses is usually the same whether being taken for credit or not.

The subject matter of credit courses is wide, and almost any subject you can take a degree in, you can also get credit for through continuing education. Common broad subjects taken for credit include computers and technology, business study, and health services.

Professional study

Professional continuing education is generally characterized by the issuing of a certificate to students who already hold a previous degree in the professional field. Licensing bodies (such as the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers or Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada) impose continuing education requirements on members who hold licenses to practice within a particular profession. These requirements are intended to encourage professionals to expand their knowledge base and stay up-to-date on new developments. Depending on the field, these requirements may be satisfied through college or university coursework, extension courses, or conference and seminar attendance.

Non-credit study

This type of continuing education is usually taken for personal or professional interest, but do not count towards the requirements for an academic program. Common areas of non-credit study include senior’s studies, foreign languages, and writing and publishing.

University preparation

Many schools offer university or college preparation courses for students who wish to get a solid foundation in certain subjects before embarking on continuing education at the post-secondary level. It is also used by students who need to pass certain pre-requisites before admission to upper-level courses. Common subjects include English, Math, Physics, Chemistry, and Writing. It can also be used by mature students who need to “brush up” in certain areas before re-entering academia.

English as a second language

As English is one of the official languages of Canada, proven proficiency in English is necessary to enroll in most degree programs. Many schools now offer training and courses for students whose first language is not English. These are non-credit programs and courses designed to develop English language skills in an academic setting that enhances student preparation for university study.

Generally, these programs are several months long and involve intense immersion in the English language. Students often live with English sponsors and speak only English outside of their peer group. In the classroom, the focus is on both conversational and written English, and includes exercises designed to allow them to understand and succeed in subsequent undergraduate or graduate programs they may ultimately be interested in.

Placement tests are also offered. These are computer based and test the student's ability in reading, writing, listening and speaking. For students who need to demonstrate English proficiency but don’t need to take a program, passing this test will often be sufficient.




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