BC Post-Secondary System

BC's post-secondary system is an integrated system, comprised of public, private, and Indigenous-operated institutes and institutions. This integration allows for a well-established transfer and articulation system among post-secondary institutions offering a range of education and training options.

A general description of these types of institutes and institutions can be found below. More information about the public post-secondary institutions in BC is available from the institutions or through the appropriate institutional associations to which they belong: BC Colleges, BC Association of Institutes and Universities, and the Research Universities Council of BC. This list of common acronyms used in the post-secondary system may also be helpful.

BC Transfer System

The BC Transfer System is a formal network of member post-secondary institutions, articulation committees, and the post-secondary transfer community and staff. All of these participants in the transfer and articulation system work together to facilitate student mobility, support system quality, recognize equivalent learning, and promote the portability and applicability of credit.

Public Institutions in BC

Colleges offer a wide range of programs throughout the province. Some prepare adult learners for further post-secondary studies, while others focus on trades, vocational, career, technical, and academic studies. University transfer programs at colleges are designed to enable students to transfer into many baccalaureate degree programs at BC universities. Trades/apprenticeship programs, vocational, career, technical and developmental programs, and academic studies, prepare adult learners for post-secondary studies. Colleges exist in every region of BC and offer a range of credentials, including certificates, diplomas, associate degrees, and applied undergraduate degrees.

Universities offer diverse programs and credentials in cities and regional centres around the province. All offer four-year baccalaureate degrees (Bachelor) and transfer pathways, and many offer trades, career/technical and professional programs. Teaching intensive universities also offer certificates, diplomas, and associate degrees, as well as master's degrees in applied areas. Research-intensive universities also offer graduate degree programs at the master's and doctoral level.

Institutes offer specialized programs and have a provincial mandate. Each of the three provincial institutes is unique in terms of the programs it offers, which may include trades, vocational, career, technical, and academic studies, including transfer pathways. Institutes offer a range of credentials, including certificates, diplomas, associate and baccalaureate degrees, and applied master's degrees.

Other Institutions in the BC Transfer System

Private and out-of-province institutions may participate in the BC Transfer System if they are authorized by the province to offer a degree program in BC. Aboriginal-controlled post-secondary institutes that are members of the Indigenous Adult and Higher Learning Association may also be members of the BC Transfer System. These institutions may offer associate or baccalaureate degree programs with transfer pathways.

Other Private Institutions

There are hundreds of private institutions across BC. These institutions range from small operations with a small number of programs to larger institutions with a variety of programs. Types of private institutions include degree granting, career training, theological, academic non-degree granting, and language schools.

Not all private degree-granting institutions with authority to grant degrees in BC are part of the BC Transfer System. See all private and public institutions with authority from the Minister.

Private career training and language training institutions meeting prescribed minimum requirements are certified with the Private Training Institutions Branch (PTIB) of the BC Ministry of Advanced Education.

The Indigenous Adult and Higher Learning Association (IAHLA) was created in 2003 in order to represent and work on behalf of Aboriginal controlled adult and post-secondary education institutes in BC.

IAHLA's community-based institutes offer a broad spectrum of courses and programs that include: college and university programs leading to certificates, diplomas, and degrees; Adult Basic Education leading to the Adult Dogwood Diploma for secondary school completion; language instruction; occupation specific training and upgrading; and lifelong learning programs that support Aboriginal people, communities, languages, and cultures. IAHLA is registered as a non-profit society that is governed by a Board of Directors that is elected at each Annual General Meeting.