Education in Nova Scotia, Canada

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All children in Nova Scotia are legally required to attend school until age 16. Parents also have the option of performing home-schooling, but they must still follow specific guidelines and courses.

I. The education in Nova Scotia


Public education is run by the government and paid for through taxes. In Nova Scotia, most residents attend public school, starting at age 5 with grade primary in elementary school. Primary is followed by grades 1 to 6. After elementary school, youth attend grades 7 to 9 at a junior high school, and high school for grades 10 through 12.

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Public schools operate for about 5 hours a day. Times vary at different schools and at different levels. Language instruction can either be in French or English, but most schools in Nova Scotia are primarily English. French immersion is also available.

In all public schools in Nova Scotia, both boys and girls are taught in the same classroom. They are taught by a qualified teacher who has at least one university degree and advanced training in education.

After completing high school, students may choose to continue with post secondary education at university, community college or through an apprenticeship.

See more: Nova Scotia nominee program

Enrolling your child in public school

You can register your child at the local school they will be attending or at the regional school board office. It is important to provide as much documentation as possible about your child’s education outside of Canada. This will help place them in a level of learning that is right for them. A useful resource is the Newcomers’ Guide to Nova Scotia Schools.

The Directory of Public Schools can help you find a school in your area. Information and links to each Regional School Board are on the Department of Education website.


Parents may legally provide an education program for their children in the home, rather than a public school. They must follow government approved courses and programs. Visit the Nova Scotia Department of Education website for more information on home schooling.


The Nova Scotia School for Adult Learning (NSSAL) supports adult education programs from basic literacy to high school completion. It provides funding to community-based organizations, regional school boards, Nova Scotia Community College and Collège de l’Acadie. These organizations deliver programs so adults can improve their literacy skills or earn credits toward the Nova Scotia High School Graduation Diploma for Adults.

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Where to study

There are many opportunities to receive additional education in Nova Scotia. Most programs and courses require a high school or general equivalency diploma (GED). Some training is available for mature students who have no previous formal education.


Universities require high school completion. Some special courses might be needed for specific programs of study. University preparatory classes may also be required for admission. Once you complete your university studies, you will receive a degree in your area of study. Most university degrees require 3 or 4 years to complete.

There are 10 universities located in Nova Scotia, 6 have their main campus in Halifax and 4 have their primary campuses in municipalities outside of Halifax. A number of universities have multiple campuses, for example Dalhousie University’s main campus is in Halifax, with the Dalhousie Agricultural College located in Truro. Similarly, Université Sainte-Anne’s main campus is in Church Point, with smaller campuses in Halifax, Tusket, Petit-de-Grat, and Saint-Joseph-du-Moine.

For specific information on the programming and application requirements for each university please refer to the university’s web page:

A study permit is required to attend a university in Nova Scotia. Please refer to the information on applying for a study permit on IRCC’s website.


At Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) there are over 150 programs of study. They have a wide selection of training courses and programs, ranging from mechanical engineering, to culinary arts, to child care studies. The NSCC does not offer degree programs like universities. They do offer certificates and diplomas in specific occupational fields. There are 13 NSCC campuses throughout Nova Scotia. NSCC programs are generally less expensive than university degree programs.

A study permit is required to attend the NSCC. Please refer to the information on applying for a study permit on IRCC’s webpage.

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Nova Scotia Community College Rankings

  • Webometrics University Rankings ranked NSCC 95th in entire Canada in 2020.
  • NSCC ranked 44th by Forbes in Best Employers in Canada in 2019.
  • Ranked 12th Best Community College in Canada by World Scholarship Forum in 2020.


Private career colleges are privately owned and operated businesses that offer training certificates. They can be in many different fields such as secretarial, paralegal, and flight attendants courses. The tuition fees for different programs vary.

If you are interested in studying at a private career college in Nova Scotia it is important to review the requirements for a study permit and determine if the institution where you would like to study is on IRCC’s list of designated learning institutions.


In Nova Scotia we are fortunate to welcome students from around the world to our campuses, each year. Our province’s many excellent schools, the lifestyle, and welcoming attitude makes us an ideal destination for students looking to experience International Study, which is why so many choose to come here.

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  • Currently, students from 153 countries are enrolled in Nova Scotian secondary and post-secondary institutions.
  • Nearly 18% of all university students in Nova Scotia came from countries other than Canada – this compares to about 15.4% nationally.
  • Nova Scotia’s population is small but mighty: 959,942 people live here. The province is home to 10 degree-granting universities, a 13-campus community college system, hundreds of secondary schools and several excellent language schools.

II. Tuition Fee in NS

Nova Scotia is the most expensive spot in the country to get an undergraduate education in three of the top four fields: humanities; social and behavioural sciences, and legal studies; and physical and life sciences and technologies.

The average tuition cost in the province for each of those fields, respectively, is $7,113, $7,162 and $7,831, whereas the national average in each field is $5,773, $5,893 and $6,395, respectively.

In the fourth field — business, management and public administration — Nova Scotia institutions charge an average of $7,782, again above the national average of $7,409. The fee is second only to Ontario, where average fees are $10,570.

The lowest fees in the country for all the top four undergraduate fields are found in Newfoundland and Labrador. Fees on the easternmost province range from $2,550 to $2,805.

Statistics Canada says undergraduate tuition fees in Nova Scotia increased 5.6 per cent from the 2017-18 academic year, compared to the national average of 3.3 per cent. Fees increased in every province, although Alberta almost held fast, increasing only 0.1 per cent.

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According to Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission (MPHEC), full-time tuition fees for undergraduate arts programs in Nova Scotia are:

  • Acadia University: $8,673
  • Cape Breton University: $7,800
  • Dalhousie University: $7,638
  • Mount Saint Vincent University: $7,701
  • NSCAD University: $8,670
  • Saint Mary’s University: $7,670
  • St. Francis Xavier University: $8,570
  • University of King’s College: $7,638
  • Université Sainte-Anne: $7,560

According to MPHEC, full-time tuition fees for undergraduate science programs in Nova Scotia are:

  • Acadia University: $8,673
  • Cape Breton University: $7,800
  • Dalhousie University: $8,677
  • Mount Saint Vincent University: $8,083
  • NSCAD University: n/a
  • Saint Mary’s University: $8,240
  • St. Francis Xavier University: $8,570
  • University of King’s College: $8,667
  • Université Sainte-Anne: $8,680

Read more: Frequently asked questions about Nova Scotia Nominee program