2006 Census Topic-based tabulations

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Labour Force Activity (8), Highest Certificate, Diploma or Degree (13), Attendance at School (3), Age Groups (12A) and Sex (3) for the Population 15 Years and Over of Canada, Provinces, Territories, Census Divisions, Census Subdivisions and Dissemination Areas, 2006 Census - 20% Sample Data

About this variable: Highest certificate, diploma or degree (13)


Highest certificate, diploma or degree

Part A - Plain language definition
Information indicating the person's most advanced certificate, diploma or degree.

Part B - Detailed definition
This is a derived variable obtained from the educational qualifications questions, which asked for all certificates, diplomas and degrees to be reported. There is an implied hierarchy in this variable (secondary school graduation, registered apprenticeship and trades, college, university) which is loosely tied to the 'in-class' duration of the various types of education. However, at the detailed level a registered apprenticeship graduate may not have completed a secondary school certificate or diploma, nor does an individual with a master's degree necessarily have a certificate or diploma above the bachelor's degree level. Therefore, although the sequence is more or less hierarchical, it is a general rather than an absolute gradient measure of academic achievement.


  1. Total - Highest certificate, diploma or degree Footnote 1
  2. No certificate, diploma or degree
  3. Certificate, diploma or degree
  4. High school certificate or equivalent Footnote 4
  5. Apprenticeship or trades certificate or diploma
  6. College, CEGEP or other non-university certificate or diploma Footnote 6
  7. University certificate or diploma below bachelor level Footnote 7
  8. University certificate, diploma or degree at bachelor's level or above Footnote 8
  9. Bachelor's degree
  10. University certificate or diploma above bachelor level
  11. Degree in medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine or optometry
  12. Master's degree
  13. Earned doctorate


Footnote 1

'Highest certificate, diploma or degree' refers to the highest certificate, diploma or degree completed based on a hierarchy which is generally related to the amount of time spent 'in-class'. For postsecondary completers, a university education is considered to be a higher level of schooling than a college education, while a college education is considered to be a higher level of education than in the trades. Although some trades requirements may take as long or longer to complete than a given college or university program, the majority of time is spent in on-the-job paid training and less time is spent in the classroom.

Census questions relating to education changed substantially between 2001 and 2006, principally to reflect developments in Canada's education system. These changes improved the quality of data and provided more precise information on the level of educational attainment as well as fields of study.

However, users should be aware that changes to the education portion of the 2006 Census questionnaire have affected the comparability of some 2006 Census data with data from previous censuses. More information on the historical comparability of specific categories of 'Highest certificate, diploma or degree' is available in the Education Reference Guide, 2006 Census, catalogue number 97-560-GWE2006003.

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Footnote 4

'High school certificate or equivalent' includes persons who have graduated from a secondary school or equivalent. Excludes persons with a postsecondary certificate, diploma or degree. Examples of postsecondary institutions include community colleges, institutes of technology, CEGEPs, private trade schools, private business colleges, schools of nursing and universities.

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Footnote 6

'College, CEGEP or other non-university certificate or diploma' replaces the category 'Other non university certificate or diploma' in previous censuses. This category includes accreditation by non degree-granting institutions such as community colleges, CEGEPs, private business colleges and technical institutes.

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Footnote 7

The overall quality of the 'Highest certificate, diploma or degree' variable from the 2006 Census is acceptable. However, users of the 'University certificate or diploma below the bachelor level' category should know that an unexpected growth in this category was noted compared to the 2001 Census.

In fact, in the 2001 Census, 2.5% of respondents aged 15 years or over declared such a diploma, compared to 4.4% in 2006, representing 89% growth. This phenomenon was not found in other sources like the Labour Force Survey.

We recommend users interpret the 2006 Census results for this category with caution.

For more information on factors that may explain such variances in census data, such as response errors and processing errors, please refer to the 2006 Census Dictionary, Appendix B: Data quality, sampling and weighting, confidentiality and random rounding.

More information is available in the Education Reference Guide, 2006 Census, catalogue number 97-560-GWE2006003.

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Footnote 8

Questions pertaining to university degrees attained in 2006 (for example bachelor's degrees or master's degrees) were similar to those asked in 2001. Data for the university categories (bachelor's degree through to earned doctorate) are comparable over time.

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