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Highest certificate, diploma or degree

Part A - Short definition:

Information indicating the person's most advanced certificate, diploma or degree.

Part B - Detailed definition:

Information indicating the person's most advanced certificate, diploma or degree. This is a derived variable obtained from the educational qualifications questions, which asked for all certificates, diplomas and degrees to be reported. The general hierarchy used in deriving this variable (high school graduation, trades, college, university) is loosely tied to the 'in-class' duration of the various types of education. At the detailed level, someone who has completed one type of certificate, diploma or degree will not necessarily have completed the credentials listed below it in the hierarchy. For example, a registered apprenticeship graduate may not have completed a high school certificate or diploma, nor does an individual with a master's degree necessarily have a 'certificate or diploma above the bachelor's level.' Although the hierarchy may not fit all programs perfectly, it gives a general measure of educational attainment.

Reported in:


Reported for:

Population aged 15 years and over in private households

Question number(s):

Derived variable: Questions 27, 28, 29 and 30


No certificate, diploma or degree; High school diploma or equivalent; Registered Apprenticeship certificate; Other trades certificate or diploma; College, CEGEP or other non-university certificate or diploma from a program of 3 months to less than 1 year; College, CEGEP or other non-university certificate or diploma from a program of 1 year to 2 years; College, CEGEP or other non-university certificate or diploma from a program of more than 2 years; University certificate or diploma below bachelor level; Bachelor's degree; University certificate or diploma above bachelor level; Degree in medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine or optometry; Master's degree; Earned doctorate.


The following qualifications are to be noted:

  1. For this variable, the category 'High school diploma or equivalent' includes persons who have completed the requirements for graduation from a secondary school or the equivalent, but no postsecondary certificate, diploma or degree. Examples of secondary (high) school equivalency certificates are General Educational Development (GED) and Adult Basic Education (ABE). A secondary (high) school diploma or graduation certificate or equivalent is sometimes classified as junior or senior matriculation, general or technical-commercial.
  2. The 'Registered Apprenticeship certificate' category includes Journeyperson's designation. A journeyman's or journeyperson's certificate in the trades is obtained through successful completion of the examinations for a Certificate of Qualification (COQ). Candidates for the exam must have several years of work experience in the trade or have received their registered apprenticeship certificate through a combination of on-the-job training and in-school training.
  3. Other trades certificates or diplomas such as pre-employment or vocational certificates and diplomas are brief trade programs completed at community colleges, institutes of technology, vocational centres, and similar institutions.
  4. College, CEGEP and other non-university certificates or diplomas are obtained from: a community college; a CEGEP (both general and technical); an institute of technology; a school of nursing; a private business school; a private or public trade school; or a vocational school. Included in this category are teaching and nursing certificates awarded by provincial departments of education, with the exception of teachers' or nurses qualifications obtained at university-affiliated faculties of education or nursing. College certificates or diplomas of two years or more usually have a minimum entrance requirement of a secondary (high) school diploma or its equivalent.
  5. University certificates or diplomas (below or above bachelor level) are awarded for non-degree programs of study completed through a university. They are often connected with professional associations in fields such as accounting, banking, insurance or public administration. If the university certificate or diploma program does not require a bachelor degree to enrol, then it is classified as below the bachelor level. If a university certificate or diploma program normally requires a bachelor's degree as a prerequisite, then it is classified as above the bachelor level.
  6. University degrees are obtained through universities and other degree-granting institutions.
  7. Examples of postsecondary institutions include community colleges, institutes of technology, CEGEPs, schools of nursing, private or public trade schools, private business colleges, and universities.

For any comments on data quality for this variable, refer to the Education Reference Guide, 2011 National Household Survey.

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