Career colleges throughout Ontario deliver a wide range of postsecondary programs designed to provide graduates with the entry-level skills and knowledge they need to become successfully employed in various vocations. These programs must be of high quality and relevant to the needs of both employers and students.

Under the Ontario Career Colleges Act, 2005, every career college in Ontario must secure the approval of the Superintendent of Career Colleges for any vocational program it offers which is:

  • 40 hours or more of instruction
  • costs more than $2,000

Approval process

Career colleges submit applications for program approval to the Superintendent of Career Colleges through the Program Approval and Registration Information System (PARIS). PARIS is clear and easy-to-use and its dedicated program approval module allows career college operators to input program information and curriculum details directly for ministry review.

The Ontario Career Colleges Act, 2005 sets out the requirements for program approval, including descriptions of:

  • all courses and subject modules
  • qualifications of instructors
  • methods of evaluation
  • admission standards

Some colleges and some programs are not required to receive approval from the Superintendent of Career Colleges.

For more information, see career colleges exemptions from registration.

Learn more about pre-screening and registration.

Communicating with the ministry

Ongoing communication with the ministry is required and done online through PARIS. Career colleges must keep the ministry informed of significant changes to programs, such as changes to tuition fees, changes to the curriculum or to the maximum number of students. Career colleges receive login credentials when they first register to use PARIS.

If you are a career college operator and need access to PARIS, send an email to pcc@ontario.ca.

Application fees

Career colleges are required to pay fees for various services that the ministry provides such as reviewing applications for registration and program approval.

Read the fee schedule

Program standards

Ontario's career colleges deliver a wide range of postsecondary programs designed to provide graduates with the skills and the knowledge they need to become successfully employed.

Program standards outline the key skills and knowledge required to do certain jobs, which helps to create consistent training programs, regardless of where students choose to study.

The ministry oversees the development of standards for many programs of instruction. The program standards identify the essential skills and knowledge graduates must acquire to find jobs and continue their career development.

Each career college must ensure that its programs and its methods of program delivery are consistent with these standards and must assist students to achieve the essential outcomes.

To ensure that a program prepares students for the expectations of their industry, the Superintendent of Career Colleges may issue a policy directive to require a career college to meet a program standard.

Login to PARIS to review the program standards required for the licensing of certain programs at career colleges.

Instructor qualifications

Education and experience

Under the Ontario Career Colleges Act, 2005, an instructor for a vocational program must have:

  • at least 48 months of work or teaching experience in the vocation in the past 10 years. This can be 4 years of work experience, 4 years of teaching experience or a combination of both
  • at least 24 months of experience, within the previous 10 years, working or teaching in the vocation, plus one of the following qualifications:
    1. an Ontario bachelor's degree (or equivalent degree outside Ontario)
    2. a certificate of qualification issued under the Ontario College of Trades and Apprenticeship Act, 2009 (or equivalent Canadian certificate)
    3. status as a graduate of an Ontario college of applied arts and technology or registered career college (or equivalent institution outside Ontario)

Regulated programs

If a vocation is governed by a regulatory body that specifies instructor qualifications, the instructors at a career college must meet those additional qualifications.

Substitute instructors

Career colleges may employ substitute instructors that do not meet the requirements if:

  • the regulating body or program standard allows (if one applies to the vocation)
  • the total amount of a program taught by all unqualified instructors does not exceed 10%

The Superintendent may approve other instructors that are deemed to be proficient in the subject and/or vocation to be taught. If you would like to seek approval for an instructor that does not meet the qualifications listed above, contact the ministry: pcc@ontario.ca

Admission requirements

Admission requirements demonstrate a student’s ability to participate in a vocational training program at a career college.

There are minimum admission requirements set out in Section 19 of Regulation 415/06 of the Ontario Career Colleges Act, 2005.

Student must either:

  • have an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) or equivalent diploma
  • be 18 years of age or older and pass a qualifying test that has been approved by the superintendent

An application for program approval must identify:

  • the admission requirements for the vocational program
  •  and a description of any qualifying test used

In some situations, students can be required by the superintendent to meet different, or additional, admission requirements.

Educational equivalents to an Ontario Secondary School Diploma

Examples of education equivalent to an Ontario Secondary School Diploma:

  • secondary school diploma from a Canadian or United States jurisdiction
  • General Education Development (GED) certificate issued by a Canadian province or territory or from the United States
  • transcript, diploma or certificate from another country, assessed at an Ontario OSSD level by a recognized assessment service
  • Canadian or U.S. postsecondary diploma or degree
  • non-Canadian postsecondary diploma or degree that has been assessed as equivalent to a Canadian postsecondary diploma or degree by a recognized assessment service
  • certificate of completion for an academic upgrading program from any Canadian jurisdiction (for example the Academic Career Entrance (ACE) Certificate
  • Certificate of Apprenticeship or Certificate of Qualification in any trade from any Canadian jurisdiction

Student contracts

Career colleges must put admission requirements in the student contract, including the names of:

  • any qualifying tests used to admit students
  • the scores needed to pass the tests

This requirement is set out in Section 20 of Regulation 415/06 of the Ontario Career Colleges Act, 2005.
Career colleges can enrol students before they meet the admission requirements but cannot allow them to start the program if the admission requirements are not met by the start date.

Students are eligible for a  refund if they do not meet the admission requirements by the program start date, minus 20% of the total fees paid for the program or $500 (whichever is greater).

Qualifying tests

Career colleges can use a qualifying test instead of an Ontario Secondary School Diploma or equivalent to admit a student if they are 18 years or older.

Operators should consider what skills and knowledge might be required for a student to succeed in their studies and to engage with the program material. Career colleges may want to explore options for qualifying tests to find one that relates well to the program content.

Every program application must include:

  • the details of the admissions test
  • an explanation of the rationale for the chosen test
  •  a copy of the test
  • the minimum scores needed to pass

Operators may contact test developers or distributors to explore options for qualifying tests such as Wonderlic, Accuplacer, Test of Workplace Essential Skills (TOWES) or the Canadian Adult Achievement Test or propose a customized admissions test. If the career college is obtaining a test from a distributor, there may be administrative, copyright and contractual obligations to follow.

Third party assessors will be asked to:

  • review the proposed admissions test
  • provide an opinion on the test as a measure of readiness for the content of the program

Entry-to-practice requirements

Entry-to-practice requirements are requirements or qualifications that graduates must have to qualify to work in the occupation they have trained for.

For example:

  • professional exam
  • licence
  • clear driving record
  • clear criminal record

Career colleges must provide current and prospective students with the:

  • most up to date entry-to-practice requirements
  • the exact terms and titles set out by specific regulatory bodies

Entry-to-practice requirements must be listed on the student contract if they are not set as admission requirements.

Practicum requirements

Practicum requirements are prerequisites or qualifications that students must have before they begin a practicum, work placement or clinical placement such as:

  • criminal records check
  • medical screening certificates
  • driver’s licence

Career colleges can require students to meet practicum requirements when they are admitted to the program or set them out as practicum requirements on the student contract.

Third-party assessments

Part of the program approval process involves having a vocational program assessed by a qualified third party who has expertise in program evaluation and who has been approved by the Superintendent of Career Colleges.

A program assessment must be based on a complete application for program approval and done at the expense of the applicant.

Each program assessment report is completed in PARIS and is submitted directly to the Superintendent of Career Colleges.

Read about third-party assessments