Bordered by mountains to the west and prairies to the east, Alberta is a western Canadian province known for its beautiful views and wilderness areas. Largely rural, the northern part of the province is dotted with small towns such as High Level and Peace River. Two-thirds of Alberta's population is concentrated in the southern metro areas of Edmonton and Calgary.
Despite its rugged nature, Alberta offers diverse opportunities for students of all ages. Alberta schools are the training ground for careers in both traditional fields and emerging technologies. Whether they are looking for an online degree or an on-campus experience, students will likely find what they are looking for at colleges in Alberta, Canada.
An economy melding the old with new
Traditionally, natural resources have fueled Alberta's growth. Agriculture, tourism, forestry and oil have all played a pivotal role in buoying the province's economy, even in the midst of a global recession. According to a 2014 report from the Government of Alberta, the province has had the highest gross domestic product growth rate in Canada during the past two decades.
To maintain that growth, the province is moving into new fields that are expected to grow in the years to come. According to the government report, Alberta's emerging industries include:
- Biotechnology and pharmaceuticals
- Software development
- Electronics and microelectronics
- Environmental technologies
While career opportunities are expected to grow in these areas, traditional industries still continue to dominate the economy. Of the top three companies on Alberta Venture's 2014 Fast Growth 50 List, two are in the oil and gas industry while the third is a manufacturer.
Learning opportunities at schools in Alberta
There is no shortage of colleges in Alberta, Canada. The province is home to multiple community colleges, four-year universities, technical schools and online institutions. The following are some of the public universities and technical schools in Alberta:
- University of Alberta
- University of Calgary
- University of Lethbridge
- Grant MacEwan University
- Northern Alberta Institute of Technology
- Southern Alberta Institute of Technology
- Mount Royal University
- Athabasca University
In addition, there are 11 comprehensive community colleges, five independent academic institutions and two specialized arts and culture schools that are publicly funded. Beyond that, students may have access to private Alberta colleges.
Athabasca University is notable as a leading online university in Canada, but it is only one of numerous online education opportunities for Alberta students. eCampus Alberta is a consortium of 19 institutions offering more than 70 certificate, diploma and degree programs online. Students may also be able to earn a degree online through private schools operating in the province.
Where to find financial aid for Alberta colleges
Students enrolling at schools in Alberta may be eligible for financial aid from both public and private sources. For example, private foundations may offer scholarships to students who meet certain criteria.
Meanwhile, the Government of Alberta offers the following grants specifically for its residents.
- Alberta Maintenance Grant
- Alberta Completion Incentive Grant
- Alberta Low-Income Grant
- Alberta Part-Time Grant
Other public sources of tuition assistance may come in the form of loans or grants from the Canadian government. To learn more about Canadian financial aid and find out whether they might qualify for any assistance, students can visit the Alberta Student Aid website.
U.S. students attending colleges in Alberta, Canada, may be eligible for other financial aid programs offered by their own federal government.
For more information on academic programs, online degree options and financial aid, students should contact the admissions and financial aid offices of Alberta schools. Institutions typically can point students to the appropriate resources. Another option is to request information online from these and other schools.
Alberta Facts, AITC-SK,
"Alberta's 2014 Fast Growth 50 List," Alberta Venture, Jan. 2, 2014,
Economic Highlights, Business in Alberta: Statistics and Publications, AlbertaCanada.com,
"Student Aid Alberta invests in Albertans," Student Aid Alberta,