British Columbia is the westernmost province in Canada and is the third-most populous province in the country. Approximately 4.5 million people call British Columbia home, with more than half of those residents concentrated in the Vancouver metro area. Victoria, the capital city, is the province's other major urban area.
Outside Victoria and Vancouver, you can find cities such as Kamloops, Kelowna and Prince George in the southern half of the province. To the north, British Columbia is dominated by wilderness areas and mountainous terrain, with far fewer towns.
With its combination of modern cities and natural beauty, British Columbia and its schools attract students from around the world. Even those who are unable to travel to the province to study may be able to access its quality educational institutions through online degree programs.
High tech sector driving province economy
Students might be attracted to colleges in British Columbia in part because of the region's prominent high-tech industry.
While high-tech jobs accounted for only slightly more than 4 percent of the province's workforce in 2012, employees in the industry had average wages that were 65 percent higher than the average for wage earners in other industries. What's more, a report prepared by BC Stats for the Ministry of Technology found that the high-tech sector employed more workers than the region's more traditional mining, oil and gas, and forestry industries combined.
For these reasons, students considering British Columbia schools may want to explore degree programs related to technology. Other top choices may include these fields, which were cited by WorkBC as having particularly strong job prospects in the coming years:
- Green technology
- Digital media
- Life sciences
The government agency also notes there should be expanding job opportunities in traditional industries involving natural resources as those sectors innovate. Service industries such as health care are also expected to grow.
Exploring colleges in British Columbia
Whether they are seeking an advanced degree or vocational training, students will find a range of programs at British Columbia schools. The provincial government provides funding for 11 universities, 11 community colleges and two specialized institutions. In addition, there are 19 private and non-province institutions authorized to confer grants in British Columbia as well as 16 theological institutions.
The following are some of the schools offering degree programs and education to province residents and students from beyond BC's borders:
- University of British Columbia
- University of Victoria
- Simon Fraser University
- British Columbia Institute of Technology
- City University of Seattle (the American college has a campus located in Vancouver)
- Columbia College
Students unable to travel to these schools or those who need the flexibility to study whenever is convenient may want to consider an online degree program. Many British Columbia schools offer online courses and degree programs. For example, the distinguished creative writing program at the University of British Columbia has made its master of fine arts in creative writing available to distance learners.
Financial aid for colleges in British Columbia
Even the most affordable public colleges in British Columbia can cost thousands of dollars in tuition. However, there are numerous financial aid options for students in the province.
The British Columbia government lists 19 scholarships and grants available to its residents. These include the following awards:
- Adult basic education student assistance program
- BC access grant
- Canada student grant
- Irving K. Barber scholarship programs
- Lieutenant-Governor's medal
In addition to scholarships and grants, students may be eligible for Canada-BC integrated loans, which allow for convenient management of financial aid provided by both the Canadian and British Columbia governments. For more information on these funding options and to apply for a loan, students can visit the StudentAid website for the province.
Students can also request additional information directly from colleges in British Columbia. Admissions and financial aid offices may have information regarding private scholarships and other funding sources available to those enrolling in their institution.
"BC Tech Sector Shows Continued Economic Growth," British Columbia Technology Industry Association, MarketWired.com, April 3, 2014,
"B.C. Quick Facts," Government of British Columbia,
Ministry of Advanced Education, Government of British Columbia,
StudentAidBC, Government of British Columbia,
"B.C.'s high tech sector is a bigger employer than mining, oil and gas, and forestry," Stephen Hui, Straight.com, April 3, 2014,
B.C.'s Economy, WorkBC,