As the most populous of Canada's northern provinces, the Northwest Territories is an attractive place to study, live and work. According to the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service, the province can boast of having the highest average wages in the country while also having one of the lowest tax rates. In addition, it has the nation's highest employment rate and lowest unemployment rate.

Accounting for more than 13 percent of Canada's landmass, the Northwest Territories is home to nearly 45,000 residents. Nearly half of those live in the province capital of Yellowknife, with the rest scattered in far-flung communities such as Hay River, Inuvik and Fort Smith.

Because the Northwest Territories is sparsely populated and largely rural, there are only a few postsecondary institutions operating within the province. However, access to the Internet opens up new educational options for students both at Northwest Territories colleges and at institutions elsewhere on the continent.

A robust economy supported by natural resources

Because of its strong economy, the Northwest Territories can be a land of opportunity for many, and the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service notes it has the fastest-growing gross domestic product (GDP) in Canada. Its economic vitality is spurred by growth in these key industries.

  • Oil and gas
  • Diamond mining
  • Agriculture
  • Fisheries and fur
  • Tourism

In April 2014, the Canadian government handed over control and management responsibilities for 80 percent of the oil, gas, mineral and water resources in the Northwest Territories to the provincial government. That, along with several major mining and oil projects scheduled for 2015, could make these sectors good choices for students selecting an area of study.

However, these fields aren't the only ones employing people in the province. While the Government of the Northwest Territories is the largest employer in Yellowknife, the city is also home to hospitals, office buildings and retail shops of every kind, making it possible to pursue a career in a variety of fields.

Northwest Territories colleges

Aurora College is the main postsecondary institution in the Northwest Territories. It operates three campuses: Aurora, Thebacha and Yellowknife/North Slave.

In addition, there are two other career colleges and vocational schools in the province.

  • Great Slave Helicopters Flight Training Centre
  • Pentecostal Sub-Arctic Leadership Training College

For those interested in a career in health care, there is no dedicated Northwest Territories college of physicians. Instead, individuals practicing family medicine must have a certificate from the College of Family Physicians of Canada or proof of a two-year postgraduate internship. Specialists must be certified by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, or by the Professional Corporation of Physicians of Quebec.

Since higher education options may be limited in the more rural areas of the Northwest Territories, residents there may want to consider online classes. Aurora College offer a few programs and courses online, but a wider selection can be found through eCampusAlberta. This partnership brings together 26 Alberta institutions offering 900 online courses and 70 online programs.

Financial aid for Northwest Territories colleges

Students seeking help with tuition costs may find aid available through Northwest Territories Student Financial Assistance. Open to both part-time and full-time students, the program seeks to supplement higher education costs.

Assistance is available to students in three categories: Northern Indigenous Aboriginal Resident, Northern Resident Schooled in the Northwest Territories and Northern Resident Not Schooled in the Northwest Territories.

Eligible students might receive one or more of the following types of aid:

  • Basic Grant
  • Supplementary Grant
  • Remissible Loan
  • Repayable Loan
  • Study Grant for Students with Permanent Disabilities
  • Course Reimbursement

Individuals can learn more about these programs and their eligibility requirements on the Student Financial Assistance page of the Northwest Territories' official government website.

Other grants and loans may be available from the Canadian government. Scholarships may be offered by individual institutions as well as private foundations and organizations. Students can learn more about these opportunities by searching online or contacting Northwest Territories colleges for additional information.

Article Sources
Article Sources

Distance Education Programs & Courses, Aurora College,

"Northwest Territories Seeks Opportunities in Oil, Gas," Karen Boman, Rigzone, May 7, 2014,

Postsecondary Education in the Northwest Territories, Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials,

Northwest Territories, The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service,

Northwest Territories, Northern Development Ministers Forum,

Physicians, Department of Health and Social Services, Northwest Territories,

Business and Economic Development, Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment, Northwest Territories,

Student Handbook, Northwest Territories Student Financial Assistance,

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