Dictionary, Census of Population, 2021
Secondary (high) school diploma or equivalency certificate

Release date: November 17, 2021


Secondary (high) school diploma or equivalency certificate refers to whether or not a person has completed a high school or secondary school diploma, graduation certificate, or equivalency certificate. Secondary school (high school) diploma or graduation certificate includes academic or vocational high school diplomas or certificates as may be obtained by graduating from a secondary school. High school equivalency certificate includes the successful completion of a high school equivalency test such as the General Educational Development (GED) test, or obtaining an Adult Basic Education (ABE) certificate where it is equivalent to the completion of secondary school.

This variable indicates whether a person has completed a high school diploma or equivalency certificate. It also indicates what, if any, the person's highest postsecondary certificate, diploma or degree is. It uses the hierarchy of educational credentials specified in the "Highest certificate, diploma or degree" classification to create two separate hierarchies; one branching from "No high school diploma or equivalency certificate" and the other from "With high school diploma or equivalency certificate."

Persons who obtained trades qualifications from secondary-level vocational training programs in the province of Quebec, such as the Diplôme d'études professionnelles / Diploma of Vocational Studies (DEP/DVS), are included in the category "apprenticeship or trades certificate or diploma."

This variable is reported for persons aged 15 years and over in private households.

Statistical unit(s)


Reported in

2021 and 2016 (25% sample); 2011Footnote 1 (30% sample); 2006, 2001, 1996, 1991, 1986 and 1981 (20% sample).

Reported for

Population aged 15 years and over in private households

Question number(s)

Derived variable: Questions 33, 34a), 34b) and 34c)



This is a useful variable for socio-economic analysis. By dividing the population into those who do and those who do not have high school (secondary school) completion, differences in employment, income, participation in further education, homeownership and mobility can be examined.

With the exception of high school diplomas or equivalency certificates, the qualifications in the categories of this classification pertain to the highest certificate, diploma or degree obtained, and do not refer to certificates, diplomas or degrees 'ever obtained' or that which is 'most recent.'


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