Dictionary, Census of Population, 2021
Major field of study (based on the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) Canada 2016, historical)

Release date: November 17, 2021


Field of study refers to the discipline or area of learning or training associated with a particular course or program of study.

The 'Major field of study (based on the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) Canada 2016, historical)' variable refers to the predominant discipline or area of learning or training of a person's highest completed postsecondary certificate, diploma or degree, classified according to the historical Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) Canada 2016.

This variable can be used either independently or in conjunction with the 'Highest certificate, diploma or degree' variable. When the latter is used with 'Major field of study,' it should be noted that different fields of study will be more common for different types of postsecondary qualifications. At the detailed program level, some programs are only offered at certain levels of education.

There was an explicit instruction in the questionnaire which instructed respondents to be as specific as possible in indicating a subfield or subcategory of specialization within a broad discipline or area of training.

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 and 1986 (20% sample).

Reported for

Population aged 15 years and over in private households

Question number(s)

Coded variable: Question 35


Major field of study was a write-in response. This variable was created by assigning a field of study code from the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) Canada 2016.

See Appendix 2.12: Major field of study – Classification based on the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) Canada 2016 codes for the CIP Canada 2016 structure.

Respondents who completed a paper questionnaire selected 'No certificate, diploma or degree higher than high school' for persons without a postsecondary certificate, diploma or degree.

Respondents who completed an electronic questionnaire automatically skipped question 35 on major field of study when they indicated they had obtained no postsecondary certificate, diploma or degree in question 34.


For the 2021 Census, major field of study is provided using both CIP Canada 2021 and the older CIP Canada 2016 to facilitate historical comparisons.

CIP Canada 2016 is subdivided into three levels:

There are also three variants of CIP Canada 2016:

Some series and their subcomponents are not used when coding major field of study: series 21, 32 to 37 and 53, which represent non-credit and personal improvement fields of study.

For more information on the CIP classification, please see Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) Canada 2016.


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