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2011 National Household Survey: Data tables

Mother Tongue (10), First Official Language Spoken (5), Employment Income Statistics in 2010 (7), Immigrant status and period of immigration (9), Highest Certificate, Diploma or Degree (10), Age Groups (8B) and Sex (3) for the Population Aged 15 Years and Over Who Worked Since 2010, in Private Households of Canada, Provinces, Territories, Census Metropolitan Areas and Census Agglomerations, 2011 National Household Survey

About this variable: Highest certificate, diploma or degree (10)


Highest certificate, diploma or degree

Part A - Short definition
Information indicating the person's most advanced certificate, diploma or degree.

Part B - Detailed definition
Information indicating the person's most advanced certificate, diploma or degree. This is a derived variable obtained from the educational qualifications questions, which asked for all certificates, diplomas and degrees to be reported. The general hierarchy used in deriving this variable (high school graduation, trades, college, university) is loosely tied to the 'in-class' duration of the various types of education. At the detailed level, someone who has completed one type of certificate, diploma or degree will not necessarily have completed the credentials listed below it in the hierarchy. For example, a registered apprenticeship graduate may not have completed a high school certificate or diploma, nor does an individual with a master's degree necessarily have a 'certificate or diploma above the bachelor's level.' Although the hierarchy may not fit all programs perfectly, it gives a general measure of educational attainment.


  1. Total population aged 15 years and over by highest certificate, diploma or degree Footnote 1
  2. No certificate, diploma or degree
  3. High school diploma or equivalent Footnote 3
  4. Postsecondary certificate, diploma or degree Footnote 4
  5. Apprenticeship or trades certificate or diploma Footnote 5
  6. College, CEGEP or other non-university certificate or diploma
  7. University certificate or diploma below bachelor level Footnote 7
  8. University certificate, diploma or degree at bachelor level or above
  9. Bachelor's degree
  10. University certificate, diploma or degree above bachelor level Footnote 10


Footnote 1

'Highest certificate, diploma or degree' refers to the highest certificate, diploma or degree completed based on a hierarchy which is generally related to the amount of time spent 'in-class.' For postsecondary completers, a university education is considered to be a higher level of schooling than a college education, while a college education is considered to be a higher level of education than in the trades. Although some trades requirements may take as long or longer to complete than a given college or university program, the majority of time is spent in on-the-job paid training and less time is spent in the classroom.

For further definitions, refer to the National Household Survey Dictionary, Catalogue no. 99-000-X. For any comments on collection, dissemination or data quality for this variable, refer to the Education Reference Guide, National Household Survey, Catalogue no. 99-012-X2011006.

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Footnote 3

'High school diploma or equivalent' includes persons who have graduated from a secondary school or equivalent. It excludes persons with a postsecondary certificate, diploma or degree.

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Footnote 4

'Postsecondary certificate, diploma or degree' includes 'apprenticeship or trades certificates or diplomas,' 'college, CEGEP or other non-university certificates or diplomas' and university certificates, diplomas and degrees.

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Footnote 5

'Apprenticeship or trades certificate or diploma' includes Registered Apprenticeship certificates (including Certificate of Qualification, Journeyperson's designation) and other trades certificates or diplomas such as pre-employment or vocational certificates and diplomas from brief trade programs completed at community colleges, institutes of technology, vocational centres, and similar institutions.

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Footnote 7

Comparisons with other data sources suggest that the category 'University certificate or diploma below the bachelor's level' was over-reported in the NHS. This category likely includes some responses that are actually college certificates or diplomas, bachelor's degrees or other types of education (e.g., university transfer programs, bachelor's programs completed in other countries, incomplete bachelor's programs, non-university professional designations). We recommend users interpret the results for the 'University certificate or diploma below the bachelor's level' category with caution.

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Footnote 10

'University certificate, diploma or degree above bachelor level' includes the categories 'University certificate or diploma above bachelor level,' 'Degree in medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine or optometry,' 'Master's degree' and 'Earned doctorate.'

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