The Best Free Programs and Degrees for Older Adults in Canada (2022)

Can you believe the world’s oldest college student was 96 years and 200 days when he graduated in 2016! Figures also show that the number of older adults who enroll in colleges and universities increases and will be grown by 20% by 2025.

But when it comes to learning, most people wrongly assume that young people in their 20s are the most capable of understanding and absorbing new information, and they rarely think of going back to school after 50. However, being older isn’t an obstacle but a massive advantage and opportunity. Not just in the classroom but outside of it too.

Several studies indicate that college degree holders tend to live longer, stave off signs of cognitive decline, and also keep their brains engaged by challenging themselves to learn new skills.

In short, this article is definitely for you if you think there might be more out there for you to discover. Therefore, We invite you to look at the best free programs and degrees for older adults in Canada.

The Advantages of Going Back to the University as a Senior

Other than being able to fulfill your dreams, going back to school has many other benefits; for example:

Boost Memory Function and Critical Thinking.

According to scientific research, seniors who regularly read and put themselves in problem-solving situations have a lower risk of dementia and also higher cognition function. For example, students find themselves in many problem-solving situations that highly challenge them in the university. Also, The educational environment requires lots of reading and analyzing; both can increase seniors’ cognition skills and memory function.

Follow Your Wishes and Interests.

As mentioned above, going back to the university gives seniors a unique opportunity to follow their lifelong wishes. Even better, you can discover your previously unknown interests!

Social Interaction.

There is no doubt that there is a direct relationship between lack of social interaction and depression. Therefore, by going back to the university, seniors can expand their social relations and experience more interactive and fun times.

Exchange Knowledge and Information.

If you take classes with people from different backgrounds, you will socialize and also learn more about everything.

Best degrees for older adults in Canada

Best Programs and Degrees for Older Adults 

Today, many online classes and degree programs fit seniors’ scheduling and are also designed for senior learners. Therefore, based on different programs offered by universities, we categorized the best degrees for seniors as an associate, bachelor, master, and Ph.D. programs.

Associate Programs

It is a two-year degree and typically contains around 60 credit hours. The Associate degrees for seniors that pave their way into the best jobs are as follows:

  • Accounting
  • Art
  • Child development
  • Museum technicians
  • Proofreader
  • Psychology
  • Real estate sales
  • Tax preparers

Some colleges and universities offer scholarships for older students over 55.

Bachelor Degrees for Older Adults

The most popular bachelor’s degrees for seniors who want to change careers are:

  • Accounting
  • Business
  • Engineering
  • Medical billing
  • Psychology
  • Hairstylists
  • Photography

The last five degrees are suitable for those who have dreamed of being entrepreneurs and have a self-employed career. You can also read more about senior accomplishments in our previous posts.

Master Degrees

A master’s degree also seems perfect For seniors who have had a bachelor’s degree and are looking for a secondary or more advanced career. Therefore, there are different master’s programs you can apply for based on the graduate degrees you’ve earned. Some of these master’s degrees are listed below:

Master of:

  • Accounting
  • Business administration
  • Public health
  • Science in nursing/nurse practitioner
Best degrees for older adults in Canada

Ph.D. Programs

By having a master’s or even bachelor’s degree, you can therefore pursue Ph.D. programs in your field of study. For example, some of the exciting Ph.D. degrees among older adults are:

  • Biology
  • Botany
  • Conservation
  • History
  • Law
  • Literature and writing
  • Philosophy

Free College and University Programs for Seniors 

Fortunately, some universities in Canada provide tuition-free programs for seniors. However, the decision about tuition waiver costs depends on each university. Therefore, the best way to have detailed information about tuition for seniors and other rules and policies for each college and university is by checking each university’s website.

In the table below, we gather some Canadian universities that offer tuition-free courses and programs for seniors.

Canadian Universities That Offer Tuition-Free Courses and Programs for Seniors

University Age of eligibility
University of British Colombia 65 and older
University of Calgary 65 and older
University of Saskatchewan 65 and older
University of Manitoba 65 and older
Guelph University 65 and older
McMaster University 65 and older
York University 60 and older
Concordia University 55 and older
Dalhousie University 65 and older

Note that this is not an ultimate list and will be changed in the future.

However, with the advent of technology, we are witnessing that some online courses and degrees in different universities are now available for seniors and youngsters. These online courses especially become more prevalent during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canadian Universities Degrees and Programs for Older Adults

Below you can find some tuition-free programs and also degrees offered to senior citizens.

University of British Columbia

Suppose you are 65 or older in the session you are registered, a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident. In that case, you can apply for general interest courses at Access Studies. Designed for retired and also semi-retired adults, Tapestry Wesbrook Village’s Elder Scholar Program is open to adult learners. The program offers lectures, seminars, study groups, and also walking tours.

For more information, visit ubc.ca.

The University of Calgary

The University of Calgary waives tuition fees for undergraduate, direct-entry bachelor’s level courses for senior citizens, including Accounting, Actuarial Science, Ancient and Medieval History, Anthropology, Architecture, Art History, and also Astrophysics. 

For more information, visit ucalgary.ca.

University of Saskatchewan

Students aged 55 and older can take non-degree courses through the Saskatoon Seniors Continued Learning program, they are also in partnership with the College of Arts & Science. Popular courses in literature, politics, science, history, religion, and also the arts are offered.

However, Courses are currently taught online and presented annually in three terms.

For more information, visit Saskatoon Seniors.

University of Manitoba

Senior students at the University of Manitoba do not have to pay application or tuition fees if they are 65 or older and are also Canadian citizens or permanent residents. Course, student union, and associated fees are also included.

Over 100 courses are offered, for example, Accounting, Business, Anthropology, and History.

For more information, visit umanitoba.ca.

McMaster University

McMaster Learning for 55+ is now offering online classes to older adults. There are, for example, many opportunities for older adults in the areas of arts and literature.

Other available courses also include science and technology, health and wellness business, and innovation.

For more information, visit McMaster.

York University

Senior citizens at York University are eligible for a tuition fee waiver. However, that is limited to the number of tuition fees assigned to domestic, non-professional undergraduate arts, science, and other programs. Other available programs also include Learning Skills Services and Writing Centres.

For more information, visit Yorku.ca.

 

Concordia University

At Concordia University, the Faculty of Arts and Science offers most courses. Also, upon permission of the department, specific courses at the John Molson School of Business are available for seniors.

For more information, visit concordia.ca.

Best degrees for older adults in Canada

Final words

Seniors have more free time to schedule based on their desire. Therefore, many choose to go back to the university. Consequently, attending the university has several benefits for seniors. Besides, several universities in Canada offer the best degrees for seniors as tuition-free programs. For the same reason, this article summarized some of the best degrees for older adults in Canada and the institutions that provide tuition-free courses.

And also, here is an inspirational story for you to make your decision.

 

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Diane
Diane
1 year ago

I have a bachelor’s degree in history, and I graduated in 1986. Back then, I was tired of school, and I worked 10 hours a day. Sometimes I think of going back to school, but I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to compete with the youngsters. Besides, all classes these days, even if they’re not online, need some computer skills. So do I need to take a computer course first? 

Richard
Richard
Reply to  Diane
1 year ago

If you knew how these youngsters are struggling in classes, you wouldn’t be so worried. Plus, most of the time, you only need to use basic computer knowledge to do the assignments if the classes are not online. And learning about online communication is pretty easy too. So I think you should not be worried about this. I think once you start immersing yourself in an academic environment again, the needed skills will come to you naturally.

bill
bill
Reply to  Diane
1 year ago

I think nowadays we need to have minimum knowledge about computer and IT. No matter what your degree is, you need to know how to use a computer and the internet to take the most advantage of surfing the net, gathering relevant information, and connecting to other experts. If you are not familiar with these, it should be better to take relevant courses.

Maely
Maely
Reply to  Diane
11 months ago

I don’t believe they’d expect you to be an IT tech! Besides, you already have some technological skills; you find and read web pages and leave comments (it took my son a while to teach me to do this on my phone). And IF you need to, there are tons of computer courses you can attend. I think you should do that. If we don’t have our dreams and passions, what do we have?

Harriet
Harriet
Reply to  Diane
11 months ago

It depends on your skills. How well are you familiar with online platforms? How easy is it to you to use these platforms? But, first of all, you need to contact the university you’re planning to attend. Make a list of things you need to do and go for it!

Alberto
Alberto
1 year ago

I really enjoy this article. I got my second bachelor’s degree in management 2 years ago, while I been 60 years old! I think we shouldn’t stop learning because of the ageing process! Because our brain never stops thinking. So my same-age friends, please don’t stop learning!!

Jerry
Jerry
Reply to  Alberto
1 year ago

Well done! And thanks for the motivation. I’ve been considering going back to college for a master’s degree in literature, but I don’t know how practical that would be.

Jimmy
Jimmy
Reply to  Jerry
1 year ago

Oh come on, please don’t think like that. Just do what you want. Life is not long enough for us to care this much about things being “practical.” Last year I decided to start studying psychology at the age of 65, and I’m happy I did so. I say go for it and only care about what you like to do.

nina
nina
Reply to  Jerry
11 months ago

Don’t be hesitated! Just do that! we have one life to live 🙂  

Grace
Grace
Reply to  Jerry
9 months ago

As long as you enjoy and like what you’re studying and doing, it doesn’t matter if it is practical or impractical. So, do whatever you want. To your surprise, I’m studying MA in English literature while I’m 56.

Veronica
Veronica
11 months ago

Hi! Great article. I am wondering whether you can share your source(s) for: number of older adults who enroll in colleges and universities increases and will be grown by 20% by 2025. Thank you!

Derek
Derek
11 months ago

I’m glad we have finally come to understand that education has no age limit. I hope there will be more opportunities and academic prospects for our studious seniors in the future. Everyone deserves to follow what they decide for their life, and their age should not stand in their way.

Agnes.L
Agnes.L
Reply to  Derek
11 months ago

I agree, but this does not stop me from regretting the past 20 years. Don’t get me wrong; I’m happy with my life; I love my family, and everything is great, but I have done so little for myself.

Claire
Claire
9 months ago

Tonight, my mother told me about one of her long-life ambitions: start a new major in a university. Her speech reminded me of this article, and I sent this post to encourage her to do this.

Agabi
Agabi
Reply to  Claire
9 months ago

lol. I have a similar experience too.