Studying in Alberta - Canada
When arriving in Alberta by aeroplane, one cannot help but be impressed by the landscape.
From thousands of metres in the air on a clear day—and they almost always are clear here—one sees a vast expanse of grassland and forest broken only by the Rocky Mountains in the west and the curve of the horizon in the east.
Many who have never been to Alberta believe it to be mainly wilderness, and while there is much unspoiled land here, you will probably begin your exploration of our province amid the neon and bustle of either Edmonton or Calgary.
Though these two metropolitan centres are world leaders in finance, industry and the arts, Alberta has never ceased to be a frontier.
No longer upon the edge of the mapped world, Albertans are charting exciting new courses in the fields of engineering, agriculture, medicine, telecommunications and other emerging technologies.
Nowhere is the Albertan commitment to exploring frontiers more apparent than in our educational system.
Thanks to a growing economy, students have access to some of the most modern research facilities in the world, and to a constantly broadening cultural landscape as people from around the world come to explore the opportunities available in Alberta.
Our four public, world-class universities are among the many attractions Alberta offers to thousands of international students.
The University of Alberta
Overlooking the North Saskatchewan River Valley—the largest stretch of urban parkland in North America—and minutes from downtown Edmonton and the thriving artistic community of Old Strathcona, the University of Alberta is the province's oldest and largest university.
The campus is a blend of ivied buildings constructed at the turn of the century and modern edifices erected over the 90 years the University has served Alberta. This mix of architectural styles reflects the eclectic nature of programs the university offers.
With fifteen faculties encompassing literally hundreds of specific fields of study, the University of Alberta offers its students a broad range of academic choices.
The University of Alberta is recognized internationally as a world leader in fifteen areas of research including analytical chemistry, English literature, environmental sciences and engineering, pharmaceutical and medicinal chemistry, and neurosciences.
It is also expanding its research efforts into the areas of artificial intelligence, fluid dynamics, particle physics and telecommunications.
The University of Alberta is also home to a theatre company, a baroque music ensemble, dance troops and creative writing workshops. There are also championship sports teams in volleyball, basketball and, of course, hockey.
The University of Calgary
Somewhat younger than its northern sister, the University of Calgary campus looks and feels modern. And yet, even though it only gained full autonomy as a degree-granting institution in 1966, it is more than 22,000 students strong and is internationally respected for the quality of its teaching and research.
It has one of the few archaeology departments in North America and is particularly strong in petroleum economics, western Canadian history, ethnic relations, the psychology of ageing, public policy, and strategic studies.
It is also home to the International Tourism Education and Research Centre which is only the second such centre outside of Europe to be approved by the World Tourism Organization.
Students of the University of Calgary are also able to participate in a variety of co-operative education programs in disciplines as diverse as general studies, humanities, management, physical education, science and the social sciences.
There is even an innovative Masters of Engineering International Co-operative program.
But perhaps the one feature of the University of Calgary that many international students will remember most fondly is its proximity to some of the most spectacular natural settings in the province.
Closest is the nature reserve on the western edge of the campus. It is enormously useful to students in Agriculture and Environmental Science as it is one of the few areas of original prairie grassland in the region.
Slightly further afield are the Rocky Mountains, which can be seen on the western horizon. There, after a car ride of about an hour, students can hike, downhill ski, or just marvel at the abundance of wildlife.
The University of Lethbridge
Nestled in the folds of the Oldman River Valley in Southern Alberta, the University of Lethbridge campus is truly impressive.
Designed by the renowned Canadian architect, Arthur Erikson, it is a testament to how modern design can blend harmoniously with the surrounding landscape. And such concerns are important here: the city of Lethbridge, while small, is extremely beautiful.
Because the University is located so near to wild grassland, students are frequently treated to the sight of pronghorn sheep wandering blissfully about the campus.
The University of Lethbridge has just over 5,000 full and part-time students, thus guaranteeing small class sizes and an air of fellowship.
Among its academic benefits is the opportunity for many senior students to work with professors on research projects. While its size restricts the number of programs it can effectively offer, the University of Lethbridge has turned this to their benefit.
They have adopted a liberal arts philosophy which distinguishes them from other institutions. Their goal is to produce academically well-rounded graduates who, through exposure to a wide range of disciplines, will be able to approach problems from various perspectives.
As part of this, students enjoy access to state-of-the-art equipment and facilities in an environment where internationalization is considered key.
The University is also remarkable in that it houses the largest university art collection in Canada—11,000 pieces valued at over $30 million.
The University of Athabasca
While it does have a campus in the town of Athabasca, as well as Learning Centres in Edmonton, Calgary and Medicine Hat, these places are not where the University of Athabasca is located.
Dedicated to removing the barriers that traditionally restrict access to university-level studies, the University of Athabasca opened twenty-six years ago to become Canada's first fully accredited open university specializing in distance education.
And while some courses are still offered through traditional methods such as classroom or seminar instruction, most are completed through the mail, on the Internet or through teleconferences.
Thus, the campus of the University of Athabasca can be seen as spreading across all of the nations which it serves.
The University of Athabasca offers full bachelor degree programs in Arts, General Studies, Science, Administrative Studies, Commerce and Nursing. Also, the Masters programs in Business Administration (MBA) and Distance Education (MDE) are of interest to students.
While its methods of instruction may be considered non-traditional, the University of Athabasca has had enormous success in providing quality education to its students.