Translation Studies in Canada

By Danièle Heinen

In these days of continuing education requirements, translators are looking at opportunities for training and for courses in translation and related fields. The scarcity and inconsistency of translation training programs in the U.S. – never mind the costs – may make one look at distance training or other (still undefined) possibilities elsewhere. Well, time to look up North, people, at your northern neighbor.

Translation training in Canada is a formal affair, taught at universities in regular programs. Thirteen training institutions in Canada, all of which are members of the Canadian Association of Schools of Translation (CAST, or ACET en français), offer translation training ranging from certificates to Ph.D.’s, with minors and majors in translation, within degrees in English or French.

Training institutions in Canada offer essentially six levels of training and/or degrees at the postsecondary, graduate and post-graduate levels: (1) certificate (±30 credits), (2) B.A. with a minor (±30 credits), (3) B.A. with a major (±60 credits), (4) B.A.Honors (90 credits), (4) graduate diploma, (5) Master’s degree, and (6) Ph.D. degree. Co-op B.A and M.A. programs are offered in Montreal, Moncton and Ottawa. Graduate certificates, diplomas and 2-3 session mini-programs in specialized fields have also been introduced recently.

At the end of this article, information can be found about several specific programs. But you may ask, “What can I do with all this information?”

If you can afford to go study in Canada, meaning moving there for one or two years, why not? Even paying foreign student tuition rates, it would be a lot cheaper than in the U.S., except maybe if compared to community colleges and state universities at resident tuition rates.

Good news! If you have a French passport, Quebec will welcome you with a nearly free education, as France and Quebec have an agreement by which French nationals pay the same as Quebec students – which is peanuts! Ask colleagues Dominique Anderson or Virginia Fox who came to Montreal to check this out for their daughters, thinking it was too good to be true.

As a freelancer, you could still work, as long as you don’t work with a Canadian entity requiring a Canadian NIS, but rather, keep in touch with your U.S.-based clients. Your new location won’t matter. The phone systems between Canada and the U.S. are intertwined; you have to know that 514 is the area code for Quebec, while 504 is in Louisiana. Try 250 for somewhere in British Columbia versus 650 in your neighborhood. You may have to review your cell phone plan, though.

A student visa is required for Canada only if you study for more than 6 months. And you can go home to do your internship if you choose a co-op program such as Concordia. Talk to Debbie Folaron, formerly at NYU and now teaching at Concordia, about life and teaching in Montreal.

Look at the short 2-3 session mini-programs and break it up in such a way that you “commute” for 4 months at a time. It is easy to find temporary accommodation in Montreal or Ottawa/Hull – much more difficult and expensive in Toronto – and life is cheaper there. Of course, you would have to deal with a harsher climate than most of you are used to!

Last of all, and perhaps the easiest way, is to look at online courses; College St. Boniface is your best bet. Ask another colleague, Diana Hager, who is doing her online courses with CUSB from Rochester, NY.

On, a website dealing with online offerings in the Francophone world, you will find 23 online courses under the translation heading. Not all of them are really translation courses but offer training possibilities that should fit into the ATA Continuing Education requirements as well.

If you want an idea of the Canadian translation industry, read the 1999 translation industry survey commissioned by Industry Canada which gives information on rates and translation training, at

The email addresses for colleagues mentioned in this article can be found in the ATA directory.

Best of luck in your northern research.

Available Programs

The “translation training corridor” runs from Quebec City to Toronto, with Quebec alone accounting for 7 institutions and 87% of all students registered in a translation studies program in Canada. A complete list of Canadian translation programs can be found at:

A selection of programs is included here:

Université Laval, Quebec City
B.A and M.A with internship or thesis and a Graduate Diploma with Specialization in Terminology.

Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières
Located halfway between Montreal and Quebec City
As of the date of writing, however, there was no indication on their site about a translation program.

Université de Sherbrooke,
Sherbrooke, Quebec
Minors and certificates

Université de Montréal
Offers programs running the whole gamut, from certificates to Ph.D.’s. Also some online courses which are not specifically for translation, but in related subjects, that should qualify for the ATA Continuing Education requirements.

Concordia University, Montreal
A practical university with co-op programs where three internships periods are required. Some very technical subjects, such as a 15-credit Graduate Certificate in Localization under the Département des études françaises.

McGill University, Montreal
B.A. with Minor, Major and Honors in Translation at the Département de langue et literature françaises. Certificates and a Graduate Diploma in Translation in English, French and a third language option at the Centre for Continuing Education with a new Intensive Summer Preparatory Program for Apprentice Translators (French).

Université du Québec,
Outaouais (formerly in Hull)
Located across the river from Ottawa
Three certificates, a B.A. and a Graduate Diploma (DESS) in Localization and Hypermedia

University of Ottawa
B.A. and M.A. in English, French and also in Spanish
The only program in Conference Interpreting as well as a Ph.D. in Translation Studies

Carleton University, Ottawa
Certificate in French Translation Studies

York University, Toronto (Glendon College)
B.A , Certificate in Technical and Professional Writing, Certificate in English-Spanish Translation and an M.A in Translation

Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario
B.Sc. in Language and Graduate Diploma in Translation for both Anglophones and Francophones

Université de Moncton, New Brunswick
Accelerated B.A. in Translation (2 year program)

Collège Universitaire de St-Boniface, Winnipeg
Certificate, B.A. and an Online English-French and French-English Certificate