A collegiate institute is a term that can refer to a school either of secondary education or of higher education. It is a combination of the terms collegiate and institute, but has a complex definition that varies regionally, and has been largely unused outside of Canada since the early 20th century.
In Canada, collegiate institute has a specific meaning. In 1871, the province of Ontario set up two parallel secondary education systems. Collegiate institutes offered arts and humanities education, including Greek and Latin, for university-bound students. High schools offered vocational and science programs for those planning to enter the workforce upon graduation. This system was later adopted by other provinces including Manitoba, Alberta, and Saskatchewan.
It was quite quickly realized that this division did not work very well. Over time, high schools responded to students' needs and increasingly offered the arts courses that were essential for the workforce. At the same time, as universities began teaching science and engineering, so did the collegiate institutes. Within a decade, the distinctions between the two systems were greatly blurred, and eventually the two systems were merged in to a single secondary school system. All new Ontario schools were from then on named either high schools or secondary schools, but the collegiate institutes kept their names. Thus, in most cities, the oldest and most established high schools are still known as collegiate institutes. Most cities in Ontario have a collegiate institute near the town centre. In some cases, a more academic focus has been retained, and collegiate institutes are thus sometimes regarded as better than "standard" high schools. Many of Ontario's most prominent high schools are collegiate institutes, such as Lisgar Collegiate Institute in Ottawa, as well as both Riverdale Collegiate Institute and Malvern Collegiate Institute in Toronto.
In western Canada, far fewer schools are known as collegiate institutes, most having been closed or renamed in the decades since the separate systems were abolished. In Saskatoon and Regina, however, the term collegiate is still used to mean high school; all public high schools and some Catholic high schools there are "Collegiates," including those recently built or recently opened. Outside of Saskatoon, some remain such as Lethbridge Collegiate Institute in Lethbridge, Alberta.
In the United States, the term has largely fallen into disuse. Collegiate institutes in the United States were, for the most part, colleges, and even the first name of Yale University when founded in 1701 was a similar-sounding Collegiate School. But the definition of a college in the U.S. also differs from that of other countries, and has been primarily based on the liberal arts college model of higher education. Two examples of collegiate institutes in the United States before the term fell out of use are the Oberlin Collegiate Institute of Ohio, now Oberlin College, and the Pentecostal Collegiate Institute of New York and Rhode Island, now the Eastern Nazarene College of Massachusetts. Both were founded as postsecondary institutions (in 1833 and 1900, respectively), but the latter would drop its college curriculum and exist as a college preparatory school from 1902 until 1918, demonstrating the flexibility of the term collegiate institute. Partly because the term institute holds some ambiguity of its own and can denote either educational extreme, from a pure research institution to an unrecognised educational institution, both schools would later change their names to use college instead of collegiate institute (in 1850 and 1918, respectively, each after less than 20 years since its founding) to more accurately represent their nature and mission, in step with the trend that the term "collegiate institute" would see little use beyond the early 20th century.