Québec education system

Québec education system has four levels:

  • preschool education, also called kindergarten
  • elementary and secondary school education, which includes general education and vocational training
  • college education, which includes two streams: pre-university education and technical training
  • university education, which includes undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate studies studies as well as postdoctoral studies

Public and private educational institutions recognized by the Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur exist at every level. The school system is divided along linguistic lines: instruction is given in French or in English, depending on the institution. In most educational institutions, boys and girls attend classes together. The public system is completely secular.

The three levels of education most popular with foreign students are: vocational training, college and university.

Vocational training

Vocational training is part of the secondary school education system and is available to both youth and adults. Students can enrol in vocational training after having successfully completed Secondary III or Secondary IV (9 or 10 years of schooling). Vocational training programs of study lead directly to the job market, with students receiving one of the following official diplomas:

  • Diploma of Vocational Studies (DVS)
  • Attestation of Vocational Specialization (AVS)
  • Skills Training Certificate (STC)

Interested in vocational training? Consult the list of steps to take to study in Québec.


College-level education is provided by public institutions known as CEGEPs as well as by private colleges. Unique to Québec, this level may serve as a bridge between compulsory schooling (elementary and secondary) and university.

College-level institutions offer:

  • 2-year pre-university education programs that ready students for university studies and lead to the Diploma of College Studies (DEC)
  • 3-year technical training programs that ready students for the job market and lead to the Diploma of College Studies (DEC)
  • technical training programs for adults that are under 3 years in length. These programs ready students for the job market by providing them with specialized training in a technical field and lead to an Attestation of College Studies (ACS)


University-level education is provided by universities and follows graduation from a pre-university education program at the college level. The structure of university education in Québec is similar to that found elsewhere in North America.

There are 3 levels of university studies:

  • Bachelor’s (cycle 1), takes 3 or 4 years, depending on the subject
  • Master’s (cycle 2), takes 1 or 2 years
  • Doctoral (cycle 3), takes 3 years or more

Most universities also offer short programs of various lengths, such as those leading to specialized graduate studies certificates or diplomas.

Universities include faculties in all kinds of subject areas as well as professional schools such as those specializing in business and engineering.

Interested in attending university? Consult the list of steps to take to study in Québec.

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