The Québec education system

The 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

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

The 3 levels of education into which foreign students can most readily integrate 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 enroll in vocational training after having successfully completed Secondary 3 or Secondary 4 (9 or 10 years of schooling). The programs of study in vocational training lead straight to the job market and students receive 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 given by institutions known as CEGEPS. Unique to Québec, this level is a bridge between compulsory schooling (elementary and secondary) and university.

The CEGEPS offer:

  • 2-year pre-university education programs which ready students for university studies and lead to the Diploma of College Studies (DEC)
  • 3-year technical training programs which ready students for the job market and lead to the Diploma of College Studies (DEC)
  • technical training programs that are less than 3 years in length which ready students for the job market and lead to an Attestation of College Studies (ACS)

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


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 year or 2
  • Doctoral (cycle 3), takes 3 years or more

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

The universities include faculties in all kinds of subject areas and 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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