Differences Between Colleges And Universities In Quebec

Quebec is a very unique province of Canada. We love to do things in our own unique way. Hence, we have created a unique concept called Cégeps: « collège d’enseignement général et professionnel ». Cegeps are also referred interchangeably as « Colleges ».

Since this can be confusing for people who were not born in Quebec, I put together a description of what a Colleges (Cégeps) is in Quebec.

Caveat: this is by no mean a fully scientific and extensively researched based documentation. It’s based on my 7 year experience working in a tech company that dealt with basically all Cépeps in Quebec. It’s meant to be a 101 guide on Cégeps for a person who never heard that word before. It will also allow you to easily spot the differences with your system back home.

  • College is a mandatory step before going to University, because high school stops at grade 11 instead of 12. Funny Quebec fact: pre-cegep years are actually split in to primary school (grade 1 to 6) and high school (grade 1 to 5); 11 years total.
  • You have to do 2 years in College before going to university. We call that « pre-university » degree.
  • If you don’t do « pre-u » then you can do a 3-year technical degree. I actually did that, 3 years in Computer Science.
  • If you do the 3 years technical degree, you can of course go to university after (like I did) but those technical degrees are meant to lead to employment right after completion. I actually got a job in CS and then did university part-time.
  • College also allow fast-track programs of 1 to 2 year to get to employment faster. The only thing is that it won’t be enough for university admission.
  • Finally, Colleges offers « Conted » (continuous education)  classes for adults. Usually, it takes form of an evening course given 1 or 2 times per week for a semester of about 15 weeks. It all depend on how the College structured the course.
  • Colleges sizes vary from ~250 to ~15,000 students! I believe the average size would be around 6-8K students.
  • There are public and private colleges. Private college size are usually smaller (2K-6K students).
  • Public is 100% funded by government and less than ~700$/year for students. There are about 48 of them and they probably represent roughly 75% of the student population
  • Semi-private are as the name implied semi-funded by government, cost about 2-3K$ per year. I would estimate they represent 20% of the student population.
  • Private are not funded and cost more than 5-10K$ per year. They would represent about 5% of all student population.
  • We count approximately 48 public Colleges and 52 privates and semi-private Colleges.
  • I personally went to a public College and extremely happy about it 🙂

With that in mind, here are a few anglophone colleges in Quebec:

Lastly, universities in Quebec are much the same as anywhere else in the world. The only difference will come from the 2-year pre-university Cegep: some university programs can be completed here in 3 years instead of 4 because of that.

PS: This post was inspired by an American friend who asked me about the differences between Colleges and Universities in Quebec. Following my email answer, and he suggested that it would be good blog post material. Here it is for you all to enjoy!