A CEGEP (or /ˈsiːʤɛp/; French: Cégep) is a post-secondary education institution exclusive to the province of Quebec in Canada. CEGEP is a French acronym for Collège d'enseignement général et professionnel, meaning "College of General and Vocational Education". They are comparable to community colleges, but are required to enter university, which is why secondary school and undergraduate degrees both are one year less in Quebec.

The purpose of CEGEPs is to make post-secondary education more accessible in Quebec, as well as to provide proper academic preparation for university. There are both public and private subsidized CEGEPs with the public CEGEPs having little or no tuition fee. The CEGEP system was started in 1967 by the Quebec provincial government and originally had 12 CEGEPs. Today there are 48 CEGEPs in Quebec, of which 5 are English language CEGEPs. There are also 50 private colleges, including 6 English language colleges. While CEGEP refers technically to only public colleges, in common usage the term is sometimes applied also to private colleges offering some of the same programs.

Education path

Students in Quebec who want to continue to post-secondary education must attend a CEGEP before enrolling in a Quebec university. Students who follow a general studies program in Quebec complete six years of primary school (grades 1 through 6) followed by five years of secondary school (grades 7 through 11, or Secondaire I to V in French). Quebec students complete one grade less in total than all other Canadian students before beginning post-secondary studies, ending high school in grade 11 instead of grade 12. CEGEPs then prepare students for university or to enter a technical profession. Most Quebec university programs are three years in length for Quebec students, so the total number of years of study from primary school to a Bachelor's degree is the same as in the rest of North America. It is also possible to attend a university with a 3-year technical CEGEP diploma.

Students wishing to continue their university education outside Quebec may take one year of courses to fulfil the requirements of the institution to which they are applying. For example, students wishing to attend an Ontario university may complete one year of CEGEP and apply as a regular applicant who has completed grade 12 in Ontario. Additionally, students who have a DEC may apply for admission with advanced standing to institutions outside Quebec as some advanced courses at the CEGEP level may be assessed as equivalent to introductory courses at university.


Most but not all CEGEPs offer two types of programs: pre-university and technical. The pre-university programs take two years to complete, whereas the technical programs take three years.

Pre-university program

A pre-university program covers the subject matters which roughly correspond to the additional year of high school given elsewhere in Canada in preparation for a chosen field in university (Sciences, Humanities, Commerce or Arts). At the completion of studies, the provincial government issues the Diploma of Collegial Studies (DCS), also known as the "DÉC" (although the "DEC" usage is more prevalent), from the French Diplôme d'études collégiales. Students may then complete certain undergraduate programs at a Quebec university in only 3 years, as opposed to 4 years outside Quebec. Students with a DEC who choose to attend university in another province in Canada or outside the country are then eligible to either skip the first year and enter university as a second year student, or gain advanced standing or extra credit for their first year. The amount of accepted extra credit is at the discretion of each university. However, the CEGEP system is generally a disadvantage for Quebec students wishing to enter an undergraduate program outside the province. After attending a 2-year CEGEP program and attending a University outside the province of Quebec, it is not uncommon for students to fall behind a year during an undergraduate education as many Universities will not accept credits from CEGEP.

Technical program

CEGEPs also offer three-year technical programs which apply to students who wish to pursue a skilled trade. Unlike the pre-university programs they are not preparation for university, although this does not prevent a student from attending a university afterwards. These programs share a core curriculum of French, humanities, English and physical education classes with the pre-university programs. The technical programs also lead to a DEC. Examples of programs are: Industrial Electronics, Architectural Technology, Nursing, Building Engineering Technology, and Computer Science. Though those programs can also lead to the university, they are geared towards immediate employment.

Adult continuing education programs are also offered at CEGEPs. Many of those programs lead to an Attestation of Collegial Studies, or "AÉC" (Attestation d'études collégiales), which is similar to a DEC but does not include the core curriculum.

In addition, the majority of the province's 31 "Technology Transfer Centres," have been established by CEGEPs. At these centres, applied research is carried out in a specific field in cooperation with industrial partners.

References - RSS feed of CEGEP and Community College jobs in Canada

See also

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