College education in Quebec
College education, informally referred to as college or by the umbrella acronym CEGEP in the Canadian province of Quebec, is the post-secondary level immediately after high-school but required for university admissions. The Quebec education system is unique in North America.
The college level is a separate and distinct step in Quebec. For students graduating from high school in Quebec, a college diploma is required for admission into university. In the rest of Canada, colleges have historically been technical schools that offer specialized professional or vocational education in specific employment fields. In the US, the term "college" is synonymous with university.
Quebec high school starts at grade 7 and ends at grade 11, one year earlier than in English North America. Most Quebec university programs are three years in length. With a collegiate level between high school and university bridging the gap:
- English system 1-8 + 9-12 + 4 University = 16 years
- Quebec system 1-6 + 7-11 + 2 College + 3 University = 16 years
Two main college paths are possible:
Pre-University programs of two years, leading to a college diploma required for university admissions.
Specialized vocational programs of either three years—leading to a college diploma and entry to the job market, with a possibility of university admissions—or one year, leading to a college certificate and direct entry into the workforce.
Types of collegesEdit
There are three types of colleges in Quebec: public colleges, private colleges, and government colleges.
The majority of college students attend a public General and Vocational College, also known as the French acronym "cegep" (French: Collège d'Enseignement General et Professionel). These colleges do not charge tuition to Quebec residents, although small administrative fees are charged.
A large number of private colleges also exist at the collegiate level. Some of these schools receive funding from the government, others do not, and therefore tuition can vary greatly between schools.
There are a small number of collegiate-level government institutions that are not private colleges, yet also not public colleges, as defined under Quebec's General and Vocational College law. One example is the Quebec Music Conservatory.