The Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials

Since 1967, Quebec's postsecondary system has been divided into two types of institutions: cégeps (collèges d'enseignement général et professionnel) and universities. Cégeps and similar colleges provide an intermediate level of study between secondary school and university and offer a range of technical programs leading to employment.

The university network includes 18 institutions, and the college network comprises 48 public cégeps, 25 subsidized private colleges, two of which are certified to offer the French Baccalauréat, 26 licensed, non-subsidized private colleges, two of which are governed by an international agreement, and four public institutions governed by an agency other than the Ministère de l'Enseignement supérieur du Québec.

The Université du Québec, the largest university in Canada, is made up of six constituent universities, two specialized schools and one research centre. It is the only university in the country that truly constitutes a province-wide system, similar to some state universities in the United States.

The Ministère de l'Enseignement supérieur du Québec is responsible for the province's postsecondary system, and has responsibilities in the areas of university research and college transfer.

Quebec is home to Canada's oldest French-language institution of higher education ─ Université Laval ─ founded in 1663 as the Grand Séminaire de Québec and awarded a royal charter in 1852. The province's first English-language university, McGill, was chartered in 1821. Classes began at McGill in 1829, the same year that a Montreal medical school was merged with the university. Bishop's University, a small English-language institution specializing in undergraduate education, was granted university status in 1853. The Université de Montréal, which began as a branch of Université Laval, was granted its own charter in 1920. Today, two degree-granting schools ─ École Polytechnique and École des Hautes Études Commerciales (HEC Montréal) ─ are affiliated with the university, specializing in engineering and management respectively.

Beginning in the 1950s and especially in the 1960s, demand for university education in Quebec grew substantially as a result of population growth, the democratization of education, and new postsecondary training needs. The Université de Sherbrooke was established in 1954. Concordia University was established in 1974 with the merger of two earlier institutions, Loyola College and Sir George Williams University.

In 1968, the Quebec National Assembly passed an act establishing the Université du Québec, the province's fourth French-language postsecondary institution. Today, with headquarters in Quebec City, the Université du Québec has a network of institutions throughout the province. These include one associated university with its own degree-granting authority (the Université du Québec à Montréal), five other constituent universities (Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, Université du Québec à Rimouski, Université du Québec à Hull, and Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue), one research institute (Institut national de la recherche scientifique), and two specialized degree-granting schools (École nationale d'administration publique and École de technologie supérieure). Télé-université is now integrated in UQAM and continues to specialize in distance education.

Throughout much of its history, postsecondary education in Quebec was largely provided by church-governed classical colleges whose eight-year curriculum prepared elite students for university entrance. Many of these institutions were established during the French colonial era. There were about 30 classical colleges across the province at the time of Confederation in 1867. In the early 1960s, trends in Quebec society, including rapid population growth, industrialization, and urbanization, made it imperative for the province to create a network of institutions to absorb the new student clientele and provide technical training. A provincial royal commission on education recommended that the government provide greater coordination for the college system. As a result, cégeps were set up as government-financed, public corporations to deliver general and vocational education at the college level. Today, cégeps perform a dual function ─providing an intermediate level between secondary school and university (pre-university programs) and offering a wide range of technical and professional programs to students seeking entry to the work force. Public cégeps are tuition-free to Quebec residents.

Programs and credentials offered by degree-granting institutions

Quebec university-level teaching and research institutions offer a full range of degree programs at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels, as well as a variety of certificate and diploma programs that usually require one year of study. Some universities like, Université Laval, Université de Montréal, McGill University, Concordia University, Université de Sherbrooke, and Université du Québec à Montréal, offer a wide range of both undergraduate and graduate programs. Bishop's University and some institutions within the Université du Québec system (Trois-Rivières, Chicoutimi, Rimouski, Outaouais, and Abitibi-Témiscamingue) tend to focus on a range of undergraduate programs, but also offer an increasing number of programs at the master's and doctoral levels.

Educational settings vary from large, research-intensive, urban universities to small specialized or regional teaching institutions. Some of the institutions within the Université du Québec system, as well as the two schools affiliated with the Université de Montréal, are highly specialized, offering programs in areas such as health care, high technology, public administration, engineering, and management. A number of university-level institutions, including Université de Sherbrooke, Institut de technologie supérieure, École polytechnique and Concordia University, offer cooperative education programs that combine academic study with on-the-job training.

A number of university-level institutions, including Université de Sherbrooke, Institut de technologie supérieure, and Concordia University, offer paid cooperative education programs that combine academic study with on-the-job training.

Undergraduate programs include honours bachelor's degrees, bachelor's degrees with a major and a minor, general bachelor's degrees, undergraduate certificates and diplomas. Generally speaking, a Diplôme d'études collégiales  DEC (diploma of college studies), or the equivalent, is required for admission to an undergraduate program. Bachelor's degree programs generally require three years of full-time study, or 90 to 120 credits, after completion of a two-year cégep program. Undergraduate honours degrees require a higher level of concentration in the honours subject and higher academic standing but do not usually require an additional year of study.

Programs leading to diplomas and certificates are particularly popular within French-language institutions. These programs normally require 30 credits.

Master's degree and graduate diploma programs generally require a bachelor's degree for admission. Master's programs usually involve 45 to 60 credits for graduation. In addition, universities offer shorter (30 credit) graduate diploma programs with a professional focus leading to the Diplôme d'études supérieures spécialisées (deuxième cycle) — DESS (Diploma of Specialized Graduate Studies).

Doctoral programs generally require a master's degree for admission, although, in exceptional cases, candidates may be admitted with an honours bachelor's degree. Doctoral programs normally require 90 to 120 credits, including a thesis, for completion.

Programs and credentials offered by non-degree-granting institutions

College-level institutions offer students a choice between pre-university and technical programs. Students in both streams take the same common core curriculum. Both pre-university and technical studies lead to the diplôme d'études collégiales - DEC (diploma of college studies).

Pre-university two-year cégep programs lead to university admission. There are eight pre-university fields: natural sciences, humanities, arts and letters, music, visual arts, dance, history and civilization, and science, letters and arts. A ninth program is offered on a test basis until 2012-13: Computer Science and Mathematics. Some institutions also offer the International Baccalaureate (IB).

Cégep three-year technical programs train students for technician or technologist positions. Technical programs can also be followed by university admission in some cases. There are more than 100 technical programs in areas such as biological sciences technology, physical science technology, humanities technology, administrative technology, and arts.

In addition to programs leading to the diplôme d'études collégiales  DEC (diploma of college studies), cégeps also offer shorter programs leading to an attestation d'études collégiales  AEC (attestation of college studies).

Elementary and secondary education in Quebec covers 11 years - six at the elementary level andfive at the secondary level. The Ministère de l'Éducation, des Sports et des Loisirs du Québec sets examinations for some courses during the last two years of secondary school, secondary IV and secondary V, and maintains a central registry for issuing marks, official transcripts, and diplomas.

All Quebec secondary school graduates who are continuing with their education enrol in a college-level institution, opting for a pre-university program or a career-oriented diploma program similar to those offered by community colleges in other provinces.

Most universities require a general college-level diploma that includes a combination of courses appropriate to the program to which the student is applying. Some institutions will admit Canadian students from outside Quebec on the basis of an appropriate grade 12 program. Others require a preparatory year of university after secondary school. Mature applicants over the age of 21, 22, or 23, depending on the institution, may be given special consideration.

Institutions offer integration services for foreign students. The Ministère de l'Enseignement supérieur du Québec publishes information materials accessible on its Web site.

Foreign students who have been admitted to a university and who receive an official notice of admission are required to obtain a Quebec Certificate of Acceptance prior to their arrival in Quebec. The certificate is issued by the Ministère de l'Immigration, de la Diversité et de l'Inclusion du Québec (MIDI). Candidates apply for the certificate through the Quebec Immigration Service or the Canadian diplomatic mission serving their country. Foreign students are required to provide proof of sufficient funds for study in Quebec and to take out personal medical insurance from a Canadian insurance company for the duration of their stay.

For the 2013-14 academic year, full-time undergraduate tuition fees average $2,224.20, or $74.14 per credit for Quebec residents. Since the fall of 1997, Canadian students from outside Quebec who enrol in university-level programs at the bachelor's and master's level must pay a flat fee in addition to the tuition fees. For 2013-14, this fee adds $133.69 per credit, for a total of $207.83 per credit, or about $6,235 per year.

University tuition fees for foreign undergraduate students are made up of two components ─the regular tuition fees of $74.14 per credit paid by Quebec students and additional flat fees divided according to the following three categories:
  1. In the deregulated disciplines (engineering, computer science, mathematics, pure science, administration, law), the flat fee is set by the universities; there is no limit, but it must be higher than the flat fee required for the regulated disciplines. The minimum flat fee is $13,153 per year for the following disciplines: computer science, engineering, mathematics and the pure sciences. For students in administration and law, the minimum flat fee is $11,568 per year.
  2. In the Class A regulated disciplines (humanities and social sciences, geography, education, physical education, literature), the yearly flat fee is $13,152.60.
  3. In the Class B disciplines (medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, optometry, paramedical sciences, pharmacy, nursing, agriculture, forestry and geodesy, architecture and environmental design, fine arts, cinema, photography, music), the yearly flat fee is $11,568.

Graduate foreign students (Master's level) are required to pay an annual flat fee of $11,568 in addition to the regular tuition fees ($2,224 per year) paid by Quebec residents.

Graduate foreign students (doctoral level) are required to pay an annual flat fee of $10,181.10 in addition to the regular tuition fees ($2,224.20 per year) paid by Quebec residents.

Foreign students registered in postgraduate medical internship programs must pay an annual flat fee of $20,051 in addition to the regular tuition fees paid by Quebec residents.

Tuition is free for Quebec residents who attend public cégeps. Beginning with the 2000-01 academic year, Canadian citizens and permanent residents from outside Quebec have been charged tuition for each session. For 2013-14, the amount is set at $1257 per session. Foreign student fees at the province's cégeps are $5,096 per session in 2013-14 ($5,022 in 2012-13) for the pre-university stream in humanities technology and administrative technology, $6,597 per session ($6,501 in 2012-13) for physical science technology and arts and literature technology, and $7,899 per session ($7,784 in 2012-13) for biological science technology.

In addition to tuition, students are required to pay student service fees, fees for educational materials, and student association dues. Foreign students are also responsible for health insurance. Some universities offer group health insurance negotiated by the student associations.

Each year, a limited number of foreign students from countries with which Quebec has agreements are exempted from the supplemental fees normally charged to international students.

The Ministère de l'Enseignement supérieur du Québec administers the Quebec Student Loans Program, which provides assistance to Quebec residents who lack the financial resources to study at the postsecondary level.

Global Affairs Canada administers the Programme canadien de bourses de la Francophonie for students from French-speaking countries who are eligible for Canadian development assistance. Interested students should inquire about the program from the educational authority in their home country or their local Canadian diplomatic mission.

Comprehensive review of this information: January 2019