What is a CEGEP?

Those of you who don’t live in Quebec may not know what a CEGEP is or how it works. And you may want to. Happy to oblige.

(CEGEP teachers: please feel free to comment on what I’ve gotten wrong or left out.)

Students in Quebec spend five years in high school (Secondary 1-5, equivalent to grades 7-11 elsewhere.) If they want to continue their schooling, they usually go on to CEGEP, where they either spend two years preparing for university or three years studying a profession or trade (nursing, document design, architectural technology, animal health, etc.)

Most of our students, therefore, are 17-21 years old, although we also get many mature students, especially in trade or professional programs.

In CEGEP, unlike high school, students are pursuing a specific program, even if they are preparing for university (they might study pure and applied sciences, health sciences, social sciences, liberal arts, or modern languages.) Most of their courses are directly related to that program. However, they are also required to pass General Studies courses (in the English CEGEPs these are English, French as a Second Language, Humanities, and Physical Education.) Those of us who teach General Studies, therefore, teach students from all programs, usually in multi-program classes (although in English, for example, one of the students’ four required courses is meant to be specific to their program.)

Any questions?


4 thoughts on “What is a CEGEP?

  1. Hi Siobhan,
    Would it be fair to say that the curriculum for English in first CEGEP is similar to that of English 12? I live in the west coast where we studied novels such as “1984”, drama such as “Orthello”, composition, poetry and literature analysis and the such? Thank you.


  2. The more I read, the more confused I am about CEGEP. Is there an admission requirement to gain entrance to a CEGEP? And if so, what is the general admission requirement? Thank you for clarifying my very boggled mind.


    1. Ms. H: Yes, there are admission requirements, which vary from CEGEP to CEGEP and program to program, much like in university. I don’t know anything about English 12, but entering CEGEP students must complete a one-semester 101 English course, which focuses on various genres of literature and also perhaps on composition and grammar, depending on how the student has been streamed. The texts studied are up to the discretion of the teacher, although in our CEGEP we are asked to address 3 of the 4 genres of non-fiction, fiction, poetry and drama.


      1. Thank you, Siobhan. The information is very helpful. I understand that you have also had extensive experience in ESL. The particular group of students I will be working with are multi-leveled ESL students who are trying to gain entrance into CEGEP. Do you have any suggestions as to how to work with multi-leveled ESL students in an academic setting?


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