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?


56 thoughts on “What is a CEGEP?

    1. It stands for “collège d’enseignement général et professionel” or “college of general and professional education.” Thank you for reading!


  1. I too am a Siobhan and I am interested in your blog on CEGEP. I have a US student with Cadadian citizenship who would like to study in Canada. She is concerned she may not get accepted to the Universities. Is this another stepping stone to the universities? Also, are there CEGEP schools in other Canadian Provinces? Thank you.


    1. Siobhan: welcome! CEGEPs exist only in Quebec, and are indeed a good option for students who are not sure they qualify for university. I’m not very familiar with the systems in other provinces, but community and technical colleges do exist that she could look into.


  2. There are community colleges (or technical schools) in other provinces. In my opinion, with US credits, it will be easier with administration of community colleges. There will be some equivalences that Quebec cegeps won’t grant, it happened with me… This is why I go to private.
    Good luck!


  3. Hi – I have some questions. I have a B.Ed in English Lit (high school – in Ontario this meant, at the time, teaching students until the age of 19, so very similar to CEGEP), and a MA in Film Studies. I am in the process of applying to English teaching positions, but I am curious about the workload (how many teaching hours/week ~ I have heard 12-15 hours is considered a full schedule) and how it tends to work for new teachers (is it contract work at first?). I see some grammatical errors, but I am too tired to fix them right now :S


  4. A.D.:
    A full-time CEGEP course load is indeed 12-15 in-class hours, plus preparation and grading time. New teachers often take on a larger course load, if it’s available, until they receive a full-time post – that can take several years – and it isn’t uncommon for new teachers to work at more than one CEGEP and to work through the summer. It is also fairly common for a new teacher who is hired in the summer/fall to have no work in the winter semester, when enrollments are lower. The details of workload, pay, contracts etc. are complicated and are best discussed with the HR dept. and union of the colleges you’re applying to – I wouldn’t want to mislead you.


    1. Ok, thanks, Siobhan. I just spoke with someone who has a tenured position and he seemed to be very pessimistic about the prospect of getting a spot (even p-t) at this time. He said that there was a hiring blitz the last 5 years, but this has died down, and that people who have taught at a Cegep (on contract, many for 10+ years) have priority. I’m not sure how they makes ends meet with all of that instability. Too bad as it sounds like the kind of teaching environment that I would like to work in since you have quite a bit of room for creativity and choice in what you teach.


      1. Why should a pembulr, or an iron worker, or anyone else read good literature? Lots of reasons, all of them important.First, because we don’t live or work in isolation. The world around us is incredibly complex, and it does effect us. Good literature expands our viewpoints and lets us see how others live, in other times and other places. It is all relevant.Second, because the best way to learn English (or any other language) is to read good literature in that language. Reading simple stories written at the 4th grade level, or using the vernacular, won’t do it.Third, and perhaps most important, we seldom know how much we don’t know. Avoiding good literature means you are limiting your world, and you will never know how much you are missing.Besides all that, good literature is fun.


  5. Hi Siobhan – I need some advice please as I can’t find the information I need on the Internet.

    I’m an ESL-EFL teacher in the UK and emigrating to Montreal soon with my bilingual French-English speaking husband. I’m interested in teaching English at a CEGEP, but I don’t have much French at the moment. I have two questions:

    1. What are my chances of getting an English teaching job at a CEGEP without being fully bilingual right now ? (I have good passive knowledge of French/very good reading skills – I plan to do intensive French classes as soon as I get there but it may take a year or so before I have confidence in my French !)

    2. I have all the required English teaching qualifications from the UK – the CELTA plus the most advanced postgraduate diploma in teaching in the further education sector. Do I have to get a Quebec teaching qualification as well although I already have the required UK ones ?

    I have about 4 years teaching experience at colleges similar to CEGEPs (we call them Colleges of Further Education here !)

    Any advice would be much appreciate – Best wishes : )


    1. Katie:
      It is unlikely you would be able to get any teaching job at a French CEGEP without a good knowledge of at least spoken French. However, knowledge of French is not required to teach at an English CEGEP. What is required is a Masters degree in your discipline (English Literature in this case; a Masters in Education will not suffice.) English courses at an English CEGEP involve language, literature and composition, so if you are strictly an ESL teacher, you may want to check into Language School divisions at CEGEPs and elsewhere – these are non-credit programs, and so function differently. Teaching degrees are an asset but are not required for CEGEPs; they still function much like universities in that respect. I hope that answers your questions! Good luck.


  6. Thanks very much Siobhan. I had guessed as much. I’m actually not too bothered about where I teach as I have plans to set up my own business, but I do need a job for a while initially just to help my husband pay the bills !

    I have a Masters and lots of other diplomas (not English Lit though) from top UK universities, but I don’t see myself doing any more degrees in my mid-40’s ; )

    Do you know if the private language schools in Montreal require anything other than the CELTA ? Do they insist on bilingualism ?


    1. Katie: I couldn’t tell you much about the language schools; I haven’t worked there for many years. Bilingualism is definitely an asset but I’m sure in some cases it would not be required.


  7. Thanks Siobhan – French is “très beau” I was very good at it at school, sadly I have forgotten most of it. I will get on the case asap – thanks for your help any way !


  8. Dear, Siobhan

    I like your blog. I found it because I was looking for some materials about Literary Appreciation that I learnt on my college. I figure out that literature is interesting but when I learn furthermore, it seems quite hard.

    I also find out that your way to teach your student in literary class is different with my lecture here. We focus on researching in addition to the accomplish our final goal – writing Final Project.

    If I could ask you a favour, do you have some references for me, especially a book guide, to help me understand and learn about Literary Appreciation better?

    Thank you so much for your time. I like to join CEGEP, if I have a chance. It sounds so interesting!
    Again, I’m looking forward to hearing from you soon.

    Feibe – Indonesia


    1. Feibe:
      I’m so glad you’ve been enjoying the blog. I’m afraid I don’t have a lot of resources on literary appreciation, but one book I like a lot is Francine Prose’s Reading Like a Writer, so that might be a good place to start. I also liked Phyllis Rose’s The Year of Reading Proust, and for years I’ve been meaning to read Alberto Manguel’s A Reader on Reading.


  9. Hello Siobhan,

    I came across your blog yesterday and am really enjoying reading your posts. You obviously have a passion for what you do, and it comes across in your writing.

    I had the pleasure of working in a cegep three years ago, cegep Joliette. I was a language assistant and helped instruct English. I enjoyed my experience and have been curious about how I could move on to a teaching position.

    I have a BA, History from UVic. I know you I’d have to obtain an MA, History in order to get a job at a Cegep. But if I did – would there be a good chance of me getting a position? I know Montreal has an abundance of well educated people, does that result in a tight job market for Cegep jobs?

    Also, I’m planning on moving back to Montreal next June. Is there any opportunities for me to do some volunteering at Cegeps? Perhaps I could help tutor English or History?

    Finally, do you know how I can get a teaching certificate in Quebec? Like, I have my BA, but I’m not sure how to go from there.

    Any thoughts you have on these questions will be much appreciated. Have a great day, and keep up the great work!

    kind regards,



    1. Joel:
      1. I can’t tell you much about your chances of getting a job. History dept.s are usually pretty small. A few years ago, there was a hiring boom in the CEGEPs, but it is tapering off. You might want to contact both HR departments and coordinators of history depts. at the CEGEPs that interest you.
      2. You would have to ask individual CEGEPs about their volunteer programs. You might want to ask at writing/learning centres and contact the heads of individual departments.
      3. All the major universities in Quebec have education departments, and most offer both diplomas and BEds – you would need to look into specific programs that interest you to know what steps to take.

      Good luck!


  10. Thanks for getting back to me! One question, though. Don’t I need to specialize in a subject and then get a masters in that subject in order to teach it at the Cegep level? Like, I have a History degree – so if I wanted to teach at Cegep wouldn’t I have to get a Master of Histroy?


  11. Hello Siobhan,

    Joel again. I was wondering if you knew if Journalism is offered in CEGEPs. I’ve been admitted into a Master of Journalism program, and I was wondering if going through with it would enable me to teach.

    I’ve checked the sites for Dawson and John Abbot, but I’m not sure if either offers the subject.

    kind regards,

    Joel Barde


    1. Joel: I can’t, off the top of my head, think of CEGEPs that offer journalism programs. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist – the program sites of the individual CEGEPs should reveal that.


      1. Hello Joel,

        Unfortunately, I don’t believe journalism is a program covered by any of the English Cepeps. It is taught at Concordia University, as a BA. The closest thing you might find would be communications. This is sort of a wider branch of journalism and it may be available as a program at some of the English colleges. Your best bet for that would probably be Dawson College, though it might be available at the other Cegeps.

        I would like to warn you though, Siobhan is right, getting a job teaching at Cegep is not easy. There is a very high demand for very few positions. The hiring boom is tapering off, and likely by the time you finish your Masters there will be few positions available. Basically, all the teachers who started working when the Cegeps first opened in the 70s have all begun to retire. We are now on the tail end of that. New teachers have taken those positions. The Cegep system’s hiring and employment process is based on a highly structured seniority system. They give courses to those with the most seniority first and then go down the list until there are no more courses left. That means that those at the bottom may not get a full course load, or any courses at all. This means that you have no job security. You might have 3 classes in the fall and then no classes (and no job) in the winter. I have heard from many people that this can happen for up to 5 years, and it all depends on people above you in the chain leaving.

        This is not to say that getting a job teaching at Cegep is impossible, but it isn’t easy. I have an MA in religion and some experience in teaching pedagogy. I have been trying unsuccessfully for 2 years to get a job teaching at the Cegeps in humanities. If you really want to teach at the Cegeps you need to be prepared for many years of job insecurity.


  12. Hello , I’m a Canadian citizen but I’ve studied in the U.S . I want to go to back to Canada for university but I wanted to know if I have a high school diploma will I have to go to a cegep before college or university? And I also wanted to know if cegep and high school in America are the same ?


    1. Mya: Cegep and high school are not the same; the post above details the difference. Universities outside Quebec will not require CEGEP. In Quebec, you would need to consult with the admissions office of the university for more info.


  13. In Canada, are there options for high school students to take college courses while still in high school. In America I know we have both the option of dual enrolling (taking classes at a local college while still in high school) and what is known as AP credit ( attempting to test out of a course through taking a high school course in the college subject.) Also, we have CLEP which is very similar to AP.


    1. To my knowledge we do not have a “testing out of” system. Students in high school do not take college level courses. Our high school finishes at grade 11, and the curriculum is filled with the required courses for high school completion. Cegep exists to cover the higher level courses that students will elect to take in order to move on to university. Instead of having students take a few college level courses at high school and then jump into 4 years of university, we have them take a rounded program in college that acts as an introductory program to something they might take in university.

      For example, a student who wants to become a biologist would take the following path:
      In Grade 11 (last year of high school) they would take science courses in chemistry, physics and math.
      In Cegep they would take a 2 year program in sciences or health sciences, covering math, chemistry, physics and biology.
      In university they would enter directly in a 3 year degree in biology and take only biology courses.

      Essentially, Cegep is the equivalent of the last year of high school and the first year of university, only it is put together in a different school and ends with a student getting a college level degree. Cegep is also a public institution and is funded by the government, therefore being tuition free.


    2. Eric: to expand on what Jen says: the CEGEP system is specific to Quebec; each province in Canada has an educational system more or less unique to that province. Most have high school until grade 12, and no intermediate step between high school and university.


  14. I’m an International Student from Bangladesh. I’ve finished my 12th Grade ie. A-levels, and wish to study at Bishop, Quebec. Due to financial constraints, and lack of financial aid or scholarship from the University, I was thinking of doing a CEGEP and then applying for the UG program at CEGEP.

    What are the advantages and disadvantages of this process?

    And how many years does it take to finish my CEGEP and how many more to finish UG, if I wish to study computer Engineering there?

    Thank You.


  15. I grew up in Montreal, but about 4-5 years ago, I moved back to America. Not having any relatives or family here in America, after graduation, which is next year; I am planning on moving back to Montreal with my family and study there. If I do move back, how does it work? Will I be a transfer student? Will I go to Cegep? It’s hard for me to tell because in America grad is 12th grade which is one year out of Cegep. Thank you!


    1. Stephanie: I’m afraid I don’t really know the answer to this question. If you have graduated high school, you will probably qualify for a Quebec university, but you would need to inquire at the university of your choice to know their requirements and/or prerequisites.


    2. Hello Stephanie. To my knowledge you have two choices. You can either go to university, where you would have to do an extra year’s worth of courses to get the credits you need to graduate. Or you go to cegep and do a 2 year degree. Often it depends on what you are going into for which is the better choice. If you are taking anything in the sciences you will need to take a bunch of prerequisite courses in science before you will be admitted to the program. You can take them in university but that is the more expensive route. You can take these courses at a cegep which will cost significantly less.


  16. Siobhan: First,thank you so much for maintaining this informative blog! I am an American who just completed a Master’s degree in history at Cambridge. I also have a CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults). I am planning to apply to Ph.D. programs in History for the 2015 academic year and want to increase my mastery of French (a required language for my subject area). Is it realistic to think I might find a job teaching English somewhere in Quebec province while I’m studying French? If so, do you have any advice as to how I might approach it? Thanks!


    1. Emma: hi! Yes, it is quite possible that you can find English teaching work while you study here. However, to teach English in the regular day division at the CEGEP level, you would need a Masters in English Literature (to teach in English CEGEPs) or in Teaching English as a Second/Foreign Language (for French CEGEPs). I think your best bet for finding temporary teaching work would be to look at university and/or CEGEP Continuing Education programs (including language schools) or to look into private language schools, including schools that cater to businesses looking for on-site teachers. Montreal would be the best place to find this kind of work, but it is also arguably the least effective place in Quebec for French study, as the population is much more diverse here and operating in English is fairly easy; you might want to start by looking for possibilities in Quebec City if being totally immersed in French is your priority. Maybe commenters have some other suggestions?


  17. Hi Siobhan,
    I’m planning to move to Quebec with my 2 kids from France. They are in the première and seconde classes respectively. I’m confused whether to put them directly in the French private schools to finish their BAC or to put them in CEGEP to finish their studies in the Quebecois system and enter into the reputed universities. They want to go to McGill. Can you please suggest me about the universities whether they accept BAC and / or CEGEP easily?
    Thanks in advance.


  18. Hi,

    I am a prospective student coming from the US looking at Concordia University, specifically the John Molson School of Business. If I were not to be accepted and I chose to attend a CEGEP rather than an American college, how long would it take to complete a BComm at Concordia after a Two-Year CEGEP course of study?

    Thank you,

    Ken Whittier


  19. Hello ! I am Zimbabwean and have a daughter who wants to study law, LLB, she has done Grade 1 to 7, then proceded to do Form 1 to 4 and sate GCEÖ” Level Cambridge examinations before going to school full time for another two years and sat for GCE Ä” Level Cambridge examination. Does she need to do another two years CEGEP before doing law at McGill University ?



  20. Hey everyone I have a question! So I’m in the U.S. Right now, I’ve been here for 5-6 years which means that I moved here while i was in secondary 2 back in Québec. I am currently in 12th grade of Highschool but I’m planning on moving back. Now I was wondering, if I moved back before finishing highschool, would I still be able to go to cegep even without having a secondary school diploma? I’ve done all the necessary years of school to get it and i have all my grades but I just wasnt there to graduate at a secondary school. Now i know that just finishing my Highschool year would be the easy option since id have the highschool diploma, but I’m trying to move back as soon as possible! Thanks for letting me know!


    1. Hi Kevin I’m actually in a similar situation like you were. I see that siobhan curious didn’t have a chance to reply to you ( but if she’s reading this now) can you let me know please !)

      I noticed this was in 2015 so I’m just wondering how ure situation played out and what should I do with mine.

      Grade 12 student in Ontario, I have all my requisites/ credit for my OSSD and university programs, however is like to go to Quebec for a semester (feb2018-June) and learn French.

      How would situation play out? Will I attend a cegep or be back tracked in to secondary and do gr11 courses?
      Also, it would only be me moving to Quebec so do you know any programs for students like me. Canadian students, Ontario resident wanting to study in Quebec.


    1. Rabih: Secondary 5 – the last year of high school – is the equivalent of Grade 11. CEGEP would be equivalent to Grade 12 and the first year of university – many Bachelor degrees in Quebec are only 3 years for CEGEP graduates.


  21. I m an Indian student. I have just passed class 12 (medical) from cbse board with 95%. I want to study medicine in canada. So plz tell me should i need to take admission in CEGEP first for continuing in university. If yes, what are the requirements for taking admission there….and what is the procedure after CEGEP for doctoral studies.


    1. Jaya: CEGEP exists only in Quebec. If you intend to apply to medical school in Quebec (or anywhere, really), you should contact the schools you are interested in and ask about their requirements for international students.


  22. Please help me in this case.We have a son studying in Canadian International School ( following Ontario education program ) In Vietnam . He is at grade 10 and shall be grade 11 in the year of 2018.

    After he finishes grade 11 in 2018 at that school, we would like to send him to Montreal to continue his education there. Our purpose is to have him studied in certain universities in Montreal. His first language in school is English as he has gone that international school from elementary grade.

    Please help me to understand the following points:

    1. What grade will he need to attend to get the high school diploma in Montreal ?

    2. After he gets the high school diploma in Montreal can he apply to any university directly or he has to undergo CGEP of 2 years in prior ?

    3. In case if he gets the high school diploma under Ontario program( either in Vietnam or Ontario) can he go to Concordia university directly or he also has to undergo CGEP above said ?

    Appreciate your helps around in giving me the clarity to the above.


  23. Hi Siobhan, my children currently attend Dhahran British Grammar School in Saudi Arabia. My eldest will be sitting her GCSE exams in 2 years ( she is currently in Year 9 ). We plan to return to Canada (Montreal) following these exams in the summer 2019 will she qualify for entry into an English CEGEP the same as a local student would from high school? My husband is Canadian and my kids were born in Montreal although I am from Ireland.


  24. Hi Siobhan,
    I am currently in high school in Quebec looking to apply to universities in America, specifically a UC (University of California school), NYU or somewhere along those lines. I was wondering: after I complete high school, may I take one year of CEGEP and use that as equivalence to 12th grade? Or do I need to complete the 2 years of CEGEP, and if I DO complete the 2 years of CEGEP, will I be considered a freshman or a transfer student? Thanks in advance.


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