College is a level of education that falls between compulsory education, comprised of elementary and secondary education, and university studies. In the Quebec school system, college is the first instance of non-compulsory education, and the study choices are personal.

What is college?

DEC stands for diploma of college studies

To obtain a DEC

A student must achieve the objectives of general education by successfully completing all the following courses:

  • 4 courses in language and literature (9 1/3 credits).
  • 3 courses in philosophy (6 1/3 credits).
  • 2 second language courses (4 credits).
  • 3 courses in physical education (3 credits).
  • 2 complementary courses (4 credits).

Achieved the objectives of the specific education by successfully completing all of the following courses:

  • The courses of the pre-university program (from 28 to 32 credits) or
  • The courses of the technical program (from 45 to 65 credits).
  • The ministerial uniform exam in language and literature.
  • The local comprehensive assessment specific to each program.

For university preparation

At the college level, the purpose of pre-university training is to provide the student with necessary knowledge and skills for the pursuit of undergraduate studies at university. As part of their college career, students also learn to be autonomous, demonstrate maturity and openness to the world that will be useful to them regardless of the university program chosen.

There are nine pre-university study programs that lead to the Diploma of College Studies (DEC)

Pre-university study programs – International Baccalaureate pathways

Four courses of the International Baccalaureate lead to obtaining the DEC. Consult their description as well as the list of establishments authorized to offer them.

Pre-university study programs – Indigenous

Four pre-university study programs, adapted to Aboriginal languages ​​and cultures, lead to the DEC. Consult their description as well as the list of establishments authorized to offer them.

Pre-university study programs – double diploma path

These paths are integrated arrangements between two pre-university study programs; they lead to obtaining two DECs.

Discover technical college training (MEES)

Technical training programs lead to a diploma of collegial studies (DEC), issued by the Ministry, or an attestation of college studies (AEC), issued by a cégep.

The programs leading to a DEC are developed by the Ministry. Consult the 110 programs with the Ministry search tool.

Programs leading to an AEC are offered by individual establishments. Since their offerings change rapidly, the most up-to-date information can be found on each college’s website. The Mon retour au cégep site and Inforoute FPT also list information about these programs.



According to the Ministry of Education

The holder of the secondary studies diploma who satisfies, where applicable, the special conditions of admission established by the Minister is eligible for a program of studies leading to a diploma of collegial studies.

  • Secondary 5 language of instruction
  • Secondary 5 second language
  • Secondary 4 mathematics
  • Secondary 4 science and technology or applied science and technology
  • Secondary 4 history and citizenship education


These conditions refer to college programs without additional requirements. Refer to Admission requirements for study programs leading to a college diploma from the Ministry of Education for programs with additional admission requirements (such as mathematics and science). (in French). It is important to note that some limited (contingenté) programs carry out an additional selection including auditions, tests or interviews.


Note that the Minister may require upgrade or mise a niveau activities when the holder of the secondary school diploma has not accumulated the number of credits allocated by the Basic school regulation for preschool, elementary and secondary education or by the Basic adult general education regulation.

During the admissions process, educational institutions reserve the right to set a limit (quota) for any program and apply selection criteria if necessary. This selection may include auditions, skill tests, physical tests or interviews.

Public cégeps and private colleges

It’s simple: for public institutions, all you have to do is submit an application to the Regional Admission Service of Metropolitan Montreal (SRAM), the Service régional d’admission au collégial de Québec (SRACQ) or the Service régional de l’admission des cégeps du Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean (SRASL), depending on the region where the desired Cégep is located.

To register for a private college, you must visit the college’s website. You can consult the list of member colleges on the website of L’Association des collèges privés du Québec (ACPQ).

March 1

This is the deadline for filing an admission application. Only one application is accepted per regional admission service. For private college institutions, students can make multiple requests. The deadline for the first round of admissions is March 1 of each year, followed by the 2nd and 3rd rounds in April and May for those students whose applications are refused in the first round.

List of public and private institutions

The purpose of the Springboard DEC (Tremplin DEC) path is to provide students with an education enabling them to integrate or complete a program of studies leading to a diploma of college studies (DEC). This path replaces the old Reception and Integration program.

The conditions for admission to the Springboard DEC path are the same as those for admission to study programs leading to a DEC.

What happens after the Springboard DEC?

 The student can…

  • continue their studies in a pre-university or technical program.
  • pursue studies in the vocational sector (towards a diploma of vocation studies – DEP).
  • temporarily enter the labor market.
  • participate in a travel plan.

The Attestation of College Studies (AEC) is the certificate attesting to the successful completion of a program of variable duration developed by the college, also called an “establishment program.” These programs aim to respond quickly to regional needs for tailor-made technical training.

Admission requirements are different from a college diploma. Students who complete high school are generally not eligible. To find out the admission conditions, refer to the establishment where the desired program is offered.

Search for AEC programs in Quebec

The DEC-BAC formula results from an agreement between a university and a cégep. The university recognizes the achievements of the college program for the equivalent of one year of university studies, and in some cases one year of college studies. This makes it possible to obtain, generally in four or five years, a double diploma.

See the list of programs (In French) offered according to the DEC-BAC formula.

The Work-Study program (ATE) is an educational formula adopted by the school to give students enrolled in vocational or technical training the opportunity to complete at least two work placements (representing a minimum of 20% of training program hours) as part of their studies.

At college:

  • Most of the work placements are long-term (8 to 16 consecutive weeks).
  • The internships are added to the hours of the study program, which has the effect of extending the program’s duration.
  • The company has the obligation to pay the intern at least the minimum wage rate in effect, since internship hours are added to those of the study program.

The models may vary, however, between schools and study programs.

Thanks to the consultation that it requires between the work environment and the educational establishment, the ATE allows the student to acquire or improve the skills necessary for the exercise of their chosen trade or profession. Visit the Vocational and Technical Training Infoway page for this purpose. (in French)

According to the access to information policy established by the Comité de gestion des bulletins d’études collégiales (CGBEC), which includes representatives from colleges, universities and the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, a student who wishes to obtain his R score must apply to the college or university where he has submitted an official application for admission.

Graphique In addition, to obtain any general information relating to the use of the R score as part of the admissions process, the student must contact the university where he has submitted or intends to apply for admission.

For more information consult the following documents from the Bureau de coopération interuniversitaire:

Mérici Collégial Privé presents a new tool that facilitates understanding of the R score. Hosted by math and science teacher Jonathan Ruel, this video simplifies the R score calculation using different examples which consider the changes made to the calculation in 2017.

Watch the video

Inspired by the website of the Ministry of Education.