According to the Ministry of Education, the education offered in Quebec universities is comprised of three study cycles leading to degrees recognized by the institution’s diplomas, notably the bachelor’s, the master’s and the doctorate.
Undergraduate programs target the acquisition of knowledge and development of skills in a chosen discipline. They prepare students for the labor market or the second level of studies. The duration of these programs is three to four years, and programs vary from 90 to 120 credits. As a general rule, undergraduate students register for fall and winter sessions.
They can also pursue a certificate, a diploma that they obtain after two semesters of studies (30 credits).
The first cycle can also lead to other programs recognized with an attestation of studies, a certificate (30 credits) or a diploma (30 – 60 credits).
In the second cycle, the student can register for a master’s program. The minimal duration for a master’s is three trimesters, but generally, a master’s program lasts for two years. The student can also choose to pursue a DESS, which usually takes a year to obtain.
The third cycle requires on average, three to five years of study and leads to a doctorate diploma (Ph.D.). The principal objective of this program is the creation of researchers. For this degree, the minimum schooling is six trimesters and at the end of their program the student must begin to write their thesis.
Valérie Grenier, g.c.,
Manager – Promotion and study information
Are you thinking about going to university to upgrade your skills for your current job but are hesitating to commit to a program? There are different options available to you depending on what kind of training you need, the level of education you aspire to, and the amount of time you want to invest.
A professional development activity allows you to quickly acquire knowledge that is immediately applicable in the workplace, and often does not require any prior training. Professional development activities earn continuing education credits (CEC), with one CEC equivalent to 10 hours of work and used to quantify the estimated number of hours a student should devote to in-class learning and structured independent study.
Offered in short and accessible courses lasting one or several days, professional development activities meet the needs of the job market, can contribute to required training hours for your professional order, keep your knowledge current and enhance your resumé. They can be followed on an individual basis or offered within your company. Check with your employer.
Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are free, non-credit, university-level distance education courses. Offered online, a MOOC is accessible to an unlimited number of participants from anywhere in the world, and can lead to a certificate of achievement. In addition to acquiring university-level content without prerequisites, you can choose a MOOC as a personal challenge, to enrich your general knowledge, develop a more comprehensive perspective of an issue, or even as part of your continuing education goals.
Unique to Université Laval, the nanoprogram was launched in the fall of 2019, and offers intensive courses centered on a topical theme. With durations of 90 hours or 135 hours, they are part of a lifelong learning perspective. Recognized by employers, the nanoprogram training leads to university-sanctioned certification which constitutes an official recognition of mastered skills, including hours of training completed and recognition of university credits (two or three Cycle 1 or Cycle 2 credits). Networking and collaboration with experts to support you in carrying out a concrete project for your professional career are carried out throughout the course. It’s a great formula to discover!
To study a specific topic, have you considered registering for one or more university courses as a non-degree student (étudiant libre)? This means you can attend school without embarking upon on a program of study and will receive grades for the courses taken based on assignments and exams.
A university course is made up of 1 to 6 credits, with each credit corresponding to 45 hours of work, including individual study, and all forms of learning activities, whether in a classroom, laboratory, internship or remotely. If you wish to continue into a degree program, the credits can then be used towards the degree if the courses you took are part of that program path.
Did you know? Université Laval offers its students maximum flexibility with different teaching options (face-to-face, distance, hybrid, co-modal). In fact, more than 1,000 courses are offered online to help you reach your goals while reconciling different aspects of your life.
The microprogram is a short educational program offering between 9 and 18 credits with the aim of improving professional development in a particular field. It leads to obtaining a certificate of studies. Usually offered on a part-time basis, it can often be taken remotely in Quebec or elsewhere. The 1st or 2nd cycle microprograms are the most popular choice for working adults who wish to pursue a short university education in a specific field.
Usually comprised of 30 credits, the certificate is a short program in a particular field and can be complementary to a university degree or serve as refresher training for professionals. For employed students, a certificate program is often carried out on a part-time basis, and depending on the chosen pace of study, can be spread over a period of three years at the rate of one course per session. We invite you to discover more than 80 certificate programs offered in different fields of study, many of which are also available remotely.
The Bachelor’s degree is offered in different forms: A specialized degree emphasizes one specific area of knowledge, while an integrated or multi-disciplinary degree allows you to pursue at least two complementary fields. Many continuing education students turn to the multi-disciplinary 90-credit Bachelor’s program, which makes it possible to combine two or three certificates in additional training according to their personal or professional goals. Depending on the pace (full-time or part-time), a Bachelor’s can be completed over a period of 3 to 9 years, after which the undergraduate Bachelor’s degree allows access to graduate courses and programs.
Advanced graduate diploma (DESS)
The advanced graduate diploma is a short 2nd cycle program which enables the acquisition of specific expertise in a specific field. It is comprised of 24 – 30 credits, and often favoured by people in the workplace. These short DESS graduate programs merit exploration, as they allow students, among other things, to deepen their knowledge or consolidate skills in a field in which they already have training, in a related field or a specific area of practice.
The Master’s programs are either practice-oriented for acquiring professional specialization or focused on a research project leading to the writing of a dissertation. As part of a professional Master’s degree, an intervention activity involves a reflective process resulting in an internship report or intervention project report. Comprised of 45 credits of 2nd cycle activities, the Master’s program leads to a graduate degree, and can be a major asset for accessing certain positions depending on your professional goals.
Improve your practices, keep working and get a diploma
Whatever formula you choose, don’t forget to clearly identify your training needs. To do this, try to envision yourself 5-to-15 years into the future: Where are you in your career? Who do you work for? What knowledge, skills and attitudes will you need to acquire in order to achieve your goals? This reflection, even if brief, will be remarkably helpful in choosing your continuing education.
If necessary, do not hesitate to contact a guidance counsellor in order to obtain support in your development or study project.
Wishing you great success!
By Ashley Hollister, c.o., Concordia University
Student Recruitment Officer
Helping your teen choose a university can sometimes seem like a very complex task. You may have questions about how the university system is structured, or perhaps you are unfamiliar with the terminology used. The following information will try to answer these questions and show you that the university system is much simpler than you think!
Structure of an Undergraduate Degree
The terminology used by anglophone universities is sometimes different than the one used by francophone schools. This is because of some significant structural differences between the two systems. In the French-language university system, students typically study one subject or academic path, whereas anglophone universities allow more academic flexibility. For example, a Concordia student might pursue a Major in Political Science with a Minor in Sociology, and complete their degree with complementary courses. The possibilities to combine classes and interests are limitless.
Students can also choose their courses and design their own schedules, which allows them to balance their social, academic and professional commitments more easily.
Major: A Major is the field in which a student focuses during the course of their degree. A major is a more general degree, applicable to many different careers, and allows for the greatest exploration outside of the chosen program.
Specialization: A Specialization is like a major, but includes more courses in the major program and fewer electives, which makes it more specialised. A specialization provides in-depth study for those interested in a career in their chosen field, while still leaving a substantial number of credits to the individual’s choice.
Honours: Honours are highly concentrated programs that are primarily for those planning to pursue graduate studies. Honours programs often require the completion of an independent final project or thesis.
Minor: A minor provides a basic introduction to the methodology and key concepts of a discipline. Students are usually not required to take a minor. Completion of one or more minors does not meet the requirements for a degree, but must be done in combination with a major, specialization or honours.
Electives: Electives are courses taken outside of a student’s program that allow them to explore different areas of interest.
Resources to help plan the next steps
Even with all this information, it is possible that you and your teen will still need a bit of assistance in preparing for the transition from Cegep to university. If that is the case, universities offer many options to help students explore their options.
In some cases, it is possible to contact university representatives by email, by appointment or by telephone. These are often individuals who are very knowledgeable about the admissions criteria and strengths of the programs they offer and can therefore provide key information. At Concordia, for example, prospective students can make appointments or schedule a campus tour with our Welcome Centre, which is a great place to get all the answers to their questions.
Many universities also offer Open House events in the fall and winter, where prospective students can explore programs and speak with current students and university representatives.
Cegeps also host university visits during the school year, so keeping up-to-date on these events is a good way to go speak with someone directly. Speaking with their Cegep Academic Advisor is also a great way to ensure that your teen is picking a university program that corresponds to their interests, aptitudes and values.
The key element to remember is to not be afraid to ask for help! It is better to be prepared than to be caught off-guard. This will also help to avoid any last-minute stress.
Resources to help transition to university life
It is important to remember that your teen is not alone in this next step. Universities offer a wealth of services to help students adapt to their university studies. These include counselling resources, resources for students with disabilities, career and planning services and orientation activities to welcome first year students.
At Concordia for example, our Student Success Centre offers services specifically designed for new students, such as peer mentors, first-year support counselling and orientation activities, as well as workshops on efficient learning and time management strategies.
Although university can be quite different from Cegep or high school, it is not as complex to navigate as many people think! As long as you are not afraid to seek advice before starting the process, encourage your teen to use the resources at their disposal and this transition can go very smoothly.
To be admitted to a first level program, a person must generally hold a diploma of college studies (DEC) and meet any additional admission requirements (qualifying R score, tests, interviews, etc.). For certain programs, one must hold the appropriate DEC and fulfill prerequisites unless otherwise indicated. Students should consult university admissions guides to know more.
In the absence of a DEC, an applicant can be admitted to university if they meet the requirements determined by the institution, including interruption of studies and relevant workplace experience.
Admission to Quebec universities is different than that of the regional admissions services for college: there are no second and third rounds. The student can apply to several universities at the same time, and with some exceptions, has the right to more than one choice of program per university.
A program with limited capacity can not accept all who apply. In this case, the school must proceed with a selection among the admissible candidates.
The admissions process in these special quota programs includes different criteria in addition to R score, such as interviews, selection tests, physical tests, portfolio, auditions, etc. Visit the Frequently asked questions page for more information about program restrictions.
The amounts relating to tuition fees are established by the Quebec government. Currently, based on 30 credits divided into two trimesters, an estimated $1700 per year will cover all tuition fees. This amount can vary from one institution to another and applies only to Quebec students – the amount is different in the case of non-residents or foreign students. For more information consult the university website.
Related fees are comprised mainly of costs related to insurance, general fees and other various charges. These also include payments to a student association as is required by the Act Respecting the Accreditation and Financing of Students’ Associations. The total of associated fees will vary little from one university to another. You can usually estimate around $250 to cover all these fees based on 30 credits spread out over two trimesters.
General expenses are connected to the purchase of school materials, food and lodging. These expenses obviously vary according to individual needs, i.e., a student living at home with his parents can assume approximately $600 for the purchase of school materials over two trimesters, while the student that must assume the cost of food and lodging can expect an estimate their general expenses rising to about $3700 for two trimesters.
Personal expenses include costs related to recreation, transport, etc. It goes without saying that these expenses vary quite a bit according to individual needs. For the purposes of calculation, one can generally estimate around $1600 for two trimesters.
The DEC-BAC formula of transfer credits results from an agreement between a cégep and a university. The university recognizes the student’s college program achievements as the equivalent of one year of university studies, and in certain cases a year of college studies. This allows a student to generally obtain a double diploma in four or five years.
View the list of programs offered according to the DEC-BAC formula (in French).
A DEC-BAC is integrated when a college and a university have previously and jointly established a specific educational path in which during a certain time, the competencies to develop and acquire are divided. Generally, you can have two school paths of two-and-a-half years each in college and university (five sessions, five trimesters).
Further conditions can be defined to take advantage of this type of path (a minimal R score, passing courses specified in the agreement, required training objectives, etc.).
The DEC-BAC integrated agreements pursue the following objectives
- Offer a college and university education program distinguished by its continuity in the sequence of courses.
- Eliminates course duplication between college and university.
- Offers the possibility for successful students to excel in their field of study.
- Minimizes the cost of studies by reducing their duration for those who wish to complete technical college and university programs.
- Allows students to proceed more rapidly to the job market.
Quebec has 18 university level educational institutions, 10 of which are organized as the Université du Québec network.
Universities in the network
- Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)
- Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR)
- Université du Québec à Chicoutimi (UQAC)
- Université du Québec à Rimouski (UQAR)
- Université du Québec en Outaouais (UQO)
- Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (UQAT)
- Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS)
- École nationale d’administration publique (ENAP)
- École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS)
- Télé-université (TÉLUQ)