The school system

The Quebec school system differs slightly from other countries due to the addition of college studies between secondary school and university.


At the age of 4 or 5 *


From 6 to 12 years *


From 12 to 17 years old *


17 years and over *



* For information only, the age may vary depending on the student’s situation. It is possible to attend secondary school until the age of 18.

The Quebec school system is made up of four (4) levels:

  • Preschool education, also called kindergarten (usually at the age of 4 or 5). Most children enter school at age 5 for a full-time kindergarten year. While not compulsory, kindergarten is highly recommended, as it is a particularly important year for children who do not speak French and allows them to start learning the language and better prepare for beginning elementary school.
  • Elementary and Secondary studies include general education and vocational training. School attendance is compulsory for all children aged 6 to 16 (elementary and secondary school). See the next tab for details.
  • College studies are divided into pre-university training and technical training. The two-year pre-university training allows access to university and the three-year technical training allows access to the labor market AND to university, sometimes under certain conditions. 
  • University studies include first cycle (Bachelor’s), second cycle (Master’s) and third cycle (Doctorate).

School attendance in Quebec is compulsory up to the age of 16.

Elementary education

  • Age: generally 6 to 12 years old
  • Includes Grade 1 to Grade 6 in three study cycles:
    • First cycle: Grades 1 and 2.
    • Second cycle: Grades 3 and 4.
    • Third cycle: Grades 5 and 6.

Secondary education

Age: generally 12 to 17 years old.

Includes Secondary 1 to 5. You will find more details in the menu at the top of the screen.

  • First cycle: Secondary 1 and 2.
    • Beginning in Cycle 2, that is, from Secondary 3, students are offered a variety of educational paths: a general education path, an applied general education path and an employment-oriented training path.
  • Second cycle: Secondary 3 to Secondary 5.
  • Vocational training can be available beginning in Secondary 3 under certain conditions and leads to the job market in addition to allowing access to cégep and university, also under certain conditions.
1 to 2 years
6 years
5 years
College (cégep)
2 to 3 years
3 to 4 years
2 years
3 years or +

The Table de concertation des organismes au service des personnes réfugiées et immigrantes (TCRI) provides an information and animation tool on the Quebec school system in the form of video clips. Each video is available in ten languages: French (original version), English, Spanish, Mandarin, Creole (Haitian), Arabic, Dari, Nepalese, Kinyarwanda and Bengali.

Audiovisual Capsules (original French version)

Capsules audiovisuelles (version originale en français)

Audiovisual Capsules (in English) 

Cápsulas audiovisuales (en español)   

Capsules audiovisuelles (version en créole) 

Capsules audiovisuelles (version en arabe) 

Capsules audiovisuelles (version en bengali) 

Capsules audiovisuelles (version en Dari)

Capsules audiovisuelles (version en népalais)

Capsules audiovisuelles (version en Mandarin)  

Capsules audiovisuelles (version en kinyarwanda)

This project benefited from financial support and collaboration of the Direction des services d’accueil et d’éducation interculturelle (DSAEI), of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEES), and the financial support from the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration (MIFI).

The Ministry makes information sheets available to schools and communities for immigrant and refugee parents upon their arrival in Quebec. Available in several languages, these documents present the French-language public school, levels of schooling, enrolment procedures, as well as the various support services for students and their families.

  • Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, presents a comparison of Quebec’s education system with other education systems. Click on the link.
  • L’École branchée also offers a table of equivalencies of school levels and age of children in class. Click on the link.