CEGEP, or Collège d’enseignement général et professionnel (in English, College of General and Vocation Education), is a pre-college university program unique to Quebec. Students from Quebec wishing to receive post-secondary education either in or outside of Quebec must first enroll in and complete a CEGEP program for at least one year. Quebecois students may not attend university with just a secondary education diploma; they must have completed a CEGEP program as well.
Since the pre-university CEGEP programs usually take two years to complete, most bachelor’s degree programs in the province of Quebec require three years. This way, Quebecois students receive the same total number of years of education as students from the rest of North America — they spend a year less in secondary school than students in other provinces do.
Currently, 175,000 students in Quebec are enrolled in public CEGEP, and 14,000 students in private programs.
The rationale behind CEGEP is proper academic preparation for university and increased accessibility to higher education. CEGEP education is highly subsidized by the government and is almost free to students. Students take their years in CEGEP seriously as helpful steps toward a university education.
For more information on CEGEP, visit the Fédération des CEGEPs website.