The education system in Quebec has four levels: They are:
- Elementary education.
- Secondary education.
- College education.
- University education.
The Quebec province makes its own laws in matters of education. Under the Charter of the French Language, the instruction is to be given in French at the preschool, elementary and secondary levels. However, some students who meet specific requirements of the Charter may receive their schooling in English. As for college and university students, they can enroll in either English or French language institutions.
Elementary education consists of the first six years of a child’s schooling. The focus is on the basic subjects and helps promote the general development of the students. The six years are divided into three ‘cycles’ of two years each and the depth and expanse of each of the subjects increase in every successive cycle. The aim is to prepare the student for the more difficult secondary school curriculum.
The Secondary School education is for five years divided into two cycles. Cycle One is for a period of three years and the Cycle Two is for a period of two years. The Cycle One is an extension of the learning from the elementary education. The subjects are covered in greater depth to consolidate their learning. Students would by this make a decision on the future course of study and what they would like to do in the future. They can choose to continue in the academic stream or a vocational job-oriented stream. During Cycle Two, the students are offered a variety of educational pathways: general education, applied general education, and job-specific training. The government also allows them to seek full-time employment after their secondary schooling.
At the end of the fifth year of secondary education, students are awarded a Secondary School Diploma (SSD) that provides access to college. The vocational training programs earn a Diploma of Vocational Studies (DVS) and then, if they so choose, an Attestation of Vocational Specialization (AVS).
Post-secondary or College education
The CEGEPs (General and Vocational Colleges), offer two-year pre-university programs and three-year technical programs leading to a Diploma of College Studies (DCS). CEGEPs offer programs in all areas and are similar to the Community Colleges. They also provide shorter technical programs leading to an Attestation of College Studies (ACS).
CEGEPs are governed by a separate, specific law. Each institution is administered by a board of directors made up of various persons from the institution and from the local community. The private colleges are also governed by their own separate, specific law. After Grade 11 (or Secondary V), students complete the two-year general program leading to admission to a university, or a three-year professional program leading directly into the labor force.
The universities are independent legal entities and enjoy a great deal of autonomy. Québec universities have faculties in all disciplines as well as professional schools (business, engineering, etc.). A Diploma of College Studies (DCS) is required for admission to the university. University education is divided into three levels. The first leads to a bachelor’s degree. The second involves two years of additional studies and leads to a master’s degree. The third, which lasts approximately three years, leads to a doctoral degree. In addition, various undergraduate programs offer complementary non-degree professional training.