CEGEP (pron.: // say-ZHEP or // SEE-jep; French: Cégep; also CÉGEP, Cegep or Cégep) is an acronym for Collège d'enseignement général et professionnel, known officially in English as a "General and Vocational College". It refers to the public post-secondary education collegiate institutions exclusive to the education system in the province of Quebec in Canada. It is a loanword from French.
Although all colleges in Quebec are colloquially referred to as CEGEPs, only public colleges are officially referred to by that name. Both public (CEGEPs) and private colleges have the same function in Quebec. Although they may occasionally be compared to junior colleges or community colleges, CEGEPs differ in that a Diploma of College Studies (or Diplôme d'études collégiales, DEC) is required for university admission in Quebec unless a student enters as a mature student which typically means a minimum age of 21 with other requirements. Pre-university programs are typically two years in duration, which explains why secondary school and undergraduate degrees are both one year shorter in Quebec relative to elsewhere in Canada. A student in Quebec cannot enter university with a secondary diploma from Quebec alone.
The purpose of a separate collegiate education level is to make post-secondary education more accessible in Quebec, as well as to provide proper academic preparation for university. There are both public subsidized and private colleges, with the public CEGEPs having little or no tuition fee. The CEGEP system was started in 1967 by the Quebec provincial government and originally consisted of 12 CEGEPs. Today, 48 CEGEPs exist in Quebec, of which 5 are English language-medium. There are also 50 private colleges, including 6 English-medium colleges. Today, there are some Centre d'études collégiales, a small public post-secondary education college very similar to a CEGEP. They are often a campus of another CÉGEP, like the Centre d'études collégiales à Chibougamau, part of the Cégep de Saint-Félicien.
Education path 
Students in the province of Quebec who intend to pursue post-secondary education must attend a college before enrolling in a Quebec university. Students who follow a general studies program in Quebec complete six years of primary school (grades 1 through 6), followed by five years of secondary school (grades 7 through 11, or Secondaire I to V in French). Quebec students complete one grade fewer in total than all other Canadian students before beginning post-secondary studies, ending high school in grade 11 instead of grade 12. Colleges then prepare students for university or to enter a technical profession. Most Quebec undergraduate programs are three years in length for Quebec students; hence, the total number of years of study from primary school through a Bachelor's degree is the same as in the rest of North America. It is also possible to attend a university after obtaining a technical college diploma, as they are usually treated by universities in the same manner as 2-year college diplomas (associate degree).
Students wishing to continue their university education outside Quebec must take one year of courses to fulfill the requirements of the institution to which they are applying. For example, students wishing to attend an Ontario university may complete one year of college and apply as a regular applicant who has completed grade 12 in Ontario. Additionally, students who have a DEC from a Quebec college may apply for admission with one year of advanced standing to institutions outside Quebec, as some advanced courses at the college level may be assessed as equivalent to introductory courses at university.
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Most, but not all colleges offer two types of programs: pre-university and technical. The pre-university programs take two years to complete, whereas the technical programs take three. These programs share a core curriculum, consisting of French, English, Humanities, Physical Education and complementary courses (elective courses unrelated to the program of study).
Pre-university program 
A pre-university program covers the subject matter that roughly corresponds to the additional year of high school given elsewhere in Canada in preparation for a chosen field in university (Sciences, Humanities, Commerce or Arts). Upon the completion of studies, the provincial government issues a Diploma of College Studies (DCS), or DEC (Diplôme d'études collégiales). Students may then complete certain undergraduate programs at a Quebec university in only 3 years, as opposed to 4 years outside Quebec. Students with a DEC who choose to attend university in another province in Canada or outside the country are then eligible to either skip the first year and enter university as a second year student, or gain advanced standing or extra credit for their first year. The amount of accepted extra credit is at the discretion of each university. In practice, most universities do accept Quebec college credits, but only up to one year, given the difference in structure of education systems between Quebec and the rest of the provinces.
Technical program 
Quebec colleges also offer three-year technical programs for students who wish to pursue a skilled trade. Unlike the pre-university programs, they are not preparation for university, although this does not prevent a student from attending a university afterwards. The technical programs also lead to a DEC. Examples of such technical programs are Industrial Electronics, Architectural Technology, Nursing, Building Engineering Technology, Computer Science, and Theatre. Though those programs can also lead to the university, they are geared towards immediate employment.
Adult continuing education programs are also offered at colleges. Many of those programs lead to a college certificate (Attestation of College Studies (ACS), (French): Attestation d'études collégiales - AEC), which is similar to a DEC but does not include the core curriculum. This certificate is delivered by a college's continuing education department, while a diploma is issued by the Ministry of Education, Recreation, and Sport of Quebec.
In addition, the majority of the province's thirty-one "Technology Transfer Centres" have been established by CEGEPs. At these centres, applied research is carried out in a specific field in cooperation with industrial partners.
See also 
- College (Quebec)
- Education in Quebec
- List of colleges in Quebec
- R score
- Higher education in Quebec
- Centre de documentation collégiale
- Sixth form college, a British institution that fulfills a similar purpose
- General and Vocational Colleges Act
- General and Vocational Colleges Act
- Youth Encyclopedia of Canada. "CEGEP". Education: Colleges & Universities. Historica Foundation of Canada. Retrieved 2007-02-12.
- "List of public CEGEPs". Ministère de l'Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport (in French). Retrieved 2007-12-28.
- "List of public English language CEGEPs". Ministère de l'Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport (in French). Retrieved 2007-12-28.
- "List of private colleges". Ministère de l'Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport (in French). Retrieved 2007-12-28.
- "List of private English language colleges". Ministère de l'Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport (in French). Retrieved 2007-12-28.
- General and Vocational Colleges Act, 18(c)
- http://www.collegework.ca - RSS feed of CEGEP and Community College jobs in Canada
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