Studying at university

University education is the second level of non-compulsory instruction, after college studies. In Québec, there are 18 universities, which operate independently.

The university academic year consists of 3 terms, usually lasting 15 weeks each:

  • Fall: from September to December
  • Winter: from January to April
  • Summer: from May to August

Most courses and educational activities are worth 3 credits; however, some may be worth 1, 2 or 4 credits. A credit represents approximately 45 hours of work per term. Hours of work may include individual study; attendance in class, in a laboratory or in a workshop; an internship, or online courses or activities.

For you to have full-time student status at the undergraduate level, your term must consist of no fewer than 12 credits, which is usually equivalent to 4 courses or educational activities.

Generally, to have full-time student status at the graduate level, your term must consist of no fewer than 9 credits. However, this number can vary depending on the activities, university and program.

There are 3 levels of university studies. Programs at the Master’s (Cycle 2) and Doctoral (Cycle 3) levels are also known as graduate and post-graduate studies.

Undergraduate (Cycle 1)

The main programs offered in Cycle 1 are:

Bachelor’s degree

A bachelor’s degree is a long program that focuses on a specific field of studies. Depending on the program, it requires 3 to 4 years of full-time studies and consists of 90 to 120 credits. This is generally equivalent to 30 to 40 courses or educational activities.

To complete the 90-credit Cycle 1 program within the expected timeframe, you usually need to complete the equivalent of 15 credits per term. This generally amounts to 5 courses or educational activities.

Certificate

A certificate is a short complementary or supplementary program in a specific field of studies, requiring 1 year of full-time studies to complete. It consists of 30 credits, which is usually equivalent to 10 courses or educational activities.

In some cases, the combination of 3 certificates can lead to the awarding of a bachelor’s degree. Certificate courses are sometimes part of a bachelor’s degree.

Graduate (Cycle 2)

The main programs offered in Cycle 2 are:

Master’s with thesis

A Master’s with thesis option centres around a research project. It generally requires 2 years of full-time studies to complete and consists of 45 credits.

Other Master’s degrees (e.g. professional or non-thesis)

These programs focus on professional practice or a research project, but to a lesser extent than the thesis option. They generally require 2 years of full-time studies to complete, but may take longer, and consist of 45 to 60 credits.

Specialized graduate diploma (DESS)

The DESS allows you to develop particular expertise in a specific field. It requires 1 year of full-time studies to complete and consists of 30 credits, which is usually equivalent to 10 courses or educational activities.

Post-graduate (Cycle 3)

The main program in Cycle 3 is:

Doctorate

The doctoral program, which focuses on research and the advancement of knowledge in a given field, consists of 90 credits, of which at least 60 credits are dedicated to research. It generally requires 4 years of full-time studies to complete but may be longer or shorter.

For some programs consisting of 120 credits, an additional 1 to 2 years of study is required.

Tuition fees and financial assistance

Basic tuition fees in 20202021 are $87.43 per credit. For a Québec student registered full-time (30credits), this amounts to $2 623 per term.

Non-residents of Québec must pay a lump sum in addition to the basic tuition fees. The lump sum for 30 credits in 20202021 is $5 563. For a full-time student (30 credits), this amounts to $8 186 per term.

International students in Cycle 2 and 3 research programs are also required to pay a lump sum in addition to the basic tuition fees:

  • Cycle 2: $13 944 for 30 credits in 2020-2021, for a total tuition fee of $16 567 
  • Cycle 3: $12 272 for a total tuition fee of $14 895

Tuition fees for international students in undergraduate and professional graduate programs are set by each individual university. 

For more information on tuition fees, refer to the website of the university you are interested in.

Financial assistance

Québec students with insufficient financial resources may benefit from the Loans and Bursaries Program for full-time studies or the Loans Program for Part-time Students.

Some universities offer employment for students with financial difficulties. Find out more on the Work/Study Program web page.

Last update: April 28, 2021

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