There are 18 universities in Québec, making this Canadian province rich in higher-education institutions. The large metropolis of Montreal alone is home to about 170,000 university students. With its vibrant cultural scene, high quality of life, affordable rents, and the lowest tuition rates in Canada, this is not surprising. If you are wondering how to get accepted to Canadian universities, or looking into how to apply for university in Canada as an international student, Québec is a great place to start! In this article, we aim to demystify some of the aspects of the educational system in Québec, which has deservedly been described as unique, and illuminate some of the reasons it makes a wonderful choice for your undergrad.

Disclaimer: Please note: although we have made every effort to provide the most accurate information, admissions information changes frequently. Therefore, we encourage you to verify these details with the official university admissions office. You are responsible for your own results. BeMo does not endorse nor affiliate with any official universities, colleges, or test administrators and vice versa.

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Article Contents
11 min read

Introduction Some General Considerations for University Studies in Québec Québec Universities Application System(s) How to Improve Your Application to Québec Universities Admission Statistics for Universities in Québec Conclusion FAQs


The official language of Québec is French, and consequently, Canada has the largest population of French speakers in North America at about 10.4 million. As a result, separate French and English universities exist in Québec. Only three universities in Québec have English as the language of instruction: McGill, Concordia, and Bishop’s. Other universities, such as Sherbrooke, may offer bilingual programs or certain courses in English. Québec universities are public and independent from government. They also hold some of the top spots in Canadian universities ranking.

Some General Considerations for University Studies in Québec

You may not have considered universities in Québec for your undergrad because you’ve been told you need to speak French. However, the three English universities are internationally renowned, and two are located in the city of Montreal, which has a highly multicultural population. You could also consider a French immersion pathway program, offered in various universities, such as Laval.

If you do speak French, all the better. You will then have your choice of some of the best universities in the francophone world. If you are looking for a good tip on how to study in Canada as an international student, note that if you’re from France or Belgium, your tuition fees will be the same or less than those of other Canadian students. Keep in mind that if you elect to pursue a program in French, you will need to prove your proficiency in the language first.

The province of Québec is a vast area with very different geographic and socioeconomic characteristics. While you are exploring how to apply to Canadian universities, you should consider whether you wish to be in an urban, small-town, or rural environment. Québec universities can be classified into three main categories: Montreal, Québec City, and regional universities. Among them, ten French-language universities, including a large distance education system, called Université TÉLUQ, are part of the Université du Québec network.

As each province in Canada manages its own educational system, there are important differences to be noted. Unlike many other provinces, Québec’s high school system only goes to Grade 11, after which students attend a type of junior college, called a CEGEP. Graduates of CEGEP have the highest admission rates to Québec universities, ranging from about 75 to 99%. In applying to a university, your educational background, residency status, and choice of program will all influence the application procedures you must follow as well as your admission chances.

This can be a lot to digest, which is why we have laid out all the most important information in this article. To know more, read on, but be sure to check the requirements of your school of choice carefully.

Québec Universities Application System(s)

Application Form

There is no common application system in Québec. You must apply through the admissions office of each university and pay an application fee, which ranges from about $100 CAD for Canadian citizens and permanent residents to about $320 for international students. Applications can be submitted via an online form.

Application Deadlines

For undergraduate programs, there may be two or three application deadlines: one each for entry into the fall, winter, and summer semesters/terms. The fall semester deadline tends to be on or around March 1, but each university and specific programs have their own deadlines, so you should check the precise requirements for your chosen schools. Graduate programs also have their own deadlines.

International students should aim to send in their application at least one month before the deadline to give them time to get immigration, credentials, and other necessary documents in order. It should be noted that in recent years, the refusal rate of student visas by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has been very high, as shown in the following table:

Required Documents

You will typically provide digital copies of your required documents with your application form and may be asked to provide originals or certified copies as well. Essential documents include your high school or CEGEP diploma and your transcripts.

When accessing the application form on the university website, you will notice that a series of questions is asked before you are informed of which documents are required. As noted above, the criteria and conditions will differ depending on where you’re from and what you want to study.


Acceptance into a Québec university depends on the type of diploma you already possess. Students from Québec must have received their Diplôme d’études collégiales (DEC), while students from other Canadian provinces, the US, or other countries would usually send their high school leaving certificate, provided it is at the level that would allow them to attend university in their home country. Each university has different requirements for CEGEP students, out-of-province Canadian students, US high school students, international baccalaureate students, British-patterned students, home-schooled students, and transfer students. Programs may also have special admission procedures, such as interviews, auditions, tests, or prerequisite courses. Be sure to thoroughly research the school and program requirements.


Tuition fees vary widely among universities in Québec and within the university depending on the student’s residency status and program. Québec residents pay the lowest rates. Out-of-province Canadian students pay higher tuition fees, and international students pay the highest fees. Note that for many French-language universities, francophone students from France and Belgium may be afforded the Canadian or Québec student rate. You can confirm all these details by using the tuition calculators provided on the websites of almost every university in Québec.

Québec College Performance Rating (R Score)

The Québec college performance rating, or R score, is a ranking system that is unique in the world. It takes into account not only a student’s results in each of their CEGEP courses, but also their deviation from the group average as well as the strength of the group. In this way, an average student from a very strong group is not penalized when presenting their candidacy to universities.

The R score measures academic performance on a scale of 1 to 50. If you’re wondering whether you can calculate an equivalent GPA from an R score, or vice versa, the answer is you can’t, as they use different metrics. Use the following information to estimate the grades you would need to achieve a high R score equivalency. The Centre d’études collégiales in Charlevoix explains that an R score between 32 and 35 is valid for marks well above the average, for example, 85–90%. An R score between 20 and 26 would be for average scores of 65–75%. In terms of programs at Québec universities, students in medicine, law, computer technology, psychology, and mathematics teaching had the highest average R scores for a recent year.

Degrees offered

Universities in Québec offer similar degrees to elsewhere in Canada or the US. You can take a bachelor’s, certificate, master’s (thesis or non-thesis), or doctorate degree. At the graduate level, you can also take a specialized graduate diploma (DESS), a short program that enables you to develop expertise in a specific field.

Most, but not all, of the universities in Québec offer undergraduate programs. Some universities, such as the École nationale d’administration publique (ENAP) and the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS), offer only specialized graduate and post-graduate degrees. In researching universities in Québec, you will often encounter the French term, “cycle”: Cycle 1 refers to undergrad, Cycle 2 refers to grad schools, and Cycle 3 refers to post-graduate studies.

How to Improve Your Application to Québec Universities

Language Proficiency 

Most universities in Québec don’t require SAT scores but will almost certainly require language proficiency testing in either French or English if your first language is not that of the program of study. A wide range of proofs and tests are accepted, including previous years of study in the language. In some cases, you may be required to take an intensive English or French program followed by a placement test. Therefore, one of the ways to enhance your chances of admission is to research the language requirements of your chosen school and take any necessary courses and tests well ahead of applying.

A High GPA or R Score

A high GPA or R score, relative to that of admitted students, will certainly help ensure your success, especially for the most competitive universities in Québec, such as Canadian medical schools that accept US students, or the best law schools in Canada. Yes, McGill, we’re talking about you! As one of the most prestigious and well-known universities in the world, it is even challenging for undergrads to get into McGill when the overall acceptance rate was 38% in a recent year. McGill also has one of the lowest rates for CEGEP graduate admissions at 75% and utilizes an annual cut-off for GPA and R scores. Academic excellence is also key for several of the French-language universities, such as Polytechnique Montréal, where the average R score hovers around 31.

How to Write a High School Resume:

Excellent Letters of Recommendation

Many programs, such as the Bachelor of Music at McGill, require recommendation letters from teachers, counselors, or professionals who can vouch for your candidacy. Once you decide who to ask and request them, these letters take time to prepare. You may also need to collect supporting documents, such as awards or accolades, to help your referee in writing your letter. Oftentimes, you will need to learn to write your own college recommendation letter that a referee can then sign, to be certain that you include all the information required by the university. Preparing all such documents well in advance will mean that your application is complete from the get-go and may be looked at first, rather than winding up in the incomplete pile.

For some programs, your recommendation letter is what will win you that coveted spot. If you are a pianist, for example, who studied under a renowned musician who is ready to give you a glowing review, there isn’t much more you can ask for to further your chance of acceptance to a top music program, other than your own talent, performance skills, and good grades, of course.

Compelling Letters of Interest 

Although universities in Québec do not usually require a personal statement per se from Québec residents for general undergraduate admissions, it often happens that specific programs will require a statement or letter from you attesting to your background, as is the case for the music programs at Bishop’s.

Canadian out-of-province and international students are often asked to provide a personal statement, letter of intent, college essay, or other materials. A well-written letter clearly outlining your experience and interest in the field of study, your knowledge of the program, and your conviction that the particular university you are applying to is the best possible option for fulfilling your academic and career goals will stand you in good stead.

Note that US students can use the Common Application to apply to Bishop’s and consider the points we include in our Ultimate Guide to Writing a Common App Essay.

Campus Visits and Education Fairs

Many universities in Québec offer ways to get to know the institution better, such as “student for a day” events, information kiosks in CEGEPs and high schools, open houses, and campus information sessions. If you can travel to the university, do so, but also make a point of attending any activities at your school or in your local community where universities showcase their offerings. When you do this, pick up materials to remind you of what to focus on in your application to a program. If you speak to a specific person, introduce yourself, take their business card, and mention them by name if you have the opportunity to do so in your application. Universities appreciate genuine interest, curiosity, and persistence in applicants.

Resume/Curriculum Vitae

Most application forms for universities in Québec will include a section in which to add work history and other professional experience. You may also be asked to provide a separate CV. This is where crafting a really strong high school resume comes in. You may have already started one to apply for after-school or summer jobs, but you can now develop it further by including more details, your best extracurriculars for college, volunteering experience with measurable impact, and work or research experience related to your academic interests. Your resume should also include a summary statement and objective: this section highlights your qualifications, qualities, and academic/professional goals in a single sentence.

If you’ve attended any events sponsored by universities in Québec, be sure to mention those too. Even if you have attended another university’s activity, you could use this to explain why you chose this university instead. Most universities assess your application holistically, so you should take advantage of sections in the forms where you can add in additional information to make your application stand out.

Choice of Program

When applying to a Québec university, students will often be asked to specify a first, second, and third choice of program. This means that if your first-choice program fills up, you can still be admitted for one of your other program choices. If you really want to attend a specific university, it is recommended to accept the program choice offered when you are admitted, as you can often transfer to another program in a subsequent semester or year.

You can also be strategic in your choice of programs. You might want to consider putting your preferred program first but adding less competitive programs as second and third choices. To decide what’s best, consider talking to an academic advisor at the university or availing yourself of Canadian university admission consultant services to help you make up your mind.

Admission Statistics for Universities in Québec

In the following table, only those universities offering on-campus undergraduate programs, with their statistics, are listed. Note that admission rates are largely not comparable in Québec because French-language universities will attract and accept mainly CEGEP graduates, while English-language universities will attract and accept a greater mix of CEGEP graduates, Canadian high school graduates, and international students. Moreover, admission rates vary significantly depending on the program. For example, at UQAM in a recent year, the admission rate for the Tourism and Hospitality Management program was 70%, while that of Social Work was only 38%. These differences are due to the program size relative to the demand.

Admission rates, average R score, and undergraduate tuition fees in CAD (full-time, 30 credits per year) for universities in Québec



It can certainly be said that universities in Québec offer something for everyone in almost any environment you can imagine. Whether you want to train as an artist in a big city with multiple museums and a thriving cultural scene, work in agricultural or environmental sciences, become an engineer, attend medical school in Canada, study forestry, or learn from First Nations people, there is a program for you.

Just remember that in Québec, it’s all about the program, and your eligibility, specific requirements, and admission chances will depend on which one you choose.


1. What is the easiest English university in Québec to get into?

Concordia University, with its large size and overall acceptance rate of 78%, is the easiest English-language university in Québec to get into.

2. What’s the top French university in Québec?

As two of the oldest, internationally renowned, and prestigious universities, Université de Montréal and Université Laval are often ranked as the top French-language universities. However, many other universities in Québec hold the top rank for specific research activities, teaching approaches, and learning environments.

3. Do I need to know French to study at McGill?

No, as most courses are taught in English at McGill, knowing French is not required. However, living in Québec is enriched by the ability to communicate in French, and as you advance in your studies, you will likely want to read papers published in French and converse with francophone colleagues in your field. Fortunately, Québec offers a wide range of French-language learning resources, many of which are free.

4. Do I need to pass a language test to study at a Québec university?

The short answer is “yes,” unless you have a significant number of years of senior schooling in the language of instruction used by your choice of university. If you attended CEGEP in Québec, you will likely have taken an English or French exit exam, which will serve as proof of your language proficiency. All applicants should carefully check the requirements of their preferred schools, as universities in Québec have an elaborate classification system for language proficiency assessment.

5. Is the R score basically the Québec version of GPA?

No, the R score only applies to Québec students who graduated from CEGEP (the equivalent of grades 12 and 13). GPA is the sum of all your high school grades divided by the number of credits, while the R score also compares a student’s performance to that of their peers and the performance of the group as a whole. 

6. What is a great R score?

The R score is calculated on a scale of 1–50. A high R score, such as the one required by the McGill Neuroscience program, is at least a 34 or 35.

7. I grew up in Québec, but I never attended CEGEP. Can I still get into university?

It’s possible to get into university in Québec with only a high school diploma, but you will need to have excellent grades and fulfill several other criteria, including potentially taking prerequisite courses. The acceptance rate for CEGEP graduates is very high, so it is recommended to attend CEGEP to have the best possible chance of admission.

8. Is there a common application for universities in Québec?

No, to apply to a university in Québec, you must submit an application to the specific university and program. You will likely also be asked to indicate your first, second, and third choice of program.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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