What is a DEC?

A DEC is a college-level diploma unique to Quebec. It is granted by the Ministry of Education when a student successfully completes all the requirements of a CEGEP program. DEC stands for diplôme d’études collégiales. Although the English equivalent is Diploma of College Studies, nearly everyone refers to it as a DEC.

Students educated in Quebec who wish to pursue university studies in Quebec must have a DEC. Students who have graduated with a three-year technical DEC (sometimes also referred to as a career program) can enter the workforce directly in their chosen field of study or continue on to university under certain conditions.

CEGEP is not only for Quebec residents. Out of province students wishing to study at Dawson must produce equivalent high school diplomas. Also, the student fee structure is not the same as for Quebec residents. Consult our student fees.

Programs of Study at Dawson

Dawson College offers 26 programs, five of which prepare you for entry to university, called Pre-University programs, and 21 that give you the skills and practice to enter the workforce directly, these are called Technical programs, also referred to as Career programs.

  • Pre-University programs normally take place over a two-year period (four semesters).
  • Technical programs must be completed in a specific sequence, generally over a three-year period (six semesters).


Frequently Asked Questions When Choosing a Program

Three-year DEC vs two-year DEC

It all depends on what you want to do in the future.

Three-year programs are excellent if you want to work immediately after CEGEP because these programs are more concentrated on a specific technology. See list for all the programs available to you. You will be fully qualified to enter the workforce after taking any one of the 21 technical programs offered at Dawson.

You can still go to university after completing a three-year technical program DEC. Depending on which university degree you want to pursue, you may have to add a few more pre-requisites to qualify, or you may find that the university you want to attend will give you credit for the courses you took in your three-year program.

Not at all. Three-year technical DEC programs can be more challenging than a two-year pre-university program. These programs are highly concentrated in a specific area of study which may mean that you may have to carry a heavier course load each semester than students in pre-university programs.

If you want to enter the workforce in your chosen field right after CEGEP, you will be very well-prepared. Most technical programs also include internships or work placements in the field you have chosen, whether they are in companies, health institutions, or engineering firms. They may even take place in another country.

About half the graduates in Dawson’s 21 technical programs choose to go on to university, some with advanced standing, some requiring additional pre-requisites. This is determined by the university, not by Dawson, although some universities have standing “articulation agreements” with Dawson on these arrangements. Search the Dawson website for Pathways for more information about these agreements.

For example, graduates in the Engineering Technologies may go on to engineering programs at various universities in Montreal and beyond. At L’École de technologie supérieure (ETS) de Montréal, university engineering programs are offered especially for students who have a DEC in one of the Engineering Technologies.

Students who have completed DEC programs in Accounting and Management Technology or Marketing and Management Technology often go on to business studies at the John Molson School of Business at Concordia University, or the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University.

Many graduates in Community Recreation and Leadership Training choose to pursue a university degree in Leisure Sciences or Applied Human Sciences at Concordia University. Some in Social Service choose to continue at McGill’s School of Social Work.

Concordia University, in particular, has a wide range of visual and applied arts programs suitable for students who graduate in one of the seven Applied Arts programs at Dawson, from photography to ceramics, art history to film studies and computation arts.

These are just examples; a quick tour of websites of any university will give you a better idea of the undergraduate programs offered.


Choosing the right program for you

Looking at your options in this viewbook is a good start. You will see what pre-requisites you need coming out of high school or previous education. You will also see how the program unfolds from semester to semester.

You probably have a good sense already of what you are good at and what interests you. Speak to your high school guidance counsellor for advice, and definitely come to Open House (usually the third Sunday in October, check website for specific date), Information Evening in February before the March 1 application deadline, or take a College Tour.

First of all, don’t rush to any snap judgments. The first few weeks of school can be stressful. Plus, you have several weeks at the start of a semester to try out courses before the course drop deadline. Give your courses a fair chance, but be aware of the course drop deadline. The deadline to officially drop a course is usually about three weeks after school starts each semester, but please check the Academic Calendar/Important Dates section of the website to be sure.
If, a few weeks in, you still feel that your program is a poor fit, speak to an adviser to explore your options. There is a program transfer deadline every semester (November 1 to be in a different program in Winter, and March 1 to be in a different program in Fall). Please note that we don’t admit to any of our three-year programs in the Winter semester.

Last Modified: July 1, 2024