Education System of Bulgaria

Bulgaria, officially known as the Republic of Bulgaria is located in southeastern Europe, bordered by black sea to the east, Romania to the north, Turkey and Greece to the south, and Macedonia and Serbia to the west.

The Ministry of Education and Science administers the education in Bulgaria. Compulsory education in Bulgaria last for 9 years. State-owned schools in Bulgaria do not charge fees, except for universities, colleges and higher education schools. 

Understanding the Bulgarian Education System

Pre-Primary Education

Pre-primary education in Bulgaria is for children aged 3 to 6/7. Children aged 3 to 6 may attend kindergarten, which is optional. Also, a one-year preparatory school program is mandatory to attend for children before starting formal school education. 

Basic Education

Basic education in Bulgaria is compulsory for children aged 7 to 16. This educational level is divided into two school levels:
  • Primary school: This includes grades 1 to 4 and upon completion of this level, a certificate of primary education is awarded to the students. 
  • Junior high school/lower secondary school: This includes grades 5 to 9 and upon completion of this level, a basic education completion certificate is awarded to the students. 

Secondary Education/Upper Secondary Education

Secondary education in Bulgaria is offered at general high schools (sredno obshtoobrazovatelno uchilishte), specialized schools (profilirana gimnazia) and vocational schools (profesionalni uchilishta). 

Comprehensive/General Secondary Education: This level emphasize on general studies. Entry into comprehensive schools is based on grades obtained in junior high school and entrance exams.

Specialized Secondary Education: The specialized secondary education provides knowledge in a particular field. The most common subjects in the specialized high school are: biology and a foreign language, history and foreign language, and economic studies and a foreign language. 

Vocational Secondary Education: This education provides practical skills and prepares students for a specific vocation.


At the end of upper secondary education, students are required to undertake a school leaving examination-Matura. The exam is in Bulgarian language and literature and one subject of the pupil’s choice. Those who pass receive the Matura certificate and are eligible for higher education in Bulgaria. 

Higher Education

Higher education in Bulgaria is offered by following types of higher education institutions-universities, specialized higher schools and colleges. 

Higher Education Qualifications

  • Specialist degree: Colleges offer vocational oriented courses that lead to a specialist degree. This degree program is of 3 years duration, and students who receive this qualification are eligible for bachelor studies or workforce. 
  • Undergraduate: This qualification is of 4 to 5 years duration and leads to the bachelor degree. 
  • Master’s programme: This qualification last for1 to 2 years after the bachelor’s degree and leads to a Master’s degree. 
  • Doctoral degree/PhD: This degree program is of 3 years duration after the master’s degree. Students are required to prepare and defend their doctoral thesis.

Higher Education Institutions

  • Universities (Universiteti): Universities in Bulgaria provides a wide range of study programmes, mainly in technical science, humanities social science and natural sciences, at the undergraduate, master and doctoral level.
  • Specialized higher schools (Spezializirani visshi uchilishta): These institutions offer education in a specified area. The specialized higher schools offer master and doctoral degree programmes.
  • Independent Colleges (Samostojatelni koleji): These institutions offer vocational-oriented programmes lasting 3 years. 
For detailed information on the education system of Bulgaria, read the post "Bulgarian Education Overview".

Special Needs Education

Mentally or physically disadvantaged students are provided education at the state-run schools. Special schools are available at all levels of education. Private schools in Bulgaria also offer special needs education.

Admission Requirements

Admission in higher education institutions in Bulgaria is based on the high school diploma. Admission requirements vary by level of study, programme and type of higher education institutions. Click here to know the admission requirements for entry in higher education in Bulgaria. 


Bulgarian National Evaluation and Accreditation Agency (In Bulgarian: Националната агенция за оценяване и акредитация)

The Bulgarian National Evaluation and Accreditation Agency  (NEAA) is a governmental agency that is in charge for accreditation and evaluation of the quality of higher education institutions (colleges and universities) in Bulgaria. The NEAA is a member of the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA) and the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR).

International Students

Visa: International pupils who wish to study in Bulgaria require visa. Non-EU/EEA and Swiss citizens must have a Bulgarian student visa. EU nationals do not require visa in order to study in Bulgaria. 

Cost of study and living: The cost of study and living in Bulgaria is low as compared to other European countries.

Student loans: The Bulgarian government offers student loans to EU/EEA and Swiss citizens for undergraduate and postgraduate studies in Bulgaria.
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