Upper Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education
In the Republic of Bulgaria secondary education is single-staged (upper secondary/high school education), lasting 4 or 5 years and leading to completion of secondary education. Secondary education is acquired on completing 12th grade. For those students who want to go further with their education it also includes successfully taking state matriculation exams. It is certified with a diploma of completed secondary education, which is final and entitles the holder to continue his education or vocational training. In case students decide not to sit for state matriculation examinations, they are issued a certificate of completed upper secondary education, which, however, does not entitle them to university enrollment.
Education at state and municipality run schools is free of charge. Schools are co-educational.
Upper secondary education can be general (offered at general and specialized study courses schools) and vocational. General upper secondary education is acquired at general schools (with a course of study of 4 years) and specialized schools (with a course of study of 4 or 5 years). Students are admitted to specialized schools after completing 7th or 8th grade and successfully passing entrance exams (in Bulgarian Language and Literature, Mathematics, Humanities, etc.).
Currently the tertiary education system includes 51 higher schools which under the Higher Education Act are state owned and private, including universities, specialized higher schools and self-contained colleges. There are 37 public and 14 private higher schools. The academic year is divided into two semesters and typically includes 32 academic weeks. The exact date of the academic year beginning and end is set by the respective higher school.
The management of the system is implemented at state/public administration level and at institutional level. The state is responsible for elaboration and implementation of long-term national policy and establishment of an environment guaranteeing academic autonomy of the higher schools, quality of training, and scientific research.
As a result of the active participation in the Bologna process the following key characteristics have been introduced in Bulgaria:
The normal length of a Bachelor programme is four years in accordance with the curriculum and requires acquisition of at least 240 ECTS. Bachelor programmes are offered by universities and specialized higher schools in all fields of study. The instruction for the bachelor's degree in accordance with the curriculum shall provide comprehensive training or specialised professional training in professional areas and specialties.
Master ‘s degree programmes
Instruction at the second level, up to the master's degree, provides profound fundamental training in combination with specialization in a particular major. The completion of the following requirements is needed for the acquisition of Master's educational and qualification degree:
- at least 300 credits in accordance with the curriculum with a minimum length of studies of five years;
- at least 120 credits after the acquisition of a professional bachelor's educational and qualification degree;
- at least 60 credits after the acquisition of a bachelor's educational and qualification degree.
People who have completed secondary education that gives them access to edudcation in higher schools (e.g. who have successfully passed the state matriculation exams) or who have acquired a "Professional Bachelor in..." or a Bachelor degree are eligible to apply for a Master degree programs.
Additional information on the education systems in Europe can be found in Eurypedia managed by the European Commission.