Structure of the Educational System

The system consists of four levels:
Pre-Primary Education
Pre-primary education (preschool education) embraces children between 3 and 6/7 years old, who attend kindergarten optionally, with the requirement that prior to starting school, children must attend a one-year pre-school program. During the school year 2007/2008, 74.8% of children aged 3-6 years were enrolled in kindergartens.

Elementary Education
Elementary education (grades 1 - 8) includes primary school (grades 1 - 4) and junior high school/ middle school (grades 5 - 8). Children usually start primary education at age 7, but may be start from age 6 upon their parents' request. Certificate for Primary Education and Certificate for Elementary Education are obtained upon successful completion of grade 4 and 7 respectively. High schools use grades from the Certificate for Elementary Education as a major admissions criterion.

Secondary Education
Secondary education comprises selective/comprehensive high schools and vocational school. The admission to comprehensive schools is based upon grades from entry exams, usually in literature and/or mathematics as well as grades in junior high school. Students can enroll in high school after the successful completion of grades 7 or 8. Usually, those who want to study languages, mathematics, or informatics in-depth apply to high school in 7th grade. Students graduating from high-school must take high school exit exams in Bulgarian language and mathematics.

Higher Education
The types of higher education institutions are Universities, Colleges and Specialized Higher Schools. Universities, as in most countries worldwide, have three stages: Bachelor's (undergraduate), Master's (graduate), and Doctoral degrees. Undergraduate stage lasts for at least four years and graduate stage lasts for five years after completion of secondary education or one year after obtaining a Bachelor's Degree. The third stage of higher education results in obtaining a Ph.D. Degree. Specialized higher schools offer degrees in one or more areas of science, arts, sports, and defense. Usually, the names of these institutions indicate the area of specialization. Colleges are former semi-higher institutes. Some of them are part of universities and use their equipment and facilities.