Education in Costa Rica

Education in Costa Rica is divided in 3 cycles: pre-education (before age 7), primary education (from 7 to 12), and secondary school (from 12 to 18), which leads to higher education. Preschool and basic education are free to the public. Elementary and secondary school are both divided in two cycles. Since 1869, education is free and compulsory (article 78 of the constitution).

Costa Rica education system is ranked 20th in the "Global competitiveness Report 2013-14", and is described as of "high quality". The literacy rate in Costa Rica is 94.9%. It is 2 points over the average for Latin-America and Caribbean countries.

Primary education
The primary education lasts six years and is divided in two cycles. The uniform is obligatory, in order to reduce social and economic distinctions.

Secondary education
The secondary education is divided in two cycles of three years. The first cycle is dedicated to general education. The second cycle, while keeping a core curriculum, implies a specialization. Specializations can be academic or technical (agricultural, industrial, commercial, secretarial, accounting, crafts, family and social education).

The third cycle ends with the "Bachillerato", granting access to higher Education. Nonetheless, many universities have in addition their own entrance examination.

There are five public universities in Costa Rica:
Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica (ITCR) or (TEC)
Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR)
Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica (UNA)
es:Universidad Estatal a Distancia (UNED)
es:Universidad Técnica Nacional de Costa Rico (UTN)

Public universities offer degree programs according to their specialty and by law, and manage their own central and regional campus. By Costa Rican law, two different public universities may not offer the same degree program.

There are also several private universities:
Universidad Latinoamericana de Ciencia y Tecnología (Costa Rica)
Universidad Latina de Costa Rica
Instituto Centroamericano de Administracion de Empresas (INCAE)
Universidad Adventista de Centroamérica (UNADECA)
United Nations University for Peace
Universidad de Ciencias Medicas (UCIMED)
Universidad de EARTH
Universidad de Iberoamerica (UNIBE)
Universidad Católica de Costa Rica
Universidad Empresarial de Costa Rica (UNEM)
Universidad Santa Paula
Universidad Veritas
Universidad Cristiana del Sur
Universidad San Juan de la Cruz (SJDLC)
Universidad Americana
Universidad Hispanoamericana
Universidad Fidelitas
Universidad Empresarial de Costa Rica (UNEM)