“Primeria” education, in its current form became compulsory in 2009, and runs from grade one through grade six, for students aged 6 – 12 years. The Secretariat of Public Education (SEP) officially determines primary school a part of ‘Basic Education’, making it free of charge, with one year of mandatory pre-school education. SEP standardizes curriculum content for public and private schools, which includes Spanish, mathematics, natural sciences, history, geography, art, and physical education. The National Institute for Assessment of Education monitors standards and provides quality control.
Secondary Education in Mexico is organized into two stages: Lower-Secondary Education (Educación Secundaria Básica), grades 7-9, and Upper-Secondary Education (Educación Media Superior), grades 10-12. Lower secondary school, or “Educacio Secundaria”, is compulsory and lasts for three years (grades 7 – 9). Education at state schools is free, and students may follow either an academic track (educación secundaria general) or a technical track (educación secundaria técnica). Students who enroll in the academic track generally continue their education at the upper secondary level. Lower-secondary programs, not leading to further study, are designated as nivel medio básico, nivel medio elemental or nivel medio terminal (basic lower secondary education). These are non-academic programs with a strong emphasis on vocational, commercial and artistic training.
The “Preparatoria”, or upper secondary education (Educación Media Superior), is the second stage of secondary school in Mexico. Upper Secondary education consists of grades 10 – 12 and admission depends on institutional policies. Many upper secondary schools are affiliated with large public universities, while others are SEP or state-controlled colegios, private schools, preparatory schools or private schools. Two degree tracks are offered: Academic University- Preparatory and Professional Technical Education. The Academic track provides students with a general academic curriculum for the first two years of study, followed by more specialized study in the final year. Foreign Language is compulsory and students are awarded the Bachillerato certificate and certifocado de estudios (transcript) upon completion. The General Baccalaureate system is administered by the Secretariat for Tertiary Education and Scientific Research (SESIC). In the professional track, Professional Technical Institutions provide technical preparation that prepares students to work immediately following completion. The track leads to the Título de técnico professional (Title of professional technician), and consists of general education classes and professional classes in their chosen field.
Vocational Education is offered at Professional Technical Institutions following the completion of lower secondary school (Educacion Secundaria Básica). The Technical Baccalaureate system is administered by the Secretariat for Technological Education and Research. Students graduate with the qualification of professional technician, technical professional, or base level technician, depending on the type of institution they attend and the program they undertake. Upper-secondary technical / technological instruction usually consists of dual academic-vocational programs called bachillerato tecnológico / technological upper-secondary education (also called bachillerato técnico / technical upper-secondary education). Successful students earn a technical qualification, usually título de técnico / title of technician in the vocational stream, and may seek undergraduate admissions in an appropriate field of study. The conferred título de técnico is registered with the Secretaría de Educación Pública / Secretariat of Public Education which issues a cédula / registration card serving as licensing in Mexico. The cédula indicates that the credential is at the técnico / upper-secondary technician level.
The Mexican higher education system largely follows the American model. A huge growth in demand has led to the expansion of program and degree options, as well as a swell in enrollment. Much of the growth has occurred at private institutions, where minimal fees are maintained. Higher Education (Educación superior) is offered at various types of institutions, including Public Universities, Technological Institutions and Universities, Teacher Training Institutes, and Private Institutions; the six official types of institutions in Mexico are public autonomous universities, public state institutions, institutions dependent on the federal government, private independent (libre) institutions, private institutions with official validity, and institutions without official validity. Each Mexican state has a public university and a teachers’ training college, for which a university diploma is awarded upon graduation. Institutions are recognized by the Comités Interinstitucionales para la Evaluación de la Educación Superior (CIEES) and/or accredited organizations recognized by the Consejo para la Acreditación de la Educación Superior (COPAES); the Subsecretaría de Educación Superior (SES) oversees curriculum. Undergraduate education can from 2 to 6 years. Similar to the U.S. System, Associate Degrees - Técnico Superior Universitario (University Higher Technician) or Profesional Asociado (Professional Associate), are two years in length. These programs are offered at Technological Universities. Other shortened programs (fewer than 4 years) include a certificado or diploma/higher university technician in a specialized field. These degrees can sometimes be applied to further higher education. The Licenciado (Licentiate) and Titulo Profesional (Professional Title) last 4 to 6 years. Common 5-year programs include accounting, economics, engineering, law, and architecture. Graduate Level work is offered at the level of Especialista (Specialist), Maestría (Master’s degree), and Doctorado (Doctorate). Especialista (Specialist) is usually a 1-year program with the licentiate degree required for admission. The licentiate degree can also grant access to the Maestría (Master’s degree), which lasts between 1 and 2 years. A thesis is usually required for graduation. The Doctorado (Doctorate), like in the U.S., is a degree based on coursework, research, and a thesis or dissertation. The degree requires at least 2 years of study beyond a Master’s degree.