Education System in Costa Rica


 EducationSchool/LevelGrade FromGrade ToAge FromAge ToYearsNotes
PrimaryBasic    9Preschool education and general basic education are compulsory but not enforced.
SecondarySecondary    2Secondary education is divided in two cycles, and upon completion of each cycle, students are required to pass tests on all subjects. The main tests are the Bachillerato Tests required to obtain a high school diploma. This system applies to all public schools, but there are also private grammar schools and high schools, which utilize an American or European education systems. English and Computer Science are mandatory in all nation's public schools beginning 1998.
VocationalProfessional Institutes    2 
TertiaryUndergraduate    4 
TertiaryMaster    2 
TertiaryDoctorate    3 

Primary Education

In Costa Rica education is taken seriously and as a consequence the adult illiteracy rate is unusually low for a South American country. Primary education takes 6 years to complete and there are schools in every rural community. It is free, barring a nominal charge of a few dollars.

Secondary Education

The first year at high school continues with a similarly academic approach. After this, two streams emerge for the following 4 years, namely professional and technical. Subjects such as a foreign language, maths, science, and social science remain compulsory throughout.

Vocational Education

The government approach to vocational training is two-pronged. Training centers in urban centers offer formal training in all the leading trades and technical occupations. In rural areas though, the nation’s young and old must rely on public libraries to extend their knowledge.

Tertiary Education

Costa Rica EducationSince 1940 the Costa Rican government has established 4 state universities, namely the Costa Rican Institute of Technology, the Distance State University, the National University and the University of Costa Rica. There are a number of smaller private ones too.

The oldest tertiary institution is the University of Costa Rica. It currently enrolls over 30,000 students, many on scholarships and none of whom pay more than $200 a semester. The main campus is in San Pedro. There are satellites in Alajuela, Cartago, Puntarenas and Turrialba.


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