Steps of Education in Croatia: Schooling to Higher Studies

The Ministry of Science, Education and Sports manages and supervises education in Croatia at all levels-elementary, secondary and higher education.

Snapshot of Croatian Education System

The Croatian education system comprises of:
  • Pre-school education
  • Elementary education, which is compulsory 
  • Secondary education 
  • Higher education

Pre-school Education

Preschool education in Croatia offer programmes of education, social care, health care, and nutrition.  The pre-school education in Croatia is not compulsory and is provided by kindergartens and nursery schools. In Croatia, there are both public and private pre-school institutions.  The pre-school education activities are governed by the Pre-school Education Act, Official Gazette 10/97.
  • Ages: 6 months to 6 years

Elementary Education

Elementary education in Croatia provides basic mathematical and language skills and knowledge. This level prepares students for secondary education level.
  • Duration: 8 years
  • Ages: 6 to 14
Elementary education in Croatia is compulsory and free of charge for Croatian students. The elementary education is divided into two cycles of 4-year each:

 Grades 1 to 4. In this cycle, only a single teacher per class teaches all the subjects. 
  • Curriculum: Mathematics, religion, Croatian, physical education, at least one foreign language, generally English; visual arts, music and nature and society.
 Grades 5 to 8. In this cycle, different subjects are taught by different specialized teachers. 
  • Curriculum: Informatics, geography, physics, a second foreign language-can be French, German or Italian; chemistry, history and biology.

Secondary Education

Secondary education in Croatia is optional and free of charge. Students who have completed elementary education are eligible for secondary education in Croatia. Secondary education provides specific knowledge and skills, and prepares students for higher studies.
  • Ages: 14 to 18
  • Duration: 4 years
In Croatia, following are the types of secondary schools:
  • Grammar school (Gimnazija) 
  • Vocational schools 
  • Art schools 
Certificate awarded: Upon successful completion of the secondary education, a “certificate of graduation" is awarded. 

Students who wish to continue their education must undertake the state secondary school leaving exam- Matura in order to apply to the higher education institutions in Croatia.

Grammar schools (gymnasia)

The grammar schools in Croatia provide four specialities:
  • General education (opća gimnazija)
  • Schools specializing in Informatics, science and mathematics (prirodoslovno-matematička gimnazija)
  •  Language high school (jezična gimnazija): Focus on foreign languages 
  • Classics high school (klasična gimnazija): Emphasize on classics education-Latin and Ancient Greek studies.

Secondary Vocational Education

The vocational schools in Croatia offer practical knowledge and skills. Practical training is compulsory for all secondary vocational education pupils. 
  • Duration: 1- 4 years
  • Specification: 438
  • Occupational areas: 31
The vocational programmes that last for 1-2 years offer basic vocational qualification. 

Vocational programmes that last for 3 years prepare student for a specific trade. Students are trained to work in a particular industry or trade. 

Vocational programmes that last for 4 years train students in the field of economics, clerical sector and technology. These programmes are theoretical as well as practical, and internship is compulsory for the completion of these programmes.

Upon successful completion of the vocational studies, a vocational qualification is awarded. 

Secondary Art Education

Art education is offered by the arts schools (umjetnicka skola) in Croatia.
  • Duration: 4 years
Certificate awarded: Upon successful completion of the programme, a certificate of final examination Graduates (Svjedodzba o zavrsnom ispitu) is awarded.

Students who receive the certificate from arts school are eligible to take the admission examinations for higher education in Croatia.

Higher Education 

The Croatian higher education has transformed according to the Bologna process. In Croatia, there are public as well as private higher education institutions.

Higher education institutions in Croatia are: universities, polytechnic schools and colleges of applied science. 

Since the Bologna process, the Croatian higher education system has three degree levels:
  • Undergraduate:  This is the basic degree level that lasts for 4-6 years depending on the field of study undertaken. Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts (prvostupnik) is awarded.
  • Graduate: This is the second level that last for 1-2 years. Master of Science and Master of Arts (magistar) is awarded
  • Postgraduate: This is the third and the highest level of studies that last for 3 years beyond the master’s degree. Doctor of Science and Doctor of Arts (doktor) is awarded.
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