Studying in Costa Rica

Our Educational System


The Costa Rican education system is recognized as one of the best in the Americas, being Costa Rica the holder of one of the highest rates of literacy, educational coverage, and public spending in education in Latin America, and the best in Central America. The Ministry of Public Education is the national entity in charge of supervising, regulating and modifying the education system throughout the country.


The Costa Rican education system is divided into 4 levels: preschool, primary, secondary, and higher. Costa Rica established Basic General Education, which is compulsory and free of charge, consisting of 6 years of primary school and 3 years of secondary school.

Early Education: From 0 to 5 years, private and non-mandatory.

Preschool Education: Covers children between 5 and 6 years. It focuses on establishing good habits in children and stimulating them to their fullest potential.

Primary school: It is obligatory and free and includes students aged 6 years and up until they complete the first 6 years of schooling. 


Secondary School: It starts, on average, at 12 or 13 years old, if the student does not fail any year in elementary school. Half of the years of high school education in Costa Rica belong to the 3rd cycle of Basic General Education (from 7th to 9th grade); the rest belongs to Diversified Education. Once students enter diversified education, there are different models: Academic Education (2 years), Professional-Technical Education (3 years), International Baccalaureate, known as IB (2 years) 


Technical Education: Guides those students who wish to continue their vocational and professional training.


Higher Education: Divided into Diplomado, Bachiller, Licenciatura, Maestría and Doctorado Académico (roughly equivalent to Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Bachelor’s with Honours, Master’s and Doctorate degrees).


Special education: Special education is a collective of support and services available to students with special educational needs, as they are required on a temporary or permanent basis.

Studying in Costa Rica


Studying in Costa Rica (2da)



The National Accreditation System for Higher Education (SINAES) is the institution to which the Costa Rican state gave it the authority to publicly attest to the quality of institutions, careers, and higher education programs that voluntarily undergo its rigorous evaluation and demonstrate compliance with the established quality criteria. The higher education institutions that are members of SINAES are committed to the quality principles that govern the system.


It is ratified by the International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education (INQAAHE) and the 8256 Costa Rican law that establishes SINAES purposes to plan, organize, develop, implement, control and follow-up the national accreditation processes to guarantee quality education in higher education.      





Consejo Superior de Educación (2020). Retrieved from: 

OECD (2017). Retrieved from:

The Costa Rica News (2017). Retrieved from: (2015). Retrieved from: 

SINAES (2019). Retrieved from: