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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures


6.Upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary Education

6.13Organisational Variations and Alternative Structures

Last update: 27 November 2023

The School system in Bulgaria is regulated by the Pre-school and School Education Act, effective since 2016. School education is provided at state, municipal and private schools following State Educational Standards. Concerning vocational preparation at the educational institutions, it is additionally regulated by the Vocational Education and Training Act. 

Depending on the type of teaching, schools are non-specialized and specialized. Specialized schools provide education in the fields of sport, arts, culture and for the needs of religious denominations. 

Sport schools

Sport schools can be state and municipal, and provide education from grade V to XII incl. They must also comply with the Physical Education and Sports Act. They ensure general education and specialized training in sports but in the secondary degree courses include vocational training in the “vocational field of sports”. The curriculum is approved by the Minister of Youth and Sport.

Cultural schools

Cultural schools are state and provide education referred to different ISCEDs – from grade I to XII, from V to XII, or VIII to XII incl. Together with general education, they provide specialized training in the culture sphere, and special profile education. The curriculum is approved by the Minister of Culture.

Art schools

Arts schools are also state-owned and provide education referred to different ISCEDs – from grade I to XII, from V to XII, or VIII to XII incl. They ensure general education, specialized training in the sphere of arts, and special profile education in the relevant vocational fields. The curriculum is approved by the Minister of Culture.

Examples of such schools are the National High School of Stage and Film Design, Plovdiv, the National School of Music and Performing Arts “Hristina Morfova” Stara Zagora, the National School of Dance Art in Sofia, etc.

Ecclesiastical schools

Ecclesiastical schools provide education from grades VIII – XII incl. They ensure general education and specialized training in the relevant religious denomination but also vocational training in the vocational field of religion or special profile education. In Bulgaria there are also two theological Seminaries.

The Sofia Theological Seminary of St John of Rila (Sofiyska duhovna seminariya „Sv. Yoan Rilski“), located in Sofia, is the main seminary of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and an ecclesiastical institution of education. It provides vocational school and vocational qualification (clergyman, priest). The Plovdiv Theological Seminary also provides 5-year programme. Their graduates could continue their education at universities within and outside Bulgaria or take position within the structure of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. They are within the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church - Bulgarian Patriarchate. 

Another type of religious schools are the Secondary Islamic Schools. Islam in Bulgaria is a minority religion. The ethnic composition of muslim in Bulgaria is Turks, Bulgarians and Roma. There are secondary Islamic schools in Momchilgrad, Rousse and Shumen. They have the statute of vocational schools (Momchilgrad) and secondary religious school (Rousse), given by the Ministry of Education and Science, and they are funded by private sponsors. They provide education to pupils starting from VIII grade for a 4-year period. 

Religious schools are funded by the respective denomination following the regulations of the Religious Denominations Act. 

Specialized schools

There is a category of schools, called specialized schools that provide secondary education and support for pupils with sensory disabilities, an can also provide vocational training for acquiring vocational qualification.

Prison schools

Prison schools are within the institutions of persons deprived of liberty in accordance with the Code of Criminal Procedure. These schools provide secondary education and may also train for acquiring vocational qualification.

Schools within the structure of a university

Schools within the structure of a university can also provide vocational training following the curriculum, standards and rules established by the Ministry of Education and Science. An example is the Technological School Electronic Systems associated with Technical University of Sofia, which provides secondary education as the graduates acquire professional qualification of "Technician of computer systems" or "System Programmer". The curriculum complies with the state educational regulations for the corresponding majors. The syllabus is approved by the Technical university and accredited by the Rector of TU-Sofia and the Ministry of Education and Science. The syllabus of the two specialties meets all requirements regarding compulsory training in the general education subjects.

There are private colleges that supply with ISCED 4 vocational qualification accredited by Ministry of Education and Science. The duration of the training is 2-year. An example is the Adam Smith College of Management - a private vocational college established by the National Training Centre. The students (16+) are trained in a two-year programme, the topmost level of vocational qualification in Bulgaria. The College operates under a license issued by the Ministry of Education and Science, allowing recognition of its Certificates of Vocational Qulifications. 

International schools

International schools are another category outside the listed. 

The British School of Sofia (BSS) is the only British School in Bulgaria, registered with the Department for Education (DfE) of the British Ministry of Education as a British School Overseas. It is inspected by PENTA, which is an accredited body for inspecting British School Overseаs. The BSS diploma from any stage is recognised from the Bulgarian Ministry of Education. The BSS is an accredited Cambridge International School, which offers 3 programmes in continuum: Cambridge Primary, Cambridge Lower Secondary, and Cambridge Upper-Secondary. The students get a Cambridge Diploma for their Secondary education.

The Anglo-American School of Sofia is fully accredited by the Council of International Schools (CIS) and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). It is an authorized International Baccalaureate Organization (IB) World School. The Anglo-American School of Sofia is a member of good standing with the Central Eastern European Schools Association (CEESA), the Council of British International Schools (COBIS) and the European Council of International Schools (ECIS).