Skip to main content
European Commission logo
EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Short-cycle higher education


7.2.First-cycle programmes

7.2.2Short-cycle higher education

Last update: 27 November 2023

Branches of Study

The typical length of a "Professional Bachelor in…" programme is three years in accordance with the curriculum and requires acquisition of at least 180 ECTS. "Professional Bachelor in…" programmes are offered by self-contained colleges, colleges within universities and specialized higher schools in many fields of study such as Health Care, Tourism, Economics, Arts, etc. The instruction for the professional bachelor's degree in accordance with the curriculum provides specialized professional training in the respective professional areas and specialties.

Admission Requirements

In order for students to be admitted to a Professional bachelor in … programme they must have succesffully completed secondary education and state matriculation examinations.

The Council of Ministers approve annually by 30th April under a proposal of the Minister of Education and Science the total number of students admitted to training, for whom the state provides funds for the support of their education, by professional fields and by specialties in the regulated professions, as well as by its allocation to public higher education institutions.

The admission of students is carried out through a competition examination within the limits of the approved number by the in compliance with:

  1. the state requirements;
  2. the requirements determined by the regulations of the higher education establishments if they do not contradict the state requirements;
  3. the capacity of the higher education establishment, of the professional branches and of the specialties of regulated professions, determined by the National Assessment and Accreditation Agency.

Higher schools may hold a general entrance examination or recognise the results of the entrance examination given at another higher school. With a decision of the Academic Board, higher schools may admit applicants without any entrance examination provided that the applicants have successfully passed the state matriculation exams under the Pre-school and School Education Act. 

Applicants who are winners at national or international competitions completing their secondary education in the year of the competition and medal winners at Olympic, worlds and European championships shall be admitted without any entrance examination and beyond the annual number of students to be admitted under the Decision of the Council of Ministers where the entrance examination for the specialty they apply for corresponds to the subject-matter of the competition or championship.

At the proposal of the Minister of Physical Education and Sports and following a decision of the academic council with the higher school medal holders from Olympic, World and European Championships may be admitted without entrance examination beyond the established under the Decision of the Council of Ministers annual number of admitted students.

Applicants who have successfully partaken in the admission competition to a higher school shall be admitted under easier terms and conditions as established in the higher school's Rulebook in any of the following cases:

  • applicants who scored equally;
  • disabled persons with long-term disabilities and reduction of the ability to work by 70 percent or more;
  • disabled war veterans;
  • orphans;
  • mothers of three or more children;
  • twins where both have concurrently applied to the same higher school and for the same professional area and one of them has been admitted.

The admission of students, doctors and specialists - citizens of member states of the European Union and the European economic space shall be implemented under the conditions and by the order determined for the Bulgarian citizens.

Higher schools announce the admission terms and conditions before the 31st of March of each year.


Under the provisions of the Higher Education Act Higher schools in Bulgaria enjoy academic autonomy which includes academic freedom, academic self-government and inviolability of the territory of the higher schools. Besides other characteristics the academic self-government finds expression in independent choice of faculty, admission requirements, forms of training students and postgraduates and curriculum. The curricula are approved and changed by the Academic Council of the respective higher school. Overall state requirements are set for acquisition of the different degrees – Professional Bachelor in…, Bachelor and Master. There are also state requirements set for certain regulated professions (Health Care for example).

In higher education establishments the education in each specialty shall be done in compulsory, optional and facultative disciplines. The obligatory academic disciplines provide fundamental training in the chosen broad-profile specialty of the professional field. Optional courses provide specific knowledge and competencies in the field of specialty. Facultative disciplines provide an opportunity to acquire knowledge and skills in various scientific fields in accordance with the interests of students. The higher education establishments shall ensure for every student an opportunity for choice of study disciplines within the framework of the approved study plan.

The subjects are taught in Bulgarian but there are certain programmes taught in foreign languages, mainly English, French and German.

Teaching Methods

Organizational matters are subject of the Academic autonomy and shall be treated in higher school's Rules of Operation (Rulebook) in compliance with the Law. Teachers are supposed to use their own teaching methods in accordance with the certain discipline/module.

Usually the organisation forms vary from formal lectures for the entire course and practical exercises for smaller groups to seminars, self-preparation (at laboratories, libraries, through papers, homework, and others), projects work; etc. Typically the teaching is structured in disciplines and/or modules and different materials such as books, audio-visual and other assistant materials are used. The new technologies in class (such as computer-assisted teaching, e-learning, etc.) are increasingly being used. The methods of teaching and evaluating the students' achievements are subject to evaluation in the programme accreditation by The NEAA.

Progression of Students

This field is subject of the Academic autonomy and shall be treated in higher school's Rules of Operation (Rulebook) in compliance with the . Persons, having obtained educational and qualification degree " professional bachelor in…" can proceed with their education in educational and qualification degree "master" only in the same professional branch under the conditions and following a procedure, determined by the regulations of the higher education establishment or by the state requirements.


There are student on-spot internships and practices implemented in the curricula of certain specialties.

Erasmus+ supports traineeships (work placements, internships, etc) abroad for students currently enrolled in higher education institutions in Programme countries at Bachelor and Master level as well as for doctoral candidates. These opportunities are also open to recent graduates.

The Higher Education Act provides priority professional fields - the professional fields for which there is an expected future shortfall in the labour market compared to the current demand for higher education training and protected disciplines - disciplines of higher education where the interest in training in them is currently lacking or is shown to be low, but there will be the need for training of highly qualified specialists in these fields. For priority professional areas and for protected disciplines a higher number of accepted students and doctoral students may be approved for training, additional funding is provided by the state for these specialties, lower rates of tuition fees could be established. Students being trained in professional fields and protected specialties with the highest expected future shortage on the labour market, according to a list adopted by the Council of Ministers on the proposal of the Minister of Education and Science are exempted from fees in the state higher education establishments. The Ministry of Labour and Social Policy together with the Ministry of Education and Science and the respective branch ministries prepare an assessment of the needs of the labor market on the basis of which may be approved a number of accepted students for newly opened professional areas and specialties within the regulated professions at the higher education establishment, for which there is no information about graduate students’.

The Ministry of Education and Science is implementing the project "Student Internships - Phase 2" for the period 13.01.2020 - 12.05.2023 funded by the Operational program “Science and Education for Smart Growth”, whose objectives are:

  • to support the improvement of the quality of higher education by providing opportunities for gaining practical experience and improving the practical skills of university students in accordance with the needs of the labor market;
  • to facilitate the transition from educational institutions to the workplace and increase the successful realization of young people in the labor market;
  • to encourage the establishment of stable partnerships between educational institutions and business;
  • to increase the incentives of students to participate in additional practical training in a real work environment;
  • to stimulate the growth of the number of students who find a job immediately after graduation;
  • to provide preconditions for updating both the curricula as a whole and the taught disciplines, courses and topics according to the needs of the labor market;
  • to support the creation of sustainable mechanisms and opportunities for employers to select students who have proven skills in a real work environment and to directly integrate them into the labor market.

Student internships and practices are also organized and conducted under projects“Human Resource Development” of the European Social Fund.

Centers for Career Development have been established in more higher schools. In process of establishment are centers for career development in two higher schools. An information system to support the professional orientation of students was established in one of the Academies without Centers for Career Development. These centers provide information on available job positions; register students and alumni in order to find suitable positions for training and work practices; organize company presentations to students for educational practices on spot and job positions, etc.

Student Assessment

The basic form of knowledge assessment at higher schools is the written examination, unless the specific features of the subject and/or module require otherwise. The written materials from the checking of the knowledge and skills shall be stored for at least a year after the conduct of the assessment. Students' knowledge and skills shall be graded on the basis of a six-grade system comprising of: Excellent (6.00), Very Good (5.00), Good (4.00), Fair (3.00) and Poor (2.00). Any higher school shall have the right to introduce through its Rules of Operations different grading system whereas it shall be required to ensure comparability with the above mentioned grades The grade of at least Fair (3.00) is required for an examination to be successfully passed.

The course of studies shall be completed with a final state examination or defence of a diploma thesis. The state examination or the diploma thesis defence shall be conducted pursuant to the state diploma-granting requirements before a state board of examiners made up of habilitated persons having academic rank. In 2020, 1712 students obtained the Professional Bachelor of ... degree in Bulgaria.

Higher schools provide a Credit transfer and accumulation system for grading the knowledge and skills acquired by the students in the course of studies. The system is based on 60 credit points per academic year or 30 credit points per semester, allocated by subjects and/or modules in accordance with the curriculum of the specialty and the educational and qualification degree, or another number of credit points compatible with this system. The objective of the system is to provide students with an opportunity to choose subjects, self-preparation and mobility on the basis of mutual recognition of certain periods of studies, which correspond to elements of the curriculum of the speciality and the educational and qualification degree. Credit points shall represent the grading of the obligations which students have to fulfill in a certain subject or module as part of the overall obligations required for the successful completion of an academic year or semester. Credit points in each specialty shall consist of the total number of lectures, practical exercises and seminars, self-preparation (at laboratories, libraries, through papers, homework, and others), examinations passed and other forms of grading as established by the higher school. Credit points may also be awarded for participation in practical courses or course or diploma papers, where these activities constitute elements of the curriculum. The credit points under shall be awarded to students who have successfully completed the respective subject and/or module through an examination or another form of grading.


Higher schools shall issue the following documents for education and training:

  1. Diploma degree in higher education "professional bachelor in ..."," bachelor " or " master" and annexes thereto;
  2. European Diploma Supplement;
  3. Certificate of qualification;
  4. Certificate recognized specialty in the health care system for post-graduate education;
  5. Certificate of successful completion of preparatory course for professional and language training in Bulgarian for foreigners - undergraduate and graduate students;
  6. Certificate of professional qualification;
  7. Certificate of professional teaching specialization;
  8. Certificate for additional training or specialization.

The higher schools alone determine layout and arrange printing of the documents.

Organisational Variation

Higher schools can organize distance learning for acquiring higher education degrees (Professional Bachelor in ..., Bachelor and Master), Doctor's degree, and qualification of specialists with higher education. Admission of undergraduate and graduate students in distance training is conducted within the approved number of students under the Decision of Council of Ministers. Admission to distance learning takes place under state requirements. Distance learning is equal to the regular form of education regarding the content of the curriculum, required number of credits for the degree, diploma for completed education and degree and professional qualification. The organization and implementation of distance learning are settled in the higher schools' Rulebooks.