Archived Country Study (pdf): 1995
Bulgaria is a southeastern European country that borders Greece, Turkey, Macedonia, Serbia, Romania and the Black Sea. Bulgaria has been the site of several great civilizations including the legendary Thracians. The first Bulgarian Kingdom was established
in 681 AD. During the middle ages, especially in the tenth and eleventh centuries, it was the center of early Slavonic culture and home of Orthodox Christianity. In 1396 Bulgaria was conquered by the Turks and remained under Turkish rule for nearly
five centuries. Bulgaria has enjoyed several national revivals, and regained its independence in 1876. Having fought on the losing side in both World Wars, Bulgaria fell within the Soviet sphere of influence and became a People's Republic in 1946.
In 1989 a peaceful end to the communist regime in Bulgaria put the country on the road to democratic development and a free market economy. At present, Bulgaria is a NATO member and carries out successful negotiations for its accession to the European
Union, which is expected in 2007. The population of Bulgaria is 7.9 million, the capital is Sofia (1.2 million) and the official language is Bulgarian.
After 1990 a transformation of the specialized higher schools into universities and a joining of the independent colleges to the universities and the specialized higher schools began. At present this network includes fifty-one higher schools, including
forty-two universities and specialized higher schools; forty-one colleges within the structure of the higher schools; and nine independent colleges.
During the period between 1990 and 2004, a number of democratic changes occurred both in society as a whole and in the education system in particular. A new Education Act was adopted (1991), and Bulgarian legislation underwent serious changes. As one
of the signature countries of the Bologna declaration, Bulgaria started to change the old education system in compliance with the requirements of the Bologna Process, i.e. to establish a European Higher Education Area by 2010 in which academic staff
and students could move with ease and have quick fair recognition of their qualifications.
In the Higher Education Act adopted by the Bulgarian Parliament on June 4, 2004, Bulgaria mandated the implementation of the ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) and the Diploma Supplement in their capacity as measures supporting mobility and assisting
recognition in Europe.
Currenty, Bulgaria's education system is overseen by their Министерство на образованието и науката.
Primary and Secondary Education
Basic primary education (first stage) lasts from grades one through four. The second stage includes grades five through eight. The secondary level is from grades nine through twelve, ending with the award of the Diploma of Completed Secondary Education.
The school year is September to June. There are four types of higher education institutions in Bulgaria:
- College (three-year non-university tertiary institution, similar to the junior college in the US; can be a structural unit in the higher schools or self-dependent higher schools)
- Technical University/ Higher Education Institution
There are non-university level postsecondary studies that are vocational/technical, lasting up to three years.
The university-level first-stage is the bachelor’s degree lasting for at least four years of study. This degree was created by the Higher Education Act of 1995. There are some fields where the bachelor does not exist.
Second and Third Cycles
The university-level second-stage is the master’s degree, lasting five or six years after secondary education or one year after obtaining the bachelor’s degree. Students usually complete a thesis and pass a state examination. The former
Diplom awarded before 1995 is officially regarded as equivalent to the master’s degree. University-level third-stage is the doctor, awarded on the basis of individual research and defense of a thesis. It replaces the former Kandidat na Naukite
(candidate of the science). The Higher Education Act of 1995 grants all Kandidat na Naukite holders the rights of a holder of a doctor’s degree.
Teacher education for primary school teachers takes place at higher education institutions and lasts four to five years, leading to the professional qualification of teacher. Training of secondary school teachers is the same and requires additional
special training in teaching.