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Located between Eastern and Western Europe, Croatia is a rich and complex manifestation of numerous cultures and historical forces. The region was inhabited in prehistoric times, and was incorporated into the Roman Empire in 35 BC. In the 7th century AD, Croatia was occupied by Slavonik tribes, and by the 10th C. was an independent kingdom. But from across the narrow Adriatic Sea, powerful Venice controlled the Croatian coast and strongly influenced Croatian society, even as the Ottoman Empire occupied interior lands in the 16th and 17th centuries. In the 18th C. the Austrian Habsburg Empire dominated Croatia.

The French Revolution of 1789 ultimately left Croatia as part of Hungary, but a nationalist movement resisted Hungarian control. Again a pawn in World War 1, Croatia emerged divided between Serbian, Italian, and Hungarian interests. After yet more tumult in WW2, Croatia and other regions (Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, and Macedonia) were united in the Yugoslavian federation under dictator Josip Broz Tito, himself a Croat. When the strongman died in 1980, traditional antagonisms between the different populations led to chaotic violence, and European and American intervention. Croatia held its first free elections in 1990, declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, and was recognized by the European Community in 1992, though armed conflict with Serbia continued until 1995. Croatia has since enjoyed relative stability and increasing development.


Currently, Croatia's education system is overseen by the Ministarstvo znanosti i obrazovanja.

Primary Education

Eight-year elementary education is compulsory in Croatia and free for all children ages 6-14. Public schools are largely under local community control. Private schools exist. Because of the country’s ethnic and linguistic diversity, education of national minorities is offered in distinct languages.

Secondary Education

Secondary school education lasts 4 years, age 15 – 18, and is conducted by gimnazija (high schools), with academic, vocational, and arts programs. Students must pass an entrance examination to enter the university in professional fields. A State Secondary School Leaving Examination has became operational in since 2008/9 for grammar schools, and 2009/10 for four-year vocational schools. It replaced the entrance examination in most higher education institutions.

Post-Secondary Education

Croatian Independence in 1991 generated corresponding changes in the public higher education system and content, linking higher education with science and research, amplifying vocational and professional training, assuring quality control, modernizing teaching, expanding use of English, and allowing the emergence of private institutions. Reform intensified in 2003, towards conformity with European standards and the Bologna Declaration. The school year runs October to June, and most instruction is in the Croatian language. Education credentials dated before Croatia’s 1991 independence may require reference to Yugoslavian antecedents.

First and Second Cycles

Universities offer three to four-year courses at undergraduate level leading to a bachelor’s degree. Universities offer one to two-year courses leading to the master’s degree.


Third Cycle

The title of Doctor in Medicine is awarded after six years. The Specialist Degree is awarded after one to two years of postgraduate studies, the Doctor of Sciences and the Doctor of Arts after three years.

Teacher Training

Primary school teachers must follow a teacher training program for four years and a one-year internship. They obtain the title of Diplomirani učitelji. Secondary school teachers follow a 5-year course and obtain the title of Profesor.



Upcoming AACRAO Events

Crises as Catalysts for Transformation

Fall 2020 | virtual conference

Join us this fall for a virtual Strategic Enrollment Management Conference - Crises as Catalysts for Transformation: 2020’s Impact on Higher Education and Enrollment.

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106th AACRAO Annual Meeting

March 28 - 31, 2021 | National Harbor, MD

AACRAO’s Annual Meeting is our largest convening of higher education professionals from around the world. Join more than 2,000 administrators in person or online as we work to address the issues facing today’s campuses, share goals and guidelines for meeting those challenges, and provide a forum for learning and sharing experiences.

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