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Mar 8, 2024

New type of National Examinations - What will change in Greece high schools

One of the first issues that Kyriakos Pierrakakis will deal with after the passing of the bill is the Pan-Hellenic Examinations for admission to HEIs: in the Ministry of Education they are talking about starting a dialogue immediately after the passing of the law on universities, noting that the current system it has the serious advantage of ensuring immutability.

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Sep 26, 2023

Mess with Greek high school exams

The exams were not held in many 1st and 2nd Lyceum schools, while there were long delays in the 3rd Lyceum.

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Feb 21, 2023

New conduct for Greece's Primary and High School exams

The Official Gazette on the procedures for conducting national examinations of a diagnostic nature for students of the 6th grade of Primary schools and the 3rd grade of High Schools

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Aug 4, 2022

The 1st Primary School and the High School of Gargaliani will participate in the Greek PISA exams

Six schools in Messinia are included in the 600 primary and secondary schools that will participate in the Greek PISA exams.

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Dec 15, 2021

Digital diplomas for high schools, GEL and EPAL through Greece government website

Graduates of Gymnasiums, Lyceums and EPAL from the school year 2016-2017 onwards have the opportunity to digitally publish their diploma or degree.

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Greece is located in Southern-Eastern Europe between Italy and Turkey bordering the Aegean Sea, the Ionian Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. Slightly smaller than the State of Alabama, Greece is a peninsular country, possessing an archipelago of about 2,000 islands but only 168 are inhabited. The capital is Athens and the second biggest city is Thessaloniki. The country has a population of about 11 million with 4 million living in Athens. The language of instruction is Greek. English is taught from Grade 3 onwards. English, French and German are taught in secondary education and English is the compulsory foreign language in all universities and technical programs.


Greece's Υπουργείο Παιδείας, Έρευνας και Θρησκεία oversees the country's education system.

Primary and Secondary Education

Demotiko-Δημοτικό (Primary education) lasts for six years, ages 6-12. Gymnasio (Secondary education) is provided in both public and private schools and is divided into a compulsory first cycle, Gymnasio-Γυμνάσιο (Lower Secondary School), from age 12 to 15, and an optional second cycle, Lykeio-Λύκειο (Upper Secondary School), from age 15 to 18. When graduates finish the Gymnasio they are awarded the ApolytirioGymnasiou. At the end of Gymnasio, students have two options:

  1. They can continue to the Lykeion (Lyceum), the upper secondary school, and pursue a common curriculum which aims to broaden their general knowledge. Students at the Lyceum participate in the general Panhellenic examination which is required for entry into Greek universities. The graduates are awarded the Apolytirio Lykeiou.
  2. The other option after Gymnasio is to pursue vocational education in Technika Epagelmatika Ekpaideutiria (TEE) (Technical Vocational Schools) which in 2006 were renamed Epagelmatika Lykeia (EPAL) (Vocational Upper Secondary Schools).

If a student follows the second option in vocational school, EPALs provide state diplomas recognized in Greece and European Union and allow continuation of studies in universities. EPAL consists of two cycles:

  • The first cycle is two years and the graduates can:
    1. Have a degree level II,
    2. Continue their studies in the second cycle of TEE,
    3. Be admitted in the second grade of Lyceum
  • The second cycle is one year and graduates can:
    1. Have a degree level III,
    2. Continue their studies in vocational specialized schools (IEK),
    3. Participate in Panhellenic exams for entrance to universities

All graduates from Geniko and Epagelmatiko Lykeio (secondary education) may be admitted to Higher Education Institutes depending on their general, national exam scores, taken at the end of their final year of Lyceum. Admission in special universities may also require a special examination (eg drafting for Architecture, foreign language for Language schools, special exams for Military Academies etc). The graduates of secondary education can take the national exams every year until they qualify for a higher education program. There is no age restriction or limitation on how many times someone can take the national exam.

Post-Secondary Education

Higher education in Greece is comprised of 23 university institutions and 12 technological education institutes (TEIs) as of 2018. All 35 institutions are self-governing and under the supervision of the Ministry of Education, Research, and Religious Affairs which supports them financially and is responsible for educational policy concerning them. There are no private universities in Greece. The language of instruction is Greek. The first public university in Greece which has English taught programs is the International Hellenic University which was established in 2005 in Thessaloniki.

Higher Education includes:

  • Anotata Ekpaideutika Idrimata-Ανώτατα Εκπαιδευτικά Ιδρύματα (AEI) (University sector)= Universities, Technical Universities (Polytechnic Schools), Fine Arts Schools, Greek Open University (Elliniko Anoichto Panepistimio-EAP)
  • Technologica Ekpaideutika Idrimata-Τεχνολογικά Εκπαιδευτικά Ιδρύματα (TEI) (Technical sector)= Technological Education Institutions and the School of Pedagogic and Technological Education (ASPETE)

Colleges in Greece are operated only as private institutions and can award degrees, titles or certificates that can be recognized as professionally equivalent to higher education degrees awarded in the Greek formal education system. The Ministry of Education, Research, and Religious Affairs approves the licenses for the colleges which have been recognized by the foreign institution and authorities from the country of their origin. In 2016 after the establishment of a council called SAEP (Council for Recognition of Professional Qualifications), a new policy was signed granting the colleges the equivalency to Greek universities only for professional and not academic considerations. Graduates from colleges in Greece can be considered professionally as equal to graduates from Greek universities, but the college graduates cannot pursue higher education in Greece based merely on their college degrees. Only if the college degree is assessed by the official Greek evaluating agency ΔΟΑΤΑΠ (Greek NARIC) can be recognized for pursuing higher education at a university.

The academic year runs from the 1st of September to the 31st of August, and the academic year has two semesters. Xeimerino eksamino-χειμερινό εξάμηνο (The winter semester) runs from September to January and the earino eksamino-εαρινό εξάμηνο (spring semester) runs from February to June, with the remaining time (June to August) being reserved for makeup exams. The exact dates for the start and end of semesters are managed by each university which has its own academic calendar. Each class consists of 13 weeks of teaching in a classroom. School breaks occur for two weeks over Christmas and two weeks in spring (during Easter time in Greece).

First Cycle, Academic

Proptychiakes Spoudes-Προπτυχιακές Σπουδές (Undergraduate level studies) require four years and lead to the Ptychio-Πτυχίο in the relevant field. For graduates of Engineering programs the degree is called Δίπλωμα. Veterinary Science, Dentistry, Engineering (Polytechnic Schools-Πολυτεχνείο) and Agricultural Studies last 10 semesters. Medicine studies last twelve semesters. All programs contain compulsory and elective courses. The degrees which have 10 semesters or more are recognized as an Integrated Master: Master of Science.

First Cycle, Vocational/Technical

Postsecondary vocational training are offered at Instituto Epagelmatikis Katartisis (IEK) (IEK institutes) accredited by the Ipourgeio Paideias, Ereunas kai Thriskevmaton-Υπουργείο Παιδείας, Ερευνας και Θρησκευμάτων (Ministry of Education, Research, and Religion). Initial and continuing vocational training. The following students are eligible to enroll to IEK:

  • Graduates of Upper Secondary Schools (“Lykeia” of all types: General, Technical, Vocational, Comprehensive, Unified),
  • Technical Vocational Schools (ΤΕΕ) Study Cycle B, as well as graduates of EPAL and EPAS (Vocational Upper Secondary School and Vocational Education School pursuant to Law No. 3475/2006).
Second Cycle

The first level of Program Metaptychiakon Spoudon-Πρόγραμμα Μεταπτυχιακών Σπουδών (postgraduate studies) lasts a minimum of 2 semesters and leads to the post-graduate Diploma Metaptychiakon Spoudon-Δίπλωμα Μεταπτυχιακών Σπουδών. In some cases this study program is completed in a university or research institute outside of Greece or in a different university in Greece. The degree, however, is awarded in university where the program started.

Third Cycle

The university third stage, Didaktorikes Metaptychiakes Spoudes (doctoral studies), is completed after the public defense of a thesis. The research must be original and show advances in concepts. A doctoral thesis requires at least three years of study. Students can be admitted to a doctoral research program when they hold a Greek Diploma Metaptyxiako Spoudon or an equivalent qualification obtained abroad; however, some departments can accept an applicant for a doctorate program without the Metaptixiako Diploma Spoudon requirement, accepting only a bachelor’s degree.

Military Academies

Stratiotikes Scholes Axiomatikon- Στρατιωτικές Σχολές Αξιωματικών (Military Academies) enjoy the same status as universities but they fall under the jurisdiction of the Ipourgeio Ethnikis Aminas-Υπουργείο Εθνικής Αμυνας (Ministry of National Defense). The main military academies for higher education are: Hellenic Army Academy, Hellenic Air Force Academy, Hellenic Naval Academy, and Nursing Officers Academy.

Police Academy

Sxoli Aksiomatikon Ellinikis Astinomias- Σχολή Αξιωματικών Ελληνικής Αστυνομίας (The Police Academy) has the same status as universities but it falls under the jurisdiction of the Ipourgeio Prostasias Politi-Υπουργείο Προστασίας Πολίτη (Ministry of Citizen Protection).

Teacher Training

The training of primary school teachers is provided by the Pedagogical Departments for Primary Education which has been set up at universities. Secondary level teacher training takes place at the university level. Pedagogical studies may be taken in the third or fourth year but are not obligatory. Within certain specialized fields, teacher training takes place at university level specialist institutions. Nursing programs are offered by university departments and departments of health and care of TEIs.

ASPETE (Anotati Sxoli Pedagogikis & Texnologikis Ekpaideusis - Ανώτατη Σχολή Παιδαγωγικής και Τεχνολογικής Εκπαίδευσης) School of Pedagogical and Technological Education established in 2002 successor of SELETE (Technical & Vocational Teacher Training Institute), and provides pedagogical and technological education in tertiary level. Grading scheme is the same like the universities in Greece. Supervised by Ministry of Education, Research, and Religious Affairs. Academic departments are:

  • 1st cycle undergraduate study programs (10 semesters) equivalent to bachelor’s degrees. Programs are Electrical, Electronic, Mechanical and Civil Engineering Educators.
  • 2nd cycle postgraduate study programs (MA and MS).
  • Pedagogical Training is one year duration and leads to "Certificate of Pedagogical and Teaching Competence". This program is only for students who have already higher education degrees and they want to be teachers. Also, additional training in other specializations is provided.


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