Your bookmarked countries have an update since your last login. View Bookmarks x

Mar 25, 2024

Ministry of Education in Singapore extends ASEAN scholarship opportunities to Filipino students

The Ministry of Education in Singapore offers an opportunity for Grade 9 Filipino students who aspire to study in Singapore through an ASEAN scholarship.

Learn more »

Oct 20, 2022

Philippines DepEd is ‘all set’ to open schools

Three weeks before classes for School Year (SY) 2022-2023 formally start, the Department of Education (DepEd) expressed readiness to open its schools nationwide.

Learn more »

Sep 2, 2022

Schools, universities in Philippines may offer ASEAN languages

To help strengthen the relationship of member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Vice President and Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Sara Duterte pushed for the offering of ASEAN languages in schools and universities in the region.

Learn more »

Aug 19, 2022

Philippines school opening to push through

Amid existing and emerging challenges, the school opening for public schools will push through on Aug. 22, says the Department of Education (DepEd). More than 15.2 million learners are enrolled for School Year (SY) 2022-2023.

Learn more »

Aug 17, 2022

Philippines DepEd strengthens climate education in K to 12 curriculum

The Department of Education (DepEd) reiterated its commitment to strengthening climate education in the basic education curriculum.

Learn more »

Jul 22, 2022

Philippines DepEd proposes start of school year on August 22

The Department of Education (DepEd) said Tuesday that it is looking at opening the school year 2022- 2023 on August 22 as it eyes blended learning with more in-person classes.

Learn more »

Jun 17, 2022

Phillipines DepEd eyes K-12 curriculum expansion to include global citizenship

The Department of Education (DepEd) is set to expand its K to 12 curriculum to integrate topics of inclusivity and global citizenship to equip learners with knowledge and skills to become responsible global citizens.

Learn more »

Oct 21, 2021

Philippines to reopen 120 schools for in-person classes

The Philippines will reopen up to 120 schools for limited in-person classes for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in a pilot approved by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Learn more »

Jul 14, 2021

Philippines DepEd won’t adopt pass or drop grading system

The Department of Education (DepEd) will not adopt the pass or drop grading system even as Congress has shown its full support toward a push for academic ease and leniency amid the new normal where face-to-face classes are prohibited and distance learning is continually challenged by poor internet connectivity.

Learn more »

Jun 28, 2021

Transnational Higher Education Act becomes law in the Philippines

This law, also known as Republic Act No. 11448, allows foreign higher education institutions (HEIs) the ability to collaborate with local universities and other HEIs and to establish campuses in the country. This is the first time that overseas institutions will be allowed to open campuses in the Philippines.

Learn more »

Jun 3, 2021

Philippines DepEd extends school year

The Department of Education says the adjustment was made to 'address learning gaps' and to give teachers time to prepare the learning materials for distance learning

Learn more »

Apr 29, 2021

No massive dropout due to blended learning

Philippines Department of Education denied “misleading” claims of a massive dropout rate in the basic education for school year 2020-2021 when blended learning due to the pandemic was implemented in schools.

Learn more »

Apr 29, 2021

Modular learning not sustainable

Philippines Department of Education Briones describes the modular type of learning as a non-sustainable and expensive mode of learning in this time of new normal. Briones said she would want the agency to take advantage of the technology, such as radio, internet, and television, in transmitting knowledge to learners.

Learn more »

Apr 12, 2021

Duterte cancels dry run of face-to-face classes over Covid-19 fears

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte and the DepEd took back their approval for a dry run of face-to-face classes in 2021, as other countries report cases of the new coronavirus variant reaching their shores.

Learn more »

Mar 15, 2021

No UPCAT: UP announces steps for online freshman application

The University of the Philippines (UP) cancels the conduct of the UP College Admissions Test (UPCAT), one the toughest college entrance exams taken by hundreds of thousands of applicants annually. The country’s premier state university will evaluate applicants based on their high school records.

Learn more »

Jan 29, 2021

Simulated Bar exam set on Jan. 31

The Philippines Supreme Court is ironed out preparations for the country’s first-ever localized and online examination for new lawyers later this year with the holding of a mock bar exam. The mock test will be small-scale involving 120 students divided in four testing sites–Baguio City, Metro Manila, Cebu and Davao.

Learn more »

Sep 3, 2020

Several colleges, universities waive entrance exams due to COVID-19 crisis

Commission of Higher Education announced that several colleges and universities in the Philippines have decided to waive entrance examinations and instead assess students’ admission based on their high school average. There is no uniform policy on the conduct of entrance examinations as other higher education institutions are still holding physical or hybrid entrance examinations.

Learn more »

Sep 2, 2020

Civil Service Commission pushes online exams an option for examinees

The Civil Service Commission (CSC) has urged professional examinees to consider taking its online examination, as all the pen and paper tests (PPTs) for 2020 had been canceled amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Learn more »

Aug 31, 2020

Department of Education moves opening of classes to October 5

Basic education classes will resume on October 5 as President Rodrigo Duterte ordered a six-week-long postponement amid the coronavirus crisis. The Department of Education made the recommendation to change the start date, which was originally earlier set on August 24, due to logistical challenges brought by Covid-19 quarantines.

Learn more »


There are 3 archived country studies available. Log in to view them.



Claimed for Spain by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, the Philippines existed as a Spanish colony until 1898. No public educational system was instituted by the Spanish until the mid-19th Century. Education existed only for the Spanish colonists and reflected the strong heritage of the Catholic Church. Defeated by the United States in the brief war of 1898, Spain ceded the Philippines to the victor. The American Colonial Administration set up a public school system patterned on the U.S. model which is evident even today. In 1934, Franklin D. Roosevelt signed legislation creating the Philippine Commonwealth, a status designed to last only 10 years preparatory to independence. Delayed slightly by the war in the Pacific and Japanese occupation in World War II, independence finally came to the Philippines in 1946.

The Philippine Government essentially kept the American educational model though one major exception was made. Strong central control over the educational system, reminiscent of the Spanish model, provides a stark contrast to the situation prevalent in the United States. The Constitution of 1946 invested control over education in the form of cabinet-level agencies, the current version of which is the Department of Education, Culture, and Sports/DECS. In 1993, after a year-long review of higher education, the Commission on Higher Education/CHED was created out of DECS (since 2001 called Department of Education or DepED) to focus more sharply on post-secondary education. The Technical Education & Skills Authority/TESDA has oversight over technical and vocational education.


Since independence, both secondary and higher education have grown tremendously. The Philippines has followed a 10-year (6 years primary and 4 years secondary) educational format since 1957, though a few Catholic schools still maintain the old 11-year model borrowed from the Spanish. In the past 20 years much emphasis has been accorded graduate education and doctoral programs have grown markedly. DepED and CHED mandate curricula to public and private schools alike through memo orders that spell out the course requirements. Accreditation, however, is somewhat complex as CHED can truly not guarantee the quality of schools once these have been reviewed upon initial approval to open. Instead, voluntary accreditation, like that in the United States, has attempted to fill the void with the Federation of Accrediting Associations of the Philippines (FAAP) leading the way. A four-tiered system of accreditation examines schools on a progressive and periodic basis to assure quality, though no Philippine school at present possesses Level IV accreditation. The 2001 PIER publication on the Philippines addresses this topic at length.

The Philippines' Department of Education and Commission on Higher Education oversee the country's education system.

Primary Education

Primary education lasts six years with students passing year for year based on annual ending exams. At the successful conclusion of Grade Six, students receive the Certificate of Primary Studies.

Secondary Education

Secondary school lasts for four years, culminating in the High School Diploma at the end of Fourth Grade. A few Catholic schools, notably those operated by the LaSalle Brothers, still maintain the 11-year system with an additional year following 6th Grade. By the late 1990s (then) DECS was determined to add an 11th year throughout the educational system, but until recently lacked sufficient resources to carry out this plan. Now, however, the Philippine Government has begun implementation of a new K-12 initiative that will change the system from a 6+4 primary/secondary system to a 6+6 model with graduation from high school at the end of Grade 12.

In 2012-13, 33 high schools began implementing the new scheme with Grade 11 for the incoming Grade 7 cohort. Full implementation for all schools is scheduled for 2016-17 and there will be no Grade 10 graduates (old system) in 2016 and beyond. The first cohort of Grade 12 graduates would be 2018. The First batch to go through the entire K-12 process fully will graduate in 2024. The secondary curriculum, especially in the regional science schools and other well-supported schools such as the Philippine Academy of the Arts in Los Banos, compares quite favorably with the high school curriculum in the United States. English is compulsory throughout elementary and secondary education and most Filipinos possess excellent English language skills. Since the 1970s and the Marcos Government, however, Filipino or Filipino, a variation of the Tagolog dialect of Central Luzon, has been the official language.

Post-Secondary Education

Admission to higher education is based on high school graduation and other internal institutional requirements. Two and four-year colleges exist offering programs varying from 1-year Certificates, two-year Associates degrees, to bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Very reflective of their similarly-named U.S. counterparts, the post-secondary degrees/diplomas require specific units and types of coursework as mandated by CHED. The units are defined identical to American semester units (and Philippine schools operate on a semester calendar), however, the large average number of units per semester (20-24 per term) leads most U.S. evaluators to count them as equal to .75 a U.S. semester credit hour.

Master’s degrees require coursework and thesis, while doctoral degrees have course, oral exam, dissertation (with defense) requirements just as in the States.

The Philippine Regulation Commission (PRC) administers exams in 43 professions based on input from regulatory boards associated with the named professions. Upon graduation from university degree programs, applicants sit for the professional exam in their field in order to become licensed by the PRC and practice their profession. CHED also monitors the results of these exams in conjunction with the PRC and moves to close down those schools producing continuously low-performing graduates. Coaching schools have become increasingly popular for the high profile professions (especially nursing, physical therapy, medicine, etc.) with the most graduates. One of the prime exports of the Philippines is the thousands of Overseas Workers, particularly in the health professions, that proliferate around the world in hospitals and clinics and who send a major portion of their earnings back to family in the Philippines.

Additional Notes

A. English Proficiency: Despite the omnipresent nature of English in the Philippines, especially as a language of instruction in the schools (especially higher levels of education), it is still not the primary language spoken in the home. Not even Pilipino is the absolute lingua franca as in Cebu City they prefer Cebuana; Illongo is the dialect of choice in Iloilo, etc. etc. Therefore, it is recommended strongly that some form of English Proficiency measure be required (TOEFL, IELTS, other).

The first English course in Philippine universities, Communication Skills I (also goes under other names though this the most common), is NOT equal to first freshman English in the USA. After that (Communication Skills II) it does begin to meet normal course content seen in the USA.

B. Given the 10 year duration of primary/secondary study in the Philippines, many Admissions Officers are inclined to 1) not count the Philippine bachelor’s as comparable to the US bachelor’s due to an overall 14 versus 16 year comparison and 2) soak off the first year or two of university study to ‘make up’ for perceived deficiency in the total number of pre-university years of study. Regarding the first, whatever one may say about the Philippine High School diploma representing only 10 years of education, the subsequent stand-alone nature of the university degree programs (four years, eight semesters, over 140 semester units) truly deserves full credit and review as fully comparable to the US bachelor’s degree. Thus, the author recommends granting full credit for acceptable courses from the beginning of the university experience and complete US bachelor’s comparability.

headshot of Robert Watkins
Robert Watkins

Special Assistant to the Director, University of Texas at Austin


Upcoming AACRAO Events

On-Demand Learning

Self-Paced | Online

Self-paced courses aligned with our competency and proficiency framework, AACRAO's on-demand training will build your skills and enhance your resume. 

Courses in:

  • Compliance
  • International
  • and more

Learn More

SEM_2020_1440x400 update

The International Institute

The AACRAO International Institute covers promising practices for the evaluation of international credentials that combines AACRAO’s On-Demand International Series with five, two-hour, virtual instructor-led training sessions.

Learn More
AACRAO International Institute Banner