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Higher Education Qualifications in Costa Rica

Universities in Costa Rica offer study programmes at undergraduate and graduate level. Following are the higher education qualifications awarded in Costa Rica:

Pregrado 

The pregrado comprises of diploma (Diplomado) and Profesorado

Diploma (Diplomado)

Students who hold a general secondary education certificate or its equivalent are eligible for diploma in Costa Rica. The diploma courses are short-term courses offered by the universities in Costa Rica. 
  • Duration: 1-2 years
  • Credits required: In order to complete the diploma studies, students must earn 60-90 credits. 
  • Certificate awarded: Diplomado in the corresponding discipline

Profesorado

Students who hold a general secondary education certificate or its equivalent are eligible for profesorado course in Costa Rica. This academic degree is given in the field of teacher education. 
  • Duration: 3 years
  • Academic cycles: 6
  • Credits required: 98-110
  • Certificate awarded: Upon completion of the course, a Profesorado in the corresponding study area is awarded. 

Grado (Undergraduate)

This level comprises of bachelor (Bachillerato) and Licenciatura

Bachillerato (bachelor’s)

Students who have completed secondary education are eligible for bachillerato studies in Costa Rica. 
Duration: 4 years
Academic cycles: 8
Credits: 120-144
Certificate awarded: Bachillerato Universitario/ Grado de Bachiller 

Licentiate

Students after completion of the bachelor’s degree can go for 1 more year of study and complete a formal dissertation. After completion of the study and thesis, a “Licenciatura” is awarded.
  • Duration: 1 year after bachillerato universitario degree
  • Credits: 150-180
  • Certificate awarded: Licenciatura in the corresponding study area.

Posgrado (Graduate)

Graduate studies in Costa Rica comprises of professional qualification, masters and doctorate.

Professional (Especialidad Profesional)

This degree is offered in specific professional field. To gain admittance into this degree level, students must hold a Licenciatura is the corresponding field of study. 
  • Duration: 2 years
Students must take a practical exam in order to complete this programme. 

Master’s degree (Maestria)

Students after completion of the undergraduate studies are eligible to apply to master’s degree programme.
  • Duration: 1-2 years
  • Credits: 60-72
  • Certificate awarded: Master’s degree with the category- Academica or Profesional, and the corresponding field of study. (Grado Academico/Profesional de Maestria).
In Costa Rica, Master’s degree is of two types:

Academic masters: This master’s degree programme emphasizes on increasing the knowledge base. At this degree level, students are required to carry out research that will provide more understanding. A minimum of 30 credits are for research. The research must be defended before a panel. 

Professional masters’: This degree has more generalized study plan for each student, with a minimum of 40 credits in each module.  The applied practical research at this degree level takes place through proposals, artistic documentary, case studies, professional practical, diagnoses and labs. The research must be represented in a final presentation and in report form.

Academic Doctorate Degree (Doctorado Academico)

This qualification is the highest qualification given by the universities in Costa Rica. The main aim of this higher education qualification is the training and creation of academic researchers. 

Students after completion of the master’s degree can go for doctorate studies. This degree requires completion of an original research thesis. Students are required to publicly defend their doctoral thesis. 
  • Duration: 3 years
  • Credits: 50-70 in addition to the Master’s degree. 
  • Certificate awarded:  Academic Doctorate (Doctorado Academico)
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