Costa Rica Tertiary Education System
In Costa Rica, higher/tertiary education is offered by both public and private higher education institutions-universities, institutes of higher education and colleges. The first university in Costa Rica was the University of Costa Rica, established in 1941. Higher education in Costa Rica is not free of charge, but it is affordable by all.
Types of Higher Education
Higher education in Costa Rica is of two types:
- University higher education
- Non-university higher education
In Costa Rica, university education is offered by public or state universities, private and other universities.
- Public or state universities: In Costa Rica, there are five public universities offering studies at all degree levels-undergraduate and graduate.
- Private universities: There are many private universities operating in Costa Rica. These universities offer a wide range of programmes- technical, scientific, education, humanistic, etc.
Non-University Higher Education
Non-university higher education in Costa Rica focuses on technical, business and industrial studies.
- Duration: 2 to 3 years
- Credits: 60-90
- Credential: Higher level technician (Tecnico Superior)
Higher Education Qualifications
Following are the higher education qualifications offered in Costa Rica:
Undergraduate Level Qualifications (Grado)
Bachelor/University Baccalaureate (Bachiller Universitario)
- Duration: 4 years
- Credits: 120-144
This degree is awarded in professional fields, like law, medicine etc.
- Admission requisite: Bachiller Universitario
- Credits: 30 – 36 credits
Graduate Level Qualifications (Postgrado/Posgrado)
This degree requires students to prepare and defend a master’s thesis.
- Admission requisite: Students must have completed Bachiller Universitario
- Duration: 1-2 years
- Credits: 60 – 72
This is the highest degree awarded by the universities in Costa Rica. This degree requires students to defend a dissertation.
- Admission requisite: Students must hold master’s degree in order to gain admittance into the doctorate level programme.
- Credits: 100 to 120
In order to be enrolled to a Costa Rican higher education first level studies, students must possess a high school/secondary education degree-Bachillerato recognized by the Ministry of Education. Students must undertake a baccalaureate test for further studies.