The Spanish Education System


Education – along with health care, property rentals or/and housing affordability – are the key matters to consider when moving to another country. Even if you don’t plan to go on with your studying in the country you’ll settle in, your children or family members will definitely attend certain education institutions. This article will guide you through the topic of the Spanish education system thick and fast.

The Spanish education system: general description

Unfortunately, the Spanish education system cannot be claimed to be one of the best in Europe. Nevertheless, it has improved much since the 1990s. Typically, Spaniards tend to have a serious attitude in regards to their education – they firmly believe that a good education will help them obtain a good profession and build a successful career. Though, large education budget cuts, made by the government that was forced to do so due to the crisis and the following recession, imply nothing good for the industry of education.

education system in Spain

Pre-school education is not compulsory in Spain, yet many parents decide to give their kids to kindergartens

The Spanish education system functions on the basis of the Fundamental Law of Education, also known as Ley Orgánica de Educación. The law envisages free compulsory schooling for all the children aged between 6 and 16. After reaching the age of 16 years old, pupils are able to decide whether they want to continue their studies or abandon them.

Pre-schooling in Spain

Pre-schooling in Spain may imply different types of pre-school education, including infant schools, play schools, nursery schools, and kindergartens (jardín de la infancia). In Spain, it is quite common for kids to attend pre-school classes. Kindergartens are typically state-funded. According to statistics, over 90% of the children aged between 3 and 5 attended pre-school classes at least for a year.

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Even though public pre-schooling is free of cost, pre-school institutions may significantly vary across the regions (in the way they function, what they teach, etc.). However, there is a common trait between all pre-schooling institutions in Spain, as there are two cycles of pre-school education: First Cycle for children from 1 up to 3 years old and Second Cycle for children from 4 up to 6 years old.

Schools in Spain

Schooling in Spain offers great opportunities for students. There are three types of schools in Spain: private schools (known as colegios privados), privately run schools that are funded by the state (known as colegios concertados), and public schools (known as colegios públicos). Also, there are international, foreign, and bilingual schools available. Home schooling is legal as well. Find out more about the school system in Spain in our article.

Even though schooling – up to the enrollment in a university – is free of cost (unless it’s a privately run school), parents should pay for textbooks, reading materials, and all other supplies, which might be quite costly in Spain.

Higher education in Spain

Upon the completion of compulsory schooling, students take the course called Bachillerato, needed for enrolling in a university. Once they have completed the course, the students can choose the entry exams they need for a particular university/major and pass them.

The number of universities in Spain is equal to 78, 27 of which are private institutions. Spanish universities specialize really well in performance arts, tourism, physical education, medicine, and business.

According to the Bologna Process, Spanish universities have the following degrees:

  • Bachelor’s degree (Grado), which is an equivalent to 240 credits;
  • Master’s degree (Postgrado), which requires from 60 up to 120 credits;
  • Doctor’s degree or PhD (Doctorado), which is separated into two phases: 60 credits and 3-4 years of research.

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