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Structure of Education in Colombia

Education in Colombia comprises of school education and higher education. Compulsory education in Colombia last for 9 years.

School Education in Colombia

School education in Colombia starts with nursery schools, followed by elementary school that is compulsory to attend, and secondary education that is split up into 2 cycles- basic secondary cycle which is compulsory and the middle secondary cycle that is optional. Upon successful completion of the secondary education, students are awarded the Bachillerato. 

Tertiary Education in Colombia

Tertiary/higher education in Colombia is offered by the universities, technical professional institutions and institutes of technology. In Colombia, there are both public and private higher education institutions offering a wide range of degree programmes. 

Colombian Education Structure

Pre-tertiary Education

Period of Compulsory Education

  • Entry age: 6
  • Exit age: 14

Pre-Primary/Pre-school Education

  • School type: Nursery school, preschool (Educacion preescolar)
  • Ages: 3 to 5

Basic Education

Basic education is divided into two stage: basic primary education and basic secondary education.
  • Duration: 9 years
  • Ages: 6 to 14

Primary Education (Educacion Basica Primaria)

  • Duration: 5 years
  • Grades: 1 to 5
  • Ages: 6 to 11

Basic Secondary Education (Educacion Basica Secundaria)

  • Duration: 4 years
  • Ages: 11 to 15
  • Grades: 6 to 9
  • Credential: Certificate of Basic Studies School (Certificado de Estudios de Bachillerato Basico)

Upper Secondary (Educacion media/secundaria)

Secondary education has two streams: general education and vocational secondary education. 
  • Duration: 2 years
  • Grades: 10 and 11
  • Ages: 15-16
  • Credential: Bachillerato (bachillerato academic or bachillerato en tecnologia o aplicado, depending on the stream chosen)

Tertiary/Higher Education

University Education

Universities in Colombia offer study programmes at the undergraduate (pregrado) and graduate (posgrado) levels. 

Undergraduate Level

  • Duration: 4 to 5 years after Bachiller; 6 years for medicine
  • Credential: Licentiate, professional

Graduate Level

Specialization Programmes

  • Duration: 1-1.5 years
  • Certificate awarded: Specialist (Especialista)

Masters Programme

  • Duration: 2 years
  • Certificate awarded: Master (Magister)

Doctorate Programmes

  • Duration: 2 to 5 years
  • Certificate awarded: Doctor

Higher Professional Education

Technological Programmes

  • Duration: 3 to 4 years after Bachiller 
  • Certificate awarded: Technologist (tecnologo)

Technological Specialization Programme

  • Duration: 1 to 2 years
  • Certificate awarded: Specialist technologist (Tecnico especialista)

Professional Technical Programme

  • Duration: 2.5 to 3 years
  • Certificate awarded: Professional technician (Tecnico profesional)

Professional Technical Specialization Programmes

  • Duration: 1 to 1.5 years
  • Certificate awarded: Specialist professional technician (Tecnico profesional Especialista)
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