Education in Zagreb

School system in Zagreb

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The Ministry of Science, Education and Sport is in charge of all administrative and other activities pertaining to education in Croatia, including overseeing preschool, primary, and secondary education, curricula design, and regulation of standards.

The educational system in Croatia includes preschool, elementary (or primary), secondary, and higher education.

Primary Education

Preschool education in the Republic of Croatia encompasses education and care of children from six months of age until school age. Croatian law states that it is the state's duty and obligation to provide care for preschool-age children.

Elementary education in Croatian is mandatory and free for all children between the ages of six and fifteen. From 1st to 4th grade, students are grouped into classes that are taught by one teacher who covers subjects such as Croatian, mathematics, nature and society, visual art, and at least one foreign language (usually English). From 5th to 8th grade, different teachers teach different subjects, and history, geography, and the hard sciences are added to the curriculum. English is also taught, often alongside a second foreign language (typically German, French, or Italian).

Secondary Education

Secondary education is open to all students, but it is not required by law. As part of its current educational reforms, the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports hopes to gradually introduce compulsory secondary education. The National Programme of Measures for the Introduction of Compulsory Secondary Education was introduced in June 2007 and the majority of the population – 83% of respondents – is in favor of these changes.

There are two types of secondary schools in Croatia: gymnasiums and vocational schools. Gymnasiums correspond to four different educational tracks, while vocational schools are dedicated to a specialized trade. Students must pass the state graduation exam (Državna matura) to complete their secondary school studies. The state graduation exam covers the subjects that the pupil was taught during his or her four-year secondary education. Pupils of four-year vocational and art high schools take an exam organized by their schools and prepare a final defense, but they may also take the state graduation exams if they wish to do so.

Croatia has a binary higher education system. This means that students can choose between two types of higher education: 

  • University (sveucilišta) studies are conducted at universities that offer an array of academic programs. Universities consist of various faculties or departments and often student centers, health facilities, libraries, and technological centers.
  • Professional studies are professional programs organized by polytechnics (veleucilišta) or colleges (visoka škola). These programs are usually more specialized and focus on professional skills. Professional programs may also be offered at universities.

Over the last decade, the higher education system has been reformed to comply with the Bologna Process, which aims to harmonize the systems of higher education in Europe. Since 2005, all programs of study in Croatia have been aligned with Bologna requirements, and all students graduating from these programs receive ECTS credits.

Private School

Private schools can offer an enhanced learning environment for some students. Some private schools offer a special focus or program or subscribe to a particular teaching approach or educational philosophy that may be worth paying extra for. It’s a good idea to visit potential private schools to determine the best fit for you and your child.

Private schools in Zagreb:

Gimnazija Dr. Casl
Address: Dedici 12, 10000 Zagreb

This private high school was established in 2003 as a continuation of the private primary school Kreativni razvoj. Croatian is the language of instruction, but English classes are mandatory and taught daily.

Kindergarten Srceko
Address: Pantovcak 117, 10000 Zagreb

The language of instruction is Croatian, but English and other foreign languages are used freely.

Kreativni razvoj Primary School
Address: Dedici 12, 10000 Zagreb

Kreativni razvoj was established in 1995 as the first private elementary school in Zagreb. The language of instruction is Croatian, but English language classes are mandatory and begin in kindergarten.

Matija Gubec Primary School
Address: Davorina Bazjanca 2, 10000 Zagreb

The language of instruction is Croatian; there is also an English-language program.

Waldorf School of Zagreb
Address: Jakuševecka 6, 10000 Zagreb

The language of instruction is Croatian.

If you are interested internationally centered private schooling for your child, you might consider one of Zagreb’s international schools.  See the section “International Schools” for more information.


Fees vary from school to school and usually depend on the level of instruction. Be sure to inquire about current rates and compare. You can expect to pay from 1,500 – 6,000 euros annually. There may also be an application fee.


In accordance with the guidelines of the Bologna Process, the Croatian higher education system is divided into three levels: undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate studies.

Because Croatia also has a binary higher education system, prospective students must choose between university studies (which cover all three levels) and professional studies (which cover only the first and second levels).

University Studies

  • Undergraduate university studies usually last for three to four years and students earn 180-240 ECTS credits. Upon completion, students are awarded the academic title of Bachelor (prvostupnik) with reference to a specialization.
  • Graduate university studies typically last for one to two years after completion of undergraduate studies, and students earn 60-120 ECTS credits. Upon completion graduate studies, students are awarded the academic title of Master (magistar struke) with reference to a specialization.
  • Postgraduate university studies are divided into specialist and doctoral studies. Specialist studies last for one to two years and lead to specialization in a particular profession. Upon completion, the student is awarded the title of University Specialist with reference to a specialization. Doctoral studies last three years. Upon completion of doctoral study and successful defense of the doctoral thesis, students are awarded the academic title of Doctor of Science or Doctor of Arts (dr. sc. or dr. art.).

Professional Studies

  • Undergraduate professional studies typically last for two to three years and students earn 120-180 ECTS credits. Sometimes professional studies may last up to four years and students can earn up to 240 ECTS credits. Upon completion of professional studies with less than 180 ECTS credits, students are awarded the professional title of strucni pristupnik with reference to a specialization. Students who complete 180 ECTS credits or more are awarded the professional title of Professional Bachelor (strucni prvostupnik) with reference to a specialization.
  • Specialist professional graduate studies last one to two years and students can earn 60-120 ECTS credits. Upon completion, students are recognized as a specialist of the profession.


The admissions process and requirements can vary depending on the student and the type of program they are applying to, so it’s best to check admissions requirements for each individual school.

A student may study in Croatia as a:

  • Degree-seeking student (undergraduate, graduate, postgraduate)
  • Exchange student (Erasmus, Erasmus Mundus, CEEPUS, bilateral agreements)
  • Guest student (short-term study)

Croatia is slated to enter the European Union on July 1, 2013. After that date, students who are citizens of EU member states will be able to enroll in programs of study in Croatia under the same conditions as Croatian citizens.

For undergraduate study in Croatia, there is a central online application system called Postani Student. To complete your application for admission, you will need to provide personal information, a record of academic performance, and information about any extracurricular activities.

For more information about academic programs in Croatia and the application process, the website Study in Croatia is helpful.


Nacionalna i sveucilišna knjižnica

The national library is also the main university library for the University of Zagreb. The library is open to the public, but you must register first. Foreign nationals will be asked to provide their passport. You will then be given a membership card that you must present every time you enter the library. The current annual fee for foreign nationals is 100 kunas, but there are also temporary registration options for shorter visits.

Knjižnice grada Zagreba

Zagreb City Libraries is a network of public libraries open to residents of Zagreb. There are many branches throughout the city; you can find locations and hours on the library network map. Library membership is open to any resident of Zagreb, and you can apply for a membership card at any library branch. Membership is valid for one year.

Knjižnica i citaonica Bogdana Ogrizovica

The library branch located near Flower Square (Cvjetni trg) at Preradoviceva 5, has a selection of foreign language literature and houses the American Corner, a collection of books, magazines, newspapers, CDs, and DVDs that focus on American history and culture. The collection was established in partnership with the US Embassy and aims to serve as a meeting place for Croatian and American culture.

Update 26/05/2013


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