Similar to other institutions in the country, the education system in Romania has undergone significant reforms during the past two decades, and is likely to be subject to even more changes in the future, in order to be aligned to international standards.
The school system in Romania is overseen by the National Ministry of Education (Ministerul Educației Naționale). The curriculum (programa școlară) is the same for all schools in the country and is communicated by the Ministry of Education every year.
The school system is divided into 12 or 13 grades, grouped into three categories:
School is compulsory from ages 6 to 16. However, many parents may choose to send their children to nursery (creșă), from age 1, or to kindergarten classes (grădiniță), that start from age 3. Public kindergartens are free of charge, but may not offer the best quality education. Many families opt for private kindergartens which often use alternative methods of teaching, have better facilities and provide meals or snacks. The schedule is usually Monday - Friday, from 8:00 - 18:00, shorter hours may apply. However, private kindergartens may be quite expensive, as fees range from 200-400 euros per month. Due to high demand, many kindergarten places fill up quite early, so it is recommended to reserve a place at least six months in advance.
Primary school starts with grade 0, or the preparatory year, which develops the children's reading and writing skills. The school calendar is the same in all the country, and it runs for 35 weeks, roughly from September 15 to June 15. For grades 0-4 there is a single teacher (învățător, if it is a man, învățătoare if it is a woman), who teaches all subjects. The primary school curriculum is focused on Romanian language, math, sciences and foreign languages.
Most children in Romania attend the country's public school system. Private schools account for less than 3% of all education. Unless the parents explicitly opt otherwise, a child is assigned to the nearest public school. Places in schools with good reputation are limited, so the parents should start the enrollment process 2-3 years in advance.
There is no entrance exam to gymnasium, and it is usually continued at the same institution that provides the primary education. Subjects are taught by different teachers. A regular school week has between 26-32 hours of schooling, in groups of about 25 students. The curriculum is focused on mathematics and Romanian language and literature, and also includes science, humanities, foreign languages, technology and art.
The 8th grade marks the last year of the gymnasium, and at the end the pupils need to pass an Assessment Exam (Evaluarea Național), on two subjects: Romanian language and literature, and Mathematics. The final grade at the assessment exam and the average grades during the gymnasium are used for the acceptance into high-school.
Before enrolling in high school, students have to decide on whether to pursue a theoretical education in a general high-school, or a professional secondary education, in a vocational high-school. Admittance to high-schools is computed automatically, based on performance in the assessment exam and the preference of the student mentioned on the application form.
High school is mandatory until the 10th grade (16-17 years), but a full cycle lasts until the 12th grade. At the end of high-school, students have to pass a Baccalaureate exam, with mandatory and elective subjects, to be granted the Baccalaureate Diploma (Diploma de Baccalaureat) that certifies successful completion of secondary education.
Private schools are one of the solutions to the low quality of most of Romania's public education system. The private school curricula are the same as the ones in the public schools, but the teaching methods, the level of teacher preparedness and the teacher to student ratio are better than in the state system. Generally, private schools in Romania don't offer boarding, but some international schools may do.
It is important to visit the schools in order to make the best choice. Many offer open days for prospective parents, but you can also contact them to make an appointment on a regular day. Criteria to keep in mind may include:
There are over 400 private schools in Romania, the majority of which are in Bucharest. Some of the most prestigious ones are:
International Theoretical Computer Studies Highschool
Str. Balta Albina, Nr. 9, Sector 3, București
The Bucharest European School
Str. Băiculești, Nr. 33, Sector 1, București
The American International School of Bucharest
Șoseaua Pipera-Tunari, 196, Voluntari, Jud. Ilfov
Șoseaua Străulești, Nr. 89A, Sector 1, București
Mark Twain International School
Str. Erou Iancu Nicolae, Nr. 25, Băneasa
Little London International Academy
Str. Iancu Nicolae, 65, Voluntari, Jud. Ilfov
Cambridge School of Bucharest
Calea Dorobanți 39, Sector 1, București
The Lauder Reut Educational Complex
Str. Iuliu Barasch, Nr. 15, Sector 3, București
Private schools in Romania are no cheaper than in Western Europe, with fees ranging from 4000 to 20.000 euros per school year, depending on the school.
If you are interested internationally centered private schooling for your child, you might consider one of Bucharest's international schools. See the section "International Schools" for more information.
The university system in Romania has been aligned to the European one, as to the structure and length of the studies. Universities in Romania now run on an ECTS transferable credits basis, with credits obtained at Romanian universities recognized by other universities in the EU.
Students enter universities usually at age 18, once they have earned their Baccalaureate Diploma, and passed an admission exam. Some degrees are offered directly in English or another foreign language, but for most degrees candidates need a good command of Romanian. Application is directly with universities.
The system of qualifications consists of Bachelor (Licență), Master's Degree and Doctorate. The length of studies for a Bachelor's degree is three years. Master's degrees usually last one or two years. A student needs to complete 60 ECTS credits per academic year, each credit implying a workload between 25-30 hours. Longer duration of degrees applies for students in certain areas such as medicine, architecture and engineering.
The best universities in Romania are public. Higher education is free for a number of candidates, while the rest have to pay tuition. Public university fees in Romania are low, usually no more than 3000 euros a year. There are a number of recently created private universities, and they may charge higher fees. However, the quality of the education in private universities may range from high to very low, depending on each institution.
Bucharest is the country's most important university center, with 16 public universities and an even higher number of private higher education institutions. The universities in Bucharest are grouped by subject area. Some of the most important ones are:
University of Bucharest
Bulevardul Regina Elisabeta 4-12, București
It offers degrees in humanities, theoretical science, foreign languages, etc
Polytechnic University of Bucharest
Splaiul Independenței 313, București
Offers degrees in most types of engineering, IT, mechanical engineering and others.
Academy of Economic Sciences of Romania
Piața Romană 6, București
Offers business and economics degrees.
Carol Davila University of Medicine and Pharmacy
Str. Dionisie Lupu 37, București
Ion Mincu Institute or Architecture and Urbanism
Str. Academiei 18-20, București
Bucharest National University of Arts
Calea Griviței 28, București
Bucharest offers a wide network of public and private libraries. In order to borrow from most of them you need a subscription, but consultation on-site is usually free and available to everybody. The libraries have a good choice of books in Romanian, but also in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian or other languages.
The National Library of Romania
Bulevardul Unirii, 22, București
The Bucharest Metropolitan Library
The city's network of public libraries, found throughout Bucharest
The Central University Library of Bucharest
Str. Boteanu 1, București
Additionally, institutions such as the British Council, the Fulbright Commission, the Institut Français and other cultural institutes have their own libraries with a broad offering of books.