In recent years, Bulgaria has expanded the opportunities for international students. In addition to The American University in Blagoevgrad (AUBG) and The International University in Sofia, several of the major universities offer courses in English.
Bulgaria is located on the Balkan Peninsula in southeastern Europe. Bulgaria has its only coastline on the Black Sea in the east, and the country otherwise borders Romania to the north, Macedonia and Serbia to the west and Greece and Turkey to the south. About 84% of the population are Bulgarians, while just under 10% are Turks and 5% are Roma. Geographically, Bulgaria offers a bit of everything: Here are hot summers, cold winters, mountains, lakes, beaches, etc., and the country is therefore experiencing a growing interest from tourists.
Bulgaria has historically had a solid education system. This weakened during the Cold War during the communist dictatorship in the country. It was not until the mid-1990s that the Bulgarian education sector was seriously reformed, and since then there has been visible progress in this area: the number of private educational institutions has increased tenfold, and between 1995 and 2002 the number of students in the higher education from 33,000 to 50,000.
In Bulgaria, a bachelor’s degree is nominated for four years – unlike in Denmark, where it takes three years. On the other hand, after your bachelor’s you can study for a master’s degree in just a single year, where it takes two at home, so the length of the education is ultimately the same. Vocational higher education usually takes three years in Bulgaria.
Bulgaria joined the EU in January 2007.
Vocational training in Bulgaria
You have various options for taking a vocational education in Bulgaria. After 8th grade, you can take a profile-oriented, usually 4-year education at profile high schools (profilirani gimnazie). The schools specialize in either language, science / mathematics, business economics or the humanities. Students are admitted after completing 7th grade on the basis of an entrance exam or after 8th grade. The education leads to the certificate Diploma za sredno obrazovaniebased on 12 (8 + 4 or 7 + 5) or 13 (8 + 5) years of schooling.
You can also take the last years of primary school after 6th or 7th grade at a vocational school (profesionalno tehniceski uciliste).
- 3-year combined vocational and vocational upper secondary education at vocational / technical schools (sredno profexionalno-tehniceski uciliste).
- 4-year combined vocational and vocational high school at technical schools (technikum). These educations can also be 5-year-olds if it starts after 7th grade and is combined with extended language teaching.
There may be entrance exams to technical or specialized schools. You will receive a diploma for completing a specialized high school diploma (Diploma za sredno – spetzialno obrazovanie),which can provide access to higher education in Bulgaria, and a vocational diploma (Svidetelstvo za profesionalna kvalilfikatsia).
Higher education in Bulgaria
The long higher education in Bulgaria includes the following degrees:
- Bakalavar,4 years old, who is the Bulgarian bachelor degree. You finish with either a state exam or a major written assignment.
- Magistar, 1 year, which is the Bulgarian master’s degree, and which is also available as a 5-year non-divided degree. You usually complete the education with a state exam and a thesis, possibly only a state exam.
- Doctor, 3 years, the Bulgarian PhD degree. One completes the education in defense of a dissertation.
Application for higher education
Foreign applicants with citizenship of an EU country have access to apply for admission to studies in Bulgaria on equal terms with Bulgarian citizens.
A Danish upper secondary education will normally give access to an application for higher education in Bulgaria. The admission conditions depend on the individual educational institution: admission to grades / results in the entrance examination, test or entrance exams. Therefore, contact the educational institution to find out more about admission requirements and admission procedure, including which documents the educational institution requires, and in what form: legalization, translation and possible confirmation that you have an entrance examination from Denmark.
The most prestigious universities use grades from the entrance exam in combination with entrance exams.
You can find information about entry requirements on the websites of the individual educational institutions.
In addition, you will usually need to document knowledge of Bulgarian, English, German or French depending on the language of instruction.
Usually, foreign students start with a 1-year preparatory course in Bulgarian if they subsequently want to apply for admission to an education where the teaching takes place in Bulgarian. Find out more at the training site. There is also education offered in English, German or French. In Bulgaria you can also study at the American University.
The individual educational institution may have different deadlines, so familiarize yourself well in advance with the early spring.
Recognition of foreign educations
If you have completed a publicly recognized education in Bulgaria, you can have it assessed by the Danish Agency for Research and Education
Work in Bulgaria
Specific qualifications are required for many jobs in Bulgaria. Often it may be necessary to take an extra education in Bulgaria to get a job. In addition, most positions in Bulgaria require a good knowledge of the Bulgarian language. However, there are few jobs where you can manage with English.
It is a good idea to have knowledge of the Bulgarian language if you are planning to apply for jobs in Bulgaria, as many job databases and job information have not been translated into English. On the other hand, Bulgaria’s tourism industry is booming and it seems that the demand for English – speaking labor will increase in the future.
Jobtiger.bg and jobs.bg are two comprehensive job portals where you can apply for jobs in various categories in English. Although the job postings are usually only in Bulgarian, there are also a few in English.
You can get more information about working in Bulgaria from the EURES Advisers at the country’s Job Centers.
Work-and residence permit
As an EU citizen, you are free to stay in Bulgaria for up to 3 months. Should you stay in the country for more than 3 months, e.g. in connection with work or study, you must apply for a residence permit (prodelshitelno prebivavane).
Read more about this on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ page about Bulgaria.
Danes who move to Bulgaria for a longer period will in most cases during the stay in Bulgaria be covered by the public health insurance (ie be able to cover expenses for medical treatment, medicine, hospital treatment, etc.) on an equal footing with Bulgarian citizens (ie without having to pay extra), if the relevant forms have otherwise been filled in advance in Denmark. As the common set of EU rules in this area is rather complex, you should in any case contact the social administration in your Danish home municipality before moving to Bulgaria, to find out about the rules and receive guidance in filling in the relevant form or forms. (e) in one’s own case.
Further information is available on the Danish Pensions Agency’s website.
Hostelbookers can help you find accommodation in Bulgaria.
Facts about Bulgaria
Population: 7.9 million.
Language: Bulgarian (main language). However, many Turkish speakers
Employment: Unemployment is 13.1% (Eurostat 2014)
Currency: Leva (Lev). 1 lev corresponds to approx. 3.81 DKK. 1 lev = 100 stotinki.
Residence permit: Applied to the local authorities for stays over 3 months. Passport must be valid min. 3 months in addition to the stay in the country.