Studying in Bulgaria
Higher education in Bulgaria is offered by both public and private higher institutions, including universities, specialist high schools and independent colleges. It is open to anyone who has completed secondary education and admittance is via an examination. Anyone who has successfully completed their secondary education is eligible to apply. Refer to individual institutions for details about the application process as this can vary, though many include an examination.
The qualification structure is similar to that in the UK:
- bachelors degree – usually awarded after the completion of a four-year course
- masters degree – awarded after the completion of a full five-year course (or after at least an additional one-year course following the bachelors degree)
- doctorate – the equivalent of a PhD, this requires an additional three years of study after a masters degree has been awarded
Courses can generally be studied full time, part time or via distance learning.
What courses can you study?
Postgraduate courses are available in most subjects, covering the following areas:
- economics and business
The Bulgarian Ministry of Education, Youth and Science provides a list of accredited institutions.
Although in the minority, some courses are taught in English, French or German. UK students wanting to study in Bulgarian will need to take a preparatory course generally lasting between nine months and one year. Upon completion of the course they will be required to pass a written and oral examination. If you are already proficient in Bulgarian, you can sit the examinations without attending the course. Check with individual institutions for details.
How do you apply for postgraduate study?
EU citizens can apply for postgraduate study in the same way as Bulgarian students. You will need a first degree (undergraduate) for entry to a masters degree and a masters qualification for a doctorate degree. Specific grades and subjects required may differ between each institution.
Applications are made directly to your chosen university, usually via an online application form. You will need to state on the form your level of proficiency in Bulgarian (or the language you wish to study in if not Bulgarian).
You will also need to:
- provide proof of your previous qualifications in the form of validated copy and a certified translation of your degree
- show that you can support yourself for the duration of your study
- prove that you are in general good health, via a medical certificate
- provide a photocopy of your passport.
Deadlines vary between institutions and you are advised to apply early.
Once you have been accepted on to a course you will be sent an acceptance letter issued by the Bulgarian Ministry of Education, Youth and Science.
Fees and scholarships
Tuition fees in Bulgaria are among the cheapest in Europe and students from EU and European Economic Area member states can study at reduced rates.
Fees vary between institutions and subjects studied, but usually range from between €2,500 to €8,000 per year. Fees for medical degrees are usually at the top end of the scale. Courses taught in Bulgarian have slightly lower fees than those taught in English. The preparatory language course, which must be completed if you have no prior knowledge of Bulgarian, generally costs around €3,300-€3,500. See websites of individual institutions for details.
Living in Bulgaria is cheap compared with the UK. The minimum cost of living, including accommodation, food, transport, etc, is in the range of €12,000 per year. There are very few opportunities to undertake work whilst studying and very few scholarships are awarded to foreign students, with the exception of some exchange programmes.
Are there any exchange programmes?
UK students on both undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes may be interested in studying in Bulgaria through Erasmus+. This programme is open to all subject areas, but check with your institution's study abroad/exchange coordinator to see which countries they have links with and in what subject areas.
Will your qualifications be recognised in the UK?
Following the Bologna Process and the creation of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), a postgraduate course from Bulgaria is directly comparable to the UK equivalent.
Do you need a visa to study in Bulgaria?
EU nationals do not need a visa to study in Bulgaria but citizens of non-EU countries may be required to have one and should check with their embassy.
EU citizens may enter Bulgaria on a passport and stay for up to three months. If you plan to stay in the country for more than three months you will need to register with the police. To do this you will have to provide evidence that you are enrolled as a student. You will be provided with a temporary residence permit which will be valid for up to five years.
If you are not a UK national; contact the Bulgarian embassy in the country where you are currently resident, to find out about studying in Bulgaria. If you are living in the UK, go to the Bulgarian Embassy in London.
You might also find it helpful to contact your ministry of foreign affairs (or your own embassy if you are not living in your home country) to ask whether there are any issues to be taken into account when considering studying in Bulgaria.
Written by AGCAS editors, April 2016