Study in Bulgaria
In spite of Bulgaria being a less popular study destination, students receive high-quality education. Increasing mobility and links between Bulgarian higher education systems and universities around Europe provide great diversity and lead to a strong foundation for a future career.
Bulgaria's higher education system was reorganized in the mid-1990s, after the fall of the communist regime. Between 1995 and 2002, the number of university graduates increased from 33,000 to 50,000. In 2002, 42 institutions of higher learning were available in the country, with 215,700 students enrolled. Since 2007, Bulgaria is a member of the European Union and Bulgarian Higher Education degrees are fully recognised in EU member states.
Presently, higher education institutions include Universities, Colleges and Specialized Education Schools. All institutions of Higher Education in Bulgaria are autonomous and responsible for programme design and quality. Almost all universities in the country have Bulgarian accreditation and some have double accreditation from foreign institutions.
Why study in Bulgaria?
1. Very low tuition and living costs
Studying and living in Bulgaria is very affordable, especially if you come from a more expensive country or if you compare Bulgaria to other top study destinations, like the UK, the US, Canada, or Australia.
At public universities, internationals pay between 300 and 3,850 EUR per year for tuition. Disciplines like Medicine and Pharmacy are the only exceptions, often costing up to 7,000 EUR per year. In terms of living costs, you should be perfectly fine with a budget of 300–500 EUR per month.
2. Great country for entrepreneurs
Bulgaria is a great destination for business-oriented students, who want to create their own start-ups and make a difference in the world. Here are some of the main reasons why you might want to study and start a company here:
- you can launch and operate a start-up very fast and at affordable costs
- various projects and funding are available for start-ups
- the purchasing power is high
3. Bulgaria is a beautiful country
From the wonderful beaches to the centuries-old buildings, there are plenty of things to see and do while studying and living in Bulgaria. Some of the top places we recommend visiting are: the Sunny Beaches, the Rila Monastery, the Saint Aleksandar Cathedral, the Seven Rila Lakes, Vitosha, the Tsarevets Fortress, Cape Kaliakra, etc.
Which universities and colleges to attend in Bulgaria?
Here are a few Bulgarian universities we recommend:
- American University in Bulgaria
- Sofia University St.Kliment Ohridski
- Pancho Vladigerov National Academy of Music
- Varna University of Management
- New Bulgarian University
Higher education degrees
Higher education in Bulgaria provides applicants with the following degrees options:
- College degree – obtained after three years of studies
- Bachelor’s degree – obtained after three to four years of studies
- Master’s degree – obtained after one year with a completed Bachelor’s degree (or 5 years if taken directly after graduating high-school)
- PhD or Doctorate degree – obtained after three years of studies, only available for applicants with a Master’s degree
General application requirements
Documents required for a Bulgarian university application include:
- A completed application form
- A validated copy and a certified translation of the applicant’s high-school diploma
- Applicants for Master’s degree courses should present a validated copy and a certified translation of a diploma (Bachelor’s or Master’s) accompanied by a transcript of study records
- A medical certificate issued not earlier than one month before the application procedure
- A photocopy of the applicant’s passport/identity card
- Four recent photographs of the applicant
- Certificate of English, French or German proficiency for those wishing to study in an international language. If you have good command of the language and you do not have an international certificate, you may take a language test at a Bulgarian high education institution
Admission criteria vary between Bulgarian universities. In most cases, admission is based on application file documents, without an entrance exam. The only exam is for prospective European students who need to apply for a Bulgarian scholarship.
Bulgarian study courses are available in various fields such as medicine, mathematics, computer sciences, engineering, chemistry, biology, linguistics, etc. Students choosing to complete a medical degree in Bulgaria are free to take internships in countries throughout the EU.
International students wishing to study in Bulgarian must follow a preparatory one-year course. These are designed for students who require additional knowledge of language of instruction or who need to review basic science subjects for university studies. Citizens of the EU, EEA or Switzerland, who would like to receive financial assistance from the Bulgarian Government, must learn Bulgarian.
Courses are career-focused and lectures interest-driven. Classes take place in compact study groups. Extracurricular activities allow students to gather helpful life experience while enjoying their free time. Tutoring is a common practice in Bulgaria, supporting personal and professional improvement.
Consultation services assist international students looking to study in Bulgaria by providing information and help with the application process and moving to the country. Students receive personalized counselling for choosing a Bulgarian university that is right for them. Comprehensive continuous support services are available throughout the academic year.
Credit transfer from previous studies is possible.
The grading scale in Bulgarian high education institutions is based on grades from 2 to 6. Grades below 3 are failing grades. These grades are used when calculating Grade Point Average (GPA).
Language of instruction
Bulgarian universities have more than 20 years of experience in teaching international languages such as English, French or German. Some Bulgarian universities offer classes taught in English, French or German and provide double degrees through partnerships with universities abroad. Some universities offer programmes fully taught in English.
English language preparation courses for studying in Bulgaria
Develop your academic English language skills in order to meet the English language requirements at Bulgarian universities offering degree studies for international students. Choose an English language school anywhere in the world and pick your preferred English exam preparation course from diverse language course options.
Universities in Bulgaria will want to see proof that you have good English-language skills, so that you can easily succeed in their English-taught courses. Universities accept these official English exams:
Living in Bulgaria
Let's take a closer look at tuition and living expenses in Bulgaria:
At Bulgarian universities, tuition fees vary based on your nationality and the type of degree you want to study. On average, international students pay:
- EU citizens: between 300–1,700 EUR/year
- Non-EU citizens: 1,750–3,850 EUR/year
Disciplines like Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, and Pharmacy are more expensive, costing between 4,000 and 7,700 EUR per academic year.
Private universities usually charge higher tuition fees.
Living costs in Bulgaria
Students need between 300 and 500 EUR per month to cover their costs of living in Bulgaria. Their lifestyle and the type of accommodation are the most important factors influencing the overall budget.
Here's a breakdown of average living expenses in Bulgaria:
- accommodation (university residence halls): 25–65 EUR/month
- accommodation (privately rented flat): 210–485 EUR/month
- utilities (only if you rent a private flat): 80–110 EUR/month
- food and groceries: 100–200 EUR/month
- monthly transport pass: 25 EUR; students might get a discount
- three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant: 25 EUR
- 1 loaf of bread: 0.55 EUR
- 1 litre of milk: 1.05 EUR
- 1 kg of apples: 1.10 EUR
- 1 kg of bananas: 1.35 EUR
- 1 cappuccino: 1.20 EUR
The Republic of Bulgaria is located in South-Eastern Europe on an area of 110,910 sq. km. Bulgaria occupies a portion of the eastern Balkan peninsula and shares a border with Turkey and Greece to the south, Macedonia and Serbia to the west, Romania to the north, and the Black Sea to the east. The coastline has a length of 354 kilometres. The most notable geographic features include the Danubian Plain, the Balkan Mountains, the Thracian Plain and the Rhodope Mountains.
The capital, Sofia, lies in the western region of the country. Other major cities include Plovdiv and Varna.
The first unified Bulgarian state dates back to 681 CE, which functioned as a cultural hub for Slavs during the Middle Ages. With the downfall of the Second Bulgarian Empire in 1396, its territories came under Ottoman rule for nearly 500 years. In 1946, Bulgaria became a single-party socialist state. In December 1989, Bulgaria transitioned from a communist to a democratic state. Bulgaria entered the EU on 1 January 2007. In contrast to some Euro-zone states, Bulgaria does not have huge international debts. The country still ranks as the poorest member state of the EU, but standards of living have started to rise. Unfortunately Bulgaria has been affected by high profile corruption scandals especially regarding the Interior Ministry, which is severely hindering Bulgaria's progress and development.
Bulgaria is a parliamentary republic with a high degree of political, administrative, and economic centralisation. The strongest sectors of the economy are heavy industry, power engineering, and agriculture. The national currency is the Leva.
Bulgaria has a dynamic climate, at the meeting point of Mediterranean and continental air masses. This results in continental-mild summers and cold, snowy winters.
Bulgaria gave the world the Cyrillic alphabet, the second most-widely used alphabet in the world, which dates from tenth century AD.
Universities, colleges and schools in Bulgaria
- HRC Culinary Academy (1 Short course)
How to Apply to a Master's in Bulgaria
If you've decided to study a Master's degree at a university in Bulgaria, you will have to gather the right documents to prove that you fit the university requirements. Provide complete personal information, previous qualifications, financial information, and a personal statement.
What documents do I need to provide to apply in Bulgaria?
To apply to a university in Bulgaria you will likely be asked to provide some of the following documents:
- birth certificate;
- recent photos;
- your passport or national identity card;
- one or more reference letters from past employers or teachers;
- copies of past diplomas or certificates, including your graduated Bachelor's degree;
- academic transcripts;
- letter of intent;
- Curriculum Vitae;
- Some form of proof that you can support your stay in the country during your studies.
Depending on the subject or specialization of your chosen Master's, you might also be asked to provide scores for additional tests like the GRE, GMAT or LSAT. Check if your programme requires any of these, or others.
The list of documents depends on the specific requirements of universities in Bulgaria so you might be asked to include additional documents. It’s also likely you’ll have to provide official English translations of your documents, or translations in the local language.
Prove your English skills
Because you’ll study an international degree in English, you'll have to present a language certificate. Some popular options for international students are IELTS, TOEFL or C1 Advanced language certificates. You’ll have to meet a minimum language score set by the university, and your test scores shouldn’t be older than 1-2 years. If you don’t meet the minimum language requirements, you will have to improve your skills and scores by taking an English preparation course.
Application deadlines for Bulgaria
The deadlines for applying to a Master's in Bulgaria are usually during summer (June-July), or in winter (January-February). Keep in mind that some universities don’t have application deadlines, which means you can apply whenever you are ready.
To avoid delays or missed deadlines send your required documents with plenty of time in advance.