children in school

How Does the School System Work in Slovenia?

In Slovenia, children enter schooling around the age of 6 and finish around 15 years old. Grades are formed with children born in the same year. One class is divided into two terms, and the whole of Education in three.

The school system in Slovenia is free (yes, even University) and mandatory from 6 to 15 years of age. It is divided into three parts: Primary Education, Secondary Education, and Higher Education. School holidays are during Summer, Autumn, Christmas, the New Year, and May, like in many European countries.

The grading system is the same one as used in Yugoslavia before 1991. It goes from one to five, one being an insufficient grade (and the only failure mark) and five an excellent one. Until the fourth grade, marks are descriptive. Understanding the School system in a country is very important, especially if you plan to study or live in Slovenia.

Primary School/Primary Education

The first step for children in the Slovene School system is Primary School, or Primary Education, or osnovna šola in Slovene. It is provided by kindergartens (whether they are public or private), basic schools, basic schools with an adapted education program, music schools, and educational institutions for children with special educational needs.

Separate teachers can sometimes teach children in school music and sports, but they usually have one teacher by grade from the 1st to the 5th grade. 

When children start the 1st grade, at six years old, they are taught how to read, how to write, and how to count. Afterward, they are also taught physical education, art, history, geography, mathematics, but also natural and sociological sciences.

Children also start learning foreign languages (English mainly) in the 1st grade, given the necessity of knowing a second language in Slovenia (it is a small country, and few people in the world talk Slovenian).

After the 5th grade, schoolchildren have multiple teachers depending on the subject. The master teacher teaches one main subject, or sometimes two. Other teachers are specialized teachers.

During the second part of Primary School, students learn about math, Slovene, music, geography, history, and art. Then they start studying chemistry, biology, and craft. Students in the 7th grade and after have to choose at least two hours of elective subjects and may do a third non-compulsory hour.

The elective subjects include astronomy, foreign languages, fine art, or even computer science, among around 40 possibilities.

Education in Primary Schools -but also applies to Secondary and Tertiary Education- is in Slovene, the official language. Depending on the region where you are studying, it can also be in Hungarian or Italian.

This basic Education is the only one necessary to complete Primary Education, according to the law. This Education lasts nine years in total (from 6 to 15 years old).

In the 6th and the 9th grade, students have to pass the National Knowledge Assessment Test, called Nacionalno preverjanje znanja in Slovene. Depending on the results, 9th graders will have -or not- the right to begin their Secondary Education.

Secondary Education

After successfully obtaining their National Knowledge Assessment Test, students can follow through with Secondary Education. Upper secondary schools and secondary schools provide secondary Education.

There are different types of Secondary Education. It can be general (or vocational-technical), or secondary professional (or technical Education). Students choose what kind of Secondary Education they want depending on their results on the final 9th-grade test, their ambitions, and their interests.

The first possibility is Secondary vocational Education (or Srednje poklicno izobraževanje, SPI, in Slovene). Students who choose Secondary vocational Education have completed their Primary Education and received a lower vocational education.

The aim is to master an applied profession. This way, students will have the possibility to become carpenters, mechanics, glaziers, hairdressers, bakers, etc., after three to four years of studies.

Students are trained by actual professionals and are supported in Slovenia at the national level. This type of study is better to help students find technical jobs relatively early in their lives, solidify their theoretical and practical knowledge, and accompany them in the working process.

After three years of study, a test is necessary to complete Secondary Education. Students can then start working, or decide to continue their Education at a university or a vocational college. They will need to pass a test called Matura in Slovene. It includes subjects such as Slovenian Language and foreign languages, mathematics, etc. Some students will even pay for preparatory courses (maturitetni tečaj) to be able to pass the test.

The other possibility is for students who desire to have a higher education after their Secondary Education. They can enroll in general Education in grammar schools (also called gymnasiums). At the end of Secondary Education, they will have to pass the matura final examination as well.

In a grammar school, students study many subjects such as Slovenian Language, World Literature, Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics, History, Biology, etc. There are different types of grammar schools.

In a classical grammar school, students also study Latin and deepen History and Philosophy more. There are grammar schools specialized in foreign languages and others in natural sciences. Finally, there are sport grammar schools for young athletes wanting to dedicate their lives to the sport.

Subjects tested include Slovenian Language and World Literature, Mathematics, English, and two optional subjects. After passing the test, they will have the possibility to enter a university. 

Tertiary Education/Higher Education

After passing the Matura, students can decide to continue their Education with higher Education in public or private institutions. Students can choose higher post-secondary vocational Education, which is provided by higher vocational colleges. They can also go for higher education provided by universities (Univerza), faculties (Fakulteta), academies, art academies (Umetniška akademija), professional colleges (Visoka strokovna šola), and independent institutions.

There are three different public universities in Slovenia which students can choose from: the University of Ljubljana, the University of Maribor, and the University of Primorska. There are other institutions in the country, such as the University of Nova Gorica and the Euro-Mediterranean University of Slovenia among others.

The University of Ljubljana is excellent. It is ranking among the top 500 universities in the world.

Regarding private Education, Slovenia counts four universities with 37 faculties, three art academies or professional colleges, and ten single higher education institutions. A private institution manages its organization as they want, with no interference from the state.

Universities, both public and private, also conduct research and offer artistic activities besides the actual Education.

For European Union and Slovenian full-time students, an education in a public university is free of charge. People studying part-time and post-graduate students need to pay tuition fees. For non-EU students, there is also a tuition fee to pay to study in Slovenia. However, it stays relatively low.

Slovenian students can also participate in the European Union student exchange program if they want by entering a Master’s degree program in the European Union.

There are three cycles in a degree study program. The first cycle is for academic study programs and professionally-oriented study programs for undergraduates.

The second cycle is for study programs leading to Magisterij. The third cycle is for study programs leading to the Doktorat znanosti. The last two periods are at a graduate level. Students can choose to go through one to the three cycles depending on their projects.

Vocational colleges (or Višje strokovno izobraževanje) are available for students who graduated from grammar schools or secondary vocational schools. They only need to have worked for three years and passed the final exams in Slovenian Language, Mathematics, and Foreign Language.

The difference between a simple university is that vocational colleges have more study programs. These programs are more practical. The aim is to develop practical skills concerning Tourism, Wellness, Economics, Logistics, Security, Electrical Engineering, and Computer Science. The diploma takes two years of study to obtain, with a diploma defense.

Students who desire to follow through a Bachelor’s Degree can study Management, Marketing, Business, Construction, and other majors. This degree takes three years and ends with a thesis defense.

After the Bachelor’s Degree, students can decide to go for a Master’s Degree, called Podiplomski študij in Slovene. It usually takes three years to have a Master’s Degree, representing five years of Higher Education. To complete a Master’s Degree, you necessarily need to have a Master’s defense. 

Some Master’s Degree programs also offer a different system of four years Bachelor’s degree followed by one year for the Master’s degree. This system is mostly used for studies of International Relations and Law.

Finally, after the Master’s degree, some students push to a Ph.D. degree (Doktorat). It takes approximately two to four years after the Master’s degree to have your Ph.D. It ends with a Ph.D. thesis defense.


Slovenia as a quite simple education system. Students have to be schooled between the ages of 6 and 15. Afterwards, they can pass different exams and diplomas.

In order, these are the different possibilities: Matura (Maturitetno spričevalo), Poklicna matura (Spričevalo o poklicni maturi), Zaključni izpit, Diploma višje strokovne šole, Diploma o pridobljeni visoki strokovni izobrazbi, Diploma o pridobljeni univerzitetni izobrazbi, Specializacija, Magisterij, and Doktorat.

Thank you for reading our article. We do our best to provide you with first-hand information about Slovenia and its wonders. We know we are not infallible though. In case you encounter any mistakes in our articles or you have any suggestions, please contact us. Let us know how we could improve. It will help us to keep our information updated and deliver to readers the most valuable possible content.  We will gladly take your suggestions!

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