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Universities in Bulgaria and study in Bulgaria - International Student Country Guide

Bulgaria has a well-developed higher education system, and is a popular choice with international students – particularly those from its closest neighbouring countries. Bulgarian university degrees are internationally recognised and are accredited by countries across the world. Courses such as medicine, which can offer much better perceived value for money than in countries with higher tuition fees, are extremely popular.

Study a degree in Bulgaria

Universities in Bulgaria

There are 51 higher education institutions in Bulgaria; a mixture of both public (the majority) and private. Bulgaria’s higher education institutions fall into one of four categories:

-          Higher Education colleges
-          Universities
-          Specialised higher education institutions/technical universities
-          Academies

Although many degrees in Bulgaria are taught in Bulgarian and therefore require fluency in the language, there are also courses taught in English at undergraduate level. Some universities (for example the American University in Bulgaria) teach all their programmes in English, whilst there may also be availability for courses offered in French and German.

If you do choose to study for a degree that is taught in Bulgarian it is likely that you will need to complete a language course (usually lasting one year) with a mandatory exam at the end before you start your undergraduate degree.

Undergraduate degrees in Bulgaria
There are two types of degree that you might take for your “first degree” in Bulgaria, depending on your interests, career aspirations and existing qualifications.

Specialist degrees are shorter than bachelors/undergraduate degrees, lasting three or four years and taking a vocational route. They are designed to prepare students for undergraduate degree studies.

Undergraduate degrees in Bulgaria last four or five years, and are generally designed to begin to train students for a job. Around two thirds of students who complete their undergraduate degrees in Bulgaria go on to complete masters degrees.
In order to get a place on an undergraduate course in Bulgaria you will have to take part in an admission process that is likely to include:

-          One or more written composition exams
-          Tests set by the institution
-          Submitted proof that you have completed your secondary education

Some universities, for example those catering specifically for international students, may take the western form of university teaching, with a US-style liberal arts curriculum and minors/majors in place.

Tuition fees and financial aid

Tuition fees for international students in Bulgaria are required by both private and public universities.

The country’s position in Eastern Europe means that the cost of tuition for an undergraduate degree at a public university in Bulgaria is likely to be cheaper than in many countries in Western Europe. Tuition at private universities will be more expensive than at public ones, as they set this themselves. If you are studying at a private university you should check their websites for information on tuition fees.

Students from within the European Union (EU) can apply directly to Bulgarian universities, and are eligible for the Bulgarian tuition fee loan. Institutions or other organisations may also offer grants or scholarships to overseas students. You should check with your university to find out about the options available.

Students from outside the EU are likely to be required to fund themselves, and will not be entitled to the Bulgarian tuition fee loan. Check your university’s website or contact them directly to enquire about fees.

According to, tuition fees per year for various courses can range from 2,200 Euros per year (for technical courses) to 8,000 for subjects such as medicine and dentistry.

Immigration and visas

Students from within the EU can apply directly to their institution of choice, and do not need a visa in order to study in Bulgaria. You must register with a police station when you arrive in the country.

Students from outside the EU will need to obtain a Bulgarian Student Visa (D-type.) You can do this either online or at your nearest Bulgarian embassy, taking with you the certificate confirming the acceptance to your Bulgarian university that will have been awarded by the Bulgarian Ministry of Education, Youth and Science.

Accommodation and living costs

The majority of universities in Bulgaria offer student accommodation, which is a very popular choice for students and even more so for international students. University accommodation is likely to consist of a bedroom with a (possibly shared) bathroom, and either a catered dining hall or facilities for cooking.

Some students, however, may prefer to rent privatively rather than living in university accommodation. This is likely to provide more independence and give you greater choice about the people you live with. 

Unless you are from a neighbouring country, you are likely to be surprised by how cheap day to day living is in Bulgaria. According to the Complete University Guide, a privately rented apartment is likely to cost between £105 and £150 per month, a half litre of beer 74p, a cappuccino 70p and a one-way ticket on public transport 37p. Your largest outgoing is likely to be rent.

Advice for parents

Bulgaria is a safe country, and is becoming a popular holiday destination for tourists from Western Europe.
If considering moving there to study as an international student, you can contact your chosen university to find out more about crime statistics and safe places to live – in general, choosing to stay in university approved accommodation is a good way of choosing a safer, more student-friendly area to live.

Students should always take care to protect their own personal safety in order to avoid becoming victims of crime. They can do this by:

·         Avoiding carrying around large amounts of money
·         Staying in groups, especially at night, and avoiding walking alone
·         Not making valuables obvious
·         Always having a route home planned and never getting into unlicensed taxis
·         Being wary of strangers
·         Being careful of traffic

Staying in touch

Staying in touch when your child is studying on the other side of the world might seem daunting – but there are ways you can talk regularly that don’t have to involve long distance phone calls and a nasty bill at the end of the month. Here are a few tips if your child opts to study an undergraduate degree in Bulgaria:

·         Skype – the free video calling service can be downloaded within seconds, and will allow you to talk face to face anywhere you have an internet connection
·         Blogging – maybe encourage your child to keep a blog of their adventures overseas, so that other families members (such as grandparents) can keep up to date
·         Local sim cards – it is also a good idea for your child to buy a phone with a local pay as you go sim card when they arrive so that they can text and call home without running up a bill
What to do next
If you really want to study overseas but you’re not certain with regards to where, read our country guides.
Alternatively if you would like more information and advice about how to study a degree in Bulgaria, please fill out our Free Application Service and we'll be in touch with you promptly.