Primary education and compulsory secondary education

In Spain, primary education and compulsory secondary education together form 1 phase: the basic phase. This basic phase (educación básica) lasts 10 years in Spain:

Students can attend educación básica at public and private schools. These schools have different names, for example colégio or Instituto de Educación Secundaria (IES).

Primary education: educación primaria

Primary education, educación primaria, is compulsory for 6 to 12 year olds.

Compulsory secondary education: educación secundaria obligatoria (ESO)

Compulsory secondary education, educación secundaria obligatoria, is for students aged 12 to 16. Students aged 16 and over no have to attend school.

  • : 4 years.
  • Content: in the first 3 years, students take general education subjects and at least 1 art subject (e.g. music). The general education subjects are:
    • biología y geología y/o física y química (biology and geology and/or physics and chemistry);
    • educación física (physical education);
    • geografía y historia (geography and history);
    • lengua castellana y literatura (Spanish language and literature) and sometimes lengua cooficial y literatura (semi-official language and literature);
    • lengua extranjera (foreign language); and
    • matemáticas (mathematics).
  • In the 4th year, students choose general education or vocational education.
  • Function of the diploma: access to non-compulsory secondary education.
  • Diploma: Título de Graduado en Educación Secundaria Obligatoria (ESO).

Students who do not get the Título de Graduado en Educación Secundaria Obligatoria (ESO) cannot continue studying for the Título de Bachiller.

Do you want to know the level of a Título de Graduado en Educación Secundaria Obligatoria (ESO)? Please contact us for a credential evaluation.

Non-compulsory secondary education

After compulsory secondary education (ESO), students are no longer obliged to attend school. However, if they wish to continue their studies, they can get 2 types of diplomas in non-compulsory secondary education (educación postobligatoria):

Título de Bachiller

Students can get the diploma Título de Bachiller in general secondary education. This education is called bachillerato in Spanish and prepares students aged 16 to 18 for higher education.

  • : 2 years.
  • Content: there are 3 subject combinations:
    • ciencias (science subjects, including mathematics);
    • humanidades y ciencias sociales (lassical languages, literature and, among others, geography, psychology and business economics); and
    • artes (art).
    • See also the explanation below: ‘Subject combinations of the Título de Bachiller’.
  • Function of the diploma: admission to higher education after passing the entrance exam (EBAU or EVAU).
  • Diploma: Título de Bachiller.

We compare a Título de Bachiller to at least a HAVO diploma.

Please note: 'at least a diploma' means that a Título de Bachillerhas a higher level than a HAVO diploma, but a lower level than a diploma. The level of a Título de Bachiller is between a HAVO diploma and a VWO diploma.

In Spain, a Título de Bachillergives access to the university entrance exam, EBAU or EVAU. The level of this entrance exam is comparable to VWO. If students pass the EBAU or EVAU, they will have reached the level of a VWO diploma.

Subject combinations of the Título de Bachiller

Besides the ciencias subject combination (science subjects, including mathematics) and the artes subject combination (art subjects), there is the humanidades y ciencias sociales subject combination. In this last subject combination, students choose, among others, Latin or applied mathematics and some electives, such as geography, psychology and business economics.

The following subjects are compulsory for all subject combinations:

  • lengua castellana y literatura (Spanish language and literature);
  • lengua extranjera (foreign language); and
  • educación física (physical education).

In the 1st year, the subject filosofia (philosophy) is also compulsory and in the 2nd year, the subject historia de España (history of Spain) is compulsory. In addition, there are electives that match the chosen subject combination. In some regions, students can choose the subject lengua cooficial y literatura (semi-official language and literature).

Título de Técnico

Students can get the diploma Título de Técnico after 1 to 6 years vocational secondary education. In Spanish, this education is called Ciclo Formativo de Grado Medio de formación profesional (CFGM). The CFGM prepares students for work.

  • : minimum 1 year and maximum 6 years (for study programmes in art).
  • Content: profession-oriented subjects.
  • Admission requirements: the Título de Graduado en Educación Secundaria Obligatoria (ESO) or a Cualificación Profesional that the student got by passing a course of the Programas de Cualificación Profesional Inicial (PCPI).
  • Function of the diploma: access to work, access to the bachillerato and access to the Título de Técnico Superior after passing the entrance exam.
  • Diploma: Título de Técnico.

We compare a Título de Técnico to an MBO diploma level 1, 2, 3 or 4. This depends on the content and duration of the study programme.