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Private Schools in Costa Rica

Many people who relocate with their children want to know what Private School Education options are available in Costa Rica. We’ve prepared some helpful information for you.

The extension of primary and secondary education in Costa Rica has received much attention, even in the most rural parts of the country.

According to reports, the country has one of the highest literacy rates in Latin America, at 97.8%.

Finding the correct schools will be your primary worry as a parent planning a transfer with school-aged children. That will most likely influence your decision on where to live. There are several possibilities in the Central Valley, ranging from public schools to private colleges that were founded in the United States.

If you choose to live outside the Central Valley, your educational selections will be limited. In most locations, public schools are provided; however, they typically only give education up to 9th grade, as mandated by law for pupils aged 6 to 14. A parent can find educational options in private Montessori or Catholic schools in some major areas. These include 11th-grade instruction as well as the National Baccalaureate.

Types of Diplomas

In Costa Rica, there are 3 types of diplomas available, which differ depending on the school.

  1. The Costa Rican Ministry of Education accredits the Costa Rican Bachillerato Diploma. (MEP) This is the National Baccalaureate/Diploma of Costa Rica;
  2. The International Baccalaureate Diploma, accredited by the IBO in Geneva, Switzerland;
  3. USA High School Diploma, accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

1. Schools in Costa Rica that go beyond the 9th grade are required to offer the Bachillerato de Educación de Diversificada or National BaccalaureateThis degree allows the student to take the MEP (Ministerio de Educación Publico) testing in the 6th, 9th and 11th grades.

Students can apply to The University of Costa Rica after earning this degree.

2. The second type offered is the IB or International Baccalaureate.

To earn the IB diploma, students must complete and test in six IB subjects; write an extended 4000-word essay of independent research guided by a faculty mentor, complete 150 hours of (CAS) creative, action, and service activities; and participate in a critical thinking course called Theory of Knowledge. The program begins in the 11th grade and is completed in the 12th grade.

Entrance into University in the USA, Europe, or Latin America is tenable with this degree accredited by the IBO (International Baccalaureate Organization) in Geneva, Switzerland.

3. The third type of degree is the United States Diploma. This allows entrance into universities in the United States or Europe and other parts of the world. However, you cannot enter University in Costa Rica with this diploma alone. The United States Diploma is available at all American Schools in Costa Rica.

Accreditation of Education in Costa Rica

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, otherwise known as SACS, accredits these schools. The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools does as well as perhaps others. SACS used to be the only accreditation association here due to geographic boundaries being drawn up by the accrediting agencies. This has been changed.

Many students opt for two diplomas at American schools where the IB is not given to open more doors and increase their options when picking a university. They work for the National Baccalaureate before moving on to the United States Diploma program in 12th grade. When this is the case, many students enroll in AP (Advanced Placement) classes in the 12th grade to earn college credit. Furthermore, many students are bilingual by this time and can test out of a foreign language requirement in university, bypassing the AP Spanish exam.

AP courses are available in a wide range of subjects, from English to Calculus. If you’re interested in taking Advanced Placement classes, you’ll need to check with your prospective school to see what options are offered, as this differs per institution.

School Calendar year

The local calendar, which runs from mid-February to the end of November, is followed by a public, Catholic, and certain private European schools. Schools that follow the US curriculum use the US calendar, which runs from the middle of August to the end of June, with a month off for Christmas in December and January.


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