Croatia Education and Training
Last published date:

Capital:  Zagreb

Population:  4.2 million (July 2021 est.)

GDP (Purchasing Power Parity):  $107.11 billion (2020 est., in 2017 dollars)

Currency:  Kuna (HRK)

Language: Croatian (official) 


UNESCO Student Mobility Number

Croatia has 10,174 students studying abroad according to UNESCO.


CIA World Factbook

24.92% of the population in Croatia is under 25 years of age.



As a European Union member, Croatia has an education system similar to most systems in Europe, which includes pre-school education (kindergarten), basic education (elementary school), secondary, and higher education.  Since 2003, Croatia has been involved in an intensive reform of its higher education system within the framework of the Bologna process, in line with its national needs and European Union standards.  Education in Croatia is mainly provided by the public sector.  Students have the right to free tuition, subsidized meals, and lower taxes during their studies.  According to the Croatian Institute for Development of Education (, the average TOEFL score in Croatia is 90, which puts Croatia in the top 25 countries in the world.  Croatian students are highly interested in studying abroad and they research and give consideration to all available options in the global education market.  The Erasmus program is active in Croatia, allowing students to study abroad in other EU countries while remaining within European university system standards.  The Fulbright exchange program is funding education programs between the United States and Croatia.



Higher Education:  In the 2020-2021 school year, the total number of children and students enrolled in Croatia was 734,006.

In addition to the previously mentioned high English language proficiency, Croatian students who wish to study abroad are usually very well-prepared academically.  Many Croatians seek and obtain athletic scholarships in the United States, including for more specialized sports such as volleyball, rowing, and soccer.

The United States is the fifth most popular destination for study abroad, behind Austria, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands.  The most popular destinations to study in the United States are California, New York, Texas, Massachusetts, and Illinois.  According to the 2021 Open Doors data, there were 393 Croatian students studying in the United States in academic year 2020-2021, a 16.7% decrease from the previous year.

Croatia has a binary higher education system, meaning that prospective students can choose between the following types of higher education studies:

  • University studies (consisting of academic programs conducted solely at universities, of which there are nine public and three private universities).
  • Professional studies (consisting of professional programs conducted at polytechnics or colleges of applied sciences, of which there are eleven public and six private polytechnics).
  • Professional higher education (consists of eighteen schools from which only three are public and fifteen private).

Since the introduction of the Bologna process, the levels of expertise are: Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts, Master of Science and Master of Arts, Master of Education, Doctor of Science and Doctor of Arts

Undergraduate and Graduate Study:  According to the Croatian Central Bureau of Statistics (2021), the total number of students enrolled in institutions of higher education in the Republic of Croatia in school year 2020-2021 (winter semester) was 155,627 (57.3% of them were women, 42.7% were men; 98.1% of them were citizens of the Republic of Croatia and 1.9% were foreign citizens).  Out of the total number of students enrolled in institutions of higher education, 81.2% enrolled in faculties, 13% in polytechnics, 4.1% in schools of professional higher education, and 1.7% in art academies.  The largest Croatian universities are the University of Zagreb (with 39.3% of all enrolled university students in Croatia in 2018), University of Split (16.1%), University of Osijek (13.8%), University of Rijeka (13.9%), and University of Zadar (3.4%).  The only U.S. higher education institution in the country is Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Croatia (

Regarding scientific and artistic fields of studies, the most frequently chosen degree programs are Social sciences (43.4%), followed by Engineering (25.9%), Biomedicine and health (12%), Humanities (6.5%), Biotechnical sciences (4.7%), Natural sciences (3.9%), Artistic fields (2%), and Interdisciplinary fields of science (1.6%).

Postgraduate study:  According to the Croatian Central Bureau of Statistics (2021), the total number of students enrolled in post-graduate specialist studies in the Republic of Croatia in the school year 2020-2021 was 1,429 (98% of them were citizens of the Republic of Croatia and 2% were foreign citizens).

Lower Education Levels:

  • Pre-school education (kindergarten) is optional and provided for children three to six years of age.  The total number of children enrolled in kindergarten in 2019-2020 was 139,682. 
  • Primary/Elementary education consists of eight years and is compulsory.  Children begin school at the age of 6 or 7 years.  The total number of pupils enrolled in elementary schools in the school year 2020-2021 was 313,461.  Grades earned during elementary school are the major admission criterion for most secondary schools.
  • Secondary/High School education is currently optional and is comprised of high schools, mostly gymnasiums, and vocational schools.  Most high schools take four years to complete the curriculum.  The admission to comprehensive schools is based on grades from elementary school or scores on entry exams.  Those who complete secondary school are classified as having “medium expertise”.  Total enrollment in secondary education during the 2020-2021 school year was 145,434.

Online Programs:  Online study is not popular in Croatia and there are only a few programs in the cities of Zagreb and Rijeka.  Online study is not funded by the government, so students need to pay the full tuition fee.  During the pandemic, students and pupils were rapidly introduced to online learning and perhaps this will help the sector to get more attention in the future.  Neighboring countries have more developed programs; for example, Slovenia is offering online study programs in the Croatian language that are recognized in Croatia and the EU.



English is the first foreign language in the Croatian education system.  Foreign language courses (English, German) are mandatory for almost all students in Croatia.  Education abroad is becoming a key consideration for Croatian graduates seeking to succeed in the European Union’s employment market or pursue further educational opportunities globally.  Best prospects within this sector include graduate and post-graduate programs abroad, work and study programs, summer programs, and exchange programs.

Most of the academic degrees awarded by U.S. programs are acknowledged in Croatia.  Distance and e-learning started to be increasingly popular during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns, opening the opportunity for similar programs from the U.S. to be offered in Croatia.

An effective way for U.S. institutions, such as universities and high schools, to enter the market is to establish a partnership with a Croatian education institution for student exchange.  With partnership agreements, institutions can facilitate the exchange of students and provide recognition of course credits between the schools.  This also gives the opportunity for professors to guest lecture at the partner institution.

The Fulbright Program has been active in Croatia since 1964 and offers grants to qualified Croatian students to study at the graduate level in the United States.  More than 500 Croatian scholars and students have studied in the United States under the auspices of the Fulbright Academic Program.



  • Most-used student platforms:

“Merlin” is the most used platform among students for sharing files with their professors, updating schedules, and for lecture papers.  It was created by the University of Zagreb.  Also, the “InfoEdukas” platform is very popular.  Every college has a different adaptation of this platform.  A platform called “CarNET” is mostly used for accessing important information, such as student login information, and was one of the first email providers to be connected with students.  “Studomat” is also a very reputable website used by students.  “eGrađani” is used by parents.

  • Most popular social media sites for students:

The most used platforms are Facebook and Instagram.  Among 2,149,000 recorded Facebook accounts, roughly 20% were students, while on Instagram there were 1,235,000 recorded users, with roughly 29% of them being students.  Snapchat is also popular, with 465,000 users, but mostly for quick texting and is used predominately by a female audience.  A little less, but still popular are Reddit, Twitch, and WhatsApp.  LinkedIn and Twitter have gained in popularity during the pandemic.  Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Classroom, and Big Blue Button are the most frequently used for online lectures at all levels of education.

  • Student research information sources:

Google is the most visited website for research in Croatia.  For news updates, the most visited are media portals:,,,,,,, 

  • Job search platforms most used by students: 

The most used websites are:,, and LinkedIn.

  • Most popular video streaming platforms:

The most used streaming platforms are: YouTube and Twitch.

  • Platforms for reaching students by in-country schools and competitor countries:

The best way to reach students is through social media ads on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, as well as sponsoring ads on Google and YouTube.  Another technique is to purchase ad space on certain websites of student interest, such as for partner education institutions, technical pages, job search pages, etc.

  • Resources used by students and parents to find educational opportunities:

Students and parents receive most of this kind of information through their high school’s management and local education agents.  Occasionally, there are guest lecturers at the high schools where students and parents learn about opportunities.

  • Recommendations for U.S. study state consortia and education institutions on digital outreach strategies:

Advertising through social media is very important.  Sending guest lecturers to high schools to promote foreign institutions is recommended since students do not get much information on education abroad opportunities through the Croatian education system.   



The most important education fair in Croatia is the Higher Education and Scholarships Fair, which takes place every year in Zagreb.  This fair is important to showcase study opportunities and student financial aid available in Croatia and abroad.  International and local exhibitors have a unique opportunity to present their institutions, study programs, scholarships, and other educational services to over 10,000 Croatian students, parents, adult learners, and higher education professionals.  For more information, please visit





Suzana Vezilic, Commercial Assistant/Budget Analyst

U.S. Commercial Service – Zagreb, Croatia

Phone: + 385 1 661 2020