Education in Romania

by Robert Sedgwick, Editor, WENR

During the 24-year reign of Nicolae Ceausescu, Romania’s system of education remained under strict state control. Curricula strongly emphasized Marxist-Leninist ideology, and universities, in particular, came under the direct influence of Ceausescu and his wife, Elena. As a result of the government’s isolationist policies, higher education was virtually cut off from the rest of the world.

A map of Romania [1]Since the overthrow of the Ceausescu regime in 1989 and the country’s transition to a market-based economy, many educational reforms have been implemented. However, not everyone has been happy with the changes. Under communist rule, all Romanians were required to attend primary school. But starting in 1989, mandatory primary school was abolished, and as a result, illiteracy has increased throughout the country, especially in rural areas. The country’s successive post-communist governments have attempted to reverse this trend by offering educational programs to young people who abandoned compulsory schooling. These programs have been targeted especially towards children living in rural areas, urban slums and geographically remote communities in addition to ethnic minorities. So far, progress has been slow.


The editors and evaluations staff at WES would like to thank our colleague Nina Kowalewska for her suggested correction for the Practical Information article on Poland, which appeared in the last issue of WENR. In our article we erroneously refer to the Polish doctorate, the Doktor, as Doktor Nauk.

In 2000 the educational system underwent additional changes. A comprehensive plan of the reforms was drawn up in 1997 and called for the following:

  1. Modify teaching methodology, academic programs and textbooks, and make the national curriculum more compatible with the rest of Europe.
  2. Shift from rote learning to “problem solving,” and resume research in universities.
  3. Establish links between secondary and postsecondary schools and their economic, administrative and cultural environment.
  4. Undertake infrastructural improvements, particularly with regard to the World Wide Web and other forms of electronic communication within the classroom.
  5. Decentralize secondary and postsecondary schools and grant autonomy to various institutions of higher education.
  6. Enhance cooperation at the international level.

The language of instruction in schools and universities is Romanian, but Hungarian and German are also used for the benefit of the country’s two largest ethnic minorities.

The academic year runs from October to June.

Vital Facts & Figures

First and Second Level Education

Based on education reforms introduced in 2000, primary and secondary education is organized in the 6+3+3(4) schema. The duration of studies depends on the type of secondary school. Academic, industrial, agricultural, economic and administrative secondary school and normal schools are 9-12. Forestry, fine arts, sports computer science are 9-13.

The schema prior to the recent reforms was as follows:

Primary Education

Secondary Education

Lower Secondary School (compulsory)

Upper Secondary School (noncompulsory)

Technical Secondary School

Vocational Secondary School

Accreditation of Private Institutions of Higher Education

In 1993, the National Council for Evaluation and Accreditation was created to carry out the accreditation of higher education institutions and the recognition of diplomas.

There are currently two steps institutions must undertake to acquire accreditation in Romania:

  1. They must obtain legal authorization to operate.
  2. The must obtain full accreditation after a designated period of time and must submit to re-evaluation after five years.

Private institutions of higher education currently operating in Romania fall into two categories:

  1. Those that have been authorized by the government to operate based on the recommendation of the National Council for Evaluation and Accreditation (this authorization is the first step to accreditation).
  2. Those that have absolutely no legal right to operate.

Once a private institution has been accredited, it enjoys the same organizational and functional autonomy as public institutions.

Until a private institution is fully accredited, it does not have the legal right to issue state diplomas. However, students can take the diploma examination at a state university, and if they pass, receive a state diploma issued by that particular institution.

Higher Education

There are 64 public institutions of higher education, which include universities, academies, polytechnics, institutes and colleges. The distinction between these types of institutions is one of fields of study (the polytechnics are normally entirely engineering or other vocationally-oriented institutions).

Since 1990, a number of private universities have been opened throughout Romania [see sidebar for information on the accreditation of these institutions].

Most institutions of higher education in Romania are administered under the Ministry of Education and Research. Universities and other institutions of higher education enjoy a large degree of autonomy.

University Higher Education

The minimum admission requirement for short- and long-term university programs is the Diploma de Bacalaureat. Students must also take a competitive entrance examination called the Examen de Admitere. An overall score of 5 is required for all higher education programs, except fine arts.

Graduates from scolii profesionale (professional schools) do not have the right to apply for postsecondary education programs.

Programs and Degrees

Stage I: The first stage of higher education is provided in universities, institutes, polytechnics and academies, offering long cycle programs lasting four-to-six years or a shorter cycle of higher education lasting three years at university colleges. Short-cycle university education leads to the Diploma de Absolvire (diploma of graduation) while long-cycle university education leads to the Diploma de Licenta (licentiate diploma),the Diploma de Inginer (diploma of engineer), the Diploma de Architect (diploma of architect) and the Diploma de Doctor-medic (diploma of medical doctor).

Stage II: Holders of a long-cycle first degree may either continue their studies by taking a one- or two-year post-graduate program, which leads to either the Diploma de Studii Aprofundate (diploma of advanced study) or the Diploma de Master (diploma of master). Students may also enroll in specialized programs (length varies according to the field of study, but may not be less than one year), leading to the Diploma de Absolvire.

Stage III: The Romanian doctorate, called the Diploma de Doctor, requires four-to-six years of study beyond the master’s level, which includes research and the writing and defense of a dissertation. This qualification is comparable to the Ph.D. in the United States. The final qualification in the Romanian education system is the Doctor-Docent in Stiinte, which is awarded after extensive periods of research and publication.

Teacher Training

Primary School Teachers

Pre-primary teachers and primary school teachers are trained in postsecondary colleges. They are trained to teach subjects such as foreign languages, music and drawing or physical education. The length of teachers ‘ training programs is two years for postsecondary school graduates, and three years for university colleges.

Secondary School Teachers

All secondary school teachers are required to enroll in training programs at institutions of higher education.

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