Education System of Uruguay

Uruguay is located in south-eastern part of South America and is bordered by Brazil to its east and north, and Argentina to its west.

The Ministry of Education and Culture is responsible for the education system in Uruguay. The education system of Uruguay is defined by the General Education Act, No. 18437. Education in Uruguay is free of charge at the public educational institutions from the pre-school educational level through the university level.

Education Profile of Uruguay

The education system of Uruguay starts with school education that includes preschool, primary and secondary education. Upon successful completion of the school education, students can go for higher/tertiary education.

Pre-School Education/Early Childhood Education

The pre-school education is for children up to 5 years of age. Early childhood education is for children aged 0 to 3 years.
Initial education is for children aged 3 to 5 years. Education in Uruguay is mandatory for children aged 4 to 5 years. 

Compulsory Education

In Uruguay, compulsory education last for 9 years covering primary education and basic cycle of secondary education.

Primary Education

The primary education in Uruguay is mandatory to attend and last for 6 years. Primary education is free of charge in Uruguay. 
  • Ages: 6 to 11
  • Grades: 1 to 6

Secondary Education

Secondary education is divided into two cycles of 3-years each:
  • First or basic/middle school
  • Second cycle/upper secondary education

First Cycle: Basic Cycle

This education is compulsory and last for 3 years. This secondary education level comprises of two streams- general education and technological education. 
  • Ages: 12 to 14

Second Cycle

This educational level is optional and last for 3 years. This cycle education is provided by high schools and prepares students for higher education. 
  • Ages: 15 to 17

Secondary Technical and Vocational Education

Technical education is split up into 4 areas: Services, agriculture, artistic and industrial.  
Vocational education prepares pupils for a particular profession/trade.
  • Ages: 15 and above

Higher Education

University higher education: In Uruguay, there are both public and private universities. University higher education consists of 1 public university-Universidad de la Republica and 4 private universities- Universidad de la Empresa, Universidad Catolica, Universidad de Montevideo, and Universidad ORT. 

Non-university higher education: The non-university higher education consists of teacher training centres and institutes, the Industrial design centre, Military Academy, Naval School and Military Aviation School, and National Police Academy. 

Higher Education Qualifications

At undergraduate level, bachelor’s degree is offered that last for 4 years.
At graduate level, programmes are offered that lead to specialisation, master or doctorate/PhD degree. 
  • Specialisation last for 1 year
  • Master’s degree last for 1 to 2 years
  • Doctoral last for 3 years

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements vary according to the study level, programme and institution. Students must have finished secondary education in order to gain admittance into the first level of higher education in Uruguay. Read the post “Admission Requirements for Higher Education” to get detailed information on the admission requirements and procedure in Uruguay. 

Language Requirement

International must demonstrate their level of proficiency in Spanish language. Diploma of Spanish as a Foreign Language (DELE) scores are accepted. 

Language of Instruction

The language of instruction in Uruguay is Spanish.

Academic Year

The academic year in Uruguay commences in March and ends in December, with summer holidays in January and February.  The academic year is divided into two semesters:
  • First semester runs from March to July
  • Second semester runs from August to December

Grading System

Grading scale 1-12 is used, where in grade 1 is the lowest and grade 12 is the highest. Grades of 10, 11, and 12 are considered outstanding. Some private universities in Uruguay grade their pupils on a percentage basis, 60% or 70% being the passing grade.

 Grading Scale GradeGrade description   Grade description (In English) Notes
 12,11,10 S Sote Outstanding Highest Grade
 9 SMB Sote Muy Bueno Excellent 
 8 MBS Muy Bueno Sote Very Good, close to Excellent 
 7 MB Muy Bueno Very Good 
 6 MBB Muy Bueno Bueno Good, close to Very Good 
 5 BMB Bueno Muy Bueno Good 
 4 B Beuno Approved 
 3 BR Bueno Regular  Almost Approved 
 2 RB Regular Bueno Not Approved 
 1 R Regular Very Bad/Poor Lowest Grade

International Students

Cost of Study and Living

Uruguay is an affordable study and living destination. The cost of study and living in Uruguay is within the students' budget.

Student Visa

International students may or may not require visa in order to study in Uruguay. Stays for up to 90 days in Uruguay do not need visa, but longer than this require a visa. Read the post "Study Visa for Uruguay" to know about the Uruguayan Student Visa application and documentation.


Many of the higher education institutions in Uruguay offer scholarships to students in Uruguay. To know the scholarships offered for UG and PG studies in Uruguay, read the post "Scholarships to Study in Uruguay."
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