Overview: Saudi Arabia Education

The Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Higher Education, the General Organization for Technical Education and Vocational Training, and the General Presidency of Girls' Education are responsible for education in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia has mainly two levels of education:

  • General education: The general education in Saudi Arabia comprises of-
    • Pre-primary
    • Primary/Elementary
    • Secondary education: Comprises of general secondary education, and technical and vocational education 
  • Higher education
In Saudi Arabia, primary/elementary education through to secondary education is available to all and is free. 

Pre-primary Education

Pre-primary education in Saudi Arabia is not compulsory. It is provided by kindergartens. This education level provides a productive and effective learning environment that focuses on hygiene, playful activities and social behaviour. Pre-primary education is split up into the following age groups: 
  • Lower than 4 years
  • 4-5 years
  • 5 to 6 years

Compulsory Education

In Saudi Arabia, only primary education is mandatory. The compulsory education in Saudi Arabia lasts for 6 years, and starts at the age of 6 and goes on until the age of 12.

Primary/Elementary Education

The elementary education focuses on providing the basic numeracy and literacy skills, along with Islamic education. It also prepares students for further studies.
  • Duration: 6 years
  • Grades: 1 to 6
  • Ages: 6 to 12
Curriculum:  Mathematics, physical education (for boys), Arabic language, History, Islamic religion, art education, science, home economics for girls, and geography. Also, English is also taught sometimes. 

Certificate awarded: General elementary/primary school certificate (Shahadat Al Madaaris Al Ibtidaa’iyyah)

Middle/Intermediate Education

The intermediate education provides comprehensive education on Islam, develops intellectual skills, encourage pupils to seek knowledge through scientific reasoning, and also prepares students for secondary educational level. 
School: Intermediate School
  • Ages: 12 to 15
  • Duration: 3 years
  • Grades: 7 to 9
Curriculum: Mathematics, Arabic, religious education, history, art education, science, English, home economics (for girls), geography, and physical education (for boys).

Credential awarded: Intermediate school certificate (Shahadat Al-Kafa’at Al-Mutawassita)

Upon successful completion of intermediate education, students get to choose from regular secondary education programme or vocational and technical education course of study.

Secondary Education

Secondary education in Saudi Arabia comprises of:
  • General/Regular secondary education
  • Vocational and technical secondary education and training

General/Regular Secondary Education

The regular secondary education in Saudi Arabia develops scientific and academic attitude, and also prepares students for higher education. 
  • Ages: 15 to 18
  • Duration: 3 years
  • Grades: 9 to 12

First year: Mathematics, Arabic studies, science, English, Islamic studies, home economics (for girls), social studies and physical education (for boys).
In second and third year, the curriculum is split up into literary and scientific streams. Pupils are required to choose from either a science or liberal arts curriculum.

At the end of the general secondary education, students must take an exam. Those who pass receive a general education completion certificate. 

Examination: General secondary examination- Tawjihi 

Certificate awarded:  General secondary education certificate (Shahadat Al-Marhalat Al-Thanawiyyat ) 

Religious Secondary School

These schools are religious oriented. Graduates of this school are accepted to universities, but only in the social sciences and humanities courses. 
  • Ages: 15 to 18
  • Duration: 3 years 
Curriculum: English, Arabic language and literature, religious education, general culture, history and geography

Certificate awarded:  Religious institute secondary education certificate (Shahadat Al Thanawiyyah Al ‘Aama lil Ma’aahid Al Ilmiyya) 

Technical and Vocational Education

The technical and vocational education and training provide specific field skills and knowledge. It prepares pupils for agricultural, commercial and industrial fields. Students learn a specific trade and continue their training to the highest level.

The TVTC manages all technical and vocational training courses in Saudi Arabia.
  • Ages: 15 to 18
  • Duration: 3 years

For Technical and Vocational: Metal mechanics, architectural drawing, radio and television, auto mechanics, machine mechanics, and electricity. Along with technical subjects, following subjects are also taught;
Physical education, Arabic studies, physics, mathematics, religious education, chemistry, and English.

For Commercial studies: English, general mathematics, Arabic, economics, bookkeeping and accounting, geography, commercial correspondence, religious studies, management and secretarial, and financial mathematics.

For Agriculture studies: Applied mathematics, horticulture, agricultural economics, applied biology, Arabic, agronomy, applied physics, marketing, animal husbandry, religious education, applied chemistry, English, plant nutrition, applied physics, and farm management. 

Certificates awarded:
In the field of Vocational and Technical:  Secondary vocational school diploma (Diplom Al Madaaris Al Thanawiyyah Al Mihaniyyah) 

In the field of Agriculture:  Secondary agricultural school diploma (Diplom Al Madaaris Al Ziraa’iyyah )

In the field of Commercial: Secondary commercial school diploma (Diplom Al Madaaris Al Tijaariyyah )

Further Technical and Vocational Training

In Saudi Arabia, there are further technical and vocational training programmes being provided by vocational training centres.
  • Duration: 1 to 1.5 years
Admission requirement: Students must have completed primary/elementary education to gain admission into the further technical and vocational training programme.

Credential awarded: Vocational training certificate

Higher Education

Higher education is provided by the public and private universities and colleges. The higher education institutions in Saudi Arabia offer a wide range of courses and specialties in several disciplines. 
  • Age: 18 and above
Universities in Saudi Arabia provide bachelor, master and doctorate degree programmes.

Colleges of technology provide post-secondary training courses that lead to a diploma from 2 year course or a bachelor degree from a 3-year programme.

Degree levels: 
At undergraduate level, the bachelor degree programmes lasts for 4 years, 5 years in case of pharmacy, agriculture, veterinary medicine and engineering; 5-6 years for dentistry programme; and 6 years for law and medicine fields. 

At postgraduate level, the course that leads to a higher diploma in education or certificate of qualification in teaching lasts for 1 year.
Master degree’s last for 2 years; and doctorate studies lasts for at least 3 years following the master’s degree programme.

School Education Credentials

  • General elementary school certificate (Shahadat Al Maddaaris Al Ibtidaa`iyyah)
  • Intermediate education certificate (Shahadt Al-Kafa’at Al-Mutawassita)
  • General secondary education certificate (Shahadat Al-Marhalat Al-Thanawiyyat)
  • Religious institute secondary education certificate (Shahadat Al Thanawiyyah Al’Aama lil Ma’aahid Al Ilmiyya)
  • Secondary agriculture school diploma (Diplom Al Madaaris Al Ziraa’iyyah)
  • Secondary commercial school diploma (Diplom Al Madaaris Al Tijaariyyah)
  • Secondary vocational school diploma (Al Madaaris Al Thanawiyyah Al Mihaniyyah)
  • Secondary teacher training institute certificate (Shahadat Ad-Dirasah Al-Thanawiyyat Li-Ma'ahad Tadreeb Al-Mu'allimeen)

Higher Education Credentials

  • Associate degree  
  • Diploma for junior college training for teachers (Diplom Al-Kulliyyat Al-Mutawassita Li Tadreeb Al-Mu'allimeen)
  • Diploma of higher institute for commercial sciences (Diplom Al Ma'had Al 'Aali fil-Uloom Al Maliyyah)
  • Higher technical institute diploma (Shahadat Al Ma'had Al Fanni Al'Aali)
  • Technical college certificate (Al Shahadah Al Jami’iyyiah Al Mutawassita)
  • Bachelor of military science (Baccaloreous Al-'uluum Al-'askariyyah)
  • Bachelor in education (Baccaloreous in Education)
  • Bachelor of air force and aviation technology (Baccaloreous Al-Tayraan)
  • Bachelor of Science in nursing (Baccaloreus Fi Al-'uluum)
  • Bachelor of naval science (Baccaloreous Al-'uluum Al-'Bahriyya)
  • Bachelor of veterinary medicine (Baccaloreus Az-Ziraa' at Wa Tibb Al-Baytari)
  • Master's degree (Darajat al Majisteer)
  • Doctorate degree (Darajat al Doctoorah)
  • Doctor of Medicine (Doktoor Fi Tibb Al-Bashari)
  • Doctor of Dental Science (Doktoor Fi Tibb Al-Asnaan)
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