Structure of the School and Higher Education System in Israel
The education system in Israel is structured around well defined categories of primary, secondary and tertiary/higher education. Israel has a lot of universities with well known faculty members. School education comprises lower, middle and upper secondary.
School System in Israel
The Israeli public school system has the following levels:
- Primary schools comprising grades 1 to 6
- Middle school comprising grades 7 to 9
- Upper secondary or high school constituting grades 10 to 12
Israel has a diverse educational system. Schools are divided into 5 basic groups:
- State/Mamlachti Schools: These are attended by a major percentage of the students. Curriculum of state schools is mostly mandated by the State. Curriculum includes maths, language skills, science, Jewish studies and history. A specific subtype of Mamlachti schools are the Tali schools.
- State Religious Schools: Also called Mamlachti Dati schools that stress on Jewish studies, tradition as well as observance of rituals. Supplementary studies here emphasize accelerated Jewish and religious studies
- Independent Religious Schools: Chinch Atzmai or independent religious schools focus on the Talmud Torah. These schools place major stress on religious studies and observance.
- Private Schools: These reflect the tenets of certain groups or are associated with foreign curriculums. These private schools are recognized by the education ministry.
- Arab Schools: These provide instruction in Arabic and focus on Arab culture
State as well as state-religious schools operate under the guidance and supervision of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport. A separate educational structure is followed for Arab schools which include Islamic, Druze and Christian schools. Medium of instruction in Jewish schools is Hebrew and Arab is Arabic.
Bagrut/Matriculation Exam: Successful completion of the matriculation examination leads to award of the Bagrut certificate. This is conferred by the national Ministry of Education to secondary school pupils. In Israel, the Bagrut certificate and scores achieved influence acceptance into elite military units as well as academic studies and jobs. Students are tested from 1 to 5 units. Each unit is representative of 90 class hours pertaining to the field in question.
Higher Education in Israel
Higher education in Israel is made up of the following:
- Universities: These offer Bachelor’s, postgraduate and PhD degree programs
- Open University: Offers postgraduate and undergraduate degree courses
- Academic Colleges:Institutions of higher education which have received accreditation for award of bachelor’s degree and master’s degree as well
- Academic Teacher Training Colleges: These provide Bachelor in Education degrees
- Regional Colleges: These offer academic subjects and courses which provide credit towards degrees awarded by universities sponsoring the studies
- Extension Campuses of Foreign Institutions of Higher Education
Ratio of public and private universities in 4:1. In 2012, 52 institutions were state funded and 14 were privately funded. As per official estimates, in 2011-2012, around 290,600 students were enrolled in academic studies of which 226,000 were undergraduate students, 54,000 were postgraduate students and 10,600 were doctoral students.
Council for Higher Education is a statutory entity which is responsible for accreditation of courses. Hebrew is the chief language of instruction in Israeli educational institutions. At teacher training colleges, Arabic is also a medium of instruction. Certain special programs are taught in English. Admissions to higher educational institutions requires completion of bagrut and national academic admissions psychometric examination.
Tertiary/higher education is a 3 tiered structure comprising Boger/Bachelor’s degree courses, Musmakh/Postgraduate degree courses and PhD/Doctoral programs. There are a wide number of disciplines including humanities, general philosophy, arts, social sciences, history, economics, law, education and business administration.
Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Israel
These courses last for a duration of three years. The bachelor’s degree programs at Israeli universities need three years of concentrated study following which the degree is conferred. Students can opt for single or dual degree except in the following cases: nursing, engineering, law and architecture. In the latter disciplines, degrees are only granted following 4 years of studies.
Requirements for degrees are determined through credit points in that the curriculum is very extensive and one can reach up to 40 hours per week. Undergraduate studies take several three unit courses for each semester. 120 units of credit are normally needed for completion of Bachelor’s degree courses in Israel. Individual departments may need more units for the actual graduation. Program of studies for bachelor’s degree are directly linked to the major being pursued by the student. Courses for law and medicine must be pursued following completion of secondary school exams.
Postgraduate Degree Programs in Israel
Students must hold at least one undergraduate grade of 80 or more for them to be admitted to postgraduate degree courses. Some disciplines may accept students with lower grades. For business schools, GMAT and interview are also needed. There are two kinds of postgraduate degree programs namely one that involves pursuance of doctoral degree programs and another which does not. There are non-university institutions approved by the Council of Higher Education which offer the latter type of postgraduate program.
Master’s degree students can complete their studies and thesis within a short span of 2 years in case of the former type of course.
PhD/Doctorates in Israel:
Indirect Programs: Israel has 7 universities which have been authorized for awarding doctorates. These universities award the degrees within 4 or more years. Students must have secured a postgraduate degree grade average of 80 in course work and thesis grade of 85 or higher. Applicants who cannot meet these requirements immediately can opt for provisional admission. Prior research experience and publications are take into account before admission to doctoral programs.
Direct Programs: Direct doctorates are also offered by Israeli higher educational institutions. These programs are for students who in the undergraduate degree courses have earned a GPA of close to 90 or more in their field of specialization and an average of 80 in regular coursework. During the first year of the direct program, students undergo training in accelerated Master’s degree courses. Students who are unable to finish their doctorate in such programs are awarded the Master’s degree.
Israeli education in school years is divided into Jewish and Arabic. The content and syllabus of these type of schools is mostly the same, only the medium of instruction is different. Higher education comprises not only undergraduate and postgraduate courses, but also doctoral and medical degree courses.