University landscape in Nicaragua
The founding of Nicaragua’s first university, the national Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua (UNAN), in 1812 laid the foundation for the development of Nicaragua’s higher education system. Today, UNAN, together with the state-accredited Universidad Centroamericana, is one of the largest and most renowned institutions in the country’s higher education sector.
State universities and colleges
As a country located in Central America according to holidaysort, Nicaragua has a total of ten “old” universities, all of which were founded before the liberalization of higher education legislation in 1990. They are considered to be the core of the tertiary education sector. It was officially recognized by the National Council of Universities (CNU), which was also established in 1990.
There are a number of state universities across the country, the Universidades Públicas. In addition, more than 100 colleges and research centers ( Centros de Capacitación y de Investigación ) and polytechnic and technical centers ( Centros Técnicos Superiores ).
In the course of the democratic change of power in Nicaragua in 1990 and the associated higher education reform, a wave of private universities was founded. Around 40 private universities ( Universidades Privadas ) are now an integral part of the Nicaraguan university landscape. There are also foreign private organizations that have settled in Nicaragua in recent years. In cooperation with universities in individual countries, they offer semester programs for international students, for example in the field of development cooperation or social sciences.
There are large differences in level between the universities in Nicaragua. As the official coordinating and advisory body for all universities, the CNU has now accredited more than 50 universities and other educational institutions. It is not the Nicaraguan Ministry of Education but the non-governmental CNU that decides on national university policy and decides on the admission of new universities and vocational schools. Therefore, the universities in Nicaragua operate largely autonomously.
In addition, the Nicaraguan Association for Higher Education Institutions ( Asociación Nicaraguense de Instituciones de Educación Superior ) was established. It ensures that curricula are adhered to and regular exchange between the universities.
Study system in Nicaragua
Anyone studying in Nicaragua has the opportunity to complete several stages of study: an undergraduate degree and a postgraduate degree. The first stage usually leads to the Licenciatura after four to five years. This academic degree is comparable to a bachelor’s degree. In some courses of study, students also receive a professional diploma ( Título Profesional ) after successfully completing their studies.
In contrast to courses in other disciplines, architecture courses and engineering courses last five years, and medical courses even six years. The latter concludes with a professional doctorate, the Doctor en Medicina y Cirugía.
As a rule, students complete a thesis at the end of their studies, especially in the fields of law, natural sciences and art. Some universities also require that students complete an internship ( internado / pasantia ) during their studies.
The Licenciatura offers access to postgraduate studies in the Posgrado area. Maestría programs typically last for two years. At the end of their studies, students must submit a thesis in order to receive the academic title Maestría.
The Maestría degree in turn entitles the holder to take up a doctorate. A doctoral program usually lasts two to three years and is used to write the scientific dissertation. While the professional doctorate leads to a doctoral degree without additional doctoral work, a research doctorate is associated with an examination and defense of the dissertation.
Just like in Germany, the university year in Nicaragua is divided into two semesters. The first semester starts at the beginning of autumn in the southern hemisphere, i.e. at the end of February / beginning of March, and lasts until July. After a short break, the second semester begins in August and ends in December. The semester break is between December and March, i.e. in the middle of summer in Nicaragua.
The grading system in Nicaragua has a scale from 0 to 100. As a rule, the limit for passing is 70 points, or 70 percent. This is comparable to the grade 4.0 of the German grading system. The minimum grade for passing can also be 60 percent in individual subjects. What is decisive is what is noted in the certificate legend as the lowest permissible minimum grade. In some cases, students who have achieved at least 60 percent of the points can also take an additional test, which asks the material for the entire academic year. To pass this, 70 percent of the total number of points is required.
Studying in Nicaragua – the requirements
International students wishing to study at a university in Nicaragua must have a university entrance qualification. Applicants from Germany usually meet these study requirements with the acquisition of the general higher education entrance qualification (Abitur). If necessary, the technical diploma is also sufficient. At many universities, an entrance examination, the Prueba de Ingreso, is also common. Some universities also require that students submit proof of sufficient funds to finance their studies and of previous academic achievements (transcript).
Depending on the subject and section, subject-specific knowledge or a minimum period of study may also be a prerequisite. It is therefore advisable to find out about the exact admission criteria of the university in question in good time. International students usually have to submit their applications to the consular office.
Since courses at Nicaraguan universities are held in Spanish, international students must also have a good knowledge of Spanish as one of the admission requirements. However, especially in semester programs that are specifically aimed at international students, lessons are increasingly being held in English. In addition to this range of courses, students at some universities have the opportunity to take part in preparatory or study-related language courses in order to improve their Spanish.