Israel's educational system is separated into three stages much like in any Bologna Convention countryBachelor's, Master's & PhD and is one of the youngest in the world. The first university there had appeared before the country itself — Technion was founded in 1912, and Israel — in 1948. In Israel, 47% of the population has a higher education. In Germany, for comparison — only 33%.
In recent years, Israel has made education more accessible to foreign applicants. Previously, all subjects were taught in Hebrew, and only people with Jewish roots could receive medical education. Today 10% of programs are in English. Medical academies are open to foreigners who are willing to pay 27,000 USD/year. Israeli universities offer long-term and short-term programs, online courses, and summer schools.
Technion, Hebrew University, and Tel Aviv University are among the top-200 universities worldwide. Education in English is cheaper than in the United States — an undergraduate program usuallyexcluding Medicine costs 15,000 USD/year. Programs in Hebrew cost almost half that price. Israel also cooperates with foreign universities. For example, New York University has opened a campus in Tel Aviv. There, students learn Hebrew and Middle Eastern culture for 27,400 USD/year.
Help in adaptation. Each undergraduate applicant can undergo a preparatory program that lasts several months. There they get acquainted with the culture of Israel and study Hebrew. All students can also enroll in additional language courses at their university. However, even if the applicant does not know Hebrew at all, it will not be a problem. About 85% of Israelis speak English.
Developed scientific and teaching sectors. Less than 50 years after its emergence, Israel became the global leader in terms of the share of highly qualified specialists among the population: there are 140 scientists per 10000 people. This was due to the large influx of migrants in the 1990s — about a million citizens of the USSR and the CIS moved to Israel back then. Some of them had got higher education in the United States, Canada, and Europe, then continued to teach and conduct research in Israel.
Medical universities. Technion, Hebrew University, and Tel Aviv University are among the top-300 medical universities in the world. Be prepared to work hard — studying to be a nurse in Israel is much more difficult than almost anywhere else. Israelis believe that a doctor must know their craft perfectly and be able to do everything flawlessly — or abandon the dream to work in the medical sector. The Israeli government purchases the latest generation-equipment so that students can learn to carry out complex and rare procedures.
Grants and scholarships. Israel participates in the Erasmus program. This means that a foreign student can go to study for a semester, and the scholarship program will cover all expenses. For graduate and doctoral students, other scholarships are available — including state-issued ones"Global Education", repatriant benefits, privateMifal HaPayis, Anita Borg and university scholarshipsFrom Technion, Hebrew University and Weizmann University. This is how the Israeli government attracts talented students and young scientists. Doctoral students are not allowed to combine work and study. Grants are given to all PhDs so that employment does not interfere with research. There are fewer scholarships for undergraduates, and the competition is higher. Most commonly, they are assigned to repatriates and low-income students.
Flexible educational process. In addition to majors, the student chooses elective courses. The curriculum is flexible too. The applicant makes it up independently. It is even possible to schedule courses for the summer holidays. This will reduce the overall duration of studies.
Disadvantages of Israeli universities
Military situation. The Israeli government ensures that all local and foreign residents are safe. But every student will feel the political instability. The dorms always have bunkers below them. Bomb shelters are not a relic of the past, but a vital necessity in this hostile region. Safety briefings are often read to students.
The cost of education. Higher education for international students is usually 25% more expensive than for locals. And if you don't know Hebrew, be prepared to pay twice as much — the same program costs 3,000 USD in Hebrew and 6,000 USD in English. There is no free higher education. It is possible to receive benefits and scholarships, but you will need to win a competitive selection. Winning depends on what academic degree you are getting, in which university you study, and what is your GPA. There are even options exclusive to women — for example, the Anita Borg scholarship.
High requirements for admission. All future students must complete the Mechina course and pass the entrance exam. To get a good score, you will have to sign up for a preparatory course. Your GPA must be at least 80% — otherwise, most universities will not even consider your application. Some universities, including one of the best in the country — the Hebrew University, require a Hebrew test. The confirmed level has to be at least B1. English requirements are also high. An undergraduate student must pass IELTS at 6.0, and Master's and doctoral programs’ students — at 6.5.
Job search. You cannot combine study and official work on a student visa. Once your studies are over, you must leave the country. To stay, you will have to apply for a work visa. You cannot do this on your own — only an employer can send an application to the Israeli Foreign Ministry.
Requirements for admission to Israeli universities
Unless your school graduation certificate is equivalent to the Israeli Bagrut, you will not be able to begin higher education in Israel right after secondary school. Applicants must complete the Mechina preparatory program. It lasts 11 months, improves students’ command of Hebrew and compensates for the academic differences, if applicable. Those applying for a Master's degree do not need to undergo a preparatory program.
After Mechina, the applicant must pass a psychometric test. It is a standardized exam that tests knowledge of the English language, as well as mathematical and logical thinking. You can get from 200 to 800 points in it. To ensure that you will face as little complications as possible during application, you need to score 750+. The psychometric test is an analog of the American SAT and ACT exams. You can apply without it if you have studied for at least one year at a university in your homeland. You will likely be relieved of attending repeating courses, but you still have to pass the university entrance exam.
All universities will ask you to provide a school certificate or diploma and attach a transcript of grades. In Israel, a 100-point grading system is used. At all levels of higher education, the requirements are high — minimum GPA for candidates starts from 80%, i.e. 4.0+. If you decide to enroll in an English-language program, pass IELTS (minimum score — 6.5) or TOEFL (80 points minimum). Applicants for Hebrew-language programs must pass the Yael Test. Also ask teachers or employers to write a letter of recommendation.
Certificate or diploma;
Transcript of grades Bachelor’s and graduate programs’ students must provide grades for courses and defense of research work separately;
Clarify the particular set of required documents separately at each university.
Types of educational institutions in Israel
Education in Israel is divided into primary, secondary, and higher education. Secondary school education is completely compulsory — all citizens must complete 12 grades. Secondary vocational education is obtained in high school or technical college, and higher education — in universities and academic colleges.
Higher education institutions
Academic colleges. Some52 out of 120 Israeli colleges have both Bachelor's and Master's degree programs. Future doctors, teachers, administrators and engineers study there. Universities of this type are practice-oriented — after receiving a diploma, graduates seek a job. In Israel, they find it in 90% of cases.
If a graduate decides to enter a Master's program, then it will most likely also be applied. Studying for an applied Master's degree usually takes 1 year, and after graduation there is no need to write a dissertation. To pursue an academic career, you enter a university instead. At the same time, the government sets the same educational criteria for universities and colleges, so there is no need to worry about the quality of education. The only difference is that while some students conduct scientific research and write papers, others learn to use knowledge in practice.
Colleges for teachers. These universities are also referred to as academic. It prepares teachers for kindergartens and all school levels. Graduates learn how to teach general and special subjects. Students can choose an advanced course — for example, theology, physical education, or English. There are two types of public colleges for teachers — national and national-religious.
Universities differ from colleges in that you can get a doctorate there. Foreign applicants for doctoral programs are prohibited from working while studying. Universities want the future doctoral student to devote all their attention and time to research activities. Therefore, the state offers scholarships and grants to students.
There will be more research work on undergraduate and graduate programs than in other types of institutions. The university will closely monitor attendance — if a student misses more than three lectures, they will not be admitted to the exams. You can retake them only once.
Vocational education institutions
Schools. Vocational education can be obtained already in secondary school. In the tenth grade, a student is offered a choice — either enter a vocational school and get a profession or prepare for entrance exams to a university. In a vocational school, education lasts up to grade 14. You can study to be an accountant, mechanic, or hospitality specialist. Agricultural, military and religious professions are also taught in specialized schools. But you cannot get higher qualifications. Nurses, advanced technology professionals, and marketing experts get education in technical colleges.
Technical colleges. A profession can be obtained at one of the 68 colleges in Israel. About 30,000 students study there. A graduate of such a college is a specialist with secondary education. In terms of knowledge and skills, they surpass a technical school graduate but are inferior to engineers with a university degree.
Unlike technical schools, higher-qualified specialists in the fields of technology, electronics, and design are prepared in technical colleges. Students can also enroll in programs in Computer Science, Biotechnology, or Electro-optics. There are also colleges of arts — Photography, Design, and Landscape Architecture. The rest teach Economics, Marketing, Tourism, and Product Quality Control.
Seminaries for teachers. Haredi Jews study there. In three years, the student receives not an academic degree, but a Senior Teacher's Certificate. The Ministry of Education recognizes them and allows holders to work in Haredi schools and kindergartens.
Some institutions offer to study for four years instead of three. Then the student will be able to teach not only in religious communities — the state helps them integrate into the general labor market. But you still can't get a Bachelor's degree there, only a certificate of a specialist.
Public and private universities in Israel
All universities in Israel are public. But the English-language programs are sponsored by private investors. For example, physics at Ben Gurion and international relations at the University of Haifa. This may explain their high cost — foreign students pay the full tuition fee. And the state covers part of the costs of programs that are taught in Hebrew. Yearly, higher education expenses are at 1.5% GDP — the average figure for OEDC countries.
There are also completely private institutions — these are 11 Israeli colleges. They are distinguished from ordinary institutions by the method of funding and the selection criteria for applicants. These colleges are sponsored by private investors and students themselves, who pay the tuition fees in full. Prices for Bachelor's programs start at 5,100 USD/year. Private universities operate according to the educational standards of the state, but they can introduce their own performance assessment forms and criteria to students. It is difficult to compare the prestige of private and public colleges in general — it does not depend on the type of university.
The universally accepted leader among all colleges is the Multidisciplinary Center in Herzliya. It's private. In the national ranking, the college takes 9th place, and prices for a year in a Bachelor's degree program start at 13,900 USD. Since 2021, it has been permitted to award PhD degrees in Law, Psychology, and Computer Science. This makes it the first private university in Israel. Examples of other private colleges: The College of Management and Machon Lander.
Among other private institutions, colleges for Haredi Jews stand out. They are state accredited but are very different from the secular ones. Students wear strict uniforms and study the Torah all their lives. Very little time is devoted to general education subjects. Some Haredi Jews attend Ono Academic College. It was created to reduce cultural and economic contradictions in society. Therefore, representatives of religious groups feel comfortable there.
Free universities in Israel
There is no free education in Israel. But the government supports students: by studying on a state program, you can save up to 40% off the price. Local residents who have served in the army receive a 90% discount for their first year of tuition. New repatriates — those who apply for permanent residence on the basis of family ties — are entitled to special benefits. They are compensated for 80-100% of the tuition fees. Israel can also cover tuition costs for low-income students. For this, you must provide a statement of family income for the last three years.
Language of tuition
Cost of Bachelor's studies, year
Cost of Master's studies, year
6,000-25,000 USD In medical colleges 27,000-34,000 USD
But what should foreign students who have no Jewish relatives do? Apply for scholarships and grants. They can cover 20-70% of the costs. To qualify for scholarships in Israel, you must have an average GPA above 80% and be among the top 15% of students in the group, if your educational institution has a rating system. Below are the most common scholarships:
Weyman Institute scholarship. All university students receive scholarships. The average payout is 1,500 USD/month. If a student gets a job while studying, the scholarship is taken away.
Anita Borg scholarship. Established for women who receive education in Israel and the Middle East. It is paid by Google to female programmers and students of related programs. Usually, the amount is 7,800 USD.
The infrastructure of universities in Israel
Universities in Israel are relatively young. Technion was founded in 1912, the Hebrew University in 1918, the University of Tel Aviv in 1956, and Ariel university in 1982. Therefore, you are unlikely to find run-down campuses. To ensure that the buildings are well-equipped for teaching and research, the Israeli government spends 11,000 USD per student annually. The state supports research activities — it builds laboratories, buys new equipment, takes care of the infrastructure around the university. For example, Tel Aviv has 10 teaching hospitals and about 130 research institutes and centers. The Technion is home to the Space Technology Institute, the Energy Center of Excellence, and the Nanotechnology Center. Ben-Gurion University has three research centers.
Dorms in Israel
Israeli universities and colleges offer students to settle on campus. As a rule, three to five people live together. But there are exceptions. Israeli universities provide separate rooms for families or couples. Accommodation usually costs 4,000 USD annually. For this money, the student receives a renovated room and kitchen, wireless Internet, and all the necessary furniture — tables, chairs, wardrobes, and beds. Parks and recreational spaces can often be found on campuses. There are also separate campuses for socially active youth. Those are the students who, before entering a university or after graduation, leave for remote regions of Israel to plant greenery in deserts all year round. After that, the students return to their normal life. One of such campuses is located in the educational eco-settlement of Nitzana. Up to five people live there in common houses.
But even in the best-rated universities, there are dorms with old facilities and not the most comfortable conditions. It depends on your budget. Usually, universities offer to choose accommodation based on your financial capabilities. By paying more, you will get more comfortable rooms and improved infrastructure — shops nearby, a beautiful view from the window, new appliances in the kitchen and in the room.
Interesting facts about universities in Israel
The average age of local freshmen is 20-22 years. Immediately after school, Israelis serve in the army: men for 30 months, women — for 24.
The list of directors of the Hebrew University includes Sigmund Freud and Albert Einstein. Einstein even left his personal and scientific notes there — 55,000 pieces total. There you can find his love letters to his second wife, Elsa.
All students can visit the Ben Gurion National Solar Energy Center. The world's largest solar concentrator is located there.
Israel has normalized relations with only three Arab countries — Jordan, Egypt, and Mauritania. Many other countries in the region are considered enemies. It is forbidden to visit them. Students undergo military exercises annually to protect themselves from potential threats.