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Education in Israel
A Comprehensive Guide About the Education System and International Schools
The education system in Israel is divided into three main tiers. They include primary/elementary school, middle school, and high school. It is compulsory that pupils go to school in Israel starting with preschool through grade twelve. The Holy Land includes both public and private school options. Expats should know that while public school is tuition-free in Israel, private school is not.
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Israel’s best schools and higher education options are outlined in this section for those expats interested in either studying or enrolling their children in school. Israel offers free compulsory education to public school students. However, there are fees associated with attending public school. These include extracurricular activities, school trips, and textbooks that need to be purchased.
If you plan on sending your child to a private institution, or even an international school, you will have to pay tuition fees. Tuition can be as high as 62,000 ILS (17,837 USD) at some international schools.
Finally, if you are interested in learning Hebrew, they are many study programs available, as well as summer courses or winter classes that you can take. Some institutions even offer language courses free of cost to new immigrants in Israel.
The Education System in Israel
What is the education system like in the Holy Land? It consists of three tiers: primary/elementary, middle, and high school. School is mandatory from preschool through grade twelve.
Education Facts in Israel
- Hebrew is the official language of instruction in the country.
- School hours are 30 per week.
What is the School Year in Israel?
The school year begins on September 1. For elementary students it ends on June 30, and for middle and high school students it ends on June 20.
Grading System in Israel
The grading system in Israel is a scale between 0 to 100. It is used throughout all levels of education in the country: from elementary school to university.
|%||Description||Letter grade equivalent|
School Age Systems in Israel
|Education level||Grades||Approximate ages|
|Preschool||Preschool and Kindergarten||3–5|
Main Differences Between Public and Private Schools
Israel offers five kinds of schools:
- state secular schools—offers standard curriculum, which includes history, languages, science, mathematics, and literature
- state religious schools (yeshiva)—offers the same curriculum as secular state schools with the addition of studying the Torah
- independent religious schools—focus on religious studies with some mathematics, history, languages, and science. While the Ministry of Education supports them, the Ministry of Education is not in charge of hiring/firing professors or the registration of pupils.
- Arab schools— instructions are given in Arabic and include Arabic history in their curriculum
- private schools— refers to boarding and international schools. Some offer instruction in English.
Requirements and required documents when applying to a private school in the Holy Land include:
- verbal reasoning and English proficiency test
- mathematics and science test
- interview with headteacher
For public schools, the required documents are:
- student and parents ID numbers (Mispar Zehut) OR passport numbers;
- proof of residence via the Arnona (municipal tax) statement OR rental contract.
While public school in Israel is free (except for textbooks, school trips, and extracurricular activities), private school is not. It can be quite expensive and competitive, but the quality of education is usually better than that of a public school. If you send your child to an international school, it is even more expensive.
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Daycare and Kindergarten
Daycare/childcare services in Israel are for children under three years old. Preschool and kindergarten are both parts of the preschool system in Israel, which is divided into three levels:
- Trom-Trom Chova (preschool for three-year-olds)
- Trom-Chova (preschool for four-year-olds)
- Gan Chova (kindergarten)
The educational approach during the early school years focuses on language development, socialization, and fostering cognitive and creative capacities in pupils. Kindergarten focuses on teaching students numerical concepts, among other theories. The curriculum is supervised by the Ministry of Education to ensure a high-quality education and learning experience. Still, every school has some autonomy in implementing the state’s program of studies.
Is Preschool Mandatory?
Yes, preschool in Israel is mandatory; schooling is compulsory beginning at the age of three.
Is Kindergarten Mandatory?
Yes, kindergarten in the Middle Eastern country is compulsory.
What Age Do You Start Kindergarten?
Kindergarten for kids in Israel starts at around five years old; however, the starting age may vary depending on the city you are in.
Daycare/Childcare and Kindergarten Fees
School cost for daycares (state-controlled) can range between 1,550 to 2,050 ILS (446–590 USD). The contribution you make is determined depending on your financial situation and income. Spots for this type of daycare, known as maons, are limited, so priority is given to working mothers.
Daycare services can also be run out of someone’s private home. Typically, no more than five kids can be looked after in a home. The price for this is comparable to the state-controlled daycares. That is unless you opt for a private service which is pricier (1,900–2,400 ILS (546–690 USD)).
The most expensive childcare option is a private nanny, who will watch your children in your home.
Kindergarten and preschool are free as the government sponsors it.
Primary and Secondary Schools
The best primary and secondary schools in Israel are as follows:
Top Primary/Elementary Schools
- Tel Hai (Tel Aviv)
- Bechor Levi (Rehovot)
- Nofit (Nofit)
- Nofim (Haifa)
- Yizraelia (Haifa)
Top Middle Schools
- Hasharon (Ra’anana)
- Makif Carmel Zvulun (Kibbutz Yagur)
- Emunah religious girls’ school (Bnei Brak)
- Leo Baeck (Haifa)
- Ben Gurion (Herzliya)
Top Secondary and High Schools
- Hebrew University High School (Jerusalem)
- Kfar Pines uplana (Menashe Regional Council)
- Bnei Akiva Even Shmuel ulpana
- Beit Jann (Beit Jann)
- Shevah Mofet (Tel Aviv)
In the Middle Eastern country, primary education is called elementary school. A typical schedule at this level includes a 30-hour school week. At ten years old, English or French is introduced into the curriculum. Some elementary schools offer scholarships to their students. (Leo Baeck Elementary School, for example).
There are different types of secondary schools in Israel. They can include:
- technical schools
- comprehensive schools
- yeshiva schools
- agricultural schools
- military preparatories
A typical schedule in high school includes history, mathematics, language, science, and humanities. High school is divided into junior and senior high school and consists of 24 hours of class time per week. There are a few scholarships for secondary and high school students if you are interested in studying in Israel.
The required documents you will need for registering at either a primary/elementary or high school are:
- student and parents ID numbers (Mispar Zehut) OR passport numbers;
- proof of residence via the Arnona (municipal tax) statement OR rental contract;
- entrance exam and interview (sometimes required for high school admission).
The following are the fees associated with Israel’s state and religious-state schools for elementary, junior, and high school:
- 1st–6th grade: 500–900 ILS (143–258 USD) annually
- 7th –9th grade: 1,000 ILS (287 USD) per year
- 10th –12th grade: 1,150 ILS (330 USD) annually
Schools offering specialized and additional programs can cost more than the prices outlined above.
For students in kindergarten up to fourth grade, transportation to school is free if the student lives within two kilometers of the school. For students from 5th to 10th grade, transportation is free if they live within three kilometers. Transportation is also free if the student has severe physical or emotional disabilities.
Some schools offer a textbook lending program which costs:
- 1st–6th grade: 280 ILS (80 USD)
- 7th–12th grade: 320 ILS (92 USD)
In cases where this program does not exist, parents need to purchase the textbooks for their children, which can cost anywhere between 300–800 ILS (86–229 USD).
How to Access University
At the end of their high school education, students are given a matriculation exam (bagrut) which they must pass to apply and get into university. The exam includes testing in the English and Hebrew languages, scripture, state studies, literature, and mathematics.
Some of the best international schools in Israel include:
- Anglican International School Jerusalem—This is a school for children between the ages of 3–18. They teach American curriculum, and the school offers the International Baccalaureate.
- The Walworth Barbour American International School in Israel—This is a school for children between the ages of 3–18. The American curriculum is offered.
- Jerusalem American International School—This is a school for children between the ages of 3–18. The curriculum offered is American.
- Lycée français de Jérusalem—This is an all-girls school. It is part of the Agency for French Education Abroad (AEFE) network. The French state approves the curriculum and accreditation. The institution offers dorms to its students.
- Lycée Havat Hanoar Hatsioni—This school is also a part of the AEFE and accredited by the French state. The institution prepares students for the French baccalaureate offering French language classes and curriculum.
- Collège français Marc Chagall de Tel Aviv—This school is accredited by the French state and part of the AEFE. Classes are taught in French.
- Collège des Frères de Jaffa—This school is part of the AEFE and accredited by the French state. It also a part of the Brothers of the Christian Schools.
- The Franco-Israeli Internat Mikve Israel—Boarding is provided at this institution and the school is accredited by the French State. It is a part of the AEFE.
- Tabeetha School—This is an English-medium primary and secondary school. All subjects are taught in English except for language classes which include Hebrew, Arabic, French, Spanish, and Russian. It is based on the British curriculum culminating in IGCSE and GCE A Levels. School uniforms are mandatory at this institution.
- Treehouse International School—This is a school for children between the ages of 3–18. It offers both American and British curriculums.
- Schmidt’s Girls College—This is an all-girls school for Christians and Muslims. The curriculum is taught in German.
International schools in Israel are top-rated among expats. You will find nurseries, primary, and secondary schools, even universities that are international in the country. Schools in Israel for international students are geared towards a foreign student body (although some local Israeli pupils may attend). Typically, they will follow a US, UK, or French curriculum. Classes are taught in any language, but the most common are English and French. International schools in the Middle Eastern country usually provide the International Baccalaureate. This makes for a smooth transition for nomadic and expat families as the schools provide similar standards of education.
International schools offer high standards of education with first-rate classrooms, facilities, equipment, and extracurricular activities. Students will benefit from smaller class sizes. While there are a few schools that offer dormitories and boarding, the majority of international schools in the country are daytime only.
International School Tuition Fees
School fees for international schools can be expensive in Israel and can vary between schools. The following are price examples for some other international schools in the country:
- Alexander Muss High School in Israel—13,700 USD (approximately 47,661 ILS) per semester
- Jerusalem American International School—27,000–62,000 ILS (7,768–17,837 USD) annually
- Walworth Barbour American International School in Israel—5,100–6,220 USD (approximately 17,742–21,639 ILS) per year
International School Requirements and Admission
Enrollment and admission requirements vary from school to school. International institutions can be quite competitive. Space is often limited, so you want to ensure you apply early. Preference is given to students of specific nationalities. Entrance exams and an interview may sometimes be required. It is best to contact your school of choice for admission details, application dates, and other requirements.
The top universities in Israel are
- Tel Aviv University;
- The Hebrew University of Jerusalem;
- Technion – Israel Institute of Technology;
- Bar-Ilan University;
- Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
The best universities for international students in Israel are
- The Hebrew University of Jerusalem;
- Tel Aviv University;
- The University of Haifa.
Israel is a wonderful country to pursue higher education. It offers high-quality education to its students with a focus on technology and entrepreneurship. In fact, the Middle Eastern country has earned the nickname “Start-up Nation” for having the largest number of start-up companies per capita in the world.
If you are an English-speaking expat, you should have no problem enrolling and studying here as many universities offer their courses in English. The following is an overview of some of the top faculties and areas of study you can pursue in the country.
Programs in accounting are offered at several universities, even colleges.
Those who study corporate, contractual, international law, intellectual property will find it easiest to secure jobs afterward. Hebrew is essential to study law in this country as all texts and articles are in Hebrew. Programs are three and a half to four years long. Law programs are available at the university or college level. Admission to the country’s top law schools is competitive.
Medicine, Dentistry, Optometry, Nursing, and Pharmacology
Medical programs are usually seven years of study, and admission is competitive. You will need a Psychometric score to apply for medical school and dentistry programs in Israel. At some universities, Israeli citizenship is required for medical school. American students who hold a BA from the US can apply to specific American programs; however, these tend to be more expensive than the Israeli medical programs. The good news is that admission into the American programs is less rigorous.
Unlike other medical professions, for nursing, you must have a high level of Hebrew proficiency to pass the nursing exam. Nursing programs in the country are very hands-on and they include lectures and rotations in different hospital departments. Nursing programs are easier to get into than doctoral ones.
Optometry programs last for two years.
In Israel, admission requirements for a BA in psychology are demanding, and they become even more so when applying for an MA. These programs are so rigorous, that many students end up changing career paths. Out of all the specialties, clinical psychology is most difficult. If psychology is something you wish to pursue in Israel, you must be prepared.
You may want to consider pursuing an MSW if you wish to stay in Israel and pursue a career in social work. Generally, social work is a low-paying job in Israel, but those with an MSW will receive a higher salary. A social work degree is very hands-on, and by year two, pupils are already working in the field.
For Anglophone expats, there are American MBA programs (one to two years of study) offered in Israel. However, these are significantly more expensive than Israeli MBA programs.
This field of study will guarantee you the highest salaries in Israel. It includes programmers, developers, QA, technical writers, technical support, and hi-tech marketing.
Engineers are in high demand in Israel, so this is a field of study worth pursuing if you plan on staying and working there. Engineering positions are also on the higher end of the salary scale. Consider electrical and hardware engineering.
Speech, Physical, and Occupational Therapy
Hebrew language skills will be vital if you decide to become a therapist in this country. Therefore, knowing Hebrew is an essential criterion for therapy programs here. Programs are competitive and require high test scores.
Web and graphic design courses are offered at colleges across the country. You can truly choose any school and program because it will be your impressive portfolio, skill, and talent that will count in the end when working in this field.
Several universities in Israel offer MA degrees in Non-profit Management. Programs are hands-on and include a combination of organizational theory and practical management classes.
How Much Does it Cost to Study in Israel for International Students?
University tuition fees in Israel depend entirely on the program and university on which you settle. For a full year of studies in a Master’s program, international students can expect to pay anywhere between 36,930 and 110,800 ILS (10,612—31,839 USD).
For both undergraduate and postgraduate programs, international students will pay somewhere in the range of 28,000 to 52,500 ILS (8,046—15,087 USD).
If you plan on studying in Israel for more than three months, you will need a student visa which will last one year. If your academic studies are longer than this, you will have a new student visa issued to you. To apply for your student visa at your nearest Israeli consulate, you will need:
- completed visa application form;
- return ticket or itinerary;
- two current passport photos;
- original letter of acceptance from your institution;
- bank statement proving you have sufficient funds to support yourself during your study period;
- notarized letter from parents/guardians allowing them to travel (for students under 18 years);
- processing fee.
The processing time for your student visa will be about two weeks.
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The following is a list of language schools where you can learn Hebrew. We also outline the costs, location, and duration of the course.
|School||City||Weeks||Language school fees|
|The Hebrew University||Jerusalem||4–6||1,250–2,200 USD|
|Tel Aviv University||Tel Aviv||4–7||1,450–1,750 USD|
|University of Haifa||Haifa||4||900–1,950 USD|
|Ben Gurion University of the Negev||Be’er-Sheva||4–6||1,250–1,900 USD|
|Levinsky College||Tel Aviv||3–4||700 (approximately) USD|
There are many other programs you will find in the country that are months long and not just at universities. Some institutions also offer courses for free or at a reduced cost to new immigrants.
You can also contact InterNations GO! and sign up for Language Training. We understand that learning the local language is an essential part of successful integration. Whether you need to brush up on work-related vocabulary or start with the basics, we organize and arrange language training at your new destination. Our experts will assess your knowledge, and sign you up for appropriate group classes or arrange private tutoring for you and your family, depending on your preference.
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