Qatar Country Profile - Education System

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System structure

Qatar’s Supreme Education Council (SEC) has ambitious plans for its education system and is investing heavily in improving standards. The school system in Qatar is divided into three levels: elementary school (ages 6 to 12), preparatory school (ages 12 to 15) and secondary school (ages 15 to 18). Elementary school and preparatory school are compulsory. Students who continue to secondary school may choose between an academic course in preparation for university or a vocational course to prepare them for the labour market.

Academic year

The academic year in Qatar generally runs from around September to June so that the long summer holiday falls in the hottest months of the year. Depending on their curriculum and teaching style, international schools may operate different term structures, so contact the school directly for details.

Higher education

Established in 1973 as the College of Education, Qatar University is the oldest university in the country. However, higher education is now growing rapidly in Qatar, with overseas campuses of foreign universities swelling the numbers of institutions based in there. The Qatar Foundation has been instrumental in this growth, with many of these universities situated at its Education City location in Doha.


Universities in Qatar charge tuition fees, which vary depending on the institution and course. The Qatar Foundation is the main source of student loans and scholarship funding, although some students now choose to take out a private education loan.


Qatar University offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses within its 7 colleges. The various international universities offer a range of programs including degrees, diplomas and short course qualifications between them, however some specialise in a particular area of study or type of course. Detailed information is available through the universities’ websites.


As well as being committed to improving education standards, part of the Qatar Foundation’s vision is the development of world-class research facilities. The Foundation helps to support the Qatar National Research Fund, which administers several funding programmes and grants for academics and is a very useful resource for people seeking research opportunities in Qatar. 

Elementary, preparatory and secondary education

The compulsory elementary and preparatory school years for children aged 6 to 15 are government-funded for Qataris through the independent school system. While some independent schools do admit foreign nationals, places are limited and the vast majority of expats choose to send their children to private schools. The private school system in Qatar is still regulated by the SEC, but schools are free to set their own curriculum and award international qualifications. Fees vary, but some employers offer an education allowance to help staff fund their children’s education.

Preschool and childcare options

Qatar values early education very highly. As a result, the SEC is considering plans to make educational preschool compulsory for children aged 3 to 6 to promote a culture of learning through play. Nurseries and kindergartens are usually private and fee-paying, but they remain popular with parents in Qatar. There are many different preschools to choose from, with costs varying depending on the facilities.

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