Education system in Vietnam



The education system in Vietnam is high quality in the international schools, though often lacking in public schools. Local teachers are not paid well and often teach supplementary “cram” classes for additional income, but students who do not attend these classes are often at a disadvantage. The government is currently working on educational reform in the near future.

There are five levels in the educational system, from preschool to post-secondary university, with formal education lasting for 12 years. The typical school year runs from August to June, divided into two semesters. All students must pass a Leaving Examination to be granted a diploma after grade 12.

Many parents in Hanoi opt for pre-primary education to give their children a head start in the classroom. While there are many universities in the country, expats are urged to only attend foreign universities set up in Hanoi, as local qualifications are often not internationally recognised.

Preschool Education

Outside the main cities in Vietnam of Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi, most parents begin their children’s education at the primary level. However, in competitive cities such as Hanoi, many parents give their children a head start with pre-primary schooling. Parents can enroll their children in preschools beginning around 18 months until 5 years old, though classroom instruction typically does not begin until about the 4th or 5th year, directly before primary education is set to begin.

Primary Education

With the beginning of primary education, children also begin receiving grades. The grading scale in Vietnam differs from Western countries and can be broken down as such:

Point Average



Excellent- A+


Very Good- A


Good- B


Above Average- B-


Average- C


Fail- F

The distribution of grades varies wildly depending on the school, and international schools, as well as private universities, often use their own grading scales.

Primary education in the country typically begins at age 6 and lasts for 5 years. Primary education is required for all children in the city and literacy is high.

Secondary Education

Secondary education is akin to middle school, comprising grades 6-9. Many local Vietnamese drop out of school after 5th grade, and secondary education is not mandatory.

Until 2006, students had to pass the Intermediate Graduation Examination (IGE) in order to graduate, but as of now this is not a requirement.

High School Education

Though not a requirement to graduate from middle school, the Intermediate Graduation Examination is necessary to enroll in a Vietnamese high school. The grades received on the IGE determine which schools students can attend for high school.

All high school students in the city are required to take the same mandatory courses, including:

  • Literature
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • History
  • Geography
  • Civics
  • Foreign language (typically English)
  • Technology
  • Information Technology (Recently introduced, yet to be implemented in poorer regions)
  • Physical Education

In addition to these courses, some students are able to take advanced courses or specialised courses, which are more difficult but can include some higher education courses. Not all schools offer these options, though a higher percentage of those in Hanoi do than in other areas in Vietnam.

To graduate high school, students must pass the Leaving Examination. The Leaving Examination tests students on Vietnamese literature, math, foreign language, and three other subjects determined by the Ministry of Education and Training. Exams are usually held in conjunction with the student’s other year-end exams in May or June.

Post-secondary Education

Some of the best colleges and post-secondary schools in the country are located in Hanoi.

There is much competition to enter the best schools in Vietnam. To gain entrance to a college or university in the country, students must pass the school’s entrance examination. On average, less than half of test takers pass these examinations.

There is currently a growing presence for international universities in the country, and expats are recommended to attend only these, as local universities are not always accredited worldwide.

Some of the better known universities in Hanoi include Vietnam National University, Hanoi, Hanoi National University of Education, Hanoi Medical University and Hanoi University.