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Caribbean education system: All you need to know

The Caribbean education system includes kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, and universities.

Kindergartens generally accept kids from the age of 2, but it’s not compulsory for the children to attend.

International schools in the Caribbean can be either public or private, and they accept children from 5 to 16. Schooling is mandatory.

Universities offer programs in different fields, the most popular one being medicine. There are about 60 medical schools in the region.

Education in the Caribbean

Caribbean education system: All you need to know

Kindergartens in the Caribbean

In the Caribbean countries, kindergartens are private — which means they are paid. Most of them accept children from the age of 2, but some offer daycare for children as little as 3 months old.

In kindergartens, kids learn the basics of Maths, English, and other subjects. They also enjoy activities like dancing, drawing and playing. 

The prices vary, but the average cost per term is around $2,000—2,500. Some kindergartens require parents to provide a child’s vaccine record.

Schools in the Caribbean

It is obligatory for children from 5 to 16 years old to attend schools.

They can be either public and private. Studying in public or state schools is free of charge while in private schools you need to pay a tuition fee, however, some schools offer discounts.

The educational system in general is based on the British one. There are primary and secondary schools, and after each of them a pupil needs to pass an exam: the Caribbean Primary Exit Assessment (CPEA) and the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) respectively.

If children are enrolled in primary school at the age of 5, they usually finish it by the age of 11—12. Studying in secondary school takes 5 years, so pupils usually graduate at the age of 16—17.

Lessons in the Caribbean schools are held in English as it is an official language of the region. Aside from regular subjects, schools also offer extra curricular activities, such as drama, music and arts.

Children of the Caribbean can be homeschooled. However, the Ministry of Education of every country imposes requirements on the curriculum and academic hours for each subject, which must be fulfilled by the parents.

Universities in the Caribbean

There are a small number of higher education institutions in the Caribbean. For that reason, citizens of the Caribbean often choose to study abroad. However, those who decide to study in a Caribbean country benefit from a wide variety of programs such as management, business, arts, etc. 

The most popular field of study in the Caribbean is medicine. Many schools are accredited by different countries, making the student able to go abroad for internships or working after graduation. The best schools offer several weeks of internships in the US clinics and hospitals in their curriculums.

$15,000—25,000
An average annual cost for studying medicine in the Caribbean

All universities in the Caribbean are paid. To decrease expenses, some universities offer scholarships for talented and motivated students, like the Caribbean Undergraduate Scholarship Program or the Caribbean Visionary Scholarship. Those can cover both the tuition fees and living expenses.

Caribbean universities accept both international and local students. 

Best universities
in the Caribbean region

Grenada: St. George's University is one of the most popular educational institutions in the Caribbean. It includes 4 departments: School of Medicine, School of Veterinary Medicine, School of Arts and Sciences, and School of Graduate Studies.

20,000+ students graduated from St. George’s University in 40 years that it exists, and many of them received residency placements in the US clinics. In 2022, there were already 990 St.George’s graduates working in US medicine.

Grenada citizenship for studying at a foreign university and future work in the USA

Daniel’s grandson Edon dreamed of becoming a doctor and working in the USA. He decided to enter St. George’s University, because its students undergo 16-weeks internship in the USA and the UK hospitals. The diploma is recognized in 47 countries such as Australia, the UK, the USA, Canada, and the UAE.

Tuition fee for studying in St. George’s University was relatively high for the family. However, with a Grenada passport they managed to get a big discount.

Read the full story

Jamaica: The University of the West Indies is a public university that was established in 1948 to offer higher education for English-speaking people in the Caribbean. The main campus is located in Jamaica, but there are also other campuses. One of them, the Five Islands Campus, is located in Antigua and Barbuda. There are also 10 global centres across North America, Europe, Asia and other regions.

The university has a wide variety of programs. The Antigua and Barbuda campus offers bachelor degrees in business and management, computing and artificial intelligence, health and behavioural science and humanities and education.

Dominica: All Saints University School of Medicine is located in Roseau. It is accredited globally and offers several programs: the 4 and 5 years of doctor of medicine (MD) degree, a bachelor of science in nursing (BScN) degree, and Ph.D. degree program in life sciences (Immunology). 

People from over 35 countries study at the university and later work in North America, Europe, Asia and other parts of the world. In first years, students undergo premedical and medical theoretical courses followed by a minimum of 72 weeks of clinical clerkship in the later semesters.

Antigua and Barbuda: American University of Antigua College of Medicine allows its students to acquire a Doctor of Medicine degree. It is accredited globally, and its graduates can practise in all 50 US states as well as in the UK, Canada, and India. The program consists of two parts: preclinical sciences and clinical sciences.

There are also three programs in collaboration with the Florida International University:

  1. Graduate clinical core rotation certificate program.
  2. Global health track program.
  3. Master of public health program.

Barbados: Ross University School of Medicine was founded in 1978 to prepare skilled physicians. More than 15,000+ alumni practise in the United States and Canada. The university is accredited by the Caribbean Accreditation Authority for Education in Medicine and Other Health Professions (CAAM-HP).

Students become doctors of medicine after they complete the basic sciences curriculum on the campus in Barbados and clinical rotations at hospitals in the United States or Canada. 

Benefits of the Caribbean education

Language. English is an official language in most Caribbean countries. Foreign students don’t need to learn other languages, in contrast with other regions like Europe or Latin America. 

Cost. Studying in the United States or Canada is expensive: the tuition fee can be up to $70,000 a year. Caribbean universities are less costly: students usually pay from $15,000 to $25,000 a year. 

High quality. Even though the cost for education in the Caribbean is lower than in North America, the quality of the education is the same. Caribbean medical schools are accredited both by the US and globally, therefore their students obtain high-quality knowledge and can work in different parts of the world.  

Admission procedure. The amount of students who choose to study in the Caribbean is significantly lower than in the US or Europe. Thus, it is generally easier to get accepted to the university in this region. 

Moving to the Caribbean:
what else is good about it?

Besides education in international schools and universities, the Caribbean region offers other benefits.

Climate. In the Caribbean, the climate is tropical and subtropical. It is warm and sunny there for the majority of the year. The temperature almost never falls below 20°C even in winter.

Healthy food. Due to the region’s climate, there are many fruits and vegetables growing all year long there. Another advantage of the Caribbean is proximity to the sea which gives an opportunity to enjoy seafood.

Relaxed lifestyle. Countries belonging to the Caribbean region are relatively small and not very populated. For example, 72,409 people live in Dominica according to the latest United Nations estimates. That means streets are not very busy, and the majority of people live a relaxed life.

Proximity to the USA. Caribbean countries are located in the Atlantic ocean between North and South Americas. Direct flight from Grenada to New York takes around 5 hours. It is especially convenient for those who live in the Caribbean and need to visit the USA for work or studying.

International community of expats. People come to the Caribbean from all over the world: the USA, Australia, Canada, India, the UK. Therefore, there are many international people representing different cultures. 

How to obtain Caribbean citizenship

Citizenship of the Caribbean country can be obtained by investment. It is the easiest and the fastest way to get a passport.

An investor who plans to get citizenship need to fulfil the following requirements:

  • be over 18 years old;
  • have no criminal records or prosecutions;
  • be able to prove the legality of income;
  • have no serious illnesses.

The investor can also add their family members to the application. The sum of investment and time required to obtain a passport depends on the country.

Conditions of the Caribbean citizenship programs

Family membersMinimum sum of investmentInvestment optionsTime required
Antigua and BarbudaA spouse

Children

Financially dependent parents 55+

Unmarried siblings
$100,000Non-refundable contributions to the National Development Fund

Non-refundable contribution to the University of the West Indies Fund

Purchase of property

Business investment
4—6 months
DominicaA spouse

Children

Financially dependent parents 64+
$100,000Non-refundable contribution to the fund

Purchase of real estate
2—6 months
GrenadaA spouse

Children

Financially dependent parents

Unmarried and childless siblings under 18
$150,000Non-refundable contribution to the fund

Purchase of real estate
4—6 months
St Kitts and NevisA spouse of opposite sex

Children

Financially dependent parents 55+

Unmarried and childless siblings under 30
$150,000Non-refundable contribution to the fund

Purchase of real estate
2—6 months
St LuciaA spouse

Children

Financially dependent parents 55+

Siblings under 18
$100,000Non-refundable contribution to the National Economic Fund

Real estate purchase

Bond purchase

Business investment
3—4 months

Studying in the UK or in the USA with Caribbean citizenship

The UK. Caribbean countries are a part of the Commonwealth of Nations, which gives its citizens an opportunity to stay in the UK for 180 days visa-free. Thus, if they study on the short-term courses they don’t need to apply for a visa. 

For longer studies in the university, a Caribbean citizen needs a student visa. It is given for up to 2 or 5 years, depending on whether a student plans to obtain a British diploma or not.

The UK offers scholarships to Caribbean citizens, such as the Commonwealth Scholarship or Chevening Scholarship.

The USA. To study in the USA Caribbean citizens need to apply for a student visa. It is given for 5 years at once, which means a student doesn’t need to extend it every year.

5 years US
student visa
Can be obtained at once
by a Caribbean citizen

There are three types of student visas available:

  • F — for studying in the university, college, high school, private elementary school, seminary, conservatory or another academic institution, including a language training program;
  • M — for studying in vocational or other recognized nonacademic institution, other than a language training program;
  • J — for participating in the exchange programs.

Frequently asked questions

Is Caribbean education good?

Yes, it is good. Caribbean schools are designed based on the British schools standards, and Caribbean universities are accredited by the Caribbean and global authorities. Caribbean education is also more affordable than one in Europe or North America.

Can you go to the university in the Caribbean?

Any person can enter universities in the Caribbean as they accept both local and international students. The easiest way to go to the university in one of the CARICOM countries is to obtain a Caribbean passport. It allows you to get a discount on studying up to 90%.

What Caribbean medical schools are accredited in the US?

Among the most famous medical schools that are accredited in the US is an American University of Antigua College of Medicine, located in Antigua and Barbuda. Its graduates are allowed to work in all 50 US states.

Other accredited schools are, for example, All Saints University School of Medicine in Dominica and St. George’s University in Grenada.

What are the best medical schools in the Caribbean?

There are many good medical schools in the Caribbean. Among them are All Saints University School of Medicine in Dominica, St. George’s University in Grenada, American University of Antigua College of Medicine in Antigua and Barbuda.

How to apply to medical school in the Caribbean?

Everyone can apply to medical school in the Caribbean. The requirements for the documents are the following:

  • an application;
  • official transcripts from each college, university and/or professional school that you have attended;
  • 2—3 letters of recommendation, at least one of them from a medical doctor;
  • a certificate with medical school admission test score; 
  • a certificate with grade point average;
  • an IELTS/TOEFL certificate for those who are not native speakers of English.

Interviewing with an applicant is also a part of the application process in some schools. 

Most medical schools in the Caribbean require applicants to have an undergraduate degree in biology, chemistry, physics, etc. to apply for a Doctor of Medicine program. However, some of them have programs that include pre-medical studies that allow persons to enter a medical school right after graduating from the secondary school.

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Caribbean education system: All you need to know