The history of formal education in Estonia dates back to the 13–14th centuries when the first monastic and cathedral schools were founded. The first primer in the Estonian language was published in 1575. The oldest university is the University of Tartu which was established by the Swedish king Gustav II Adolf in 1632. In 1919, university courses were first taught in the Estonian language.
Today's education in Estonia is divided into general, vocational, and hobby education. The education system is based on four levels which include pre-school, basic, secondary, and higher education. A wide network of schools and supporting educational institutions has been established. The Estonian educational system consists of state, municipal, public, and private educational institutions. There are currently 589 schools in Estonia.
Academic higher education in Estonia is divided into three levels: bachelor's studies, master's studies, and doctoral studies. In some specialties (basic medical studies, veterinary, pharmacy, dentistry, architect-engineer, and a classroom teacher program) the Bachelors and Master's levels are integrated into one unit. Also, bakalaureusekraad awarded before or in the year 2002 are equivalent to the Master's level degrees awarded after implementing the Bologne Process on 1 September 2002. Estonian public universities have significantly more autonomy than applied higher education institutions. In addition to organizing the academic life of the university, universities can create new curricula, establish admission terms and conditions, approve the budget, approve the development plan, elect the rector and make restricted decisions in matters concerning assets. Estonia has a moderate number of public and private universities. The largest public universities are Tartu University, Tallinn University of Technology, Tallinn University, Estonian University of Life Sciences, Estonian Academy of Arts, Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre and the largest private university is the International University of Audentes.
The Estonian Academy of Sciences is Estonia's national academy of science. The IT industry of Estonia in the late 1950s as the first computer centers were established in Tartu and Tallinn. Estonian specialists contributed to the development of software engineering standards for different ministries of the Soviet Union during the 1980s.
In the latest 2015 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) report, Estonia's education system was ranked third in the world and the best in Europe.