Czech Republic - higher education system

Two equal horizontal bands of white and red with a blue isosceles triangle based on the hoist side
Population (mln): 10,53
Official language/s: Czech
Internet TLD: .cz
Calling code: +420
Member of the EU from: 1st May 2004
Unemployment rate Sep 2011 (%): 6.5
Unemployment rate under 25 years Sep 2011 (%): 18.0
Unemployment rate Sep 2012 (%): 7.1
Unemployment rate under 25 years Sep 2012 (%): 19.9
Population statistics 20-29 age group 2011 (%): 13,9
Country codes in education system: CZ
Expected duration of education (years): 17,7

Tertiary education sector is divided into higher education (ISCED 5A and 6) and tertiary professional education (ISCED 5B). The notion tertiary education is not defined in present legislation but is used in official documents. Higher education and tertiary professional education applicants qualify for entry if they have completed secondary education completed with a school-leaving examination (maturitní zkouška) and met the admission requirements stipulated by a relevant institution.

Higher education is delivered at higher education institutions (vysoké školy) which form the highest level of the Czech education system. Higher education consists of three cycles: 

  • Bachelor’s degree programme (ISCED 5A), lasting  3–4 years,
  • Master’s degree programmes (ISCED 5A), lasting 1–3 years, or 4–6 years in case of programmes not following bachelor’s programmes (non-structured study programme),
  • Doctoral degree programme (ISCED 6) lasting  3–4 years.

Higher education institutions are public, state and private. Under the Higher Education Act they are classified as university type (24 public, 2 state and 3 private) which offer study programmes at all three levels of higher education and non-university type (2 public and 43 private) which offer mainly Bachelor’s programmes but may also provide Master’s programmes.

The basic prerequisite for entry into bachelor’s and non-structured Master’s programmes is completed secondary education with a school-leaving examination. Detailed admission requirements are set by a relevant higher education institution and may include an entrance examination. Higher education can take forms of full-time courses, distance-learning courses or a combination of both. Students have to follow a study plan within an accredited study programme, accreditation is awarded by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports on the basis of a recommendation of the Accreditation commission.

Studies are duly completed if students obtain their qualification through:

  • a Bachelor’s programme which ends with final state examination, part of which is the defence of a thesis, graduates are mostly awarded the academic title Bachelor (Bc.), 
  • a Master’s programme which ends with final state examination (or a state examination – rigorózní zkouška), part of which is the defence of a thesis, graduates mostly obtain the academic title Master (Mgr.),
  • a Doctoral programme which ends  with a state doctoral examination, graduates mostly obtain the academic title Doctor (Ph.D.).

Tertiary professional education. Education in a conservatoire which also provides this level of education.

Tertiary professional schools (vyšší odborné školy) are public, state, private or denominational. The prerequisite for admission is secondary education completed with a school-leaving examination (maturitní zkouška). Admission process details are set by the school head and can include an entrance examination. The courses usually include both theoretical and practical part. Educational programme is subject to accreditation from the Ministry of Education that is awarded on the basis of a recommendation of the Accreditation Commission for Tertiary Professional Education.

Education ends with an absolutorium, a final examination consisting of a theoretical exam in vocational subjects, an exam in a foreign language and defence of a thesis. Graduates obtain absolutorium certificates, a diploma and the title „Diploma Specialist“ (DiS).

School-leavers from tertiary professional do not have access to Master’s degree programmes. Some higher education institutions, however, offer a possibility to acknowledge the subjects studied within a tertiary professional school programme thus enabling the school-leavers to complete their Bachelor’s programmes in a shorter period of time.

Bachelor’s programmes are described in  First Cycle Programmes, Master’s programmes following the Bachelor’s programmes in Second Cycle Programmes, non-structured Master’s programmesin individual section and Doctoral programmes in Third Cycle Programmes.

Education in tertiary professional schools is described in Programmes outside the Bachelor and Master Structure, in conservatoires in the chapter Upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education.

Administration and governance of tertiary education at national, regional, local and institutional level is provided separately in the chapter Organization and governance.

Information on private higher education institutions and tertiary professional schools is dealt with separately in Organization of private education.

Source: Eurydice,
Eurypedia - The European Encyclopedia on National Education Systems , Eurosta,, Agency for Science and Higher Education Croatia, Department of Education and Skills Irelan,  Ministry of Education and Culture - FINLAND
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