Poland - higher education system

The flag of Poland consists of two horizontal stripes of equal width, the upper one white and the lower one red
Country: Poland
Population (mln): 38,20
Official language/s: Polish
Internet TLD: .pl
Calling code: +48
Member of the EU from: 1st May 2004
Unemployment rate Sep 2011 (%): 9,9
Unemployment rate under 25 years Sep 2011 (%): 26,6
Unemployment rate Sep 2012 (%): 10,3
Unemployment rate under 25 years Sep 2012 (%): 27,1
Population statistics 20-29 age group 2011 (%): 16,3
Country codes in education system: PL
Expected duration of education (years): 18,1

Higher Education Institutions

The Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in Poland are divided into state (public) and private (non-public) institutions. There are two main categories of higher education institutions: university-type and non-university institutions. In the university-type HEIs, at least one unit is authorised to confer the academic degree of Doctor (PhD), i.e. offers at least one doctoral programme.

Structure of studies in Poland

The higher education institutions run full-time, extramural, evening and external courses. The full-time courses are defined as the basic type of studies.

Poland conforms to the guidelines from the Bologna Process in European higher education. The degree system based on the three-cycle structure has been successfully implemented together with the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS). The European standard in higher education makes it easier for students to obtain recognition of their qualifications in other countries. 

1st Cycle

First-cycle studies (3 to 4 years) leading to the professional title of a licencjat or inżynier (Engineer, in the field of engineering, agriculture or economics). This is the Polish equivalent of the Bachelor’s degree. It is focused on preparing students for future employment or for continued education within the Master’s degree programmes. To obtain this degree, students must earn 180-240 ECTS credits.

2nd Cycle

Second-cycle studies – Master’s degree programme (1.5 to 2 years) following the first cycle studies and leading to the professional title of Master (magister, or an equivalent degree depending on the study course profile). It is focused on theoretical knowledge as well as application and development of creative skills. In artistic disciplines, the focus is on the development of creativity and talents. Master’s degree holders may enter a doctoral programme (third-cycle studies). To obtain the degree, students must earn 90-120 ECTS credits.

Long-cycle studies

In addition to the general structure, 11 fields of study including acting, art conservation and restoration, canon law, dentistry, law, medical analysis, medicine, production and photography, pharmacy, psychology and veterinary medicine, offer long-cycle programmes only.

Long-cycle studies – Master’s degree programme (4.5 to 6 years) leading to the professional title of Master (magister, or an equivalent degree depending on the study course profile). To obtain this degree, students must earn 270-360 ECTS credits. Such single long-cycle studies are based on an integrated study programme which contains both basic studies and in-depth specialisation. Completion of this degree will provide a qualification corresponding to the Master’s degree at the second-cycle studies.

3rd Cycle

Third-cycle studies – Doctoral degree programmes (normally 3 to 4 years) accessible for graduates of Master’s degree programme, leading to a PhD degree, offered by the university type schools as well as some research institutions (departments of the Polish Academy of Sciences as well as research and development institutions). The PhD degree is awarded to candidates who submit and successfully defend a doctoral dissertation before the thesis committee and pass the doctoral examination.

source: Ministry of Science and Higher Education 


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