Before 1990 there were only state higher education institutions in Poland, with the sole exception of the Catholic University of Lublin. By now the total number of state higher education institutions is 128 and there are 304 non-state higher education institutions.
Admission to a Polish university
If you want to study at a Polish university you need a higher education entrance qualification, such as the Matura in Poland. International degrees, such as the British A-Level and the German Abitur, are usually recognized. To make sure that your specific degree will allow you to study in Poland, contact the Polish Bureau for Academic Recognition and International Exchange (Biuro uznawalnosci wyksztalcenia i wymiany miedzynarodowej).
To be admitted to a Polish higher education institution you will also have to pass an entrance exam.
University degrees in Poland
The most common degree program in Poland is the Bachelor (licencjat or inżynier). It usually takes between three and four years. At the end of your studies you will have to pass a final exam and write and defend a thesis paper.
Subsequent to the Bachelor you can decide to take a Master program (magister). This usually takes between two and three years. Similar to the Bachelor you will have to pass a final exam and write and defend a thesis paper. However, you can also take a Master program without holding a Bachelor degree. The program then will take between five and six years.
The organization of Polish study programs is very strict and almost resembles an extended secondary education. Course schedules are set most of the time and students can not choose them.
Costs of studying in Poland
Higher education is free of charge at full-time courses in public sector institutions. There are two exceptions to this rule:
- Universities can charge a fee for courses that are repeated by a student as a result of failing grades
- Students applying for admission have to pay for the entrance examinations (the amount is fixed by each institution, but it cannot exceed the maximum defined by the Ministry of Education)
The majority of state higher education institutions offer paid extra-curricular activities and full-time evening classes.
Tuition fees in private higher education institutions vary greatly. Prices depend on the institution itself as well as the subject of study and the demand for the respective subject.
If you decide to study at a private university make sure that it is accredited by the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education (it has to be if you want to get a diploma that is recognized). Any university or academy in which you are interested can be checked easily on the site of Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education.
Who runs what?
Compared to other countries it is quite difficult to figure out which governmental department is responsible for which higher education institution in Poland. Most institutions fall under the responsibility of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, but there are exceptions.
All medical academies are supervised by the Polish Ministry of Health. All academies for music, theater, film studies and fine arts are controlled by the Polish Ministry of Culture. Military academies are run by the Polish Ministry of National Defense, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs supervises academies for police and firemen.
Although the exceptions named above only account for a small part of the actual universities in Poland it still is important to know them. Their admission conditions, tuition fees and deadlines may vary greatly from regular universities.