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Types of studies and academic degrees in Poland

In Poland, there are several types of studies. They differ in terms of conditions the student must meet to be accepted, the length of the learning period, and the professional academic titles which a student is granted upon completion: 

  • First-cycle studies – are professional studies that prepare students to work in a specific profession, and are completed with a bachelor's or engineer’s degree. The learning period for first-cycle studies lasts from six to seven semesters. To undertake these studies, a student needs to have completed upper secondary education and passed a school leaving examination (in Poland or abroad).
  • Second-cycle studies - are professional studies where upon graduation a student is granted a master's degree, or a master of science or equivalent title (e.g. medical doctor, dentist, veterinary doctor). Second-cycle studies last 3-4 semesters. Admission to second-cycle studies requires prior completion of first-cycle studies (in Poland or abroad).
  • Uniform master degree – where students graduate with a master's degree, master of science degree or equivalent. The learning period of a uniform master's degree programme is between 9-12 semesters. Studies at a uniform master's degree programme require a school-leaving certificate (high school diploma) obtained in Poland or abroad. Uniform cycle programs are run in such fields as pharmacy, law, psychology and medicine. 

After obtaining a professional degree, you may continue studies at: 

  • Third-cycle studies or doctoral studies providing advanced knowledge in a particular field or discipline of science. These studies will prepare you to obtain a doctoral degree that may be received after defending a doctoral thesis. A necessary condition to undertake these studies is to have a master's degree, obtained in Poland or abroad.
  • Postgraduate studies are studies which aim to deepen knowledge in a particular field or discipline of science. Postgraduate studies last from 2 to 4 semesters. After their completion the student receives a certificate of completion of postgraduate studies (this is not a degree/diploma), but does not receive any professional degree or academic title. 

All foreigners - provided that they meet the requirements relating to the admission and completion of their chosen programme of study – may pursue any of the aforementioned types of studies.

General conditions for admission of foreigners to studies in Poland

Full-time studies at state institutions are free of charge for Polish citizens. From 2013, tuition fees for pursuing a second, additional degree at another faculty will be introduced. Evening and other part-time programmes at public universities are for-fee studies. The tuition rates are set by the institution.
Full-time studies, as well as evening and other part-time studies at private institutions, are on a for-fee basis.

On principle, all foreigners are entitled to take up studies at Polish tertiary education institutions. The rules for their admission, however, and conditions of studies at public higher education institutions vary depending on the foreigner’s legal status in Poland. Some foreign citizens who study in Poland are eligible to receive the same benefits as Polish citizens (including free tertiary education). This principle applies to foreigners in the following categories:

  • Individuals who have received a permanent residence permit to settle on the territory of Poland;
  • Foreigners in possession of a valid Pole's Card (what is a Pole's Card? - >);
  • Foreigners with refugee status obtained in Poland;
  • Foreigners granted temporary protection on the territory of Poland
  • Migrant workers that are citizens of European Union (EU) Member States, Switzerland or EFTA member states – parties to the European Economic Area agreement -  as well as their family members residing in Poland;
  • Individuals with a long-term EU resident permit issued in Poland – what is a long-term EU resident permit? ->
  • Individuals granted supplementary protection on the territory of Poland
  • EU and EFTA citizens as well as their family members - parties to the European Economic Area agreement -  as well as Swiss citizens in possession of a permanent residence permit.

Foreigners who do not belong to one of these categories can study in Poland on a for-fee basis, unless they are recipients of scholarships on whose basis the relevant fees are waived (more information on this subject is available below).

Upon receipt of a justified application from a foreigner, the institution's rector may lower tuition fees or waive them altogether.

More information on the cost of studies in Poland is available here ->

Scholarships for foreigners

Foreigners who may take up studies under the same rules as Polish citizens are eligible for application for scholarships paid out from the state budget. There are several types of such scholarships:

  • social scholarship
  • special needs scholarship for handicapped students,
  • merit scholarship for academic results or sporting achievement,
  • ministry of education scholarship for academic merit,
  • ministry of education scholarship for academic merit,
  • meals allowance,
  • accommodation allowance,
  • other grants 

Foreigners who are not eligible to apply for the above scholarships may nevertheless apply for the following: 

  • Polish government scholarships;
  • scholarships from foreign governments;
  • or take up studies free of charge and without a scholarship. 

Polish government scholarships. The government of Poland grants students and trainees scholarships pursuant to bilateral agreements. Holders of Polish government scholarships can study in Poland for free. International agreements determine annual limits of places. Scholarships are granted by the Minister of National Education. Persons applying for a scholarship from the government of Poland should contact Polish diplomatic posts abroad (consulates). The value of the scholarship from the government of Poland for the 2010-2011 academic year was:

      900 PLN – undergraduate and master's studies

     1350 PLN – scientific internships and doctoral studies

     1600 PLN – scientific internships for post-doctoral studies

Scholarships are paid directly to beneficiaries by the institutions in which they study.

 

Scholarships from foreign governments (the sending party.) These scholarships are awarded to foreigners undertaking studies on the basis of international agreements, by the ministries or institutions of the foreigner’s home country responsible for academic exchange with foreign countries. Recipients of scholarships of foreign governments shall not be charged tuition.

 

Studies free of charge and without scholarship. Admission under such conditions is possible for foreigners under international agreements or assistance programs offered to certain countries by the Polish government. Individuals applying for free-of-charge studies in Poland without requesting a scholarship should contact the Polish diplomatic and consular missions. The foreign national will not be charged tuition, but does not receive a scholarship from the Polish government and must cover the cost of living in Poland.

Individual schools in Poland have the right to set their own rules for granting scholarships to foreigners and the rules for being exempted from paying tuition fees.

Recruitment to tertiary education institutions

Higher education institutions in Poland set their own conditions for admission of students.

Recruitment for university studies can be carried out on a competitive basis - by comparing the sum of points obtained for examinations in subjects required by the department during the school leaving examination (what is the school leaving examination ->). Individuals who have passed the equivalent of the Polish high school leaving exam abroad may be required to sit an entrance examination, if the total score for the exams on their high school certificate is different than in Poland and can not be converted. Some institutions also recruit solely on the basis of an entrance examination; sometimes both the high school leaving examination and entrance examination results are taken into account. For detailed information on recruitment, please contact the department of your choice at the relevant institution.

Recruitment is carried out by admissions committees appointed by the president of the higher education institution or other division as specified in the institution's statute. The admissions committee decides on admissions of prospective students. During recruitment the non-discrimination principle is enforced, which means that recruitment is based on an objective assessment of the knowledge and / or skills of the candidates, so that the chances of admission are the same for all - regardless of age, gender, or origin.

Language proficiency and commencement of studies

In order to pursue graduate or postgraduate-level studies conducted in the Polish language, a foreign student must prove her Polish language skills at a level sufficient to complete the study programme through: 

  • a certification of completion of an appropriate language course (ex. a one-year language course preparing for studying in Polish conducted by education institutions authorized by the Minister of Higher Education; the language courses are viewed as a part of the overall higher education duration period, and therefore students attending a language course have the same rights and privileges as other tertiary education students);
  • a Polish language certificate issued by the State Commission for Certification of Proficiency in Polish as a Foreign Language
  • a certificate from the receiving educational institution. 

Foreign citizens can also be admitted to higher education programmes conducted in a foreign language (except for doctoral studies at medical universities in clinical fields) if they can provide a document proving that their foreign language skills are on an appropriate level (such as a school certificate from a secondary or higher education institution where classes were conducted in a given language).

 

What are ECTS credits?

ECTS credits are a measure of the average amount of work a student is required to perform in order to achieve the intended learning outcomes. Each class which the student attends is assigned in advance a certain number of ECTS credits.

In order to obtain a certificate of completion:

  • of first-cycle studies (undergraduate), a student must obtain at least 180 ECTS credits;
  • of second-cycle studies - at least 90 ECTS credits;
  • of a uniform master's programme in the five-year system - at least 300 ECTS credits;
  • in the six-year study system- 360 ECTS credits.

In addition to the above ECTS credits limits, a full-time student at a public educational institution has the right to benefit from additional classes not covered by the required curriculum, free of charge, for which he or she may receive up to 30 supplementary ECTS credits; a student pursuing studies within the framework of an individualised inter-faculty interdisciplinary programme may gain up to 90 ECTS credits in that way.

How to legalize your stay in Poland on the basis of studies

The procedure of application for a residence card on the basis of studies can be viewed here ->

The procedure for obtaining a visa is available here-> 

If a foreigner intends to continue his stay in Poland after graduation from a tertiary education institution in Poland and after the expiry of a visa or residence card, they must legalize their stay in the country. Information on legalization of stay and how to obtain a residence card is available here -> 

Health insurance while studying

Foreign students may benefit from medical care in Poland provided that they are insured by the NFZ (National Health Fund) - more information on public health insurance in Poland is available here ->

For people of Polish origin, health insurance premiums are paid by the educational institution where they study. Such people must prove their Polish origin to the institution in question.
Individuals not of Polish origin are required to pay health insurance premiums out of their own pockets.

Accommodation during studies

Students, including foreigners, may be granted a place in student dormitories (residence halls). To obtain a place in a dormitory, an application must be submitted. Each tertiary education institution which has dormitories available to students sets a date for submission of applications. Before choosing a school, you should check whether the institution offers places in dormitories, the price of accommodation in them and their location. Also, if a student has been awarded a place in the dorm in a given academic year and wants to use it in the following academic year, an application asking for re-allocation of a place in the dorm must be submitted before the end of the present academic year. 

Attention: Please bear in mind that due to the number of interested applicants and limited number of places in residence halls, not all applicants are granted a place in dormitories. 

Places in the dormitories are paid, and the fees are determined separately by each residence hall. Fees for places in dormitories vary depending on the city, but usually cost from 400 to 500 PLN monthly. Rooms in dormitories generally house 2-3 students.

Ready, Study, Go! Poland

More information about Ready, Study, Go! Poland is available here ->

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