The higher education system

Levels of study

The Czech higher education system follows a three level structure starting with Bachelor’s, then Master’s and finally Doctoral study programmes. Czech is the primary tuition language although there are now many programmes delivered in foreign languages, especially English.

Bachelor’s

The first stage of higher education is a Bachelor’s degree which lasts between 3 and 4 years. If you study in the field of arts, you will receive a BcA (Bakalář Umění degree). If you study in any other field you will receive a Bc (Bakalář degree). Studies are completed with a final state examination. Successful graduates can either enter full-time employment or continue their studies in follow-up Master’s programmes.

Master’s

The second stage of higher education is a Master’s degree. If you are following on from a Bachelor’s degree this lasts between 1 and 3 years. A full Master’s Degree lasts between 4 and 6 years. It focuses primarily on furthering students’ theoretical knowledge, applying this knowledge and developing their creative skills and abilities.

The following degrees are awarded in master’s programmes:

  • magistr (Mgr.): Master of humanities, sciences, law, education, pharmacy and theology
  • magistr umění (MgA.): Master of Arts
  • inženýr (Ing.): Engineer in the field of economics, technical sciences and engineering, agriculture, forestry and military branches of study
  • inženýr architekt (Ing. arch.) – Architect in the field of architecture;
  • doktor medicíny (MUDr.): Doctor of Human Medicine in the field of medicine
  • zubní lékař (MDDr.): Doctor of Dental Medicine in the field of dental medicine
  • doktor veterinární medicíny (MVDr.): Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in the field of veterinary medicine

Graduates of a master’s programme can go on to sit a demanding state examination in the same field, as well as present and defend a thesis to be awarded one of the following academic degrees:

  • doktor práv (JUDr.) in the field of law
  • doktor filozofie (PhDr.) in the field of humanities, teacher training and social sciences
  • doktor přírodních věd (RNDr.) in the field of natural sciences
  • doktor farmacie (PharmDr.) in the field of pharmacy
  • licenciát teologie (ThLic.) in the field of Catholic theology
  • licenciát teologie (ThLic.) or “doktor teologie” (ThDr.) in the field of theology, excluding Catholic theology

Doctoral

The highest stage of higher education is the Doctoral degree and this usually lasts 3 years. It is designed for holders of a Master’s degree and focuses on independent creative work in research, development or the arts.

The following degrees are awarded for graduates of doctoral programmes:

  • doktor (Ph.D.)
  • doktor teologie (Th.D.) in the field of theology

Admission requirements

The primary requirement for being accepted into a higher education institution is to have completed a full secondary education. At the end of their secondary studies Czech students take a leaving exam (Maturita) and if they pass it they can then go on to study in higher education. If you completed your secondary education or Bachelor’s degree outside the Czech Republic then you will need to get your qualifications formally recognised, and you may also have to take the Czech leaving exam (Maturita). You should contact the institutions you are interested in applying to for further details regarding your secondary education qualifications.

For admission onto a follow up master’s programme you require a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field of study and, similarly, for admission onto a doctoral programme you require a master’s degree in a relevant field of study.

You will also have to pass an admission examination at the institution you are applying to. Students with exceptional secondary school results may be exempt from admission tests.

If you intend to study on a Czech programme then you will need to prove your level of Czech by presenting a certificate. This is also true of courses taught in foreign languages such as English. Contact the specific institution for full details of the programmes’ language requirements.

You can apply to study on several different programmes at various institutions and facilities. The deadline for applying is usually the end of February or March. You can usually apply online which may be more convenient. Entrance examinations are usually held between June and September. Examinations for programmes in the arts are held in January and the deadline for applications is usually November.

Organisation of studies, accreditation

The academic year usually begins in October and lasts for 12 months. Each higher education institution will plan its own structure for the academic year but generally the academic year is split into two semesters, winter and summer. At the end of each semester there is a period of examinations, which lasts approximately five weeks, followed by a break. After the winter semester there is usually a 1-week break and after the summer semester there is a longer break from July through to September.

Performance in examinations and in the defence of the thesis is graded. In most institutions students are assessed using the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). The transfer system is preferred as it allows completed parts of a programme to be recognised and thus contributing to transferability within the system.

Tuition fees

If you want to study at a state or public higher education institution on a Czech programme, then the good news is that tuition fees are free for citizens of all nationalities. However, you will have to pay administration fees for the processing of your application and so on. If you decide to study an additional programme alongside your main course you will have to pay tuition fees for this. And if you want to study on a programme that is taught in a foreign language, such as English, then you will also have to pay tuition fees.

Private institutions can set their own fees for individual programmes. The tuition fees range from 3,700-15,000 EUR per year and the amount depends on the relevant institution and study programme. The most expensive programmes are Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary. To study General Medicine at Charles University in English will cost 360,000 CZK per year (around 14,000 EUR). This is a six-year course. A three year Bachelor’s programme in Liberal Arts and Humanities in English will cost around 50,400 CZK per year (around 2,000 EUR). Some institutions have prices for European and non-European students. Prices will also be affected by scholarships or exchange programmes such as Erasmus.

Scholarships

Foreign students wishing to study in the Czech Republic can receive a scholarship under bilateral international agreements. The Czech Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport offer scholarships annually under bilateral international agreements on cooperation in the field of education. The Czech government also offer scholarships within the framework of Foreign Development Aid. These scholarships usually last between 2 and 10 months and are designed for university students or graduates, and doctoral programme candidates who wish to study or conduct research in a Czech, public institution of higher education.

Exchange programmes

European students can take advantage of Erasmus, the EU’s international exchange programme. It enables over 200,000 students to study and work abroad each year. For more information visit Erasmus website.

There are a number of other European exchange programmes such as EEA/Norway Financial Mechanism, and Ceepus.

Fullbright is the largest international exchange programme in the United States. It allows students to study abroad for one academic year.

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