Polish tertiary education is divided into a public and a private sector. The term Tertiary Education Institutions (TEIs) is used to describe both public and private schools. Very few private sector schools offer degrees above bachelor level.
Public sector schools normally offer all levels of degrees and the Polish system conforms to the Bologna Process.
Non-Public Tertiary Education Institutions
- Although numerous, institutions in the private sector offer only vocational diplomas or bachelor degrees. Very little research activity takes place at non-public TEIs.
- Non-public TEIs are usually small, with over 50% offering less than four faculties. The average number of students is 2,000, while public schools average 10,000 students.
- Over 80% of students in TEIs study part-time, compared with 36% in public institutions.
Public Universities - Uniwersytety
- Publicly funded Universities are found throughout Poland, with the top schools concentrated in Warsaw.
- Over 60% of teaching costs and over 80% of research costs are funded by the state, sometimes in combination with the European Union.
Universities of Technology - Politechniki
- These are the universities which specialize in studies and research in engineering.
Academies - Akademie
- These are Universities which specialize is particular fields such as Medicine, Economics, Agriculture, Fine Arts, Theatre, Music, or Cinematography.
Teacher Training Schools - Wyższe Szkoły Pedagogiczne
- These provide training for future teachers in primary and secondary education.
Polish students entering TEIs need a Maturity Certificate, the Świadectwo dojrzalości, awarded by the various secondary schools. Some more prestigious TEIs have additional entrance examinations.
EU/EEA students are admitted on the basis of their secondary school certification, which must allow them admission to university in their own country. Proof of nationality is required. Entry is normally competitive with other applicants, not automatic. Non-state TEIs are generally easier to enter.
At State TEIs the majority of courses are taught in Polish, so proof of knowledge of Polish is also required. At non-state TEIs many courses are taught in English and proof of intermediate-level English proficiency may be required if the students secondary education is not in English.
Non-EU/EEA students, in addition to these requirements, must have a certificate proving their entitlement to enter the same degree programme in their own country. They may also require a visa which must be obtained at a Polish embassy abroad before entering Poland.
Bachelor’s Degree (first-cycle degrees)
- This is the entry-level degree for tertiary education. There are two main degrees.
- The Bachelor of Arts or Licencjat is the first degree in humanities, economics and social sciences.
- The Bachelor of Science or Inżynier is the second main degree.
- Bachelor degrees normally take three years to complete.
Master’s Degree (second-cycle degrees)
- For students holding a Bachelor’s degree a Master’s degree takes two years.
- Master’s degrees are called a Magister.
- However for Law, Medicine, Pharmacy, Psychology, Veterinary Medicine, and Dentistry the five-year Magister, called a long-cycle Master’s, is entered directly from the secondary school with the Maturity Certificate.
Doctors Diploma or Doctorate (third-cycle degrees)
- The Doktor is offered in most fields. It normally requires three years to complete. Relevant lower degrees – Bachelor’s and Master’s - are normally required for admission.
- A degree of doctor in artistic disciplines is called a doktor sztuki.
- There is always a requirement for independent, original research and the submission of a thesis.
- Obtaining a doctor’s degree can be done by full-time attendance, but also while continuing in professional practise and preparing a thesis.
- There is also a higher-level doctorate – the Doktor habilitowany awarded to those already holding a doctorate, after further study and a dissertation. This level is required to be a full professor at a University.