The higher education system in Poland is structured to provide a diverse range of programs and degrees, accommodating a wide array of academic and professional pursuits. Here’s an overview of how the system is organized:

1. Three-Tier Degree Structure: Poland adheres to the Bologna Process, which standardizes higher education across much of Europe. The system is divided into three main cycles:
– Bachelor’s Degree (Licencjat or Inżynier): This first cycle lasts typically 3 to 3.5 years (4 years for engineering programs). Upon completion, students receive a Licencjat degree in the arts or sciences, or an Inżynier degree in engineering disciplines.
– Master’s Degree (Magister or Magister Inżynier): Following the bachelor’s degree, the second cycle is usually 1.5 to 2 years long. It culminates in a Magister degree, or Magister Inżynier for technical fields.
– Doctoral Degree (Doktor): The third cycle, leading to a doctoral degree, involves advanced study and research. It usually takes 3 to 4 years to complete and requires the defense of a doctoral dissertation.

2. Academic and Vocational Focus: Polish higher education institutions offer both academic and vocational studies. Universities tend to focus on research and academic programs, while universities of applied sciences (technikum wyższe) emphasize practical training and industry collaborations.

3. Language of Instruction: While many programs are offered in Polish, there is a growing number of courses and programs taught entirely in English, particularly at the master’s and doctoral levels. This is especially prevalent in fields such as business, science, and technology.

4. Admission Requirements: Admission to Polish higher education institutions generally requires a secondary school certificate (matura) for undergraduate programs. For graduate programs, a relevant bachelor’s degree is necessary. Additionally, non-native speakers must often prove their proficiency in the language of instruction, whether Polish or English.

5. International Cooperation: Polish universities actively participate in international programs like Erasmus+, allowing students to study abroad and researchers to engage in cross-border collaborations. This enhances the academic experience and broadens networking opportunities for students.

6. Tuition and Scholarships: EU/EEA students often enjoy the same rights as Polish students, typically studying without tuition fees at public universities under the same conditions. Non-EU/EEA students are usually required to pay tuition fees, which are nonetheless competitive compared to other European countries. Numerous scholarships are available, including those offered by the Polish government and various foundations.

7. Quality Assurance: The Polish Accreditation Committee ensures that institutions and programs meet national and international quality standards, providing assurance of the educational quality and relevance.

Overall, the Polish higher education system is characterized by its robust structure, adherence to European standards, and commitment to providing a wide range of educational opportunities.

System of studies

In accordance with the assumptions of the Bologna Process, a three-level study system has been introduced at Polish universities:

1st Cycle

First-cycle studies – Bachelor’s degree programmes, at least 6 semesters, leading to the professional title of “licencjat” or at least 7 semesters, leading to the professional title of “inżynier”. These are focused on preparing students for future employment, or for continued education within Master’s degree programmes. To obtain this degree, students must earn at least 180 ECTS credits.

2nd Cycle

Second-cycle studies – Master’s degree programmes, 3 to 4 semesters following first- cycle studies, leading to the professional title of „magister” or an equivalent degree (depending on the study course profile). These are focused on theoretical knowledge, as well as the application and development of creative skills. In artistic disciplines, focus is on the growth of creativity and development of talent. Master degree holders may enter doctoral programmes (third-cycle studies). To obtain this degree, students must earn at least 90 ECTS credits.

Long Cycle

Long-cycle studies – Master’s degree programmes, 10 to 12 semesters leading to the professional title of “magister” or an equivalent degree (depending on the study course profile). To obtain this degree, students must earn at least 300 ECTS credits (10-semesters studies) or at least 360 ECTS credits (12-semesters studies). Single long-cycle studies are based on an integrated study program, which contains both basic studies and in-depth specialization.

3rd Cycle

Third-cycle studies – Doctoral degree programmes, 6 to 8 semesters, accessible to graduates of the Master’s degree program and leading to the PhD degree, are offered by the university-type schools as well as some research institutions (departments of the Polish Academy of Sciences, along with research and development institutions). The PhD degree is awarded to candidates who submit and successfully defend a doctoral dissertation before the thesis committee, and who pass the doctoral examination.

Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) use the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS), under which a certain number of credits are allocated to a given subject, independently of marks awarded. To complete a year successfully, the student has to collect at least 60 credits (30 per semester).


In order to graduate, students are required to:
• pass a performance assessment for all subjects, integrated placements
and practical work sessions, and pass all examinations covered by the study programme
for a given field of study,
• present, at an appointed date, a diploma project, and obtain the pass mark
for the project,
• pass the diploma examination.

Upon graduation, the student receives a diploma of completion of studies in a specific field of study, together with a diploma supplement (a document that accompanies a higher education diploma, providing a standardized description of the nature, level, context, content and status of the studies completed by its holder).