Education in Poland

Education in Poland is free and compulsory for children aged 7 till 18. The status of compulsory schools have the two lower types  of schools: primary school (ages 6-11) and gymnasium (junior high school) (ages 12-14). Gymnasium graduates can continue their education in:

  • Basic vocational schoolzasadnicza szkoła zawodowa (2-3 years) which leads to obtaining of a diploma confirming vocational qualifications upon passing a final exam.
  • Upper secondary school, finishing with the matura examination which allows graduates to apply to the institutions of higher education.  There are three types of such upper secondary schools
    • 3-year comprehensive general upper secondary school – liceum ogólnokształcące
    • 3-year specialized upper secondary school, which offers general education combined with specific vocational training  – liceum profilowane
    • 4-year technical upper secondary school – technikum - leading to both: matura examination, and also to receipt of a diploma confirming vocational qualifications upon passing of an examination.

Graduates of upper secondary schools, those possessing the matura certificate, have a possibility to continue their education at a higher education institution. Each higher education institution operating in Poland has to be listed in an appropriate registry in the Ministry of Science and Higher Education. Each degree program offered has to be approved also by the State Accreditation Committee. All programs offered by the Boym Universities Consortium have received such approval. In the academic year 2008/2009, in Poland there was a total of 458 higher education institutions, including 132 public institutions, and 326 non-public institutions (educating about 1 270 000 and 660 000 students respectively).

There are following types of degree programmes offered at the higher education institutions:

  • Bachelor level:
  • first-cycle programmes (3-4 years) open to matura certificate holders, which lead to the degree of licencjat (Bachelor) or inżynier (engineer) depending on the field of study
  • Master level:
  • second-cycle programmes (1.5 – 2 years) which accept bachelor degree holders, and lead to the degree of magister
  • long-cycle programmes (4.5 to 6 years) which accept graduates of upper secondary schools holding the matura certificate and lead directly to the same degree of magister as the second-cycle programmes (long cycle programmes are offered exclusively in 16 fields of study specified by the law)
  • Doctoral programmes  (up to 4 years) provided by some units of university-type higher education institutions and certain research institutions, open to magister degree holders.

All types of degree programmes offered in the higher education institutions finish with the final (diploma) examination (except in medical fields). The bachelor and master examinations are conducted by an examination board composed of academic teachers of the organizational unit of a higher education institution (e.g. faculty or department) which provides a given programme.

Students who have passed the final examination are awarded a higher education diploma (dyplom ukończenia studiów wyższych). At the graduate’s request, an HEI is obliged to issue a copy of a diploma in English. In Polish system the certificate of completion of the studies and degree certificate are issued in one document, as opposed to two separate documents in the Chinese system.