The Czech Republic has the oldest University in central Europe: Charles University, founded in Prague in 1348. The university has a long-standing tradition of academic excellence, both in teaching and research, particularly in engineering, science, and medicine. With its unique central-European lifestyle, culture, and rich history, the Czech Republic is an attractive choice for international students.
The Czech Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports is working on a strategic plan for the further development of the country’s higher education institutions. This includes working with other EU countries on what is known as the “Bologna Process”, a process to ensure comparability in the standards and quality of higher-education qualifications throughout the EU. The Czech Republic is working to stimulate enrolment in and also the opening of new higher education colleges and universities – chiefly in the private sector – along with expanding the use of satellite campuses for existing institutions. The country is also working to fully integrate and develop a “National Qualifications Framework” that corresponds to that of the EU.
Higher education in the Czech Republic consists of public and private colleges and universities, as well as state-run police and military training academies. Czech-language study at public universities is available to all and free for first-time students; however, after the age of 26, a student will not be accorded student status under which social security and health insurance are covered by the state. Czech public universities also host quite a number of international students, who have the choice of free instruction in Czech or paid instruction in English.
On 7 April 1348, Charles IV founded Charles University, the first university in Central Europe.
Depending on the degree and field of study, a university education generally takes from 2 to 6 years to complete. The school year starts on the first weekday of September and ends on the last weekday of June. It is divided into two semesters with exams at the end of each semester. The number of foreign students enrolled at Czech universities has increased three-fold over the past fifteen years. Medicine and other health-related fields are the most popular with incoming foreign students. Most of them head to the Czech Republic to complete Master’s or full-time doctoral programs.
Czech universities are also active in certain global research efforts. This includes its arctic research laboratory in the Svalbard region in Norway. There are numerous Czechs working at archeological sites around the world.
John Amos Comenius (1592-1670) was a Czech philosopher, pedagogue and theologian. He is considered the father of modern education. Comenius introduced numerous educational concepts and innovations, including pictorial textbooks written in native languages (instead of Latin), teaching based on incremental learning (from simple to more comprehensive concepts), lifelong learning with a focus on logical thinking over dull memorization, equal opportunity for impoverished children, education for women, and universal and practical instruction.
Czech students entering higher education institutions must first have passed their high school graduation examination, the “maturitní zkouška”. It consists of a general part and a separate part related to the type of secondary school attended. There are a number of higher level (tertiary) specialized professional and vocational schools. Before students can graduate from these schools, they must take final exams, complete the “absolutorium”, and write a final thesis.
Application deadlines are normally set for the end of February or early March. Entrance examinations are held between June and September. Art schools and music conservatories have earlier application deadlines, generally in November of the previous year, and hold entrance examinations in January.
EU students are admitted on the same basis as in their home country. EU students can enter Czechia with a passport or national identity card. They must also have the European Health Insurance Card or a certified E128 form from their home country.
EU students are admitted on the same basis as in their home country. EU students can enter the Republic with a passport or national identity card. They must also have the European Health Insurance Card or a certified E128 form from their home country.
Foreign students from outside the EU require a student visa. To obtain a visa, they must have a letter of acceptance from the respective higher education institution, proof of financial resources, a guarantee of accommodation, and proof of health insurance. They must verify that they have no criminal record and must register with the Czech Foreign Police within three days of arriving in the country. Foreign students taking courses taught in Czech must have proof of language proficiency at a B2 level or higher, per the Common European Framework of Reference for languages. Students taking courses in English must verify proficiency in the language.
In the Czech Republic, tertiary education is available in a number of public and private institutions, as well as at two special academies run by the state for police and military training. The term “vysoká škola”, or Higher Education Institution (HEI), is used to describe all three types of institution. There are currently twenty-four public HEIs and forty-six private ones. HEIs can be universities or institutions offering another type of higher-level professional training. University type HEIs offer study programs at all three higher education degree levels, while non-university type HEIs offer bachelor equivalent programs only.
This is the basic graduation degree for the completion of a tertiary education curriculum.
The normal degree awarded is the Bachelor (Bc); for degrees in the arts, it is the Bachelor of Arts (BcA).
Bachelor’s degree programs normally take three or four years to complete.
For students already holding a Bachelor’s degree, a Master’s degree takes one to three years.
Entry into a Master’s program normally requires a Bachelor’s degree.
The Advanced Master’s Procedure, or “rigorózní zkouška,” which includes the defense of a thesis, makes up the final examination for a Master’s program.
Graduates of Master’s programs earn the title of Magistr (Mgr.) or Inženýr (Ing.).
For law, medicine, pharmacy, veterinary medicine, and dentistry, students enter the four- to six-year Magistr study program directly from secondary school.
Most fields of study offer doctorate programs. These normally require an additional three years to complete. Relevant lower degrees – Bachelor’s and Master’s – are required for admission.
There is always a requirement for independent, original research and the submission of a thesis.