In the Czech Republic there are 26 public, 2 state and 42 private higher education institutions. Public and private higher education institutions come under the authority of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, while the state institutions are under the authority of the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of the Interior.
Higher education forms the highest level in the Czech education system. Czech higher education dates back nearly seven hundred years. In 1348 Emperor Charles IV founded a university in Prague, which is the oldest academic institution in Central Europe. It is now called the Charles University.
The central governing body for education is the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports. The quality of higher education is overseen by the National Accreditation Bureau for Higher Education.
The main tuition language is Czech, however the range of programmes delivered in foreign languages (mainly in English) is expanding, in particular to cater for international students. Several courses are taught in English or other foreign languages.
Higher education at public and state institutions is free of charge for those who study in Czech. This free education is available to citizens of all nationalities, and at public and state institutions, fees may only be charged:
- for the administration of admission proceedings
- for extending the duration of study beyond a set limit
- for a second or additional study programme
- for study in a foreign language
Private institutions of higher education can fix their own fees, and most do charge fees for tuition.
The Academic year is divided into two semesters and these are generally organised as follows:
- Winter semester
Teaching period: mid-September – mid-December
Examination period: January – mid-February
- Summer semester
Teaching period: mid-February – mid-May
Examination period: mid-May – end of June
Student assessment: The frequency and methods of assessing students’ achievements differ according to the field of study. In some cases, a system of partial examinations taken after each semester has been introduced, in other cases one comprehensive examination after each completed unit of study is prescribed, mostly at the end of each module. Study outcomes at higher education institutions are assessed mainly by a system of credits or points. The credit system (ECTS - European Credit Transfer System) has been encouraged since it allows completed parts of studies to be recognised, thus contributing to transferability within the system.
Degree structure: Higher education institutions offer accredited degree programmes at three levels: Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctoral, as well as lifelong learning courses. Higher education institutions can be either universities or non-university institutions. Traditional universities usually offer all types of degree programmes while non-university institutions often primarily offer Bachelor's degree programmes.
Bachelor's degree programmes last 3 to 4 years and constitute the first level of higher education. The study programme must conclude with a final state examination, which usually includes the presentation and defence of a thesis. Successful graduates may then enter the labour market or continue their studies in follow-up Master’s programmes in related fields.
Master's degree programmes may either follow on from Bachelor's programmes as follow-up Master´s programmes (up to 3 years), or may be full stand-alone programmes (up to 6 years). These programmes focus on the acquisition and application of theoretical knowledge, and on the development of creativity and talent. Master's programmes conclude with a final state examination and the public presentation and defence of a thesis.
Doctoral programmes (normally lasting 3 years) are intended for graduates of Master's programmes and focus on independent creative work in research, development or the arts. Doctoral studies conclude with a state doctoral examination and the public presentation and defence of a doctoral thesis (dissertation) based on original work, which must have been published or admitted for publishing.
Application process: Prospective students apply directly to the university of their choice. Universities are independent bodies and have their own individual requirements and application deadlines. The deadline for submitting applications is usually between February and April for study starting the following autumn. Students may apply for several study programmes at various universities and faculties.
In general, the application process is as follows: Fill in the application form for the university and course of your choice (universities usually use an electronic application system which guides you through the whole procedure; you may be asked to attach specific documents or to send these by post) and pay the application fee. Wait for further instructions via the online application system or a letter/email from the university.
Recognition: If you have degrees or other qualifications obtained abroad and wish to enroll at university in the Czech Republic, you will need to obtain an official document confirming that your foreign degrees are recognised in the Czech Republic. You can read more here about how to do that or here.