Studying a Masters in Poland doesn't just mean tapping into a long and prestigious culture of intellectual inquiry and innovation; it also means benefiting from a higher education philosophy that values modernisation and international recognition.
On this page you can read about postgraduate education at Polish universities, learn what kind of courses are offered and see how Poland does in current global rankings. You can also read our advice on applying to study a Masters in Poland or consult our overview of scholarships and funding for international students.
For advice on living abroad as a Masters student in Poland (including information on accommodation, living costs and work permits) check out our separate guide. Or, if you'd like to start looking for a Masters programme in Poland, you can use our course search.
|Masters Study in Poland - Key Details|
|Oldest University||Jagiellonian University (1364)|
|Course Length||1.5-2 years|
|Typical Fees (Domestic / EU)||None|
|Academic Year||September to August|
As a member of the EU, the EEA and the Schengen Group, Poland is one of the countries driving international partnerships and development in modern Europe.
This extends to its higher education system, which, since 1990, has been reconceived to take advantage of the country's considerable intellectual and cultural heritage, whilst playing a key role in the formation of the modern European Higher Education Area.
Poland's first university was founded almost seven-hundred years ago and the country's list of famous artists and scientists includes the composer, Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin, the pioneering radiographer, Marie Skłodowska-Curie, the astronomer, Mikołaj Kopernik (Nicolaus Copernicus) and the director, Roman Polanski.
This intellectual tradition means Polish universities have plenty to offer postgraduate students. What's more, because the country is a signatory of the Bologna Declaration and uses the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS), studying for a Masters in Poland has never been easier or more attractive.
Want to know more about life for international students in Poland? Our detailed guide covers everything from accommodation and living costs to culture and entertainment.
A variety of higher education providers exist in Poland, but you can divide them into two general types for the purposes of postgraduate Masters study:
Poland's higher education providers may be private or state-run. State institutions are more closely governed by the Polish State Accreditation Committee and are more likely to offer second-cycle Masters programmes.
Despite coming from a non-anglophone background and having to recover from a period of political transition, Poland's universities feature in all major global rankings tables.
|The Top Polish Universities in 2017|
|University||THE 2016-17||QS 2016-17||ARWU 2016|
|University of Warsaw||501-600||366||401-500|
|Warsaw University of Technology||501-600||601-650||-|
|AGH University of Science and Technology||601-800||-||-|
|Adam Mickiewicz University||801+||-||-|
|Gdańsk University of Technology||801+||-||-|
|University of Łódź||801+||701+||-|
|Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń||801+||701+||-|
|University of Silesia in Katowice||801+||701+||-|
|University of Wroclaw||-||701+||-|
University league tables can help you in your search for a Masters degree, but you need to know what to look for. Our guide to university rankings for Masters study can help.
A Masters degree in Poland is referred to as a Magister.
Because the country is a participant in the Bologna Process, the Magister degree is usually offered as a postgraduate (or 'second-cycle' ) qualification, taking place after a Bachelor's degree (referred to as a Licencjat in arts-related disciplines or an Inżynier in the sciences) and serving as a prerequisite for research at PhD (or Doktor) level. These second-cycle degrees usually take two years of full-time study to complete.
These 'long-cycle' degrees commence at undergraduate level and award a qualification equivalent to the second-cycle Magister degree after around five or six years of study.
The Polish academic year runs from October to June and takes place across two semesters, divided by a long summer break. Each semester is made up of around 15 weeks of timetabled courses, along with examination periods.
Short holiday periods take place at Christmas and Easter. It is common for students at Polish universities to use the summer vacation to undertake practical placements or internships related to their studies.
As a Masters student on a second-cycle programme you may find yourself encouraged to do this between your first and second years of study. Depending on your subject-area, your institution may have partnerships and relationships with businesses or research institutes set up for its students.
You will spend the majority of your time on a Masters in Poland completing set units of study in particular semesters.
Teaching methods for these will vary between different academic disciplines, but will usually involve a combination of small-group sessions, independent study assignments and / or practical laboratory or workshop tasks.
On some programmes the completion of prior study units may be a requisite for progression to successive modules.
Students on long-cycle Masters programmes will commence with 3-4 years of study at undergraduate level, before moving on to more advanced material.
Poland uses a five-point numerical grading system for the assessment of Masters programmes:
|5||Bardzo Dobry (Very Good)||The top grade achievable for a Polish Masters|
|4||Dobry (Good)||An above-average grade|
|3||Dostateczny (Satisfactory)||A minimum passing grade|
|1-2||Niedostateczny (Unsatisfactory)||A failing grade|
In practice, this scale is similar to the Pass, Merit and Distinction system used in Britain and elsewhere.
Most Polish Masters programmes conclude with an independent dissertation, giving you the chance to explore a research project in depth and use the expertise you have developed on your Masters degree.
On some courses you will begin selecting a topic and preparing your approach earlier in your programme, whilst others will commence the dissertation stage once all timetabled units have been completed.
Unlike programmes in some other European countries (such as the UK) a Polish Masters programme usually requires a candidate to defend their dissertation during a short oral examination. This is an important part of the Polish higher education philosophy, which sets a high standard for research and scholarship and often includes oral examination elements in undergraduate and professional programmes.
Don't let the prospect of having to defend your work in this way concern you; by the time you have reached the dissertation stage of your programme you will not only have spent two years developing expertise in your subject, but will also have had plenty of practice presenting, explaining and justifying your research findings.
And, needless to say, successfully defending a thesis at Masters level is an excellent preparation for doctoral work and will look great on your CV.
As a member of the European Higher Education Area, Poland uses the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) to measure progress and attainment on its Masters programs.
The use of the ECTS credit system allows completed content on a Polish Masters programme to be recognised (and occasionally transferred) within other European higher education systems. It also allows programmes to be organised into different units, weighted according to their importance. Individual course units (including your dissertation) will be assigned an ECTS value and this will determine their significance when your final grade is calculated.
In most cases, applying for a Masters in Poland means getting in touch with the institution you wish to study at (there isn't a central agency handling applications for postgraduate study).
There is no restriction on the number of simultaneous applications a student can make, but, as always with international study, you should ensure you have sufficient time to allow for communication with your prospective institution or institutions and complete their procedures in advance of deadlines.
Application requirements and procedures will vary for different Masters programmes, but, you will typically be expected to hold (or be due to receive) a relevant Bachelors degree (or equivalent).
Qualifications from elsewhere in Europe will usually be recognised by Polish universities without any issues (the Polish branch of the ENIC-NARIC network should be able to assist with any difficulties).
International degrees from countries outside Europe may need to be assessed by your institution, but this should be a relatively simple process.
Other requirements for a Polish Masters application may potentially include:
More competitive programmes are likely to have stricter application and admissions requirements. This is particularly likely for medical subjects, which are subject to a numerus clausus (a limit on the number of students who can enrol and graduate in any given year).
Many courses at Polish institutions are now offered in English, but this is not universal. You should therefore ensure that you meet the language requirements for any Masters programme you apply to.
If applying to study a course in a second language (whether English or Polish) you will usually be asked to demonstrate proficiency. You can do this by submitting a score from a recognised academic language test.
Even if Polish is not required for your course, you may find that acquiring some language skills is worthwhile. After all, you could be living in the country for up to two years as a Masters student. That's more than long enough to acquire a strong grounding in Polish and to enjoy the benefits it brings!
Being able to communicate in another language will also look excellent on your CV and demonstrate that you have made the most of the opportunities made available to you when studying abroad as a postgraduate.
Poland welcomes international students, with around 28,000 studying at the country's universities. What's more, as part of the EU, Poland has relaxed immigration procedures for citizens of other member countries.
More detailed information on entering and residing in Poland as a foreign national and the regulations governing citizens of different countries is available from the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The international office at your prospective higher education institution should also be able to assist if you have any additional queries.
Most postgraduate students in Poland will eventually need a residence permit. This is because a Polish Masters degree lasts longer than the 91 days an EU / EEA student can stay in the country (and is also likely to to last longer than the 12 months for which a student visa is valid).
You can apply for a residence permit at a local Voivodeship Office near to your university. In addition to your residence permit you will normally require:
All international students in Poland are required to have valid health insurance. However, depending on your circumstances you may be covered by an existing policy or reciprocal healthcare agreement:
Your university's international office will be able to assist you if you are unsure of your healthcare and health insurance requirements.
Tuition on a Masters in Poland is free for Polish citizens and for EU / EEA nationals at public universities (in most cases). Other international students will usually have to pay for their university studies. Exceptions may be made for non-citizens with Polish heritage sufficient to procure a Karta Polaka (a 'Polish Charter' or 'Pole's Card').
Minimum fees for international (non-EU / EEA) students at public (state-run) universities are determined by the Polish government. Rates are currently set at the zł (PLN) equivalent of:
Remember that these fees are the minimum you will be charged. Universities are free to charge more. In some cases they may also waive fees (as part of a need-based scholarship offer, for example).
Regardless of fee status, all students at Polish public universities pay a small administrative charge (covering the provision of basic university services). This is capped by government and is usually no more than zł 170 ($44 USD).
Private universities are free to set their own fees, which may be substantially higher than state institutions. Typical fees are around zł 8,000-25,000 ($2,076-6,485 USD) per year.
Poland is keen to attract international postgraduates and this means that some Polish higher education institutions will provide funding for suitable candidates from overseas. Eligibility will usually be decided based upon merit, but financial need may also be taken into account.
Some funding is also available through the Polish Government Scholarship scheme, which covers tuition fees and provides additional money for maintenance. You should contact the Polish embassy or consulate in your home country to inquire as to the relevant eligibility conditions in your case.
As an international student you may also be able to seek support through the new Erasmus+ programme. Erasmus+ opportunities include funding for Joint Masters Degrees, shorter Mobility Grants for placements abroad and a new system of international Masters Loans.
You can also search for Masters funding in Poland at PostgraduateFunding.com: a comprehensive database of small grants and bursaries available to support postgraduate study around the world, including travel bursaries, living cost support, fee waivers and exchange programmes. Click here to start searching for funding to study a Masters in Poland, or elsewhere.
Student employability and the needs of the job market are an important factor in Polish higher education policy and decision making.
Since 2011 all Polish uczelnia akademicka have been required to monitor student prospects after graduation, with the resulting data feeding back into ongoing course design and improvement. As a result, Polish Masters programmes will be designed to offer strong employment prospects and support careers in relevant fields.
The academic value of a Polish Masters degree is also enhanced by various other factors. The two-year length of most second-cycle programmes will provide a comprehensive grounding in your subject and the oral examination of your thesis will demonstrate your successful completion of a scholarly challenge that many postgraduate students do not encounter until the end of a PhD.
Of course, if you decide to continue on to a Polish PhD in your subject area, your Polish Masters degree will be an excellent preparation. See FindAPhD.com for information on PhD study in Poland.
Whatever you choose to do after graduation, your time spent living and studying abroad will have given you plenty of valuable experiences alongside your academic qualification; you will have enriched your CV, demonstrated adaptability and broadened your horizons as a person and prospective employee in all sorts of fields.
Last updated - 03/11/2016