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Masters Study in Poland - A Guide for 2018

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.

This page is a guide to postgraduate education at Polish universities, covering what kind of courses are offered and 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.

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Postgraduate study in Poland – what’s on offer for 2018?

Poland's first university was founded almost 700 years ago and the country's list of famous artists and scientists includes the composer Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin, the pioneering radiographer Marie Sklodowska-Curie and the astronomer Mikolaj Kopernik (perhaps better known as Nicolaus Copernicus).

This intellectual and cultural tradition means that Polish universities have plenty to offer international postgraduate students. Here are some of the main reasons to consider a Masters in Poland:

  • International outlook – 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.
  • No tuition fees – If you’re an EU/EEA national, you won’t have to pay any tuition fees. And, even if you’re from outside Europe, tuition costs are affordable at an average of €2,000 per year at a public university.
  • Living costs – Compared to many other European countries, Poland is a relatively cheap place to live.
  • Bologna Process – Courses at accredited Polish institutions are modelled on the Bologna Process, which means they’ll be recognised worldwide.

Masters Study in Poland - Key Details
Universities 434
Oldest University Jagiellonian University (1364)
International Students 34,664
Course Length 1.5-2 years
Typical Fees (Domestic / EU) None
Academic Year October to June

What's it like to study abroad in Poland?

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.

Polish universities

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:

  • Higher education institutions (uczelnia akademicka) operate as full research universities, though many specialise in particular fields. They usually offer second-cycle Masters qualifications as well as PhD programmes. Collectively, these institutions make up around 70% of Poland's tertiary education providers.
  • Schools of higher vocational education (uczelnia zawodowa) specialise in professional training. Some offer long-cycle Masters degrees, but their overall focus is upon undergraduate, rather than postgraduate, education. They make up around 30% of Poland's tertiary education institutions.

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 Masters programmes.

Polish university rankings

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.

Top 5 Polish Universities in 2018
University THE 2017-18 QS 2017-18 ARWU 2017
University of Warsaw 501-600 411-420 301-400
AGH University of Science and Technology 601-800 801-1000 -
Jagiellonian University 601-800 461-470 401-500
Warsaw University of Technology 601-800 601-650 -
Adam Mickiewicz University 801-1000 801-1000 -
Information in this table is based on the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings, QS World University Rankings and Academic Ranking of World Universities. Visit their websites for more information.

Do university rankings matter for postgraduates?

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.

Course types

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 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.

Poland is also one of a number of European countries in which an older form of Masters degree is sometimes still offered (others include Portugal and the Czech Republic). 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.

Organization of the academic year in Poland

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.

Course content

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 three to four years of study at undergraduate level, before moving on to more advanced material.

Assessment and grading of Polish Masters degrees

Poland uses a five-point numerical grading system for the assessment of Masters programmes:

Grade Band Label Description
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.

The Polish Masters dissertation

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.

ECTS credits for Polish Masters degrees

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 programmes.

  • A modern 'second-cycle' Masters degree in Poland is usually worth between 90 and 120 ECTS credits.
  • Where available, a traditional 'long-cycle' Masters qualification is worth between 270 and 360 ECTS credits (combining the credit value of an undergraduate and postgraduate course).

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.

Search for a Masters in Poland

Ready to start looking for your ideal study abroad opportunity? Browse and compare Masters degrees in Poland on FindAMasters.com

Masters fees and funding in Poland

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').

Polish Masters fees for international students

International students at Polish universities are usually required to pay tuition fees. These are the average figures:

  • €2,000 per year for a normal full-time Masters programme
  • €3,000 per year for other postgraduate courses, including vocational and professional programmes or research courses

In some cases, universities may waive fees (as part of a need-based scholarship offer, for example).

Regardless of fee status, you may have to pay an administrative fee to your university, either when you first or when you enroll. Depending on the institution, this could be as much as €200.

Private universities are free to set their own fees, which may be substantially higher than state institutions. Typical fees are around €2,000 to €6,000 per year.

Polish Masters funding

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.

As an international student you may also be able to seek support through the Erasmus+ programme. Erasmus+ opportunities include funding for Joint Masters Degrees, shorter Mobility Grants for placements abroad and a new system of international Masters Loans.

Other funding possibilities include:

You can find out more about scholarship opportunities at the Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange’s website.

Applying for a Masters in Poland

In most cases, applying for a Masters in Poland means getting in touch with the institution you want to study at (there isn't a central agency that handles 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 enough time to allow for communication with your prospective institutions and complete their procedures well in advance of deadlines.

You may also need to complete visa and immigration procedures before your course commences.

Application requirements and procedures will vary for different Masters programmes, but you’ll typically be expected to hold 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:

  • A personal statement
  • A set of academic references
  • Identification documents such as your passport

More competitive programmes will probably 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).

Language requirements

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.

  • For English-language courses tests such as the TOEFL or IELTS will usually be accepted
  • For Polish language courses a test of Polish as a foreign language will normally be required. The most recognised test is the Certificate Examination of Polish as a Foreign Language (Egzaminy Certyfikatowe z Jezyka Polskiego jako Obcego).

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.

Masters student visas in Poland

Poland welcomes international students, with almost 35,000 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.

  • If you are an EU or EEA citizen (or a Swiss national) you won't need a visa to enter Poland. However, you will need to apply for a residence permit in order to remain in the country for longer than 91 days. You can do this at a local Voivodeship Office.
  • Citizens of other countries will need to apply for a visa in order to enter Poland. You can do this at a local Polish consulate in your home country, provided you have confirmation of enrolment on a Polish degree programme. A visa will be valid for up to 12 months. If your Masters degree lasts longer than this you will need to apply for a longer term residence permit.

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 help if you have any additional queries.

Applying for a residence permit

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 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:

  • Valid health insurance for the duration of your course.
  • Proof of financial support whilst studying.

Health insurance for postgraduate students in Poland

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:

  • EU and EEA students will normally receive free health cover, provided they hold a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
  • Students from other countries will need to purchase separate health insurance in Poland (unless covered under an existing private plan). You can do this by paying a small monthly premium into the Polish National Healthcare Fund.

Your university's international office will be able to help if you’re unsure of your healthcare and health insurance requirements.

Next steps

Student employability and the needs of the job market are an important factor in Polish higher education policy and decision making.

Since 2011 all research universities in Poland 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 are 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 do 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.

Search for a Masters in Poland

Ready to start looking for your ideal study abroad opportunity? Browse and compare Masters degrees in Poland on FindAMasters.com

Last updated - 07/02/2018

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