Higher education institutions run full-time, extramural, evening and external courses. Full-time courses are defined as the basic type of studies. Poland conforms to the guidelines from the Bologna Process in European higher education. The degree system based on the three-cycle structure has been successfully implemented together with the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS). The European standard in higher education makes it easier for students to obtain recognition of their qualifications in other countries.
First-cycle studies (3 to 4 years) leading to the professional title of a licencjat or inżynier (Engineer, in the field of engineering, agriculture or economics). This is the Polish equivalent of the Bachelor’s degree. It is focused on preparing students for future employment or for continued education within a Master’s degree programme. To obtain this degree, students must earn 180-240 ECTS credits.
Second-cycle studies – Master’s degree programme (1.5 to 2 years) following the first cycle studies and leading to the professional title of Master (magister, or an equivalent degree depending on the course profile). It is focused on theoretical knowledge as well as the application and development of creative skills. In arts disciplines, the focus is on the development of creativity and talents. Master’s degree holders may enter a doctoral programme (third-cycle studies). To obtain the degree, students must earn 90-120 ECTS credits.
In addition to the general structure, 11 fields of study including acting, art conservation and restoration, canon law, dentistry, law, medical analysis, medicine, production and photography, pharmacy, psychology and veterinary medicine, offer long-cycle programmes only.
Long-cycle studies – Master’s degree programme (4.5 to 6 years) leading to the professional title of Master (magister), or an equivalent degree depending on the course profile). To obtain this degree, students must earn 270-360 ECTS credits. Such single long-cycle studies are based on an integrated study programme containing both basic studies and in-depth specialisation. Completion of this degree will provide a qualification corresponding to a second-cycle Master’s degree.
Third-cycle studies – Doctoral degree programmes (normally 3 to 4 years) accessible for graduates of a Master’s degree programme, leading to a PhD degree, offered by universities as well as some research institutions (departments of the Polish Academy of Sciences as well as research and development institutions). A PhD degree is awarded to candidates who submit and successfully defend a doctoral dissertation before a thesis committee and pass a doctoral examination.