Tradition and change – these are not irreconcilable opposites in the Czech Republic. Preserving the best in tradition while always remaining open to change: an old recipe for success for the Czechs. After all, the Czech Republic is home to the Charles University (Univerzita Karlova / Charles University), the first university in Central Europe. At the same time, the country is one of the most modern industrial nations in Europe, where innovation and development have always played an important role.
In fact, the Czech Republic is one of the former “Eastern Bloc countries” which, after reunification, were among the fastest to complete the transformation process and have long been firmly integrated into the EU. Not only the university landscape, but also the study system in the Czech Republic has changed significantly in recent years and has adapted to European standards. But just as our neighboring country still retains its Czech crown as its national currency, it retains one or the other peculiarity in its study system.
According to top-engineering-schools, the Higher Education Act of the Czech Republic is still in a comprehensive reform process, which primarily affects the aspect of quality assurance when introducing new study programs. This is namely characterized by an enormous bureaucratic effort. The universities should be given more autonomy and thus be able to react more quickly to the demands of science and the world of work.
The structure of the study system in the Czech Republic
At the universities (Vysoká škola) in the Czech Republic, the Bologna reform has now been implemented almost completely: The study system in the Czech Republic is thus three-tiered and – with a few exceptions in certain subjects – divided into a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and doctorate. The use of the European Credit Transfer System is also common at all public and most private universities. This makes the recognition of academic achievements made in the Czech Republic extremely easy. The creation of new courses is the responsibility of the universities, and their accreditation is carried out by the National Accreditation Bureau for Higher Education (Accreditation Bureau).
In the study system in the Czech Republic, when it comes to admission, neither a numerus clausus nor an institution like Hochschulstart.de plays a role. The application for study in the Czech Republic takes place in almost all subjects on entrance exams, which take place usually between June and August. The academic year in the Czech Republic begins in September or October, depending on the university. The entrance exams are a means of quality assurance and are intended to ensure that the number of dropouts or subject changes is low. Entrance exams are common for all three study phases – Bachelor, Master, PhD. There are exceptions for certain departments in which there are more places than applicants.
The country-specific degrees in the Czech Republic
In the Czech system of studies, there are country-specific degrees in addition to the traditional degrees, which are also known in Germany.
In the study system in the Czech Republic there are the so-called “small doctorates” (rigorózum). These are usually listed before the name, along with the name of the discipline. After a doctorate, however, the title is listed after the name.
In order to receive the little doctor, the master’s graduates expand their thesis and defend it in the so-called rigorosum. However, this university degree is not on the same level as the doctorate because it does not require independent performance in science and research. The little doctor only shows that you can work scientifically at a high level.
Why is this degree represented in the study system in the Czech Republic? In the Czech Republic, titles play an important role in social interaction. As a lawyer or doctor, it is particularly important to be called “Herr Doktor”. The title has a long tradition in the Czech Republic and dates back to the time of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. In other European countries, including Germany, it often causes confusion. International students should be aware that these degrees are not a regular doctoral degree.
The following qualifications for small doctorates can be found in the Czech system of studies:
- Right: Doktor práv (JUDr.)
- Humanities, teaching, social sciences: Doktor filozofie (Ph.Dr.)
- Natural sciences: Doktor přírodních věd (RNDr.)
- Pharmacy: Doktor farmacie (PharmDr.)
- Theology: Doktor teologie (ThDr.) Or Licenciát teologie (ThLic.)
The so-called Vyšší odborna škola (for example: higher technical school; tertiary professional school) represent a special case in the Czech university landscape. They are therefore difficult to classify according to EU standards. They correspond most closely to the American community colleges. They offer three to three and a half years of practice-oriented training. After passing the final exam (Absolutorium), students receive the degree diplomovaný specialista(“Graduated Specialist”), DiS for short. The qualifications are below a bachelor’s degree and do not entitle you to take up a master’s degree. They can therefore be roughly compared with the certificates common in Anglo-Saxon countries.
Shorter study stays in the Czech Republic
A semester abroad in the Czech Republic is certainly one of the most popular forms of studying abroad. Here international students can study for one or two semesters at a university in the Czech Republic, get to know the country and its people and attend courses. Since many universities offer English-language courses, a semester abroad is also attractive for those who do not (yet) speak Czech.
Since the ECT system has also found its way into the Czech universities, crediting the course achievements is possible without any problems – of course, you should always conclude a learning agreement with your home university beforehand.
The study system in the Czech Republic compared to Germany
By and large, the study system in the Czech Republic can be compared with that in Germany. There, too, the provisions of the Bologna Process were largely implemented. Unlike in this country, the study in the Czech Republic is not modularized, but consists of compulsory courses, elective courses and electives. Here the students acquire the necessary ECTS points. The achievements achieved there are included in the diploma supplement, but have no influence on the final grade. Only the state final examination at the end of the course and the grade of the thesis are decisive. In most cases, admission to the university takes place via entrance exams; there is no NC. There are also no qualifications in the German study system that correspond to the small Czech doctorates.