Hungarian Education System
Secondary education in Hungary includes three traditional types of schools focused on different academic levels:
- Gimnázium: non-vocational; prepares students for higher education; teaches at least 2 foreign languages
- Szakközépiskola: secondary vocational school. It also provides a “secondary school leaving examination” opening higher education curriculum.
- Szakmunkásképző Szakiskola: vocational school. It also offers “bridge” programs to help low achieving students in primary school to catch up and join the usual vocational school curriculum.
Admission to Higher Education
Until recently, applicants for Bachelor studies were not required to sit for an entrance examination; the condition for admission was to reach a certain number of points comprising of upper secondary grades and the grades obtained at the secondary school leaving examination. The new Higher Education Act re-introduces the oral entrance examination with the stipulation that higher education institutions offering education in the same program should define standard oral examination criteria for each program.
Hungarian higher education has a long history, dating back to the 14th century. The country’s first university was founded in 1367 in Pécs around the same time as other central European universities, such as those in Prague, Krakow and Vienna. Due to the expansion of higher education in the last two decades, the number of enrolled students and the capacity of the institutions have increased considerably. From 1990 to 2010 the student population in higher education quadrupled, from 90,000 to around 400,000.
Hungary has been taking part in the Bologna Process since 1999. The Higher Education Act currently in force is in accordance with the principles of the Bologna process, – three cycle degree structure (BA/BSc, MA/MSc, PhD/DLA).
Bachelor programs have a duration of 3 to 4 years. The entrance requirement is a secondary school leaving certificate. Some bachelor’s programs grant access to the master’s program. The educational content of these programs is regulated. Upon completion of the program, institutions awards the Alapfokozat (bachelor’s degree).
Master programs (mesterképzés) that follow the bachelor’s programs have a duration of 1 to 2 years. The entrance requirement is a relevant bachelor’s or College level degree. These master’s programs also grant access to the PhD. The educational content of these programs is regulated. Upon completion of the program, institutions awards the Mesterfokozat (master’s degree).
Academic PhD programs award the degree of Doktori képzés . In addition to the PhD, Hungary also has the academic title of DLA (Doctor of Liberal Arts). Although the PhD trajectory in Hungary has a nominal duration of 3 years, the trajectory often lasts longer in actuality. During the program, students conduct independent research culminating in the public defense of a dissertation.