Higher education is the highest level of the Czech education system. Czech higher education dates back six hundred years. In 1348 Emperor Charles IV founded a university in Prague which is the oldest academic institution in Central Europe. It is now called Charles University.
The central governing body for education is the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports. The quality of higher education is fostered by the Accreditation Commission. Since 2001 the three cycle structure has strictly been implemented in higher education (i.e. Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral study programmes).
The main tuition language is Czech, however the range of programmes delivered in foreign languages (mainly in English) is expanding in particular to cater for international students.
The principal requirement for entering a Bachelor´s degree programme or a full Master´s degree programme is the completion of a full secondary general education or vocational education with a “maturitní zkouška” school-leaving examination, for fine arts degrees, applicants who have gained their “absolutorium” from a conservatoire may be admitted. Admission to a follow-up Master´s degree programme depends on the completion of the relevant Bachelor´s degree programme or its equivalent. Admission to Doctoral studies depends on the successful completion of a Master´s degree programme.
Higher education institutions form the highest level of Czech education. They offer accredited degree programmes at three levels: Bachelor´s, Master´s, and Doctoral, as well as lifelong learning courses. Higher education institutions can be either university or non-university types. Traditional university-type institutions may offer all types of degree programmes while non-university institutions are characterised by providing mainly Bachelor´s degree programmes. The documents confirming the completion of studies and right to the appropriate academic title are a higher education diploma and a supplement to the diploma.
- Bachelor´s degree programmes are 3 to 4 years in duration and constitute the first level of higher education. The study programme must be completed with a final state examination, which usually includes the presentation and defence of a thesis. Successful graduates may enter the labour market or continue their studies in follow-up master’s programmes in related fields.
- Master´s degree programmes may either follow on from Bachelor programmes as follow-up Master´s programmes (1 to 3 years), or they may be full programmes (4 to 6 years). Programmes focus on the acquisition and application of theoretical knowledge, and on the development of creativity and talent. Graduates in Master´s programmes have to take a final state examination and publicly present and defend a thesis. Studies in medicine, veterinary medicine and hygiene are completed by a demanding state examination, including the presentation and defence of a rigorous thesis.
- Doctoral programmes (which normally last 3 years) are intended for graduates from Master´s programmes and focus on independent creative work in research, development or the arts. Doctoral studies are completed by way of a state doctoral examination and the public presentation and defence of a doctoral thesis (dissertation) based on original work, which must have been published or admitted for publishing.
- Because of growing interest, some institutions provide also study programmes leading to the degree of Master of Business Administration (MBA). This study is oriented on solving real-life case studies and should enhance managerial knowledge and skills of students.
By law, higher education at public and state institutions is free of charge for citizens of all nationalities, with the following exceptions:
- fees for administration of admission proceedings;
- fees for extending the duration of study beyond a set limit;
- fees for the study of an additional programme to the original studied;
- fees for study in a foreign language.
Private institutions of higher education can fix their own fees. The tuition fees differ from 2,000-15,000 USD per year and the amount depends on the relevant institution and study programme.