School system in Warsaw


The Polish school system has undergone a major transformation during the last decade. The present educational system was introduced in 1998/1999. Many things were changed concerning administration, financing, inspection, supervision, guidance, teachers rights and duties.

The current structure of the system is as follows:

  • Pre-school education (see Childcare, Babysitting)
  • Elementary school (period: 6 years)
  • Gymnasium (period: 3 years)
  • Secondary/post secondary school (period: 3 - 5 years)
  • Higher education (3 - 10 years)

Primary and secondary education

The entry age in Polish educational system is 7 years. The total number of years of primary and secondary education is 12 or 13.

During the 1999 reform 6-year primary schools and 3-year gymnasia were introduced. Secondary education is provided in 3-year general lyceums (liceum ogólnoksztalcace) or in vocational secondary schools such as the 3-year specialized lyceum (liceum profilowane) and 4-year secondary technical school (technikum). In addition, there are 2-3-year basic vocational schools (zasadnicza szkola zawodowa), which are the only type of post-primary school that does not give access to higher education.

At the end of the secondary education cycle students can take the maturity examination - egzamin dojrzalosci (matura), i.e. standardised national secondary school achievement examination, and receive the maturity certificate - swiadectwo dojrzalosci. The maturity examination is necessary to enter higher education.

Higher education

Both state and private institutions of higher education exist in Poland. The higher education on Polish state universities, unlike in many other countries, is free. Most bigger cities have well-established universities and the biggest academic centers include Warsaw, Cracow, Poznan and Gdansk. The oldest Polish university and one of the oldest in Europe is Jagiellonian University (Uniwesrytet Jagiellonski) in Cracow.

There are many study programs. They can take the form of daily, evening or extramural studies and distant learning courses. Daily studies is the prevalent form.

Graduates of higher professional courses (wyzsze studia zawodowe) are awarded the professional title of licencjat or inzynier after 3-4 years' study. Graduates of university-type higher education institutions are awarded the professional title of magister or an equivalent after having followed uniform 5-year magister level courses or 1.5 to 2-year complementary magister level courses (in the case of holders of the professional title of licencjat or inzynier obtained either at university-type institutions or institutions of higher professional education).

To qualify for admission to an institution of higher education, the applicant must hold the maturity certificate (swiadectwo dojrzalosci). The rules of admission to the first year of study are determined autonomously by each institution. Some organize competitive entrance examinations, others use ranking procedures based on the final grades listed in the maturity certificate, still others admit all who apply.

For the list of state run universities in Poland please visit:

Update 17/04/2008


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