Higher education

Hungarian higher education has represented academic excellence for more than 600 years. The first university in Hungary was founded in 1367 in Pécs, located in the southern region of Hungary. Today there are 67 higher education institutions in Hungary ranging from top research universities to minor colleges. These universities and colleges are financed either by the state, private organizations or a church.

Hungarian Universities on THE ranking

The new ranking of the British Times Higher Education newspaper was published on 4 December 2014. It includes only institutions in countries classified as „emerging economies” by FTSE, including the “BRICS” nations of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
On the 55th place is Semmelweis University with 29.1 points, while on the 67th place is the University of Debrecen reached 26.7 points out of 100.
The methodology of the ranking is the following: five main missions of the universities are evaluated The three most important are the teaching conditions, research and the quotations of the publications. Innovation and international outlook of teaches and students are also examined.

Hungarian institutions of higher education

Hungary joined the Bologna Process in 1999 by signing the Bologna Declaration with 28 other countries with a view to establishing the European Higher Education Area by 2010. The key objectives of the process are:

  • to increase mobility by improving the comparability of higher education structures, qualifications and degrees through developing proper tools for the recognition of periods of studies and degrees,
  • to improve employability through the modernization of curricula and to strengthen links with the labour market,
  • to enhance the quality of training by developing a scheme of quality assurance.

The three-cycle system

The Hungarian Act on Higher Education was inspired by the objectives of the Bologna Process. The new degree structure based on three cycles of higher education was adopted in December 2004. All main fields of study have been restructured in accordance with the new system. However, there are some exceptions: medicine, pharmacy, dental and veterinary studies, architecture, law and certain crafts, arts and design related study programmes, which retain a long single-cycle structure of 5-6 years of study. A new Act on National Higher Education was approved in 2011, which restructured teacher training into the long single-cycle.

The first cycle programmes last 6-8 semesters (3-4 years, 180-240 credit points) and lead to a Bachelor’s degree (in Hungarian: alapfokozat). The second cycle, leading to a Master’s degree (in Hungarian: mesterfokozat), last 2-4 semesters (1-2 years, 60-120 credit points).  Two-year advanced vocational programmes (in Hungarian:felsőoktatási szakképzés) are also available on an optional basis prior to first cycle programmes and lead to advanced vocational qualifications. A maximum of 60 credit points of the advanced vocational programme are compatible for recognition in the first (Bachelor) cycle. Any Bachelor’s and Master’s degree can be followed by specialised higher education training programmes (in Hungarian: szakirányú továbbképzés). Such training programmes do not lead to another degree but offer the option of specialisation in a particular field of study. Programmes can be full-time, part-time or of a distance learning nature.

A three-year doctoral programme (doktori képzés) is a post-graduate alternative to follow any Master’s or equivalent qualification. In order to be awarded a doctoral degree, each candidate needs to possess a type ‘C’ intermediate level foreign language certificate and has to take an entrance exam to be admitted to a doctoral programme, which includes the elaboration of a written dissertation plan and an interview. Institutions are entitled to request further entrance requirements.  A doctoral programme consists of two modules: the module of contact-hour courses is composed of diverse courses lasting for a period of 6 semesters (180 credit points) and a written dissertation supported by scientific publications. The applicants have to pass  dissertation defence and have to defend their dissertation. The prerequisite of launching the doctoral degree awarding process is intermediate level language proficiency in two foreign languages.

The three-cycle system allows for lower admittance requirements while making the transfer between programmes a lot easier. Responding to the challenges of having to train a growing number of students, bachelor courses are less specialised and offer broader and more general knowledge. The new Bologna cycles provide a higher level of efficiency concerning adaptability of training to the changing needs of the labour market and are better positioned to meet the purpose of lifelong learning.

Credit system 

The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) is the only existing credit system in Hungary. The ECTS was developed within the framework of European higher education cooperation and mobility programmes for recognising periods of studies. The ECTS was initially implemented in the academic year 2003-2004.

Diploma Supplement 

The Diploma Supplement (DS, in Hungarian: oklevélmelléklet) has been issued by higher education institutions since July 2003. Since 2006, all higher education institutions have provided the document automatically and free of charge both in Hungarian and English and/or in the language of an ethnic minority. The DS contains all information about the qualification and the degree programme and provides a short description of the subjects taught.


According to the Higher Education Act, admission for Bachelor’s degree programmes and some long-term Master’s degree programmes is selective. The minimum requirement for admission to these degree programmes is a secondary school leaving certificate or its non-Hungarian equivalent. There are a few programmes where practical examinations or tests are also required. Higher education studies are financed either by the state or by the students themselves. International students wishing to attend a full degree course in Hungary should contact the National Higher Education Admissions Office for more information.

An average student’s annual timetable: 

Autumn semester 

  • First half of September: registration and signing up for courses 
  • Second half of September to middle of December: term time 
  • Middle of December to beginning of February: exam period

Spring semester

  • First half of February: registration and signing up for courses 
  • Second half of February to the first half of May: term time
  • Middle of May to the beginning of July: exam period


  • Autumn break: end of October 
  • Winter break: end of December 
  • Spring break: Easter week

Useful Links

For more information about Hungarian higher education please visit the following websites:

Latest news

January 18, 2017 11:46
Some good reasons to study in Hungary

Stipendium Hungaricum scholarship programme „Call for Application 2017-2018 academic year” is announced! The scholarship is open for more than 50 countries! Get prepared, watch the video interviews with international students to learn about the benefits of studying in Hungary. http://www.tka.hu/international-pr…/…/stipendium-hungaricum/

January 18, 2017 10:13
Some of the Key Numbers in Infograph

Check out the infograph to find out how many international students would choose Hungarian higher education again, which are the most common reasons to choose Hungary and what are the most popular services among students.

January 12, 2017 15:55

Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) organizes online information sessions, webinars for international students who are interested in the degree programs and funding possibilities at ELTE.