Hungarian higher education has been a home of academic excellence for more than 600 years. The first university in Hungary was founded in 1367 in Pécs, which is in the south-west of Hungary. Today there are 67 higher education institutions in Hungary, ranging from small colleges to top research universities. These universities and colleges are maintained either by the state, private organizations or a church.
In accordance with the objectives of the Bologna process the degree structure of tertiary education is based on three cycles. Nearly all study fields lead first to a Bachelor’s degree (usually 3 years), and after a further study period to a Master’s degree (2 years). However, there are some exceptions: medicine, pharmacy, dental and veterinary studies, architecture, law, teacher training, and certain arts-, crafts- and design-related study programmes, which retain a long single-cycle structure of 5 or 6 years of study.
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), lasts 2–4 semesters (1–2 years, 60–120 credit points).
Two-year-long vocational higher education programmes (in Hungarian: felsőoktatási szakképzés) are also available on an optional basis prior to first-cycle programmes and lead to advanced vocational qualifications. The 120 credit points gained in vocational higher education programmes are compatible for recognition in the first (Bachelor) cycle. Any Bachelor’s or Master’s degree can be followed by specialised higher education courses (in Hungarian: szakirányú továbbképzés). These do not lead to another degree but offer the option of specialisation in a particular field of study. Courses can be studied full-time, part-time or through distance learning.
A four-year doctoral programme is a post-graduate course to follow any Master’s or equivalent qualification.