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A big guide on the liberal education in the Czech Republic

Olga Tupikova

3 July 2023

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Where can you study sociology, political science, philosophy, linguistics, and other liberal programs in the Czech Republic? How to choose university and department, how difficult the admission is, what to do to prepare for the admission and which liberal programs are promising? Read our big review.

30 departments of the state universities in the Czech Republic offer studying in liberal programs.

We recommend, first of all, to consider the following three universities: Charles University in Prague, Masaryk University in Brno and Palacký University in Olomouc. You can also study liberal programs in 16 private universities. First of all, among private universities we recommend to pay attention to Metropolitan University Prague. Last year 43 thousand applicants applied to the liberal programs at the Czech universities. 24 thousand of them were successfully admitted. It means that in average chances for admission to liberal programs at the Czech universities equal to 54.4%.

Liberal education in the Czech Republic is based on the liberal approach: students' freedom in choosing subjects, professors' individual attitude toward students, creation of open discussion space, and development of critical thinking in students.

What you need to know about the admission process

You can submit an unlimited number of applications and try to simultaneously admit to several liberal programs in different departments.

Deadline for the submission of applications to liberal programs is till the end of February or March, depending on the department. Opposite to the admission to the technical departments, there is no lack of applicants to the liberal programs in the Czech Republic, so admission is conducted in one round, without additional admission in summer.

It is important to know that foreign students are not required to provide a certificate confirming the level of Czech language during the admission to liberal programs (opposite to the technical ones). There is simply no need to additionally check foreign applicants' knowledge of Czech language: if an applicant does not have a good command of Czech language, they will not successfully pass entrance exams.

How to deal with the Faculties of Humanities at Charles University

There are 4 faculties at Charles University that provide liberal education:

  • Faculty of Philosophy,

  • Faculty of Humanities,

  • Faculty of Social Science,

  • Faculty of Education.

What is the difference between them?

The Faculty of Philosophy is not only about the philosophy

Traditions of liberal education in the Czech Republic go back to the Faculty of Philosophy at Charles University that was founded by Charles IV in 1348.

It is worth mentioning that the "philosophy" part is rather a historical name. Students do not just study philosophy in the Departments of Philosophy in the Czech Republic. For instance, there are no Departments of Philology in the Czech Republic: all philological and interpretation programs are included in the Departments of Philosophy.

The Faculty of Philosophy at Charles University in Prague offers the widest choice of liberal programs in the Czech Republic. You can study almost any foreign language under the study program "Philology". In addition, there are the following liberal programs in the Faculty of Philosophy: history of art, esthetics, film theory, andragogy and HR management, education, political science, psychology, social work, social and economic research, sociology, and history.

Admission procedure to the Faculty of Philosophy consists of either one stage (oral exam) or two stages (first, written exam and then, oral one), depending on the program. The Faculty of Philosophy always conducts its own entrance exams (does not accept the results of the National Comparative Exams). Essential factors for the examination committee are the applicants' motivation for studying at the program, awareness of the choice and comprehensiveness of their interest in the program.

As a rule, applicants are expected to have examined literature on their future program on their own and come to the exam with a list of the examined literature in order to be admitted to the Faculty of Philosophy at Charles University. The applicants are interviewed by the examination committee on the basis of that list.

Among all the programs provided by the Faculty of Philosophy, the biggest competition is for Psychology, History of Art, English and American Studies and Androgogy. Admission to the other programs is significantly easier.

"I am studying at the rare program, "Sinology", or Chinese Studies: everything related to Chinese language and culture. You can study almost any language at the Faculty of Philosophy, even the rarest ones like the Tibetan or Albanian. The admission and competition to such programs is not that big: 2-4 people per place. There are 20 places per one program, but about 15 people are admitted. Absolute advantages of studying there: your group is really small, everyone knows each other, you know the professors, and vice versa. The Faculty gives a strong theoretical background: you will be taught to write high-quality research papers, work with articles, and put your thoughts down on paper. You will have to read a lot. If you do not like reading, you had better not apply for these programs. The philological programs are focused on the acquiring interpretation skills as it is the most obvious application of the gained knowledge. Other possible way is to study literature or history, write research papers, and attend conferences".

"Anastasia Morozova, a GoStudy graduate, student at the Faculty of Philosophy at Charles University"

"Marketing and PR" and other programs of the Faculty of Social Science

Recently the Faculty of Social Science has been noticing a great increase in the applicants' interest in its programs. Needless to say that "Marketing and PR" is the most popular program.

Applicants are also attracted by other programs in the field of social science: Media Research, Political Science and International Relations, and Sociology.

The increasing interest in the social science is connected to that fact that these days organizations give increasing importance to soft skills, social intelligence, and critical thinking.

Foreign students must be aware of the fact that admission to a Bachelor's program at the Faculty of Social Science at Charles University is not easy. As the admission is based on the National Comparative Exam "General Prerequisites for Learning" OSP SCIO, it will be harder for foreign applicants. Also, some programs of the Faculty require passing an English language knowledge test or an interview.

What is the "General prerequisites for learning" OSP SCIO

National comparative exams SCIO are held several times per year, you can take part several times, and the Faculty will accept the best result. General prerequisites for learning tests OSP checks basic skills and abilities necessary for successful studying at a university. It is not a knowledge test, it does not examine your knowledge of the school program; you need to use information that is already inserted in the tasks while answering the questions. It is said that this makes this test less judgmental: the applicant's secondary education does not matter. However, this test seems much harder for foreign applicants as it does not take into account non-native speakers. It consists of a lot of tasks, and you have a very short time, for instance, you are asked to quickly read a long text and quickly answer the question. The test consists of 2 parts. A set amount of time is given for each part. Firstly, you do the first part, then - the second one. Verbal part: 35 minutes and 33 tasks. Ability to work accurately with the language (that is why it is difficult for foreigners), understanding of large texts, and logic of the arguments are tested. Analytical part: 50 minutes and 33 tasks. Ability to work with information and quantity data is tested. The test is comparative: you do not need to answer all questions correctly to get a good result. An average result can be achieved if around a half of your answers is correct. It is necessary to do the sample papers and work out a strategy in order to prepare yourself for the test; find out, what questions you are good at and answer them quickly. It is important to read texts in Czech language. It is recommended to attend speed-reading classes.

"I am studying at "Sociology of Contemporary Societies". It sounds abstrusely and difficult but in fact it does not work that way. I applied for the well-liked "Marketing" but I was not admitted. "Sociology" is a good alternative. Upon graduation you can get a job at a research organization, and practice statistics and questionnaires. I believe, I can apply to the Master's program "Marketing" upon the graduation from the Bachelor's program in sociology".

"Anastasia Koftun, student of the Faculty of Social Science at Charles University in Prague"

The Faculty of Humanities is the most "available"

Faculty of Humanities offers one Bachelor's study program, Liberal Arts and Humanities. Students compound their study program on their own by choosing classes in the field of philosophy, history, culture, social anthropology, economics, psychology, and sociology.

The entrance exam consists of the summary of a special text in Czech language (applicants may also choose between English, French or German languages) and answering questions to the text.

The Faculty gives a good liberal background, develops text analysis skills and provides its students freedom in developing interests and choosing subjects to learn.

"I dreamt about studying at Marketing and PR at Charles Uni but I failed the General prerequisites for learning test OSP SCIO. The Faculty of Humanities seemed a really nice option because I can try everything here. It is necessary to understand that you will not be conferred a precise specialization upon graduation. The study program is divided into 5 modules: philosophic, historical, social-scientific, communicative, and creative. There are compulsory subjects in each of the modules. But who you will become upon graduation from the Faculty depends solely on you. You can become whoever you want. I choose a lot of subjects related to foreign languages, sociology, advertising, and multimedia. I choose a lot of subjects taught in English. For instance, I may choose to work in the field of sociology when I graduate".

"Olga Shevchenko, a GoStudy graduate, student of the Faculty of Humanities at Charles University"

Psychology and Education at Charles University

The Faculty of Education offers such programs as "Psychology", "Education" and "Special Education" in addition to teaching programs.

We recommend to pay a special attention to this Faculty if you are interested in psychology, as the admission chances are much higher.

As for the teaching programs, you will study two programs simultaneously, so you will become a teacher of two subjects upon graduation. Entrance exams may consist of either one stage or two stages, depending on the program. Written exams consist of tests on the corresponding subjects. Admission to some programs includes passing general prerequisites for learning test (this is the Faculty's test, not OSP SCIO). The oral exam is designed to check applicants' motivation. You can find details on the ways how to become a teacher in the Czech Republic in this article.

New approaches and programs of Masaryk University

Masaryk University in Brno offers many interesting new liberal programs.

Masaryk University conducts a common entrance exam, the results of which are accepted by all Faculties (except for the Faculty of Medicine), which differs it from other universities. This test is called TSP: test of study prerequisites. It is a substitute for OSP SCIO but is developed and conducted by Masaryk University itself.

What is TSP?

TSP can be taken only once (it is conducted in the end of April).

The TSP test consists of 60 questions divided into 6 tests. Verbal abilities, critical, analytical, logical, and spatial thinking, as well as general knowledge in the field of culture are tested. Test examining critical thinking includes 6 questions in a foreign language (you can choose between English, German, Spanish or French). Similarly to the SCIO tests, the success criteria of the completion of the test is percentile (the percent of the applicants who gained less or equal number of scores). How to prepare? There is no literature for preparation. You just need to work out the tests from the previous years and practice.

Masaryk University has Faculties with liberal programs similar to those at Charles University: the Faculty of Arts, Faculty of Social Studies and Faculty of Education.

The Faculty of Arts, in addition to the philological specializations, History and Philosophy, offers such interesting programs as Computational Linguistics, Museology, Theory and History of Film and Audiovisual Culture, and Theory of Interactive Media. Some programs of the Faculty of Arts include passing the specialty test in addition to TSP test during the admission procedure.

"I am studying at the Faculty of Arts at Masaryk University on the program "Theory of Interactive Media". What is Theory of Interactive Media? Interaction means cooperation of any kind. Media is everything that contains any information we receive. Television, the Internet, and social networks. We also engage modern art created with the use of technology. I really love Masaryk University because I am given much freedom to choose subjects. My program is very wide, so it is possible to choose a specific specialization in visual arts, audio arts or gaming industry. The TSP test was the only test required during the admission to my program. In theory, I had been preparing for one month, but in practice, you are preparing for the prerequisites for learning test during your whole life".

"Karina Kazarina, a GoStudy graduate, student of the Faculty of Arts at Masaryk University"

The Faculty of Social Studies at Masaryk University provides opportunity to study Environmental Studies, Media studies and Journalism, International Relations, Psychology, and Social Policy and Human Resources. Upon admission it is necessary to pass the National Comparative Exam on fundamentals of social science (ZSV SCIO) in addition to the prerequisites for learning test.

What is ZSV SCIO?

The test on fundamentals of social science consists of 60 questions and is divided into 3 parts: a human and society (psychology, sociology, philosophy), state and law (political studies and law), economics and the world (economics, European integration and modern history from 1848 to our time, placing an emphasis on the Czech and World history in terms of international relations). The exam is held 6 times per year, the Faculty will accept the best result.

Choose Olomouc for liberal programs

We also recommend to pay attention to the Faculty of Arts at Palacký University in Olomouc that offers wide choice of liberal, social, linguistic, and art history programs. For instance, the Faculty offers such programs as Political Communication and Political Marketing, Migration Studies, and Cultural Anthropology. Psychology is also taught at the high level here.

The Faculty of Arts at Palacký University has its own prerequisites for studying test which is called SPF. This is the only test accepted by all the programs. Some programs include passing a written specialty test or an oral interview in addition to SPF test during the admission procedure.

The SPF test examines verbal, critical, analytical, and logical thinking, as well as knowledge in the field of social studies.

Metropolitan University Prague

Metropolitan University is one of the private universities in the Czech Republic that places an emphasis on the liberal programs in high demand. The most popular program at Metropolitan University is Media Studies.

It's worth mentioning that many professors of Metropolitan University also lecture at Charles University.

"Metropolitan University is the largest private university in the Czech Republic. In addition to interesting and modern programs, students are also attracted by a good development of the exchange program Erasmus. The program "Media Studies" has a wider accreditation than, for instance, "Journalism". The graduates apply their knowledge not only to media but to PR as well. The graduates work in advertising agencies, graphic studios, marketing or HR. The program "Media Studies" offers a wide number of practical and theoretical subjects. The fact that 25 best students have an opportunity to apply for a separate academic module "Journalistic Certificate" is also a point of interest. Upon the successful graduation they will receive a Best Student Certificate in addition to their Bachelor's Degree Certificate.

"Petr Vybíral (PhDr. Petr Vybíral, Ph.D.), a professor of the Department of Media Studies at Metropolitan University in Prague, teacher of Czech language at GoStudy"

What liberal programs are in-demand?

Nowadays there are two most promising liberal professions: a psychologist and a teacher.

Demand for psychologists and psychotherapists in the modern society is and will be growing. More and more people have recourse for support to psychologists or psychotherapists in their everyday life.

When it comes to teachers, they are in a high demand around the whole Europe. The prestige of this profession is growing, the same as the salary rate. The tendency will remain unchanged in the years ahead.

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