All about bachelor's programmes and studying for a bachelor's degree in the Czech Republic
Studying a bachelor's programme at a Czech university offers students the opportunity to receive a comprehensive education and international practice, which will give an excellent start for a future career. Foreign students can study free of charge only in Czech, which can be learnt quickly and well in language preparatory courses. In order to apply for a bachelor's degree, it is necessary to nostrify the matriculation certificate or an existing diploma and pass the entrance examinations. Alexandra Baranova, author of the GoStudy blog, explains the details.
What is a bachelor's degree?
Bachelor's programs are the first stage of higher education in the Czech Republic. The training course lasts 3–4 years depending on the specialty and provides basic professional training. After graduation, graduates receive the title of Bachelor (Bc.), can work in their major or continue studying in a master's program.
Each academic year consists of two semesters, winter (September-December) and summer (February-May). In January and June, students will participate in a study session, which may include written and oral exams. During the semester, midterm exams, assignments and essays are written, projects and presentations are prepared.
The organization of the educational process directly depends on the specialty. So, in creative universities, children work in small groups in a drawing room or studio under the guidance of a specific teacher. Science students spend time in labs and field research, while future marketers, communications experts, entrepreneurs and economists hone their skills working in teams on projects Thematic.
Czech universities focus on providing students with knowledge that can be applied to real life. The situation where a graduate receives a diploma, gets a job and realizes: he needs to "restudy" because he knows only theory and absolutely nothing about practice, is excluded. Lectures and workshops are conducted by practicing experts in their fields.
Bachelor studies at universities in the Czech Republic are carried out according to the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS). Each subject in this system "weighs" a certain number of points. As a rule, the more difficult and important a subject is, the more credits you will earn for that subject. Students are allowed to participate in state exams and defend their bachelor's thesis after completing all subjects and achieving at least 180 credits. During the school year you must complete at least 60 credits.
The advantage of the credit system is that students can create their own convenient timetable and choose interesting subjects at any faculty of their university. There is only one condition: "optional" lectures must not interfere with compulsory subjects in the program and hinder core learning.
How to apply for a bachelor's degree in the Czech Republic?
Before enrolling in a bachelor's degree program, you must make sure that the current level of education corresponds to the level of the Czech applicant. European schoolchildren finish school on average a year or two later than children in many other countries.
There are two solutions to the problem:
Successfully pass the nostrification exams and then immediately enter the university.
Spend a year at university preparatory courses, if necessary, and then pass the entrance exams and become a freshman.
Studying in the Czech Republic is free of charge in a bachelor's programme in the Czech language at a state university. Studying in English is free of charge at any university.
It is better to make the decision to enrol in a European university as early as possible in order to be properly prepared.
Good grades in the certificate are not only a joy for parents, but also a reliable "base" in subjects, which will help the student in the first year. It's one thing to know maths but have trouble remembering Czech terms, and quite another to be "lame" in the subject itself.
Even if you plan to study in Czech, you will still need English. Firstly, it will make it easier to acclimatise to the country in the first weeks of your stay. Secondly, a lot of academic literature is published in English. Thirdly, if you are planning to participate in the ERASMUS+ programme, English is a prerequisite for studying abroad. Knowing another foreign language will be a big plus.
In order to be able to study at a university, it is necessary to know Czech at the B2 or C1 level. In this case, the student can easily understand teachers at lectures, read study materials, communicate with classmates and pass oral and written exams. B2 is the level of confident proficiency, C1 is the level of professional proficiency, which is required, for example, of translators. The C1 certificate is worth having first of all for those who are going to study to become a lawyer, doctor or to learn a complex technical speciality, as they will have to learn specific terminology. In other cases, a B2 certificate is sufficient for admission and success in the first year of study.
High-quality Czech language training is available at annual language courses in the Czech Republic, such as GoStudy or the UJOP Centre at Charles University.
You will need a student visa to study in the Czech Republic. It takes at least three months to collect the documents and apply for it. It is important to remember that only full-time study is the basis for obtaining a student visa.
Question: Why waste the school year and study Czech separately?
Answer: In the last year before matriculation, students have enough on their plate, so it is unlikely that they will be able to devote full time to learning Czech, even online. The second point is that it is one thing to live at home and learn a foreign language, but speak your mother tongue all the time. It is quite another to learn a language in a linguistic environment. In this case, you "absorb" Czech even when you don't learn a grammar rule, simply because you hear Czech everywhere. Finally, a year away from home will help you gradually adapt to independent life in a foreign country. This will make further study at university less difficult.
To enter a bachelor's programme in the Czech Republic, you need to pass an entrance test. Most often it is a written examination or SCIO tests. Some specialities additionally require an oral interview - for example, international relations and pedagogy at Charles University. You will also have to convince the commission of your exceptionalism when applying to the Third Faculty of Medicine of Charles University or the Graduate School of Creative Communication.
Applications - "invitations" (přihláška) to Czech universities are submitted in winter, the deadline for applications is indicated on the website of each university. An administrative fee of 400 to 900 CZK (depending on the university) must be paid for each application. After submission, the student receives a letter with the date of the entrance exams - usually they take place in June.
By the time the application is submitted, you should have clearly decided on the university. It is advisable to be on the safe side and submit not one, but two or three applications to different institutions, especially if the university has a high competition for a place. The same number of points may not be enough in a prestigious university and, conversely, will be enough to get into the ranks of freshmen in a less "cool" high school. At the same time, it is worth applying for related specialities so that you don't have to take a dozen exams in different subjects.
Here's an example: you want to study international relations at Charles University, but you're worried that you won't get enough points. In this case, you can also apply to the Higher School of Economics at the Faculty of International Relations. If you are also considering paid studies as a backup option, you can additionally send an application to Metropolitan University (speciality "International Relations and European Studies"). Failing all exams is an unlikely scenario if you have prepared for them. If you apply to more than one university, you can choose.
Bachelor's programmes are available at all public and private universities in the Czech Republic. The following universities are the most popular among international students:
Czech Technical University in Prague
Higher School of Economics in Prague
Charles University in Prague
Czech Agricultural University in Prague
Graduate School of Applied Arts in Prague
Masaryk University in Brno
Mendel University in Brno
University of West Bohemia in Plzeň
Palacký University in Olomouc, etc.
What to do after graduating with a bachelor's degree?
Graduates have two options: to get a job or to continue their studies.
Work: a bachelor's degree from a Czech university is recognised in any European country, so the geography of choice of workplace is very wide. Some graduates prefer to stay in the Czech Republic. This decision has its reasons: during three or four years of study a person has time to fully adapt and settle down. There are also those who return to their home country and apply their knowledge there. This option is reasonable if the graduate has a family, partner, real estate, favourable job offers.
Study: the next step after the Bachelor's degree is a two- or three-year Master's degree, where admission is based on entrance exams. The process of admission to a Master's programme is no different: you need to pay for and submit an "invitation card" on time, and then appear for the exam on the specified day.
A Master's degree is highly valued on the European labour market. Students often combine Master's studies with work in their speciality. Obtaining a title in the future leads to career advancement and salary increase. Bachelor's degree in the Czech Republic is an excellent option for those who dream of getting a high-quality European education, but are not ready to pay a lot of money for it. Czech universities are annually listed in THE and QS World Rankings, and graduates can find a job anywhere in the world. It is important to prepare for admission to a bachelor's programme well in advance: it is important not to make a mistake in choosing a university, to apply for a visa and submit an application form in time, to prepare for entrance exams, to pass nostrification exams if necessary, and to master the Czech language up to level B2 or C1.