Higher education in Hungary

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.

The University of Szeged was founded in Cluj (currently situated in Romania and called Kolozsvár in Hungarian) in 1872 and was moved to Szeged in 1921. At present, the University consists of 12 faculties, where you can study almost everything ranging from humanities to business studies or health sciences.


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 within the frames of the Erasmus and Erasmus+ programs,
  • 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 Hungarian Act on Higher Education was adopted in December 2004, and it was inspired by the objectives of the Bologna Process. As a consequence, all main fields of study have been restructured. Medicine, pharmacy, dental and veterinary studies, architecture, law and certain crafts, arts and design related study programmes retained, however, a long single-cycle, “undivided” structure of 5-6 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), 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. Programmes can be full-time, part-time or of a distance learning nature.


A three-year doctoral programme (doktori képzés) serves as the third optional cycle of the training. 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.


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 Supplements (DS, in Hungarian: oklevélmelléklet) have been issued by higher education institutions since July 2003. Since 2006, DS have been provided by higher education institutions 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.