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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Programmes outside the bachelor and master structure


7.Higher education

7.4Programmes outside the bachelor and master structure

Last update: 26 March 2024

Master's non-structured study programmes

The 1998 Higher Education Act has introduced the structure of higher education (Bachelor's study programmes, Master's study programmes, Doctoral study programmes). The 2001 Amendment to this Act accelerated its implementation and since 1 January 2004 students of the first years could not be admitted to the “long” Master's degree programmes; only the period of their accreditation has expired step by step. Non-structured Master's degree programmes have gradually been replaced by Bachelor's (ISCED 645) and follow-up Master's study programmes (ISCED 747).

Where required by the nature of the study programme, a Master's degree programme does not have to follow on from a Bachelor's degree programme (ISCED 746). Thus, the standard length of study is 4-6 years. Usually are there 5-year programmes (300 ECTS), in the case of medicine, veterinary medicine and hygiene and arts, there are 6-year programmes (360 ECTS). About 10 % of all students of Bachelor's and Master's degree programmes study in those programmes. The fields are:

  • medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine and hygiene, pharmacy
  • law and jurisprudence
  • some theological fields
  • some artistic fields
  • logopaedics
  • primary teacher training

The same rules as for Bachelor's degree programmes apply to admission of students. In case of art and primary teacher training, the talent examination are sometimes part of the admission proceedings.

Transit throughout the studies, completion of study, teaching methods, etc. for non-structured Master's degree programmes are the same as for studies and completion of studies in Master's degree programmes following on Bachelor's ones.

A Master's degree programme finishes with a final state examination (státní závěrečná zkouška); the defence of a thesis is its part. Master's degree programme in the field of general medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine and veterinary hygiene are completed with examen rigorosum (státní rigorózní zkouška). Internal regulations of higher education institutions (vysoké školy) set the maximum period of study (e.g. at the Charles University in Prague the standard period of study is prolonged by five years). A higher education diploma (vysokoškolský diplom) and a supplement to the diploma (dodatek k diplomu) are documents confirming completion of studies. The level of education attained is ISCED 746.

Academic titles and procedures are the same as for „follow-up“ Master's degree programmes; included in the table are also Master's (non-structured) degree programmes in general medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine and veterinary hygiene, which cannot be studied in a structured study programme.


An overview of higher education degrees in Master's non-structured study programmes

Programmes Title Abbreviation
Final state examination, including defence of a thesis    
in economy, technical sciences and technology, agriculture, forestry and military inženýr (Engineer) Ing.
in architecture inženýr architekt (Engineer of Architecture) Ing. arch.
in art1) magistr umění (Master of Art) MgA.
in other fields (except for those below) magistr (Master) Mgr.
Examen rigorosum    
in general medicine doktor medicíny (Doctor of Medicine) MUDr.
in dentistry doktor zubního lékařství (Dentist) MDDr.
in veterinary medicine and veterinary hygiene doktor veterinární medicíny (Doctor of Veterinary Sciences) MVDr.

Note: All titles are used in front of the name.

1) For graduates of Bachelor's and Master's degree programmes in arts who were admitted without having completed upper secondary education with a Maturita examination or tertiary professional education in conservatoire, the title is awarded after they have achieved this.

Graduates of “long” Master's degree programmes as well as graduates of other Master's degree programmes can be admitted to a doctoral programme (their graduates obtain the title Ph.D.). Apart from this, after being awarded the title magistr, graduates of a Master's degree programme (similarly as graduates of structured programmes) can sit for a Post-Master's examen rigorosum (státní rigorózní zkouška) and be awarded the title (JUDr., PhDr., RNDr., PharmDr., ThDr., ThLic.).

Tertiary professional schools

Tertiary professional education takes place at tertiary professional schools (vyšší odborné školy).

Education in tertiary professional schools (ISCED 655) are included in tertiary education. It is regulated by the Education Act. Tertiary professional schools were established to provide professionally-oriented non-university tertiary education, nevertheless since the very beginning they have been struggling with unclear function, status and relations within the education system and subsequently with characteristics (e.g. duration of study) that place them into a specific situation within the European context. 

The study on the National Qualification Framework for Tertiary Education showed that the educational programmes of tertiary professional education do not meet the characteristics of a short cycle, so they cannot be assigned to this category. At the same time, under the current legislation, the completion of the programme of tertiary professional education does not authorise the admission to study programmes of the second higher education cycle and thus, these programmes cannot be considered as the first cycle programmes. An attempt to define the role and the status of different streams in tertiary professional education better within the reform of higher education has not ended successfully and the sector – despite benefits for students and graduates – waits for clearing up its potential for the next development.

Education in the last two years of the conservatoire is close to tertiary professional education. The graduates of conservatoire usually attain the degree of "tertiary professional education at a conservatoire" and, as in the case of tertiary professional schools, the title of "diploma specialist" (DiS.). However, from an international perspective this education is ranked among the short cycle programmes (ISCED 554). As the first 4 (or 6) years correspond to the secondary education level, the education at a conservatoire is described in Chapter 6 on Upper Secondary and Post-Secondary Non-Tertiary Education.


Branches of study

The structure of study fields at tertiary professional schools (vyšší odborné školy) is set by a governmental Government Regulation on the System of Fields of Studies in Basic, Upper Secondary and Tertiary Professional Education after negotiation with the relevant central trade union bodies, employer's associations acting in the territory of the whole country and within the regions. A 2004 governmental decree introduced a new structure of study fields in basic and secondary education and education at tertiary professional schools and linked these to vocational and study fields according to previous legislation. Study fields provided by tertiary professional schools have to be registered in the School Register.

As stipulated by the Education Act, the length of day form of tertiary professional education is three years including work practice; for medical disciplines, it is up to three and half years. Education is organised on the basis of accredited study programmes. The accreditation is awarded by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, based on the view of the Accreditation Commission for Tertiary Professional Education.

Admission requirements

A basic pre-condition for admission to education at tertiary professional schools (vyšší odborné školy) is upper secondary education with a Maturita examination (maturitní zkouška), ISCED 344 or 354, confirmed by a Maturita examination certificate.

Admission requirements are regulated by the Education Act. Students are admitted on the basis of results of the admission procedure. The school head must publish the deadline for submission of an application form, the documents which are its component parts, dates when the admission procedure takes place and criteria for its evaluation, at least two months in advance. For the first round of the admission procedure, the applicant submits an application for education in a tertiary professional school to the school head by 31 May. The date of the last round of the admission procedure is announced by the school head so that the admission procedure is completed by the last working day of October. According to Act No. 67/2022, pupils with temporary protection can replace documents on previous education with a solemn declaration. In addition, the Ministry of Education established specific conditions for the admission procedure for the 2023/24 school year for these pupils through a binding general measure.

The school head may decide whether the admission procedure will include an entrance examination. In case it is carried out, the deadline for the first round of the admission procedure is set at the earliest on 1 June. The school head determines its content and the form of examination accordance with the teaching and study documents for secondary education completed with a Maturita examination. The entrance examination usually includes a written part and an interview. At some schools (pedagogical and art), talent examinations are included as well.

The school head notifies applicants of their admission or rejection by publishing the list of admitted applicants within seven days after the examination date or after setting the results of the admission procedure if the examination does not take place. If an applicant is not admitted to a course, she/he can file an appeal within 15 days of the day when the school head's decision is delivered to them.

An applicant becomes a student of tertiary professional school by the date of enrolment to the education the latest date for registration is 31 October.

Under the Education Act, the school head can accept students directly into higher years if their documents on previous education certify so, or if the applicant proves sufficient level of knowledge subsequently. Recognition of previous education in not set down in a systematic way and articulation of the Act deals mainly with formal, in limited cases with non-formal education.

The school head decides on the number of students admitted in accordance with the capacity set for the school on its registration in the School Register and in accordance with the long-term objectives of individual regions. The law states that age cannot be a barrier to admission to studies. In 2022/23, approx. 9 % of population cohort was admitted to tertiary professional education programmes. (Source: Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports)

The higher education institution can collect fees for the study.



Tertiary professional education in each educational area at individual tertiary professional schools (vyšší odborné školy) is organised in accordance with an educational programme which is subject to accreditation. The content of education in tertiary professional education is based on the Education Act and the Decree on Tertiary Professional Education.

The educational programme specifies in particular:

  • the concrete objectives of education
  • the length and the form of education
  • content of education and its organisation
  • the profile of graduates of the educational programme concerned
  • the language of instruction
  • conditions of the course of education, and the manner in which education is completed
  • conditions for the education of students with special educational needs
  • professional conditions for teaching, conditions for work safety and health, and health protection conditions for persons applying for education

Instruction of at least some modules/subjects in a foreign language is not common; it could also be due to the poorer involvement of tertiary professional schools in international mobility at the European level. In the Erasmus+ for higher education the mobility is also limited by a very restricted access to corresponding sources. The participation is limited by the awarding of the so-called Erasmus University Charter.


Teaching methods

As stipulated by the Education Act, the tertiary professional education incorporates theoretical and practical preparation. The details are set by the Decree on Tertiary Professional Education.

Theoretical preparation is provided in accordance with the accredited educational programme in the forms of:

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • consultations
  • exercises
  • field trips

Seminars and exercises take place at schools.

Practical preparation is organised in the form of:

  • practical education at schools
  • work practice at workplaces

The number of students in a study group is between 10 and 40 at the beginning of their studies in the first year (in arts fields, the minimum number of students is 6). In accordance with the accredited educational programme, it is possible to divide study groups into sub-groups or to join study groups and sub-groups for lessons in certain subjects.

The range of teaching aids and equipment is the responsibility of the tertiary professional school (vyšší odborná škola).

The work practice at a workplace is a considerable feature which supports employability and success in the labour market of graduates of tertiary professional education. Often it is designed as continuous, lasting several months or at least several weeks. Health schools distribute the disposable hours for gaining practical experience (set by international standards in many health fields) in a continuous block or in regular week practices.

The Amendment to the Education Act of 2020 legislatively enshrines distance learning as an equivalent way of education in case of crisis situations. Students are obliged to learn in the distance way to the extent appropriate to the circumstances.

Progression of students

Progression of students in tertiary professional education is set by the Education Act and Decree on Tertiary Professional Education.

A student who has successfully met conditions specified by the accredited educational programme for a relevant level proceeds to a higher level. Despite many discussions and declarations, it can be seen that most tertiary professional schools have not started to introduce a credit system, which often does not have a practical use due to the limited number of students. Legislative limits or their understanding plays also a part in it.

Examinations may be repeated twice. In the case of a second resit, an examination is organised in front of the examining board and it is also used if there are any doubts about the correctness of the student's assessment. This form of examination can also be employed in the case of comparative tests and in cases defined by the accredited educational programme. An examination in front of an examining board takes place on the date determined by the school head, who also nominates the examining board.

Students can transfer to another tertiary professional school during the course of their studies, change their field of education, interrupt their studies, or repeat a year, and are entitled to recognition of their previous education upon a written request.

The school head may interrupt schooling of a student for a period of not more than two years. For this period, the student ceases to be a student of the relevant tertiary professional school. After the specified time elapses, students continue to study in the same year in which they interrupted their studies. With the prior consent of the school head, the student may continue in his/her studies in an upper year if he/she demonstrates corresponding knowledge and practical skills and the manner in which these have been achieved.

Education at tertiary professional schools may take various study forms, all of which are equal.

The 2004 Amendment to the Higher Education Act made the transition from the tertiary professional schools (vyšší odborné školy) to higher education institutions (vysoké školy) easier. Higher education institutions are free to specify different admission conditions for applicants who have completed a degree programme or a part of the programme at a tertiary professional school or for those who are studying the same programme. In such cases, students need not study the entire Bachelor's programme from the beginning.



One of the goals of the tertiary professional education stated in the Education Act is: “The tertiary professional education develops and broadens the knowledge and skills of a student acquired during secondary education and provides general and vocational education as well as practical training for the execution of demanding activities.” Therefore, the practical part of the study is very important.

The application for the accreditation of the educational programme must include a proposal of an educational programme. It is stated in the ministerial document (Formal Framework for the Assessment of Educational Programmes of Tertiary Professional Education) that this proposal among others contains “the content of the subject including practical training; and a proposal which states natural persons or legal entities and their workplace where the specialised practice is to take place”. Although there is no specific number of practical training set by the Ministry the Accreditation Commission for Tertiary Professional (Non-university) Education assesses the range of practical training with respect to the graduate profile defined for each educational programme of the tertiary professional school (vyšší odborná škola). The exception is health-care and sanitary educational programmes where obligatory number of practical training is set by the Decree on the Minimal Requirements for Acquiring Professional Competencies for Non-medical Professions. For accreditation of the health disciplines programmes also the accreditation by the Ministry of Health is necessary.

There is no formal requirement for employers to be involved in tertiary professional education. However, it is stated in the Education Act that a member of the Examining Board established for the graduate examination (absolutorium) can be an expert from the practice.

The unemployment rate of graduates of tertiary professional education was 3.4 % in April 2020. Compared to 2019 there was an annual increase in the unemployment rate by 1.5 percentage points. This education category is quite vulnerable to fluctuations in unemployment due to the lower share of graduates in the individual fields of study. This might also be supported by data of April 2022 when the unemployment rate was 1.8 %. The lower unemployment rate is also related to the fact that more than a half of graduates are from the fields which are in great demand (health and educational fields). (Source: Information system Infoabsolvent)

Student assessment

Conditions for the student assessment in tertiary professional education are set by the Education Act and Decree on Tertiary Professional Education.

Students are assessed after each relevant term. Subjects or other comprehensive parts of the syllabus on the basis of which a student takes an examination are specified by the accredited educational programme.

Forms of assessment

  • continuous assessment
  • credits
  • classified credits
  • examinations

Continuous assessment can take place during seminars, practice, practical education, work practice, and excursions. Continuous assessment primarily takes the form of questions, written work, tests, individual assignments, and term papers. The results of interim assessment can be taken into account and influence the examination.

A credit is given when all requirements defined in the subject curriculum are met. The evidence of given credits is recorded in the student's credit book, with the word započteno (credit granted).

Classified credit and examination

A classified credit also evaluates and classifies how a student has met the requirements of the credit. A classified credit and an examination can be:

  • oral
  • written
  • practical
  • combined

The results of a classified credit or an examination are marked as follows:

  • excellent
  • very good
  • good
  • failed

The results of a classified credit and of an examination are recorded in these terms in the student's credit book.

Assessment and classification are carried out in each subject by the teacher, except for the case of a graduate examination which has to be taken in front of an examination board.

Some tertiary professional schools (vyšší odborné školy) also use credit systems which express the students' study load.


Conditions for graduation in tertiary professional education are set by the Education Act and Decree on Tertiary Professional Education.

Studies end with a graduate examination (absolutorium). After successful passing the graduate examination, the graduate of a tertiary professional school (vyšší odborná škola) receives a graduation certificate and a graduate diploma upon completion of the tertiary professional school. The certificates issued according to the new decree on some certificates on education will newly include the level of the European Qualification Framework (EQF). The graduates are awarded the title diploma specialist (diplomovaný specialista, DiS.) which is written behind their names. Successful completion of the final level of studies is the pre-condition for taking a graduate examination.

Parts of the graduate examination

The graduate examination is a professional examination consisting of:

  • an exam in vocational subjects
  • an exam in a foreign language
  • a defence of a graduate thesis

The examination in vocational subjects may cover up to 3 vocational subjects. A proposed educational programme submitted for accreditation has to include specification of subjects which will be part of the graduate examination.


The school head announces at least one regular date for a graduate examination in the school year. A student may resit the graduate examination or repeat the graduate thesis only twice on the date determined by the examination board. In case the student excuses himself/herself in due term, he/she is entitled to an examination on an alternative date determined by the school head.

Examination board

The graduate examination is a public examination, except for the examination board's discussions about student evaluations. Practical examinations are not public in cases when it is necessary (i.e. occupational safety or protection of patients' privacy in medical disciplines). The exams take place in front of a board whose chairperson is appointed by a regional authority and other members are appointed by the school head. The Chair, the Vice-Chair and the supervising teacher of a study group are permanent members. A teacher of the relevant subject, a teacher who also teaches the same subject but is not a teacher of students being examined, a supervisor of the graduate thesis, and a critical opponent are other members.


The assessment scale used in the graduate examination consists of four levels:

  • excellent
  • very good
  • good
  • fail

The overall assessment is on a three-point scale

  • pass with excellence
  • pass
  • fail

The overall assessment of the graduate examination includes marks for the examination in specialised subjects and in a foreign language, and of the defence of the thesis. The graduate paper may be elaborated and defended by several students at the same time. But they are assessed individually. The overall assessment of a student's performance during the graduate examination, along with the assessment of the individual examinations, is announced to the student on the same day he/she took the graduate examination.

Organisational variation

According to the Education Act, education at tertiary professional schools (vyšší odborné školy) is organised on the basis of following forms of education:

  • day form
  • evening form
  • distance form
  • e-learning
  • combined forms of education

Education attained in all forms of education is equal. Distance, evening, e-learning, or combined forms of education can be up to one year longer than the day form of study. For more information, see School-based education in Chapter 8.

Public higher education institutions (vysoké školy) can provide degree programmes in cooperation with tertiary professional schools.