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Second-cycle programmes


7.Higher education

7.3Second-cycle programmes

Last update: 27 November 2023

Branches of study

According to Law 4957/2022, the second cycle of studies programs is referred to the organization of Postgraduate Studies Programs with a minimum number of sixty (60) credits (ECTS) and a minimum duration of two (2) academic semesters, the successful completion of which leads to level seven (7) degree of the National and European Qualifications Framework. The establishment of Postgraduate Studies Programs is included in the multi-year development plan of each Department/School of the Higher Education Institution (HEI) and is part of the HEI's strategic planning. Postgraduate Studies Programs are organized by one (1) or more Departments of the same or another HEI and they aim at the promotion of knowledge, the development of research and meet the educational, research and development needs of the country. The Postgraduate Studies Programs are governed by scientific coherence, have a subject related to the scientific fields of the relevant Department and meet the conditions of a high level of studies.

Attendance of second cycle programmes leads to a postgraduate degree.

As already mentioned, the schools and departments of the universities have been classified in 4 scientific fields (see Chapter 7.2.1):

  • Humanities, Law and Social Sciences, which include theoretical schools, like Philology, Law, Sociology, Foreign Languages
  • Natural and Technological Sciences, which include the schools of Mathematics, Physics, Architecture, Civil Engineering
  • Health and Life Sciences, which include the Medical Schools, Pharmaceutical Schools, Dentistry, Biology
  • Economics and Informatics Sciences, which include the schools of Economics, Business Administration, Accounting and Finance.

Departments of higher education institutions may organise second cycle programmes aiming at the specialisation of graduates in fields of knowledge adherent to the scientific fields of undergraduate study programmes.

Furthermore, more than one departments of the same or other higher education institutions or research centres and institutes may organise second cycle programmes.

Autonomous departments of national HEIs collaborate with departments recognised as peer institutions or research centres and institutes abroad for the organisation and operation of joint postgraduate study programmes-PMS ((law 4957/2022).  By decision of the Minister of Education and Religious Affairs, the procedure for the establishment of the joint postgraduate study programmes (PMS) is defined.  The issues are regulated in the EPS for any relevant topic (ministerial decision 41931/Ζ1/19-3-2018).

The academic year begins on the 1st of September of each year and ends on the 31st of August of the following year.  The educational programme of each academic year is divided into two semesters.  A second cycle programme may begin during the winter or the spring semester.

The minimum duration of a second cycle programme is two semesters, while part of this time period is devoted to the completion of a dissertation.  The maximum time period a student is allowed in order to obtain a second cycle certification is defined by the second sycle programme regulation of each institution.

Moreover, the second cycle programme regulation stipulates part-time attendance for working and non-working students. The duration ought not to be longer than twice the duration of the full-time programme.

According to Law 4957/2022, a Professional Postgraduate Program can be organized by one (1) or more Departments of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in a specific knowledge subject relevant to the Department with the aim of providing formal post-graduate level education exclusively to the staff of private or public sector entities, in the context of the implementation of a contract or program agreement of HEIs with a private or public sector entity, which undertakes the financing of the organization and operation of the Professional Postgraduate Program.

Admission requirements

All graduates of Greek Universities or of equivalent foreign institutions can be admitted to second cycle programmes.  The selection is specified in the regulation of postgraduate studies taking into consideration the following academic criteria:

  • The overall degree grades
  • The grades obtained in undergraduate modules relevant to those of the postgraduate programme
  • The student thesis, when a thesis is required at undergraduate level
  • Any research experience the student might possess.

Another prerequisite is the knowledge of at least one foreign language besides the official language of the second cycle programme the student attends.  The language’s knowledge level is defined by the regulation of postgraduate studies of each second cycle programme.

Moreover, the regulation defines the maximum number of admitted postgraduate students in the particular second cycle programme in relevance to the number of undergraduate students and the number of professors of the corresponding department.

The regulation of postgraduate studies includes, among others:

  1. The duration of studies
  2. The attendance suspension procedures (partly or fully)
  3. The curricula
  4. Distance education via various means
  5. The examination and assessment procedure
  6. The exam periods and their duration
  7. The type of exams and evaluation
  8. The preconditions of successful completion of studies 
  9. Student essays or participation in other research or educational activities
  10. Any other issue that is relevant to the operation of a second cycle programme in the university department.

According to the law 2552/1997, in the postgraduate study programmes of the Hellenic Open University (EAP), all graduates of universities can be admitted without exams by just applying.

Moreover, although Greek is the official language of all study programmes in EAP, the university can offer in exceptional cases, study programmes or thematic modules in a foreign language (law 2552/1997).

The International Hellenic University (IHU) organises second cycle programmes which are exclusively taught in english and are mainly addressed to foreign students.

To apply for a second cycle programme (master’s programme) at the IHU the following are necessary:

  • A Greek HEI degree or a foreign university degree certified to be equivalent or relevant to Greek HEIs
  • Proficiency in English.

For the selection of students, the following are taken into consideration:

  • The grade of the undergraduate degree certificate
  • The grades of the undergraduate modules relevant to the ones of the postgraduate course.

All programmes are taught in English. Following the senate’s decision, programmes are taught in other languages, including Greek.


The general assembly of the department establishes the regulation of second cycle programmes, which is afterwards approved by the senate, published in the official Government Gazette of the Hellenic Republic. The Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs is also notified.

The regulation of second cycle pogrammes defines, except for the above-mentioned, the following:

  • The curriculum, which mainly includes the relevant subjects
  • The specialisations
  • The content of postgraduate modules
  • Distant education teaching methods
  • The minimum number of teaching hours and the credits according to the law 3374/2005.

Teaching methods

The teaching methods in second cycle programmes are:

  1. Theoretical teaching
  2. Lectures and laboratory sessions
  3. Supervision of laboratory, group and clinical exercises
  4. Supervision and guidance for essays and research on specific subjects
  5. Invitation of an academic or researcher from other Greek or foreign HEIs
  6. Distance learning.

The teaching and learning process is facilitated by relevant textbooks or other material (notes, greek and foreign bibliography), distributed to students for free.  In many cases, this process is aided by the use of audio-visual material, new technologies and electronic teaching material, which is considered as the material and technical infrastructure of the department.

The teaching methods and materials are chosen freely by the teaching personnel.  This choice is made for every module per semester, which includes a minimum of 13 full weeks of courses.

Regarding postgraduate study programmes of the Hellenic Open University leading to a master’s degree or a certificate of postgraduate learning, studies may also be conducted via the method of distance learning, which includes the following per subject area:

  • Meetings between lecturers and students
  • Compulsory assignments sent to the lecturer
  • Distance counselling between the lecturer and students
  • Final and repeat exams.

Progression of students

As far as postgraduate studies leading to a postgraduate degree are concerned, progress and progression of postgraduate students is based on their passing the exams in the relevant postgraduate courses, in combination with the participation of the postgraduate student in the overall research, writing and educational activities of the programme.

The way of assessment of the postgraduate students’ progress and overall work, as well as the way of certification of the successful completion of their studies are defined by the regulation of postgraduate programmes of each department, in which every other detail related to the planning and operation of postgraduate studies is also specified.

In the case that the second cycle programme includes a student’s dissertation, the steering committee, first of all, takes into consideration the student’s proposal with the title of the dissertation, the name of the supervisor and a brief summary of his/her thesis.  Afterwards, the committee designates the supervisor as well as a three-member exam committee for the dissertation’s assessment.  One of the members of the exam committee has to be the student’s supervisor.  The final approval of the dissertation depends on the student’s presentation in front of the exam committee.

All the dissertations are compulsorily uploaded to the website of the faculty or department, after their approval and final evaluation.

The Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs has recently created an electronic platform for postgraduate study programmes (PMS). The platform offers information on prospective programmes, fees, application procedure etc.


With a view to reinforcing the employability  of graduates, the completion of a scientific internship in domestic or foreign laboratories is promoted.  The old and new postgraduate programmes, whose students’ performance and prospects, as well as whose relevance to priority fields, pre-determine their international success and sustainability, are reinforced.

Moreover, promotional activities to attract possible postgraduate students from the general public or private sector are being promoted.

Finally, as already mentioned in Chapter 7.2.1 Degree - Employability, a career/job office operates in all higher education institutions, which is essentially a bridge of communication between each institution and the job market, the economy and the production sector.

Student assessment

Student assessment is carried out by the teachers of the higher education institutions, while the assessment methods used, depend on the nature of the relevant cognitive subject.  The assessment and progression of students is based on their passing written or oral exams on the courses of the relevant postgraduate study programme, in combination with the participation of the postgraduate student in the overall research, writing and educational activities provided by the regulation of postgraduate studies.

The duration of exam periods, the requirements for the awarding of a degree, the examination and assessment rules, the way of assessment of the student’s progress and overall work, the way of certification of the successful completion of postgraduate studies, are all specified in the regulation of postgraduate studies.

In order to be awarded a master’s degree, the postgraduate student ought to pass the exams for the courses of the relevant postgraduate study programme as well as participate in the overall educational and research activities according to the provisions of the regulation of postgraduate studies.


Higher education institutions, except for the planning and organisation of postgraduate study programmes, are responsible for the quality assurance and the continuous improvement of educational and research work, as well as the effective operation and performance of their services. They operate according to international practices, especially the ones of the European axes of higher education and are related to the directions of the Hellenic Authority for Higher Education (law 4653/2020).

According to the new institutional framework (law 4653/2020) procedures for internal evaluation and certification procedures are carried out by HEIs. or their academic units, while external evaluation and certification of quality assurance procedures by a five-member External Evaluation and Certification Committee (EEAP). This evaluation accompanies the existing procedures of internal and external evaluation, as well as the quality assurance and accreditation processes (law 4009/2011).