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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Initial education for teachers working in early childhood and school education


9.Teachers and education staff

9.1Initial education for teachers working in early childhood and school education

Last update: 21 March 2024

Institutions, levels and models of training

Out of 62 state and state-recognized non-state institutions of higher education, 17 state and 21 non-state institutions provide some form of teacher education.

Initial education for early childhood educators

The objective of the training is to train pedagogical experts who apply needs-tailored development and educational methods to care for infants and small children who need caring help in their lifecycle from new-born to 3 years of age (4.1). The training time is 3 years, 180 credit points (7.2). Graduates may primarily continue their studies in pedagogy MA degree courses.

Training kindergarten teachers

Kindergarten teacher training institutions prepare future kindergarten teachers for pre-school/pre-primary education, to be able to prepare children for primary school attendance and to involve children aged 3-7 in a structured process of development and education (2.3., 4.4.). The content of the training is based on pedagogy, and psychology, both meant to serve the differentiated development and socialisation of the child’s personality through a host of – mainly playful – activities. Theoretical, methodological, and practical training of teachers is done concurrently. Complex personality development takes place through nursing and physical education, upgrading the command of the mother tongue and communication in general, art education, mathematical education, and learning about nature. Training time is 3 years, 180 credit points (7.2). The proportion of general subjects, and pedagogy and psychology is 32-35%, and studies preparing for kindergarten education have a share of 45-48%. Practice constitutes 30% of total training time. It is possible to specialise in national minority teaching. Graduates may primarily continue their studies in pedagogy MA degree courses.

Initial education for primary school teachers

Primary school teacher training courses prepare teacher candidates to grades 1-6 by teaching all general subjects of grades 1-4 (i.e. ability and skills in teaching the mother tongue, sociology, natural sciences, mathematics, musical, visual and physical education), plus teaching the material for grades 5-6 in one field of learning/education compulsorily chosen (2.3., 5.1.). Training time is 4 years, 240 credit points (7.2). The proportion of general knowledge of pedagogy, psychology, sociology, foreign language, IT, and subjects required to prepare for teaching in grades 1-4 (Hungarian language and literature, mathematics, natural science, music, visual education, IT, technology class, family, household, and economic knowledge, physical education) is 83-85% (in favour of the latter). The proportion of preparing for tasks in grades 5-6 in the chosen subject is 15-17%. 15-20% of total teaching time is practical training. In the last year of the training the uninterrupted period of school practice is 8-10 weeks. It is possible to specialise in minority education. Studies may be continued primarily in Pedagogy MA, but it is also possible to enter Teacher (MA) (7.4) with recognition of previously acquired pedagogical studies.

Training teachers

The Act Act CCIV of 2011 on National Higher Education (2011. évi CCIV. törvény a nemzeti felsőoktatásról) defines training in an undivided form in the general phase of school education: the training period lasts 12 semesters (with two teacher’s qualifications), still, the length of training in 11 degree courses in general subjects is differentiated between primary school and secondary school teacher training.The initial education of lower secondary school teachers is provided as a one-tier programme (10 semesters), which includes a 2-semester traineeship. The initial education of upper secondary school teachers is also offered as a one-tier programme, lasting 12 semesters, with a compulsory traineeship of two semesters. Teacher training in the specialized training phase of school education can be arranged both in one-tier and cycled forms. In cycled training, teacher training is based on disciplinary BA training and lasts 4 semesters. A master’s degree can be obtained during the training. Teachers entering higher education also have to sit for an aptitude test. 

The aim of the one-tier teacher training programmes is to train teachers (double major) in the phase of the general and specialised teacher education and single major teachers in the specialised phase of teacher education. One-tier teacher training programmes basically comprises of specialist training for the two chosen subjects as well as general teacher training. In the frames of primary school teacher training, training in the special field means 100 credits for each of the two disciplines, and the teacher’s preparatory training also covers 100 credits. With regard to training secondary school teachers, training in the special field means 130 credits each and the teacher’s preparatory training covers 100 credits. The credits given for the teacher’s preparatory training imply the theoretical and practical credits in pedagogy and psychology, the credits for special methodology, the credits for contiguous teaching practices held both concurrently with and after the training period and the credits for having made a compulsory portfolio during the training. The component with the highest credits in teachers’ preparatory training is the continuous individual school practice, worth 50 credits.

Conductor teacher

The objective of training conductor teachers is to train pedagogical experts who can be competent in developing physically disabled people with special needs of any age and, through conductive education (12.2.). Conductor teacher training (teachers helping students with physical disorders) can be completed within Bachelor courses. Within this type of training students may specialise in kindergarten or primary level teaching. The training period is 4 years, 240 credits (7.2.). Graduates may primarily continue their studies in pedagogy MA degree courses.

Bachelor’s degree in special educational pedagogy

The aim of this training is to train special education teachers capable of offering help to (depending on their disability) disabled children, young people and adults, in order to develop their skills, compensate for their functional disorders, manage their difficulties in life, conduct and help their social integration (12.2.). Specializations: pedagogy for the mentally impaired, pedagogy for the hearing impaired, pedagogy for the visual impaired, logopaedia, psychopedagogy, somatopedagogy, pedagogy for students with learning disability, pedagogy of the autism spectrum. The training period is 4 years, 240 credits (7.2.). Studies can be directly continued in the MA training in special educationand MA training in educational science.

The table below summarizes the Hungarian system of teacher training:

Training Level Training period (semester) Total credits Credits for teacher’s special training Credits for special practice
Early childhood educator B 6 180 130 30
Kindergarten teacher B 6 180 130 30
Lower primary school teacher B 8 240 150 45
Teacher (Bologna MA training) – outgoing scheme M 5 150 94 30
Primary school teacher O 10 300 100 40
Secondary school teacher O 12 360 100 40
Special educational pedagogy B 8 240 200 30
Special educational teacher M 3 90 200 30
Conductor teacher B 8 240 180 50
Vocational, arts teacher O 10 300 200 40
Music teacher O 12 360 100 40
Vocational, arts teacher M 4 120 10 40

B(Bachelor), M(Master) O(One-tier)

Teachers training typically double major, i.e. would-be-teachers are trained to teach two subjects. The exceptions are: the training of art teachers and vocational teachers, where it is possible to study for one teaching qualification (in one study field).

In addition to theoretical knowledge, all teacher training programmes require a specific methodology, and school practice, whose duration and credit value are determined in the programme outcomes based standards and requirements of the particular course.

In teacher training the theoretical and practical phases are carried out in parallel. There is no final, on-the-job phase, but there is a compulsory integrated personal practical training before acquiring the qualification. School practice or kindergarten practice take place in either of two locations: at schools or kindergartens specialised in teacher training, and at regular or any school under the supervision of the teachers specifically appointed for the task. From among the tasks of practical training

  • basic practical, methodological visits in schools or kindergartens (demonstration lesson),

  • teaching, and psychology practice to observe children, and to study the learning-teaching process , and the tasks of teachers,

  • seminars to prepare and assess lessons, teaching in front of a group of peers, practice in conducting classes,

  • introductory teaching/education practice supervised by the lead teacher takes place at schools or kindergartens.

The network of teacher training schools and kindergartens, attached to the organization of teacher training institutions, performs public educational activities, and is operated by the higher educational institution. Act CXC of 2011 on National Public Education (2011. évi CXC. törvény a nemzeti köznevelésről) stipulates the specific conditions and requirements for the assignment of teachers in charge of mentoring teaching practices and defines the compulsory number of lessons for them (which is significantly less, due to the extra tasks of mentoring the teaching practices). The head teachers of the external schools generally receive special remuneration, based on their special service contract with the training institution.

After the individual teaching practices and classes (1-2 weeks in teacher training schools), in the last part of the training period the individual contiguous teaching practices are implemented (4 semesters in teacher training, 6-10 weeks in kindergarten and lower primary school teacher training), in the above-mentioned external teacher training institutions.

Admission requirements

Admission to teacher training to programmes set out in 9.1. is through the central academic admission system (7.3.).

The fundamental characteristic of the tertiary educational entrance procedure is that the bases of point calculation for a bachelor training are the secondary school study results (200 points) and the results of the upper secondary school leaving examination (200 points). This means that 400 points can be collected. An additional 100 points can be collected based on language examinations, vocational examinations, or excellent sports result and providing equal opportunities. In BA training, the points are calculated and the applicants are ranked on the basis of nationally uniform principles. In the case of MA training, the conditions of admission and the method of point calculation are set by the higher educational institution. Altogether 100 points can be collected, and a BA degree is a general criterion for admission.

Three entrance procedures are held each year. The general procedure starts with applications in each February and ends with the specification of the point limit for admittance to the specific training courses at the end of July. In the framework of this procedure, the applicant may submit an application for 6 training programmes, in priority order. Those who are not admitted in the general procedure or have not submitted an application can have a chance in the second entrance procedure, which means a one-month simplified procedure where an application may only be made for a single training. The cross-semester entrance procedure is launched in each October and applicants can start their studies in the spring semester. The higher educational institutions decide the programmes that applications can be submitted for in the individual procedures.

The special characteristics of applications to teacher training are summarized in this table.

Training Training prerequisite Aptitude test Others
Early childhood educator Upper secondary school leaving examination Yes Certification of medical fitness
Kindergarten teacher Upper secondary school leaving examination Yes Certification of medical fitness
Lower primary school teacher Upper secondary school leaving examination Yes Certification of medical fitness
Primary school teacher Upper secondary school leaving examination, and advanced level Upper secondary school leaving exam in certain cases (mathematics and subjects in humanities) Yes Advanced (C1 level) language examination, for language teacher’s major
Secondary school teacher Upper secondary school leaving examination, and advanced level Upper secondary school leaving exam in certain cases (mathematics and subjects in humanities) Yes Advanced (C1 level) language examination, for language teacher’s major
Special educational pedagogy Upper secondary school leaving examination No -
Special educational teacher Bachelor’s degree in special educational pedagogy No -
Conductor teacher Upper secondary school leaving examination Yes -
Vocational, arts teacher Upper secondary school leaving examination Yes -
Music teacher Upper secondary school leaving examination Yes -
Vocational teacher BA/BSc degree or vocational qualification No -
Arts teacher BA/BSc degree or vocational qualification Yes -

Curriculum, levels of specialisation and learning outcomes

The Ministerial decree  on Common Requirements of initial teacher education and the learning outcomes of each initial teacher education programme (8/2013. (I. 30.) EMMI rendelet a tanári felkészítés közös követelményeiről és az egyes tanárszakok képzési és kimeneti követelményeiről)) defines the programme outcomes based standards and requirements, the number of credits and the teacher’s competences to be acquired (specialized knowledge, competence, professional commitment) (7.2., 7.3). Taking into consideration those provisions, the institutions concerned draw up curricula to determine the concrete form, content and methodology of the training programmes. 

The programme outcomes based standards and requirements of programmes related to teacher training define, at the level of a decree, the competences that the graduates are expected to master. This includes specific knowledge concerning the institutional and legal environment of the educational system, as well as competences regarding differentiated education. The skills required for managing educational institutions cannot be mastered in teacher training but rather in the in-service training phase, in the training programme specialized in public education management.

In general teacher training (9.1.), teachers of a specific subject are trained in teacher training only, two majors are typically studied there. Lower primary school teacher training, national minorities’ teacher training, specialist training and the choice of a specialized field all lead to deeper preparations in the specific group of subjects. In lower primary school teacher training the preparation is focused on the class teacher’s duties. In the possession of a lower primary school teacher’s qualification the teacher may teach the subjects of any special field (with the exception of foreign languages) in grades 1-4, and may also teach in the selected special field in grades 1-6 (2.3.).

From among the majors in teacher training, the trainings prepare for the following: infant and small child teacher training in day-nursery education (4.1.), kindergarten teacher training in kindergarten education (2.3., 4.4.), lower primary school teacher training in grades 1-4 of the primary school and grades 1-6 in a selected specialized field (2.3., 5.1.), teacher training in school education in grades 5-12, excluding primary school teachers and secondary school teachers who are prepared for and qualified in teaching in grades 4-8 and grades 9-12 (2.3., 5.1., 6.1.), respectively. Special education and conductor teacher training prepares to educational duties in institutions introduced in chapter 12.2 regardless of the age group and the school level. In vocational teacher training and arts training, the teacher gets a qualification to teach subject groups in the vocational training years of school education in institutions introduced in chapters 2.3. and 6.1., and to fulfil the educational tasks in adult training.

The special competences expected of teachers are defined in in Ministerial Decree 8/2013. (Ministry of Human Capacities Decree 8/2013. (I. 30.) on the Common Requirements of Initial Teacher Education and the Learning Outcomes of Each Initial Teacher Education Programme) (A tanári felkészítés közös követelményeiről és az egyes tanárszakok képzési és kimeneti követelményeiről szóló 8/2013. (I. 30.) EMMI rendeletThe basic competences in teacher training are:

  • developing the student’s personality through individual treatment, 

  • helping and improving the development of students’ groups and communities;

  • knowledge in methodology and the specific subjects;

  • planning the pedagogical process;

  • supporting, organising and managing the learning process;

  • assessing pedagogical processes and the students;

  • communication, professional cooperation and career identity;

autonomy and responsibility.

Teacher educators

The group of teachers providing teacher training is very heterogeneous in Hungary. For teachers in tertiary education, an MA qualification or PhD degree is required to fulfil the educational post, as a general rule (9.4). According to chapter 9.2, qualification requirements for teacher trainers in a public educational institution (head teachers in teacher training schools, mentor teachers in partner schools) are either a teacher’s special examination, or an academic degree in the field required related to their duties and at least five years of experience in education or pedagogical assistance services.

There is no specific training for teacher educators in Hungary.

Qualifications, evaluation and certificates

Act CCIV of 2011 on Higher Education (2011. évi CCIV. törvény a nemzeti felsőoktatásról), and the Government Decree 87/2015 on the implementation of the former and the programme outcomes based standards and requirements jointly define the conditions of issuing a diploma (87/2015. (IV. 9.) Korm. rendelet a nemzeti felsőoktatásról szóló 2011. évi CCIV. törvény egyes rendelkezéseinek végrehajtásáról). In general teacher training, apart from reaching the credits defined in the programme outcomes based standards and requirements, the teacher candidates need to pass a final examination before an examination committee of at least three members. A criterion to qualifying for the examination is a thesis accepted and assessed in writing, as well as the presentation of a portfolio of the experience gained during the teaching practice to be defended at the final examination.

The successful completion of the teacher training programme is certified with a diploma. The diploma is a public document validated by the signatures of the chairperson of the final examination committee, and the head of the institution. The diploma received after teacher training authorizes the holder to take a teacher’s job in the corresponding field.

Alternative training pathways

In the Hungarian higher educational system, there is an option for those already working in other fields to participate in teachers’ training in the framework of lifelong learning. This option is made available as a result of the following factors: the shortened training path defined in the programme outcomes based standards and requirements of teachers’ training that is applicable if a person has already studied some courses before, or previous credits or experience can be acknowledged, as well as the provision of evening classes and distance learning. The various training paths and forms end with the same degree.

In Hungary it is not possible to obtain a teacher qualification as a result of individual preparation while working in a school; a teaching degree can only be obtained in the framework of formal teachers’ training in a tertiary educational institution.