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Short-cycle higher education


7.2.First-cycle programmes

7.2.2Short-cycle higher education

Last update: 6 June 2024

Colleges of social work

Branches of study

Colleges of social work (kolegium pracowników służb społecznych) provide programmes in the area of social work.

The duration of all programmes in colleges is 3 years (6 semesters).

Admission requirements

Programmes provided in colleges of social work are open to holders of a maturity certificate (świadectwo maturalne) obtained upon passing the maturity exam at the end of secondary education in specific types of schools. Applicants are also required to obtain a positive result in the admission process. Admission requirements are set out by the Programme Council, a collective body established in each college.


Programmes in colleges of social work are based on the requirements laid down in the Regulation of the Minister of Social Policy of 7 April 2005 on the standards for initial training programmes in colleges of social work; Journal of Law of 2005, no. 62, item 555 (Rozporządzenie Ministra Polityki Społecznej z 7 kwietnia 2005 r. w sprawie standardów kształcenia w kolegiach pracowników służb społecznych, Dziennik Ustaw 2005 nr 62 poz. 555) ). The standards specify groups of courses to be taught, the minimum number of hours to be allocated to each course, core curricular contents for courses, the minimum duration and content of a practical placement / training, and the skills required of graduates. Detailed curricula are developed by colleges in compliance with the national requirements.

The duration of the academic year in colleges of social work is specified in the relevant regulations. The academic year runs from 1 October to 30 September in the following year, and includes 2 semesters of classes, winter and summer examination periods, public holiday breaks and winter and summer holidays.

Teaching methods

The only aspect regulated in the national legislation is the size of student groups attending classes (except lectures) in colleges. The maximum size of a group is 20 students.

Progression of students

Detailed arrangements for taking examinations, progressing to the next semester and year, repeating a year and for admission to the final (diploma) examination are laid down in the study regulations adopted by each college. However, all college students can take a resit exam, including the final resit exam; if they fail a resit exam, they can take a so-called board resit exam which is conducted by an examination review board after an appeal made by a student to such a board. To be admitted to the final exam, students are required to complete all courses and practical placements included in the curriculum, and submit their diploma thesis which should then receive a positive assessment.

The director of a given college may strike a student from the register of students in cases specified in the statutes of the college.


Practical placements are an integral part of college curricula. Colleges of social work organise practical placements for their students in welfare services, non-governmental organisations, associations and other institutions and organisations involved in social work. Practical placements are based on agreements concluded between a given college and the institution / organisation hosting placements.

There are no special arrangements for career guidance in colleges. However, college students and graduates may obtain information and support from careers advisors working in public labour offices and private employment agencies.

Student assessment

Each course is completed on the basis of an oral or written exam or the assessment of the student’s coursework; the coursework is assessed by various methods, including papers / essays or projects. The following grading scale is used: excellent: 6, very good: 5, good: 4, sufficient: 3, insufficient: 2. Each mark, except ‘excellent’, may be upgraded by 0.5 (“+”). Student performance during a course is assessed by the teacher responsible for a given course. Exams are, likewise, conducted by the teacher responsible for a given course. Student performance during a practical placement is assessed by the teacher responsible for practical training in a given college and a supervisor in the institution hosting the placement. Students’ learning achievements are recorded in their student record books (academic transcripts). Detailed arrangements for student assessment, including criteria and requirements for students to complete courses and practical training and take exams, are laid down in the statutes and study regulations of each college.


College programmes end with the final exam taken before an examination board established by the director of a college. Graduates are awarded a college diploma (dyplom ukończenia kolegium). A diploma is based on a specimen established by a regulation of the minister of responsible for school education, and is an officially recognised document.

College students may also supplement their study programme and take an exam which leads to the award of a Bachelor’s degree (licencjat). It is taken before an examination board established by the rector of the HEI responsible for academic supervision over a given specialism area in the college. Upon passing such an exam, students are awarded a Bachelor’s (licencjat) degree by the supervising HEI.

Organisational variations

There are no specific national arrangements for distance (online) learning in colleges. 

Specialist programmes

Fields of study

Specialist programmes are not provided in fields where training leads to the professions referred to in the regulations based on Art. 46, section 1, of the Law on School Education of 14 December 2016 (Ustawa z dnia 14 grudnia 2016 r. – Prawo oświatowe), for which the competent minister is the minister in charge of health.

Admission requirements

A maturity certificate is not required for admission to a specialist programme. It is sufficient for an applicant to hold a secondary school leaving certificate.


A curriculum for a specialist programme sets learning outcomes which integrate the universal first-stage descriptors, defined in the Act of 22 December 2015 on the Integrated Qualifications System (ustawa z dnia 22 grudnia 2015 r. o Zintegrowanym Systemie Kwalifikacji), and the second-stage descriptors defined in the regulations based on Art. 7, section 2, of this Act. A curriculum includes classes / training which develop practical skills.

To provide degree programmes, both university-type and non-university HEIs are required to meet the same conditions laid down in the Regulation of the Minister of Science and Higher Education of 27 September 2018 on degree programmes (Rozporządzenie Ministra Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego z dnia 27 września 2018 r. w sprawie studiów).

The Regulation specifies:

  1. requirements to be fulfilled by a curriculum;
  2. the range of information to be provided in an application for a permit to establish a programme;
  3. areas of study in which long-cycle programmes are offered;
  4. requirements for courses / classes delivered using distance learning methods and techniques, and the maximum number of ECTS credits to be awarded for such courses / classes;
  5. requirements for documentation on student progression, identity cards and diplomas.

A curriculum should specify, among other things, the form or mode of study; the number of semesters and ECTS credits necessary to complete each semester, and the degree to be awarded to graduates. Additionally, it should identify classes / courses (or groups of classes or courses), regardless of the form or mode in which they are conducted, together with the related learning outcomes (LOs) and curricular contents for achieving the LOs; the total number of class hours; methods for verification and assessment of the LOs achieved by students during the entire programme; and the total number of ECTS credits that students should earn as part of classes / activities directly involving teachers. A curriculum should also specify the length and arrangements for practical placements and the number of ECTS credits that students are required to earn for placements. As a rule, a curriculum should enable students to choose classes (courses) which are allocated at least 30% of the total number of ECTS credits.

A curriculum may not be changed during a given programme cycle.

A curriculum may provide for selected or all courses of a given programme to be taught in a language other than Polish.

Teaching methods

There are no general national regulations or guidelines on teaching methods. Teaching is organised in the form of lectures, classes or tutorials, workshops, seminars, projects and / or practical placements, depending on curricular contents in a given area of study. Teachers use a wide variety of teaching methods and resources, ranging from traditional ones to those based on ICT, including multimedia tools.

Progression of students

Specialist programmes are not divided into stages where student achievements are verified as a precondition for progression to the next stage.

To complete a specialist programme, students are required to achieve the learning outcomes set in the curriculum.

Graduates holding the title of a chartered specialist (dyplomowany specjalista) can be admitted to a first-cycle or long-cycle programme as a result of the validation of the learning outcomes achieved. A maximum of 50% ECTS credits can be recognised for a specialist programme graduate. This arrangement can shorten the length of study for graduates holding a chartered specialist certificate at Level 5 of the Polish Qualifications Framework.


Specialist programmes are designed to develop practical skills which enable graduates to change their professional qualifications or acquire sought-after career skills within a short time. Students taking specialist programmes have access to the full range of support services offered by HEIs in the transition to the labour market.

If in the academic year 2021/2022 students carried out activities for entities supporting citizens of Ukraine in connection with the armed conflict in this country, they may apply to their HEIs to recognise such activities as (part of) practical training. This can include practical training and placements for which the curriculum sets learning outcomes covering the practical skills that students have acquired during such activities.

Many HEIs have established careers services which offer, among other things, career guidance. Careers services provide information about available jobs and help students and graduates as prospective job applicants in the choice of career paths and further training.  

Students and graduates can also receive information and guidance from careers advisors in public employment services and private employment agencies on how to prepare a CV and a motivation letter, how to behave in an interview, etc. (such meetings are frequently organised as group training sessions by careers services).

Cooperation between the higher education sector and the labour market is also supported by job fairs organised in many HEIs, where employers present their job offers.

Student assessment

In the Polish higher education system, learning outcomes achieved by students are usually verified within the home HEI by the academic teacher responsible for a given course. Assessment guidelines are adopted at the level of an HEI as part of its internal quality assurance system.


Upon completion of a specialist programme, a student is awarded either a certificate of chartered specialist or a certificate of chartered specialist-technologist. Certificate specimen are laid down by each HEI.

Organisational variants

Specialist programmes (ISCED 5), which last at least 3 semesters, are provided by public and non-public HEIs.

HEIs may chargé fees for specialist programmes.