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Short-cycle higher education


7.2.First-cycle programmes

7.2.2Short-cycle higher education

Last update: 7 March 2023

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 variation

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

Specialist programmes

Specialist programmes (ISCED 5) are programmes of at least 3 semesters, provided by public and non-public higher education institutions. A specialist programme sets out learning outcomes which integrate universal first-stage descriptors as defined in the Integrated Qualifications System. It includes classes developing practical skills.