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Second-cycle programmes


7.Higher education

7.3Second-cycle programmes

Last update: 27 November 2023

Branches of study

'Branches of Study' in the second-cycle study programmes are Master’s study programmes (specialist). According to the Decree on the introduction and use of the education and training classification system, the programmes are classified at level 7, encompass 60 or 120 credits and last one or two years. The duration of an individual Master’s study programme corresponds to the duration of the first cycle study programmes. The full duration does not exceed five years (3+2, 4+1) within the same professional field. Long degree study programmes are part of the second cycle study programmes and last five or six years.

Admission requirements

The general requirement for admission into a one- or two-year second-cycle study programme is the completion of the first-cycle study programme. Additional requirements are determined by each programme. The study programmes are defined within the appropriate professional field. For candidates from other fields, about the variations among occupations, there are 10 to 60 credits bridging obligations. Particular talents, psychophysical abilities or appropriate work experience may also be included as an admission requirement.

The application requirements for a second cycle study programme may also be fulfilled by the completion of equivalent education abroad.

If the number of candidates is greater than the number of vacancies and admission is limited, the higher professional institution selects the most successful students. The success attained in the first cycle study (e.g. the average study grade) is taken into consideration, which may include the grades awarded in individual subjects or first-cycle subject areas. Some master study programmes use entrance examinations as the criteria by which they select candidates.

According to the transfer criteria, it is also possible to apply to the second year of a two-year master's study programme. The criteria allow for students to transfer from one programme to another if at least half of their ECTS obligations from the initial study programme are officially recognized. Other requirements (bridging exams, etc.) are determined by the higher professional institutions themselves.

Students apply based on a general call for applications. Higher professional institutions must announce this at least four months before the start of the academic year. Along with the call for applications, general information, admission requirements, the number of vacancies, procedures and application deadlines are also published. Public higher professional institutions and licensed higher professional institutions must receive the approval of the government to execute the general call for applications. The selection of candidates is carried out at individual higher professional institutions.


Master’s study programmes enable students to acquire deep knowledge within broad professional fields. Graduates are qualified to manage the most demanding working systems and solve problems in new circumstances with the use of research methods and the search for new sources of knowledge. They learn to take responsibility for and develop social and communicative abilities necessary for the management of group work. It is also critical that they develop the capabilities for critical reflection. Obligatory components of these programmes are project tasks in the workplace or fundamental, applicative or developmental research papers.

Obligatory components of the second cycle study programmes are determined by Higher Education Act and are equivalent to those of the first cycle programmes.

The components are more accurately defined by the Criteria for accreditation of higher education institutions and study programmes. The components necessary for joint study programmes are also determined.

The process of accepting study programmes is the same as for the first cycle programmes. The formation of the study programmes is laid down by EU directives. The programmes prepare students for employment, which is laid down by the same EU directives that were considered in the formation of the programmes.

Teaching methods

The decision on the use of specific teaching methods is left to the competent senates and the individual teachers. In these programmes, methods such as essays, projects, group work, discussion groups, case studies, visiting companies and research work are utilised in addition to traditional forms of teaching and are used more often than in first-cycle programmes. The use of information technology is also increasing, namely in full-time study as well as in alternative forms of study (distance studies, for example).

Textbooks and study materials may be borrowed via the system of higher education libraries (libraries at higher education institutions, National and University Library, Central Technological Library) against an annual membership fee, as well as via the Internet.

Progression of students

Students, who complete study requirements for a specific year as set by the study programme (tutorials, colloquiums, seminars, examination, placement, etc.), can progress to the higher year. In the two-year second-cycle study programmes students must gain at least 54 ECTS credits or the number of credits specified by the study programme.

The higher education institutions decide for themselves how often students may re-sit a particular examination. Generally, it is decided that they may re-sit an examination three times at the most. The fourth re-sit occurs only based on a provisional request. Higher education institutions also decide upon the requirements necessary for a student to advance more quickly.


Higher education institutions must cooperate with employers in the preparation and modernisation of study programmes. The Criteria of Accreditation and External Evaluation of Higher Education Institutions and Study Programmes determine that every application for the accreditation of a new study programme must include:

  • Analysis of career opportunities of graduates provided by the employment office or the competent chamber, employer associations or other institutions, competent for the professional fields of the study programme; and
  • agreements and contracts with enterprises on the placement of the foreseen number of enrolled students.

Collaboration with employers is also expected for practical education in the workplace. Employers and higher professional institutions cooperate in the preparation of study programmes and their execution. They are invited to participate in lectures and seminars. Students complete their practical education, terms of reference, fundamental, applicative or developmental research papers and also often the experimental portion of their master’s thesis with their employers.

The language of instruction is Slovene. By the Higher Education Act and the statutes of higher professional institutions, portions of a particular study programme may be carried out in a foreign language (usually in English) in cases where there is cooperation with a higher professional guest teacher from abroad or if a large number of foreign students enrol. A study programmes is also permitted to be completely carried out in a foreign language if it is simultaneously carried out in Slovenian. In practice, a foreign language is usually used in the execution of joint study programmes.

Student assessment

The student assessment is the same as for the first cycle programmes.

Upon the completion of their studies, students write a master’s thesis. In general, the topics are determined within narrow study fields and announced in advance. Students may also suggest their topic. In art studies, written work is supplemented by a presentation, concert, art performance, exhibition, project presentation, etc. Students then make a public presentation of the paper before a commission (of three members, usually) wherein they defend their findings and substantiate their knowledge of the respective research field.


Graduates receive a diploma and a vocational title by the Professional Titles and Academic Science and Art Titles Act. Typical vocational titles for graduates of the second cycle study programmes depend on the programme and include magister/magistrica… (Master of…), magister/magistrica inženir… (Master of Engineering), magister/magistrica profesor… (Master Professor of…) and magister/magistrica akademski/a… (Master Academic of…). According to the respective law, professional titles shall not be translated.

Since the 2001/2002 academic year, students have received the Diploma supplement with the diploma.

All students who fulfil the obligations of a joint study program receive a joint diploma with a list of all higher professional institutions that collaborated in its realisation. The joint diploma is an official document. The contents and form of the joint diploma, as well as the diploma supplement, are defined by the involved higher education institutions.

Recognition of higher education qualifications in the Republic of Slovenia is governed by the Assessment and Recognition of Education Act while it is based on the Act Ratifying the Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region. The ENIC-NARIC centre operates within the ministry responsible for higher education with the role of the national information centre under the provisions of the Convention. The main responsibilities of the centre include the collection and submission of information on the Slovenian education system and foreign education systems, administration of procedures and issuing of opinions on education by the law, preparation of public information for users, international cooperation in ENIC-NARIC networks and broader international cooperation.