The Czech education system

Pre-school education

Nursery schools (mateřská škola) may be attended by children from 2 to 6 years of age. They are established as day-care or half-day-care centers. The last year of pre-school is compulsory.

Elementary education

School attendance has been compulsory since 1774. It lasts for a period of 9 years, usually from the ages of 6 to 15, mostly at elementary school (základní škola). The school year begins in September and ends in June of the following year. Lessons of 45 minutes are spread over 5 weekdays.

Elementary education is divided into the first stage (1st to 5th year) and the second stage (6th to 9th year). A student in the 5th or 7th year can continue with compulsory school attendance in high school or grammar school, or for example in the field of dance or music at a conservatoire, if successfully passing the entry exams.

Secondary education

Secondary education is provided for by secondary schools in both general and specialized fields and conservatoires. Secondary education in secondary school can be divided (according to the level achieved) into:

Secondary education with graduation certificate can be obtained in general (gymnasium and lyceum) or vocational education, and is a prerequisite for admission to tertiary education.

Secondary schools also provide extension courses, allowing graduates with a vocational certificate to acquire secondary education in order to obtain a graduation certificate, through a shortened period of study, in which those with graduation and vocational certificates receive training in another field.

Conservatoires provide for lower and upper secondary and vocational higher (tertiary) education with a focus on the arts.

'Gymnáziums' (Grammar Schools) provide a general, academic education. Its main aim is to prepare students for university studies. The duration is 4 years after 9 years of compulsory school attendance, or 6 to 8 years in multi-year secondary general schools. At the end of their time at the gymnázium, students take a final state-authorized exam (maturita).

Secondary professional school usually provides a complete secondary vocational education which takes 4 years and concludes with a final exam (maturita).

Secondary vocational school offers apprenticeship training mostly in 2 to 3-year courses, also ending in a final exam and apprenticeship certificate.

Tertiary education

A higher professional school, or 'college' (vyšší odborná škola) provides the necessary qualifications for demanding technical activities which do not require a university degree. The programmes last a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of three and a half years.

Higher education institutions consist of either university or non-university types, both defined as vysoká škola (higher education). They offer education at three tertiary levels: bachelor study programmes (usually 3 years) and master study programmes (usually 5 years) are available for applicants who have passed the 'maturita' (graduation) exam and have met the other admission criteria, including an entrance exam. Most university-type institutions are divided into faculties.

The third level of higher education, doctoral study programmes (usually 3 years), is open to graduates who complete the master study programmes.

Useful information:

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