Education System in Poland



The Polish education system is divided into the following stages:
  1. Nursery (non-mandatory)
  2. Preschool (mandatory for one year, also known as "zerówka")
  3. Primary school (mandatory)
  4. High school (non-mandatory)
  5. Higher education (non-mandatory)


Nurseries are intended for children aged 4 months to 3 years. Childcare can be provided in nurseries, nursery departments, or children's clubs. Using these facilities is not mandatory and is generally subject to fees. However, in Warsaw, municipal nurseries are free, and parents can apply for subsidies at other facilities operated by different entities.

Nurseries, nursery departments, and children's clubs are supervised by the Ministry of Family, Labor, and Social Policy, not the Ministry of Education and Science, as they are not part of the formal education system. Children can learn social skills and how to function in a peer group in these institutions. They engage in various developmental activities including manual, physical, educational, relaxation, and musical activities.

For more information about nurseries in Warsaw, visit: Recruitment - Nursery School Complex of the Capital City of Warsaw


Preschool is meant for children aged 3 to 6 years. Childcare can be provided in public and non-public preschools, preschool departments within primary schools, preschool points, or preschool education complexes. Attendance is not mandatory until the age of 6, but parents of 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds have the right to enroll their child in a preschool place for free. Six-year-olds must attend a one-year preschool preparation program known as "zerówka."

In preschools, children develop social skills and learn the basics of writing, reading, counting, foreign languages, music, rhythm, and drawing.

Education Levels

  1. 8-year Primary School
  2. 4-year General High School (Liceum) or 5-year Technical High School (Technikum) or 3-year First-level Vocational School and 2-year Second-level Vocational School or 3-year Special Vocational School for Work Training
  3. Post-secondary School or Higher Education Institution

Compulsory Education

Compulsory education lasts for 9 years and includes the final year of preschool education ("zerówka") and 8 years of primary school.

In the Polish education system, there is a mandatory schooling requirement for children aged 7 to 15 (attending primary school) and a mandatory learning requirement for youth aged 15 to 18 (fulfilled through formal schooling or non-formal education, such as vocational training at an employer).


Educational Stages

Primary Schooling (ISCED 1+2)

The 8-year primary school includes both ISCED 1 and ISCED 2 levels (primary school + lower secondary school).

Primary school education consists of two stages:

  1. Classes I-III (early primary education)
  2. Classes IV-VIII (subject-based instruction)

At the end of grade VIII, a nationwide external examination called the "egzamin ósmoklasisty" (eighth-grade examination) is conducted.

Secondary Education (ISCED 3)

The majority of primary school graduates continue their education in either a general or vocational secondary school (upper secondary education or post-secondary education). This can be:

  • 4-year general high school (liceum) or
  • 5-year technical high school (technikum) or
  • 3-year vocational school (first level) and a 2-year vocational school (second level)


After completing high school, technical high school, or a vocational school, students can take the external matriculation examination ("egzamin maturalny" or "matura"). Passing this examination allows them to obtain a secondary school leaving certificate ("świadectwo dojrzałości"), which is required for admission to higher education.

Students in vocational schools (both first and second levels) and technical high schools take practical examinations to validate their qualifications. Passing these examinations is a requirement for completing school and obtaining a vocational diploma.


  1. Foreign children and youth up to 18 years of age, or upon completion of secondary school, have the same access to public schools and preschools as Polish citizens.
  2. Foreign students who do not know Polish or have insufficient proficiency in the language are entitled to free language instruction.
  3. Foreign students can participate in compensatory classes for a specific subject for up to a year.
  4. Students subject to compulsory schooling or learning requirements who do not know Polish or have insufficient proficiency are entitled, if necessary (up to a maximum of one year), to the assistance of a person fluent in their language who is employed as an assistant teacher.

Post-Secondary Education

Post-secondary education falls within the upper secondary education level. Post-secondary schools are designed for individuals with a general secondary education. They allow students to obtain a vocational diploma after passing examinations. The duration of education in post-secondary schools ranges from one to 2.5 years. Students in post-secondary schools take the same vocational exams as students in vocational schools and technical high schools.

Higher Education

Higher education programs are offered by academic and vocational institutions. Both types of institutions offer first-level studies (bachelor's and engineering degrees) and second-level studies (master's). Academic institutions are the only ones authorized to offer third-level studies (doctoral) and award doctoral degrees. Vocational institutions may offer specialized practical training.

Higher education studies come in two main formats: full-time and part-time (extramural or evening studies).

The duration of first-level studies is:

  • 3-4 years for a professional bachelor's degree
  • 3.5-4 years for a professional engineering degree

Holding these degrees qualifies students to pursue second-level studies, which typically last from 1.5 years to 2 years (depending on the field). Integrated master's programs usually span 4-6 years. They culminate in a diploma examination, which, upon passing, grants students a higher education diploma. Holding a master's degree entitles individuals to practice a specific profession and enables them to enter doctoral studies, which are conducted at universities and research institutions and typically last 3 to 4 years.

Recognition of Diplomas

Diploma recognition is a process that allows for recognizing a higher education diploma obtained in a country with which Poland has not concluded a bilateral agreement. Diploma recognition can be obtained from institutions authorized to award doctoral degrees in a given field and possessing a category of A+, A, or B+.

Diploma Recognition (Nostrification)

To obtain diploma recognition, you need to submit an application to the faculty or academic council of the university, attaching:

  • Original and copy of the diploma obtained abroad
  • Copy of school certificate or maturity certificate
  • Documents allowing an assessment of the course of studies, their duration, and achieved outcomes (in case of differences compared to the Polish system, the university may require the applicant to pass specific exams or complete professional internships)

The process of diploma recognition should be completed within 3 months from the date of submitting the necessary documents or within a month after completing the required educational activities and passing exams. However, it often takes longer (approximately a year).

Adult Education

This involves supplementing basic and secondary education for adult individuals, as well as acquiring or enhancing qualifications and skills.

Education is conducted in both formal and non-formal settings:

  • Adult education and practical training centers
  • Centers for further vocational training and professional development
  • Postgraduate studies at higher education institutions

There is also a separate training system for unemployed individuals and certain categories of job seekers.

For detailed information about the education system in Poland, you can also visit the websites of the Ministry of Education and Science and the Central Statistical Office.