Croatia has a binary higher education system, therefore prospective students must choose between university studies and professional studies.
The Croatian higher education system is structured according to three cycles (undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate studies), in line with the guidelines of the Bologna Process.
However, since Croatia also has a binary higher education system, this means that prospective students must choose between university studies (which cover all three cycles) and professional studies (which cover only the first and second cycles).
- Undergraduate university studies normally last for three to four years (six or eight semesters) and students earn 180-240 ECTS credits. Upon completion, students are awarded an academic title of Bachelor (prvostupnik) with reference to a specialisation, which qualifies a student for specialised work in art or science. Students can continue their studies at graduate university or specialist professional graduate level, or enter the labour market.
- Graduate university studies normally last for one to two years (two or four semesters) and students earn 60-120 ECTS credits. The total number of credits earned after completing both undergraduate and graduate studies is at least 300 ECTS credits in total. Upon completion of both undergraduate and graduate studies, students are awarded an academic title of Master (magistar struke) with reference to a specialisation. Students can continue their studies at postgraduate university level or enter the labour market.
Postgraduate university studies are divided into specialist and doctoral studies.
- Specialist studies lead towards specialisation in a profession and last for one to two years. Upon completion, the student is awarded the title of University Specialist with reference to a specialisation (univ. spec.).
- Doctoral studies last three years and are intended for scientific and research training aimed at the production of scientific excellence as well as renewal of teaching staff in the higher education system. Upon completion of doctoral study (and after defending the doctoral thesis), the academic title of Doctor of Science or Doctor of Arts is awarded (dr. sc. or dr. art.).
In certain professions such as medicine, dentistry, law, veterinary medicine and education, there is an integrated undergraduate and graduate university course that lasts from five to six years:
- Integrated undergraduate and graduate university studies. The first and second cycles normally take five or six years, during which students are required to earn 300 or 360 ECTS credits respectively. Upon completion, students are awarded a diploma and the academic title of Master (magistar struke) with an indication of the field of study. Upon completion of integrated first and second cycle programmes in medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine students receive the academic title of Doctor (doktor struke) with an indication of the field of study (e.g. Doctor of Medicine). Students with this degree can continue their studies in university postgraduate programmes or enter the labour market.
Professional studiesprovide students with an appropriate level of knowledge and skills that will enable them to perform professional occupations and train them for direct entry into the labour market. Professional studies include the two following levels:
Undergraduate professional studies last for two to three years and students earn 120-180 ECTS credits. Exceptionally professional studies may last up to four years and students can earn up to 240 ECTS credits. Upon completion of a short professional study programme with less than 180 ECTS credits, students are awarded a professional title of stručni pristupnik with a reference to a specialisation. The short professional study programme is not equivalent to the full Bachelor degree and it does not allow access to the Master level of studies, rather to the professional Bachelor study programme. Upon completion of professional studies with 180 ECTS credits or more, students are awarded the professional title of Professional Bachelor (stručni prvostupnik) with a reference to a specialisation.
Students who complete undergraduate professional studiescan choose to continue their studies through specialist professional graduate studiesor enter the labour market.
- Specialist professional graduate studies last one to two years and students can earn 60-120 ECTS credits. Upon completion, students are awarded a title of a specialist of the respective profession. Students can continue their studies at graduate university study or enter the labour market.
Source: Ministry of Science, Education and Sports of the Republic of Croatia