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PhD Study in the Czech Republic - A Guide for 2018

With beautiful cities and scenery, free tuition for students of all nationalities and easy overland access to European travel, the Czech Republic is an excellent destination for international PhD study.

This page covers everything you need to know about PhD study in the Czech Republic, including an overview of available universities, plus information on how Czech doctoral programmes work, how much they cost and how you can apply for one.

On this page

PhD opportunities in the Czech Republic - what's on offer for 2018?

The Czech higher education system draws upon a prestigious intellectual tradition. In Charles University, the Czech Republic can boast the oldest university in Central Europe: founded in the 14th century.

Having produced several Nobel Prize laureates, the Czech Republic values the input of PhD researchers in their country and welcomes international students.

Here are a few reasons to study for your doctorate in the Czech Republic this year:

  • No fees for most programmes - The majority of courses at public universities are taught in Czech, and by law these have no tuition fees, even for international students!
  • Multiple scholarship programmes - If you choose to study in a foreign language or at a private university, there are several scholarship programmes for international students to help with your fees.
  • Popular amongst international students - Around 40,000 international students reside in the Czech Republic, which makes up 10% of all enrolments. The government seeks to increase this by growing the number of English-taught courses.

The Czech Republic can also claim that the world-famous Scientist Albert Einstein has taught as a Professor at their top university. One of his recognised quotes is a brilliant tip for PhD study – ‘The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing’.


PhD Study in the Czech Republic - Key Details
Universities 69
Nobel Prizes 5
Oldest University Charles University (1348)
International Students 41,715
PhD Length 3-4 years
Typical Fees None (subject to conditions)
Academic Year September to June

Czech universities

There are two types of higher education system in the Czech Republic:

  • The 29 research and training universities (vysoké školy) offer all levels of higher education, from undergraduate through to PhD.
  • The 40 non-university-type institutions (vyšší odborné školy) only offer Bachelors and Masters programmes. You won’t need to consider these for PhD study abroad.

Types of university

There are three different types of university that offer PhD programmes in the Czech Republic. There are several other institutions that only offer study up to Masters level.

Czech higher education systems include the following:

  • Public institutions - the 24 public institutions are self-governing, established by law and funded by the state budget
  • Private institutions - the 3 private institutions are accredited by the state and receive external funding
  • State-run institutions - the 2 state-run institutions receive direct funding from the state budget. These are military and police academies, legally established and under the control of the relevant ministries.

As an international student in the Czech Republic you will probably find yourself studying at a public or private institution, both of which offer doctoral programmes.

Czech university rankings

Czech universities are globally recognised for their excellence in the fields of Science and Technology; however, research opportunities are not limited to these. Six Czech institutions are globally ranked within the top 800, including the oldest university in Central Europe (Charles University).


Top Czech Universities in 2018
University THE 2018 QS 2018 ARWU 2017
Charles University in Prague 401-500 =314 201-300
Masaryk University 501-600 551-600 -
University of Chemistry and Technology, Prague 601-800 - -
Czech Technical University Prague 601-800 491-500 -
Palacky University Olomouc 601-800 701-750 -
Brno University of Technology 801-1000 651-650 -
Czech University of Life Sciences Prague 801-1000 - -
Information in this table is based on the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings, QS World University Rankings and Academic Ranking of World Universities. Visit their websites for more information.

Do rankings matter for PhD study?

University rankings can help you choose a PhD project or programme, provided you know what to look at. Our guide explains how to use rankings as a prospective postgraduate.

Czech university cities

Considered one of the most beautiful countries in Eastern Europe, in 2014 the Czech Republic was found to be the 12th most popular destination for Erasmus students in Europe.

Several of its highest-ranked universities reside in the famous tourist capital of Prague, but other cities are also popular higher education hubs:

PhD structure

The Czech Republic has adopted the three-cycle degree system established by the Bologna process. The PhD is a the third-cycle qualification and typically follows an undergraduate and/or Masters degree.

The Bologna Process

The Bologna Process brings together a range of countries to form the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). Members of the EHEA share a common three-cycle framework that allows degrees from one country to be easily recognised within others.

Czech doctoral degree programmes are aimed at scientific research and independent creative activities in the area of research, development and the fine arts.

PhD programmes

Czech universities normally offer PhDs within structured doctoral degree programmes, where your studies will proceed according to an individual study plan implemented by your supervisor.

Czech doctoral programmes within Science are carried out in cooperation with the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, these will include discipline-specific science training.

Your institution’s doctoral programme may require you to teach a designated number of hours, during your research. This is similar to the Graduate Teaching Assistantship sometimes offered in the UK.

Programme length

The Czech academic year runs from September to June and is made up of two teaching semesters, and two examination periods:

  • Winter semester - teaching: September - January, examinations: January - February
  • Spring semester - teaching: February - April, examinations: Mid May - June

As a full-time student in the Czech Republic you will typically study for 3-years, however some programmes do last 4-years.

It is best to check the maximum length of study at your chosen institution, as they set their own and after this period you are excluded from study.

PhD content

The Czech government is encouraging institutions to use the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) in accordance with the Bologna Process. However the credit system is not implemented everywhere.

You must obtain all 180 credits in order to gain a PhD qualification. This is beneficial for your PhD study as it facilitates easier qualification recognition and student exchanges between institutions.

Similarly, to other countries, such as the UK, a Czech Republic PhD is focussed primarily on the research and writing of a doctoral thesis, these will make up your credits.

Some universities may require the completion of additional training or coursework components.

ECTS credits

The European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) provides a standard measurement for academic progress and achievement across a range of different national university systems. A PhD is normally worth at least 180 ECTS credits.

Supervision

You will carry out your research under the guidance of at least one academic supervisor.

Your supervisor will set you an individual study plan, which will state conditions you must fulfil during your study.

Additional support will be available from the doctoral studies board who monitor and evaluate your doctoral degree programme.

Your Supervisor

Choosing the right supervisor for you is important for your doctoral research. To gain an idea of what to expect from your supervisor and what it is like working with them, read our guides here on FindAPhD.

Assessment and examination

As in other countries, the primary form of assessment for a Czech PhD is through submission of a thesis and oral-examinations including a viva.

However, unlike other countries, a Czech PhD includes two-oral examinations. One to examine your subject knowledge and expertise, and then the second is a public defence of your thesis.

The public defence is different to the closed-room viva used in other countries. But typically involves two or more academics, questioning you on your research to establish whether your research is original, and you show sufficient understanding to obtain a doctoral degree.

Your Thesis

Another feature of a Czech PhD is the expectation that at least part of your thesis will normally have been published (or accepted for publication) before your doctorate can be conferred.

Fees and funding

With low fees and several scholarships available for international students, studying a PhD in the Czech Republic is a very affordable option (especially if you learn in Czech).

PhD fees

Under Czech law tuition at public universities is completely free for all students, regardless of their nationality.

These are cases where courses may incur a fee:

  • Private universities - private universities usually charge fees ranging from roughly Kč 40,000 ($2,000 USD) to Kč 300,000 ($15,000 USD)
  • Courses taught in foreign languages - this includes English, it is best to check directly with the university to find out their regulations for this, but courses typically cost the same as private tuition fees

You may be charged other fees such as: admission and administration fees, as well as supplementary costs for courses extended past the agreed limit or for additional programmes of study. Check with your institution for exact details.

Living costs

The cost of living is low in the Czech Republic in comparison to other countries. However, prices will vary depending upon your lifestyle and location.

It is recommended students have between Kč 7,234–15,502 ($350-750 USD) per month to cover meals, transport, accommodation and other living costs.


Student Cost of Living in the Czech Republic - 2018
Restaurant Meal Kč 120 ($5.81 USD)
Cinema Ticket Kč 160 ($7.74 USD)
Monthly Travel Pass Kč 500 ($24.19 USD)
Monthly Utilities Kč 4,080 ($197.4 USD)
Based on crowdsourced data published by Numbeo.

PhD scholarships

There are a wide range of scholarships and funding packages available to international students studying in the Czech Republic.

  • Scholarship Awards Under Bilateral Agreements – These are set up in partnership with particular countries and provide support for 2 – 10 months at public institutions.
  • Visegrad Fund Scholarships – Funded by governments of the Visegrad Group countries (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) for students from selected Eastern European countries. They provide support for up to 4 semesters.
  • Government Scholarships – Available to students from developing countries, covering the duration of studies and costs of a one-year prepatory Czech language course.
  • The South Moravian Centre for International Mobility - Supports foreign technical and science students from non-EU member states un Europe studying in the South Moravian region. Funding for one year of study with subsequent assistance based on merit.

There are several other specific partnership and exchange programmes between the Czech Republic and other countries. These include the Erasmus _ Programme, the Central European Exchange Programme for University Studies (CEEPUS) and the Fulbright Scholarship programme for US citizens.

Additional Funding

Individual universities in the Czech Republic may also offer funding and support to international students. Check with your institution to find out what assistance is available to you and what the availability criteria are.

Working whilst studying

International students are permitted to work whilst studying in the Czech Republic however there are certain regulations depending upon your home country.

EU / EEA / Swiss citizens will not need an employment permit, Employee Card or Blue Card. You have the same status as Czech citizens.

There are different regulations for other international students (‘third country citizens’):

  • Students studying for a degree programme do not need an employment permit, but your employer must notify the Public Employment Service. The hours are unrestricted but must not exceed your study hours.
  • As you are staying with a visas for study paid work cannot be your primary occupation and must not affect your studies

Applying for a PhD in the Czech Republic

The application process for a Czech PhD is different to the UK, as you typically won’t apply for a specific project or submit your own research proposal.

Instead you will be applying for admission to specific PhD programmes which you can search for on official application sites.

Entry requirements

To do a PhD in the Czech Republic you must have completed a Masters degree in a relevant field to your chosen research programme.

Recognition of qualifications from foreign universities must be confirmed through an application and review process, although this is simple due to the Bologna System. Your Masters should be worth 180 ECTS (or equivalent).

Some Czech universities require prospective undergraduates to sit entrance examinations. These are either written tests or oral examinations. These are held in the Czech Republic, however there are options to take exams abroad (using web-chats/skype).

Where applicable entrance exams take place in January for specialist arts institutions and between June and September for other fields.

Entrance Requirements

Each university is responsible for setting its own admission requirements, therefore we recommend you check the specific requirements for your chosen institution on their website.

Language requirements

The majority of teaching at Czech Universities is still conducted in the Czech language. However, the number of programmes taught in English is increasing.

Don’t less this put you off though: Czech is a surprisingly easy language to read and pronounce and The Institute for Language and Preparatory Studies offers assistance and training specifically designated for foreign student coming to the Czech Republic for university.

Also, don’t forget that courses taught in Czech incur no tuition fees

Application process

Each university will have a different application process, so you should check with them directly, but many will include several key things:

  • Provide academic documents - you will need to provide academic transcripts and your degree certificate/s
  • Attain recognition - it is imperative that you obtain an official document proving that your previous education is equal to that in the Czech Republic
  • Complete the application forms - universities use electronic application forms, provided on their website, if there is an application fee you will have to submit a receipt of payment to your application
  • Letter of motivation - sometimes referred to as a statement of purpose this is a personal statement style document, showing your suitability to the programme and what you aspire to achieve from it
  • References - you will be required to submit letters of recommendation from at least two professionals with experience of your academic work

Depending upon the programme applied for and your university you may also be required to submit a portfolio of your previous work.

The deadline for applications is usually February or March, with some specialist institutions taking applications as early as November.

Interviews

Your university may decide to interview you after your application as part of its selection process. These interviews sometimes form the oral examination part of the application process.

You may be required to travel to the Czech Republic for your interview, however they are typically carried out over Skype for international students.

What happens during a PhD interview?

Your interview for a PhD in the Czech Republic will follow a fairly standard format (apart from the fact in may take place online). Our guides give advice on what happens at a PhD interview and an overview of some questions you might be asked.

Student visas

The visa and immigration requirements for studying in the Czech Republic will depend upon your nationality.

Students from the EU / EEA and Switzerland

You are exempt from student visa requirements. To enter the Czech Republic, you will only need a valid passport or national identity card.

As your PhD study will require you to remain in the Czech Republic for over 30-days, you are required to report your presence to the Foreign Police Department in the region of your university

If you are staying in university accommodation, your institution will typically submit registration forms on your behalf.

Other international students

Students from other countries must go to their local Czech Embassy or Consulate and apply for a student visa.

There are two types of visa short-term (up to 90 days) and long-term (over 90 days), for PhD study you will need to apply for the long-term visa.

There are several documents you must take with you for your application:

  • A completed study-visa application form
  • A letter of acceptance for your PhD from your chosen institution
  • Proof of finances for your stay: bank account statement, confirmation of beneficiary, scholarship acceptance. This is typically Kč 81,400 ($3,954 USD) per year.
  • Confirmation of guaranteed accommodation
  • Valid international health insurance
  • An abstract from the Register of Criminal Records

Some documents such as your Register of Criminal Records must be translated into Czech by a translator with an official stamp.

Within 3-days of arriving you should register your presence at an office of the Czech Foreign Police Department.

Student visa

Apply for your student visa in advance. There is a lot of paperwork and the process can take up to 60-days!

Health insurance

Health insurance is required for all students studying in the Czech Republic. Students from the EU/EEA will normally be covered by their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), however other students will need to take out separate insurance with a local public health provider.

Next steps

As well as the achievement of receiving a globally recognised doctorate, a PhD from a university in the Czech Republic will offer additional ways to enhance your CV.

By completing the state examination and requirement to publish your thesis as part of your doctorate you will demonstrate expertise in your subject and enhance prospects for your career.

Can I work in the Czech Republic after my PhD?

You can work in the Czech Republic after your PhD, but as with working alongside studies there are different regulations depending upon your nationality.

EU/EEA/Switzerland citizens, have the same rights as Czech citizens and therefore will not need a work permit.

Residents from other countries who have completed university education in the Czech Republic and wish to stay for working purposes must apply for an Employee Card.

To apply for an Employee Card, you must show your accommodation has been secured for the duration of your stay. You must also provide qualification documents officially translated into Czech and a contract for employment of at least 15 hours per week.

As foreign nationals with a Czech university education have free access to the labour market, your Employee Card is a long-term residence permit where your employment period is longer than three months. The Employee Card is valid for the duration of your employment.

Find a PhD in the Czech Republic

Ready to start browsing some current PhD opportunities in the Czech Republic. Alternatively, you can look at our other guides to PhD study abroad.

Last updated - 25/04/2018

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