From the economic hub and capital city of Warsaw to the cultural hotspot of Wroclaw, studying abroad in Poland can be described as living history. Quite recently joining the European Union in 2004 and bordered by Germany, Slovakia the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Belarus, Kaliningrad Oblast, and Lithuania, Poland offers students a chance to experience progressive and modern cities against a landscape of political change, historic architecture, and a range of natural wonders, like Lake Hancza or the Bledowska Desert. If it's a unique educational experience students are in search of, studying in Poland will surely provide what students are looking for and so much more.
For those seeking to gain a firsthand glimpse of Poland’s historic, sometimes somber side, the capital city of Warsaw offers a chance to explore sites like old Jewish ghettos, the Warsaw Citadel, and the Holocaust Museum. Alongside this kind of experiential learning, Warsaw is home to four major universities with a variety of course options. Choosing to study in Poland at Jagiellonian University is a great option for students interested in courses focused on Polish language and culture or students and study abroad opportunities at the Warsaw School of Economics allow students to explore Central European Studies.
Further to the eastern border of Poland, students may choose to study abroad in Wroclaw. Boasting thirteen major academic institutions to choose from, including the Wroclaw University of Economics, and host to plenty of festivals to keep students engaged in the local way of life and cultural traditions.
Krakow, also known as the “new” Prague, is a city that has experienced a wide variety of political changes and movements over the years. Individuals who choose to study abroad in Krakow will be able to choose from the largest number of study abroad program options in Poland.
Subjects & Courses
The Polish education system focuses on hands-on, research based learning and there are over 100 higher education institutions throughout Poland, offering something of interest to nearly every discipline. From business programs, to language, culture, and economics, students studying in Poland will provide students with a wealth of study abroad opportunities.
Students looking to dive into history and politics will feel right at home in Poland, given it’s multi-layered history combined with its constant present day advances and developments. For those interested in literature, Poland is an ideal place to explore the works of Enlightenment authors or those from the Polish Romanticism period, unique for their focus on politics and independence. If it’s environmentally-focused courses, like geology or environmental studies, that students are after, Poland’s research-inclined educational system combined with the the country’s geographical diversity makes it a popular and ideal location as well.
Don’t speak Polish? No problem. Many English-speaking courses are offered in Poland, though students may also choose to study the Polish language, enhancing their marketable skills alongside other course offerings.
When it comes to the Polish education schedule, the academic year in Poland takes place over the course of two semesters. Students can expect the first semester to take place from around late September all the way through to the end of January, with a month long winter break in between. The second semester typically commences in February or March and runs through late June. Students can also expect exams to take place over the course of the last few weeks in a semester, though timeframes may vary depending on the course and faculty.
Scholarships & Costs
The official Polish currency is the zloty (PLN). Students who study in Poland can typically expect tuition costs to be less expensive or equivalent to what institutions within the United States would require. A summer program in Warsaw may start as low as $3000, while an academic year may cost around $20,000.
Depending on personal choices and preferences, studying abroad in Poland will entail varied living costs, but accommodation, transport, food, study materials, and personal costs may range between 1200 and 2500 PLN per month. For students who opt to live off campus for the semester or year, living costs can range from 1000 to 1600 PLN per month for shared accommodations.
To help cover tuition costs and personal expenses, international students can apply for a variety of scholarships for study in Poland. The Bureau for Academic Recognition and International Exchange allows students to apply for awards specific to different university agreements in Poland as well. One of the most prominent scholarship programs for study abroad in Poland is the Boren Awards Program.
Accommodations & Visas
Whichever city or town students choose to call home while studying in Poland, it should be expected that the host university will provide accommodation options both on and off campus, in dormitories or apartments. Polish host institutions will work with program providers to make housing arrangements ahead of time, though students should communicate with the provider in the cane that alternative options are required.
All students studying abroad in Poland will be required to have a residence visa. This should be applied for at least a month in advance of arrival to Poland, in order to insure that all the necessary paperwork is received. Since regulations and fees for visas are apt to change, students should contact a Polish Embassy in their home country for the most current information on applying for a Polish visa (find one in GoAbroad’s Polish Embassy Directory). When applying for a visa to Poland, also keep in mind that a passport that is signed and valid for at least three months from the expected date of departure from Poland will also be required. At least one blank visa page must be available as well.
Benefits & Challenges
While studying abroad in Poland, students will find Polish people to be as friendly as the meals are hearty. Even for those who might not speak Polish, or are just beginning to study the language, the welcoming attitude of locals allows for an atmosphere of practicing and learning on the go; even if it’s deciphering a menu and trying to order another round of pierogi, or asking for directions to a nearby historical site.
Poland is as much a mixture of historical influences as it is grounded in its unique traditions, reflecting 1,000 years of growth, versatility, and culture. Students studying abroad will find living and studying in Poland to be as dynamic as it sounds, gaining a perspective on research-based academia and falling love with all the country has to offer, one kielbasa at a time!