The Croatian Higher Education System

The Ministry of Science and Education of Croatia manages and sponsors the higher education system in Croatia. The University of Zadar was the first university in Croatia that was established in 1396. Later in 2002 it was renewed.  In Croatia, there are mainly two kinds of higher education studies-university and professional.

University studies are carried out at the Universities in Croatia and comprises of academic courses of study.
Professional Studies are carried out at the Polytechnics or Colleges of Applied Sciences in Croatia and comprises of professional courses/programmes.

The Croatian higher education system has gone through a comprehensive reform within the framework of the Bologna system. The higher education in Croatia is structured according to the Bologna process and offer three degree cycles-undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate. Also, the higher education institutions award ECTS credits. Therefore, making it easier for the international pupils to study in Croatia, and have their qualifications recognised in their home countries.

Croatian Higher Education Institutions: At a Glance

In Croatia, there are both public and private higher education institutions. There are mainly 3 types of higher education institutions in Croatia:

Universities (sveučilista): Universities in Croatia comprises of art academies, faculties, institutes, student centres, departments, health care institutions, foundations, technological centres and libraries. Universities offer study programmes at three levels: undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate. This type of higher education institutions are more theoretical-oriented, and prepare pupils to take up independent research in private and public sector.

Polytechnics (veleučilista): This type of higher education institution provides professional studies. They are more practical-oriented. 

Colleges of applied sciences (visoke skole): Professional study programmes are offered at the polytechnics and college of applied sciences. These programmes are divided into: short-term courses, undergraduate courses and specialist graduate professional studies.

Higher Education Qualifications: Snapshot

Following are the university higher education qualifications offered in Croatia:

Undergraduate Studies

Bachelor’s degree (prvostupnik): This degree requires 3-years of full-time study.
  • ECTS: 180 to 240 credits

Graduate Studies

Masters (magistar): This degree requires 2 years of full-time study.
  • ECTS: 60 to 120 credits

Postgraduate Studies

 Postgraduate studies in Croatia are split up into:

Specialist studies: This studies lasts for 1-2 years

Doctorate (doktor) degree: This degree requires 3 years of full-time study and after successful completion of the doctoral studies, the academic title of Doctor of Arts or Doctor of Science is awarded (dr. art., or dr. sc.).

Following are the professional studies higher education qualifications offered in Croatia:

Short professional studies: This requires 1-2 years of study.
  • ECTS:  60- 120 credits
  • Professional title awarded: Professional qualification (stručni pristupnik/pristupnica) with specialisation area
Undergraduate professional studies: This lasts for 3 years.
  • ECTS:  180-240 credits
Specialist professional graduate studies: This degree requires 1-2 years of full-time study.
  • ECTS:  60-120 credits


At the end of the study programmes, students are required to sit for a preliminary examination (kolokviji) or examinations (ispiti).  All higher education institutions in Croatia must conclude the programme with preliminary examinations. These exams are conducted at the end of each semester, i.e. in the months of February and June/July.

Admission Requirements

Students must have completed the secondary education and hold a Svjedodzba o maturi for entering either the university or polytechnic in Croatia. International students are required to complete a two-semester programme in Croatian language and must appear for a final examination.

For detailed information on the admission requirements for universities and polytechnics in Croatia, click here

Higher Education Qualifications Recognition

Students who want to pursue master or doctorate studies in Croatian higher education institutions, and possess a foreign higher education degree/diploma are required to go for the academic recognition process in order to study in Croatia. Academic recognition is done by Offices for Academic Recognition of Foreign Higher Education Qualifications at the Institution of Higher Education in Croatia.
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