Higher education in Greece consists of only one sector: the University Sector – which includes Universities. Currently there are 24 Universities, all of which are considered accredited by the Greek state. All the Higher Tertiary state-accredited universities in Greece are public. The duration of the undergraduate degree programs for most disciplines is 4 years but there are programs in engineering, dentistry, pharmacology, agronomics, forestry, and fine arts, with a duration of 5 years and medicine with a duration of 6 years. These credits are accumulative and transferable under the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS). Programs in engineering, dentistry, pharmacology, agronomics, forestry, along with some programs in fine arts, have a duration of 5 years (240 ECTS – 300 ECTS). Medicine is the only discipline with a duration of studies of 6 years.
The current Constitution of Greece prohibits private institutions for post-secondary education, known as Colleges, from operating as independent universities in Greece. However, it does not prohibit colleges from collaborating with foreign universities to offer undergraduate and postgraduate programmes of study in Greece.
The vast majority of colleges are offering programmes of study under franchise or validation agreements with universities established in other European Union countries, primarily in the UK, leading to degrees which are awarded directly by those universities. The monitoring of those agreements as well as of additional provisions for the operation of colleges is carried out by the Ministry of Education. Integration into Greek law of EC Directive 2005/36 on the mutual recognition of qualifications, holders of academic degrees by universities in the European Union, including those obtained through studies at a college in Greece, have their professional rights fully recognized.
Postgraduate studies lead to the award of a Postgraduate Diploma of Specialization (Master’s degree). The general goal of postgraduate studies is to provide students with the option to specialize in certain fields. The postgraduate courses are open to Greek or foreign graduates of Greek Universities, or accredited equivalent institutes from abroad. The admission requirements, the criteria of selection taken into account, the tuition fees (in the courses and the procedure of admission are determined by the internal regulation of the postgraduate program in question. Usually, the candidates are chosen on the basis of a selection process or their (oral and/or written) examination results.
Though, the educational programs are mainly offered in the Greek language, an increasing number of postgraduate programs are offered in the English, or other, language . The knowledge of one or more foreign languages (apart from the Greek) is an essential prerequisite for participation in the post-graduate programs. At the end of their studies, students have to prepare and present their master thesis. Courses last normally one year and a half (three semesters), including the time for preparing the thesis. Aiming to move toward the internationalization of higher education in Greece, many postgraduate programs have established collaboration with foreign universities, awarding joined degrees.
The Study in Greece project, in collaboration with the Greek Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs, has developed and maintains the official portal listing all master courses offered by the Greek higher education institutes.
Colleges also offer a wide variety of postgraduate courses, in Greek as well as in English, many of them in collaboration with international universities.
Doctoral Studies lead to the award of a Doctorate (PhD). The general goal of doctoral studies consists of high-level specialization in strategic areas of knowledge and promotion of fundamental research in various scientific fields with a view to strengthening the country’s scientific base. In the case of Universities that offer postgraduate courses it is essential to have a Post-graduate Diploma in order to obtain a Doctorate. Permission to prepare a doctoral dissertation at Universities which do not offer regular post-graduate courses is granted to applicants who meet certain prerequisites. The Departments themselves lay down the admission requirements.