Tertiary Education in Greece


Structure and objective

Pursuant to Act 2916/2001, tertiary education is divided into university education, which is provided by the universities, and higher technological education, which is provided by the Technological Educational Institutes (TEIs). Besides, the Greek Open University was established in 1997/98. Pursuant to the Constitution, vocational and special education is also provided at the Higher Level Training Institutes. More specifically, the structure of Greek tertiary education is as follows.

University education

The mission of university education is to ensure a high level of theoretical and all-round training for the future scientific workforce of the nation. The university education system includes the universities, the polytechnics, the Higher Fine Arts Institute and the Greek Open University. There are 20 universities in Greece located in various towns; the universities consist of faculties, which in turn are subdivided into departments and individual units.

Higher technological education

The role of higher technological education is to contribute to the country's development and to progress in the fields of science and applied research. The focus is on the absorption and transfer of scientific data into the production process. The courses are more practically oriented than in the universities. In Greece there are 14 TEIs composed of at least two faculties; each faculty comprises two or more departments. The TEIs are located in various towns in Greece. Some have independent branches, i.e. separate departments, in other towns.

The Greek Open University

The Greek Open University (EAP) provides an opportunity for open and distance learning. The EAP's basic mission is to provide greater educational opportunities to a wide spectrum of interested parties and age groups, on the assumption that education is a lifelong entitlement. The EAP was opened in 1998 and is located in Patras.

Higher training

The higher education system also includes various institutes which provide vocational training in the field of religion, art, tourism, the navy, the army and public order. More specifically, these include the Higher Ecclesiastical Institutes, the Merchant Marine Academy, the Higher Institute of Dance and Dramatic Art, the Higher Tourist Training Institutes, the Ηigher NCO Institutes of the Ministry of National Defence, and the Police Academy.

In accordance with the Greek Constitution, institutes of tertiary education are legal persons under public law, which are fully self-governing under the supervision of the State, and they are subsidised by the State.

The official language of tuition is Greek. However, specialised study programmes at pre?graduate and post-graduate level are offered in foreign languages. In parallel, knowledge of one or more foreign languages is an essential prerequisite for participation in the post-graduate programmes. Tuition is generally free of charge but there are some exceptions, mainly in the case of certain post-graduate programmes and studies at the Greek Open University.

Entry requirements

The basic requirement for admission to tertiary education is possession of the Integrated Lyceum leaving certificate, the number of students allocated to each university and TEI department being laid down annually by the Ministry of Education. Selection is based on the students' performance during the second and third class in nine general and orientation lessons, on the basis of nationwide examinations which include oral and written grading (30% and 70% respectively). A certain number of places at the TEIs are also reserved for TEE graduates. Persons over 23 years of age may be admitted to the tertiary education system without exams via the alternative of the Greek Open University. Some higher education institutes have their own selection system and participation in the general examinations is not required. Finally, students who have received their secondary education abroad may be admitted on the basis of foreign leaving certificate grades. Naturally, this depends on the number of places reserved for foreign students by the Greek universities and on the students' proficiency in Greek as certified via special examinations organised by the Universities of Athens and Thessaloniki. EU citizens can study at the TEIs free of charge but they must meet certain financial requirements if they wish to study at the Greek universities.

Tertiary level graduates may participate in the selection tests for other tertiary education institutions.

Training institutes and programmes of studies

Universities: university courses last four years except for certain faculties where courses last five or six years. The academic year consists of two semesters with 13 full weeks of tuition and three weeks of examinations. The students complete their studies after four years provided they have passed the examinations both in the compulsory and optional subjects. They receive a degree or diploma depending on the faculty in question. The universities award certificates in the following fields: humanities; legal and social sciences; exact sciences; health sciences; technological sciences; and economic and management science.

TEIs: studies last four years for a total of eight semesters, which include both tuition periods and a final semester devoted to preparation of the diploma. During this final semester students may also practice their profession on a trial basis, with assessment. On completion students are awarded a degree. The TEIs cover a total of 81 specialisations in the fields of graphic arts and art studies, management and economics, health and caring professions, applied technology, food technology and nutrition, agricultural technology and music technology.

The Greek Open University: the curriculum is based on the distance?learning method. The students have to organise their time so as to meet the requirements imposed by this teaching method. The Greek Open University awards a degree equivalent to that of the "traditional" universities. It offers pre-graduate and post-graduate courses as well as vocational training and continuing education programmes, which lead to certificate of attendance or training.

Finally, most universities and TEIs have coordination bureaux which constitute a bridge between tertiary education and the labour market. Through close cooperation with the business community, graduates are helped to make a smooth transition to the world of work.


In Greece post-graduate studies lead to the award of a post-graduate diploma of specialisation.

The general goal of post-graduate studies is to allow students to specialise in certain fields. Greek universities offer a total of 213 post-graduate courses; the Greek Open University offers ten post-graduate courses. On completion the students are awarded a post?graduate diploma of specialisation. The post-graduate courses are open to university and TEI graduates. The candidates are chosen on the basis of a selection process or their (oral and/or written) examination results. Besides, candidates must know at least one foreign language. Courses last at least one calendar year.


Doctoral studies lead to the award of a doctorate.

The general goal of doctoral studies is high-level specialisation in strategic areas of knowledge and the 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 post-graduate 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. Certain university departments (e.g. the Polytechnic) award only a doctoral degree. The departments themselves lay down the admission requirements.


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