If you plan to study abroad but are unsure where then Hungary should be on your list. This European country boasts a rich cultural heritage, excellent universities, and some of the most welcoming people you will ever meet. Not to mention, it is incredibly affordable to study in Hungary.

Most Hungarian universities teach courses in English, making it easier for international students not conversant with Hungarian to attend classes. Additionally, English is widely spoken in Hungry, allowing international students to interact with other Hungarian students and mingle with the locals.

In this comprehensive guide, we will go over everything you need to know about deciding whether Hungary is for you, what kind of courses and degrees are available at Hungarian universities, and how to make the most of your student experience in Hungary.

How to Plan for Your Studies in Hungary

If you want to study in Hungary, there are several school options, depending on your interests, budget, and academic goals. Let us look at the higher education system in Hungary, the universities, and the various programs available to help you make an informed decision about studying in this country.

Education System in Hungary

Higher education in Hungary consists of several accredited and affordable universities and colleges. Hungary is one of the cheapest European countries for college students.

International students in Hungary can enroll in Hungarian colleges and universities available in the country if they are eligible for admission. You can go to public universities funded by the Hungarian Government, meaning tuition fees are affordable for international students. There is also an option for private universities offering a more specialized education with smaller class sizes and more personalized attention.

In terms of system structure, the Hungary education system follows the Bologna Process which simplifies academic standards throughout Europe. This means that Hungarian degrees are comparable to their counterparts in other European countries but at a fraction of the cost.

The academic year in Hungary runs from September to June, with holiday breaks in July and August. The Hungarian academic year consists of two semesters of an average of 14-15 weeks.

Choosing a University in Hungary

With over 60 universities in Hungary, making the right choice might seem daunting. Choosing the right school will ensure you get the best educational and career outcomes.

  • First, consider the degree program you want to pursue in Hungary and research which universities offer the best courses for your desired program.
  • You should also consider the university location, whether it is in or near big cities, rural areas, or national parks, as this will give you a unique experience.
  • Additionally, do not forget to consider the cost of tuition, student housing, and financial aid opportunities when choosing your ideal Hungarian University.

Some of the top universities in Hungary include Eotvos Lorand University, ranked first in Hungary and 368 among the best global universities. Other top universities in Hungary include Semmelweis University, Szeged University, and the University of Debrecen.

Check out our list to learn more about the Best Universities in Hungary for International Students.

Choosing a Study Program in Hungary

There are plenty of popular academic programs in Hungary, like Business, Engineering, Computer Science, Medicine, and Law.

When deciding which degree is right for you, ensure you research your options thoroughly and visit different websites for universities before making a decision. Additionally, consider the course content, available amenities like laboratories and libraries, the fee structure, and the alumni network.

Different degree programs have varying lengths of study, with undergraduate and graduate studies in Hungary being different. Here is a breakdown of how long you will likely take if enrolled in any of the below degree programs.

  • Bachelor’s degrees: They usually take a minimum of 3 years to complete, with options for pursuing the degree online or part-time. You are likely to take four years if studying at a public university.
  • Master’s degrees: They take 1 to 2 years to complete, with programs in public universities taking two years and one year in some private universities. It also depends on the degree program.
  • Ph.D. programs: They take 3 to 6 years to complete, including curriculum-taught units and research, and a Ph.D. is awarded upon successful completion of your thesis.

How to Finance Your Education in Hungary

To give you an idea of the costs associated with studying in Hungary, here is a breakdown of the various expenses, including tuition, living costs, and financial aid opportunities available for international students in Hungary.

Tuition fees in Hungary

On average, tuition fees for international students at public universities range from 1500-8000 EUR per year. However, private institutions usually charge more, with tuition fees going as high as 18000 EUR per year.

The tuition fee depends on the institution and the program of study, with degrees in fields like computer science and medicine being more expensive. For example, tuition fees at the University of Debrecen for a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science is 6300 EUR per year. On the other hand, the same degree program costs 3,200 EUR at Eotvos Lorand University, while a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology costs 2400 EUR per academic year.

For postgraduate degrees, some universities offer their programs for as little as 2000 EUR. For example, a Master of Arts in Human Resources Counselling at the University of Pecs costs 2200 per semester for international students. On the other hand, a Master of Arts in Business Administration from the University of Miscolc costs 3000 EUR per semester. There are more expensive programs like the Masters in Nutrition Science Program from the University of Debrecen, which costs 15,500 EUR per year.

If you’re looking for budget-friendly options, be sure to check out our list of the most affordable universities in Hungary for international students.

Cost of Living in Hungary

The cost of living in Hungary for students is relatively low though living expenses vary depending on your lifestyle. Generally, you should expect to pay a minimum of 500 EUR monthly for rent and other living costs.

Accommodation

Housing for international students in Hungary consists of university accommodation, private accommodation, and student hostels. The rent for a two-bed apartment ranges from 250 to 620 EUR per month. Of course, you can find cheaper accommodation options in student dormitories or renting a room from a local family. For example, renting a dormitory room at the University of Pecs’ Balassa dormitory costs 109 EUR per month.

Health Insurance

Health insurance for international students in Hungary is a key prerequisite in many universities. For some universities like the University of Debrecen, the insurance fees are part of the tuition fees. Otherwise, you can expect to pay around 10-15 EUR monthly or 180 EUR per year for health insurance, depending on your provider.

Food and Transport

The cost of living and studying in Hungary is relatively low. With 30 EUR, you can buy food for the whole week. With 10 EUR, you can go out for dinner. Additionally, they have an excellent transport network, and students get discounted ticket prices on the metro lines, buses, and trams. You should expect to spend around 9 EUR per month on transport for the all-inclusive ticket for students.

Books and Miscellaneous Expenses

You should also plan to spend on books and other miscellaneous expenses like extracurricular activities, field trips, and entertainment. For example, you can expect to pay around 15-25 EUR monthly for mobile internet access.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

You might be surprised to learn that there are plenty of scholarships and financial support options available for students who want to study in Hungary. There is an option for university-funded scholarships like the University of Debrecen International Scholarship that covers part of the tuition fee and depends on your academic standing. The Hungarian University of Agriculture and Life Sciences also offers a Dissertation Scholarship for research and writing of dissertations.

Alternatively, there are also external scholarships like the Stipendium Hungaricum Scholarship Program by the Hungarian Government. It covers full or partial tuition fees, depending on eligibility, and covers living expenses and other costs associated with studying abroad. Other external scholarships include the Christian Young People Scholarship, designed for young Christian students living in regions where their faith makes them threatened. It gives them a chance to study in Hungary freely.

International students can get fully funded opportunities to take care of all their study expenses while studying abroad in Hungary. For example, the Hungarian Diaspora Scholarship program and the Christian Young People Scholarship offer fully funded financial support for international students, including tuition fees, accommodation, a monthly stipend, insurance, and transport reimbursement.

To apply for scholarships in Hungary, you will need to submit certain application documents including

  • A motivation letter
  • Academic transcripts
  • Proof of English Language Proficiency
  • Recommendation Letters
  • An Essay Plan of Research for Doctoral Students
  • A copy of your identification document

Well, this is not a complete list as there may be other documents needed depending on the type of scholarship and why you need the scholarship. Ensure you thoroughly research what’s needed to enhance your chances of receiving the scholarship.

To help you out, check out our scholarship database to learn more about available scholarships for international students and how to apply for each.

How to Apply to Hungarian Universities

Applying to Hungarian universities should be pretty straightforward if you follow the steps below

Admission Requirements

Since the education system in Hungary follows the Bologna Process, international students must fulfill certain requirements when applying to Hungarian Universities.

To apply for an undergraduate degree in Hungary, you must provide your diploma and a certificate of your language proficiency in Hungarian or English during the application. You must have acquired a bachelor’s degree to be able to apply for master’s and Ph.D. programs. For Hungarian Language Proficiency exams, you can choose between ECL and Origo. For English Language Proficiency exams, you can select among PTE Academic, IELTS Academic, Duolingo, and TOEFL iBT.

Sometimes, you might be required to sit for an interview with an academic panel from your chosen university to understand your academic background and goals in depth.

Required Documents

Once you have chosen a university, it is time to gather the necessary documents for admission. Each institution has its own requirements, but you will need

  • proof of identity.
  • recommendation letters,
  • your resume,
  • records from previous schools or exams, and transcripts.

It is also a good idea to write an essay about why you want to study at that particular school, as this will give them a better understanding of who you are as an applicant.

Application Deadlines

There are two main intakes for most Hungarian universities. If you choose to apply during the Autumn intake, then ensure that you apply before June. If you go for the Spring intake, ensure to apply before November. It will give you ample time to research all the required documentation and prepare in advance. Take note of the breaks at the end of October, the end of December, and the Easter break.

General Admission Steps

Here are the general admission steps for most universities in Hungary

  1. Research and find the right program and the university.
  2. Meet the entry requirements and deadlines for your program of study.
  3. Apply online and attach all the required documentation.
  4. Pay the stipulated application fee for your program.
  5. Wait for confirmation from the university.
  6. Receive the acceptance letter and plan for your studies.

How to Obtain a Student Visa

You can only apply for the study permit in Hungary once you receive your university acceptance letter. You will need to make an online application and book an interview at VFS Hungary and are required to submit your biometrics at a VFS center.

Required Documents

For the student visa application, here are the visa requirements for studying in Hungary;;

  • A valid passport to accompany the visa application form
  • Acceptance letter from the university in Hungary
  • Proof of finances, including payment of tuition fees
  • Latest passport-size photographs
  • An invitation letter
  • Details of your accommodation arrangements in Hungary
  • Health insurance

Application Process

Here are the steps you’ll need to take to apply for a student visa in Hungary:

  1. Fill out an online application form
  2. Gather any required documents, such as proof of English proficiency and academic transcripts
  3. Submit your visa application along with all of the necessary documents and fees
  4. Wait for a response regarding your application from the embassy or consulate
  5. Once approved, pick up your student visa from the embassy or consulate.

Remember that this process can take some time and may require multiple visits to the embassy or consulate before your visa is approved, so make sure you start the process early and plan accordingly.

How to Prepare for Your Arrival

If you have decided to study in Hungary, you should do some research to prepare for your arrival.

Pack Essential Items

Research the weather patterns for where you are going to study and pack appropriately. Additionally, ensure that you pack essential items like prescription medication and other necessities that you will need to use while in Hungary. Do not forget to include a significant national item from your country, like a flag, instrument, or food item to showcase your country.

Prepare Your Accommodation

The next step is applying for housing. Most universities have designated housing assistance programs that can help international students find apartments on campus or off campus. Research the area surrounding the chosen university and compare prices and amenities before signing a lease agreement.

Learning about cultural norms and expectations

Hungary is full of culture and history. Some behavior, like whistling in public is frowned upon, hence learning some of the expectations during your stay in Hungary will give you a better experience. Take some time to learn the local language and taste traditional Hungarian cuisines like Csirke Paprikás, Meggyleves, and Gulyás.

Tips on how to adjust to life in Hungary

Planning will ensure your transition into life in Hungary is smooth and without surprises. Here are some tips to help you get settled in Hungary.

Get a local phone number

This is very important for making calls affordably and accessing mobile internet when you do not have access to Wi-Fi. You can choose from the various mobile service providers like Telenor or Telecom.

Find a buddy

Try to connect with a local buddy who can help you navigate the basics of living in Hungary. It could be someone you meet through a class or at the university, or through a mutual friend. They can help you settle and provide tips about the dos and don’ts of living in Hungary.

Join Clubs and other extracurricular activities

Apart from your studies, you can enhance your experience in Hungary by engaging in other activities for personal development. Clubs and societies are a great way to give back to society and develop skills in different areas.

Explore Hungary

Hungary is a beautiful country full of hiking trails, national parks, museums and galleries, castles, and palaces. Take time to explore these various attractions and interact with the locals to enhance your experience in Hungary.

Stay Organized

Organization is crucial when it comes to studying abroad in Hungary. Make sure to stay on top of deadlines for applications. Once you settle into your new country, take time each week to stay organized with schoolwork and also find time for some leisure activities.

How to Study and Live in Hungary

Adjusting to a new location always comes with challenges and student life in Hungary is no exception. Here are some challenges you are likely to encounter while living and studying in Hungary.

Challenge 1: Language Barrier

One of the biggest challenges international students may face is that classes are taught in Hungarian. So if you do not speak the language or your Hungarian language skills are not advanced enough, it can pose a big challenge.

To overcome this challenge, you can look for university programs that offer courses in English. Such courses are listed on the university’s website, so research this before applying. Alternatively, you can take Hungarian language courses like the Hungarian Language and Culture Preparatory Programme at the University of Szeged.

Challenge 2: Cultural Differences

Adjusting to a different culture can also be a challenge for international students, and it can take some time to get used to living and studying in Hungary. From the type of food to adjusting to other things like the mode of transport or holidays and other festivities, it can make you miss the comfort of your home country.

To make the transition easier, take advantage of the student support services like advisors and student orientation programs to help you adjust quickly and easily to the Hungarian culture and diversity.

Challenge 3: Financial Challenges

Financial challenges are common with international students as they settle in a new country. The tuition and living expenses might be too high if there is no other way to get financial help.

To remedy this, research on different funding opportunities, like the Stipendium Hungaricum scholarship program for international students to help lift the financial burden. Additionally, research on other ways to spend less, like using public transport and minimizing luxury spending.

Tips for Studying and Living in Hungary

  1. Get a local phone number
  2. Find a buddy
  3. Join Clubs and other extracurricular activities
  4. Explore Hungary
  5. Stay Organized

Can You Work in Hungary After Graduation

So you have graduated and want to know, can you stay and work in Hungary after graduation? Well, you can. But there are a few things to bear in mind. First of all, EU citizens can look for a job just like any other Hungarian citizen, but for non-EU citizens, you will need to apply for a study-to-work residence permit before you can start working.

This visa allows international student graduates to stay up to 9 months after graduation, and can, later on, be changed into a residence permit if you meet the eligibility criteria, like being in employment. If you are looking for a post-graduation visa for entrepreneurial purposes, you can stay in Hungary for 3 years after graduation, with the option to extend your stay for a further three years.

To apply for the study-to-work residence permit, you need to ensure that:

  • you have a valid health insurance
  • you are looking for a job or looking to start a company
  • you have the funds to stay in Hungary or leave the country in case the permit is denied
  • you have accommodation

And depending on the type of job, there may be other specific requirements, such as specialized qualifications or language proficiency tests before issuing the Hungary work permits for students.

There are plenty of employment opportunities for international students in Hungary, with some of the in-demand industries like Agriculture, Manufacturing, Information and Telecommunications Technology, and language-related and tourism-related jobs.

Tips on how to prepare for job hunting and networking in Hungary

  • Attend networking events and job fairs
  • Peruse local papers and job boards
  • Use social media sites like LinkedIn to connect with Hungarian employers and search for jobs
  • Volunteer or intern at Hungarian companies

Conclusion

From its world-renowned universities to its rich cultural heritage, Hungary can offer a unique learning experience for international students. Additionally, the country’s welcoming environment and beautiful landscapes make it an ideal destination to study. Hungary’s education rankings, good studentship programs, and excellent teaching quality make it perfect for ambitious international students to jumpstart their educational goals.

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hyun is the founder at Global Scholarships. He has received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College as well as $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for his undergraduate degree and has been offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. Read more about his scholarship journey here.

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