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University of Warsaw

The way to official WWW Server of the Warsaw University

Basic facts about Warsaw University

The structure of higher education in Poland

Universities in Poland constitute a separate group among the units of higher education. They deal with the humanities, the social sciences, and the sciences. Such disciplines as medicine, the arts, trade, agriculture, and technology are developed in separate establishments of higher education. In Poland there are over ninety higher schools including eleven universities. Except for few all these schools are state institutions. (more about Polish education)

A historical sketch

Warsaw University was founded in 1816, although two of its faculties existed earlier as separate schools. In 1831 (after the November Uprising of 1830-1831) it was closed by the Russian authorities for over 20 years. It conducted limited activities as a Polish institution of higher education in the years 1857-1869. Later (as one of the reprisals after the next Polish uprising of 1863-1864) it was replaced by Russian Imperial Warsaw University. This situation lasted until World War 1, that is as long as the period of Russian rule in this part of Poland. The University reopened in 1915, and as a Polish university (after 123 years of foreign rule, Poland regained independence in 1918) it gathered many outstanding Polish scholars. We may mention here scholars of international fame such as mathematicians - Waclaw Sierpinski, Jan Lukasiewicz, Kazimierz Kuratowski, Stefan Mazurkiewicz, and Witold Nowacki, parasitologist - Czeslaw Janicki, botanist- Boleslaw Hryniewiecki, paleontologist - Roman Kozlowski, physicists - Leopold Infeld, Stefan Pienkowski, and Andrzej Soltan, cytologist - Waclaw Baehr, philosophers - Tadeusz Kotarbinski and Wladyslaw Tatarkiewicz, historians - Marceli Handelsman, Tadeusz Manteuffel, and Oskar Halecki, archaeologist- Kazimierz Michalowski, lawyers - Rafal Taubenschlag, Stefan Rozmaryn, and Karol Koranyi and philologist - Tadeusz Zielinski. During the German occupation (1939-1945) professors of the University continued their research and teaching illegally, for which, if discovered, they risked being sentenced to death. Many of them, as well as of the students, were killed during the war. Seventy percent of the University buildings were destroyed by the Germans during and after the Warsaw Uprising (1944) and seventy percent of the library holdings were burnt. The University resumed its activity in 1945.

Undergraduate and graduate studies

The academic year lasts from the 1st of October until the end of May with a week-long vacation at Christmas, a holiday at Easter, and a two week semester break in the first half of February. Candidates, who are graduates of secondary schools, must take a competitive admission examination at the beginning of July; those who pass can begin their first-year studies. Education is free, the studies last five years, and graduates earn a master's degree. The students are obliged to attend lectures and classes according to their program of study. There are exams at the end of the obligatory courses. Students are promoted to the subsequent year on the basis of their attendance and positive results of their examinations. At the beginning of their university studies, students choose a department from which they eventually earn their degree. On completion of the third year students choose a specialization within their major field of study. Then they attend M.A. or M.Sc. seminars, and with the guidance of their faculty advisors they prepare their theses. The completion of their studies and the submission of the M.A. or M.Sc. thesis leads to the title of Master of Arts (or Master of Science). Foreign students who visit the University within the framework of the exchange programs between Warsaw University and other universities attend courses offered by our University on a voluntary basis. They are not given grades, but on request they can receive a certificate describing their participation and progress. They can attend courses available at the University without any constraints. On the average the program of study consists of 20 to 30 hours of classes and lectures per week. In addition, there is a possibility of part-time study toward a degree at the University in the evenings and on weekends. Each year around seven thousands people participate in this form of study, especially in the fields of law and administration, economics, and history. In 1991, there were altogether 27,597 students at Warsaw University, including the Bialystok branch. The number of academic teachers in both these branches is 3,262 and the technical, administrative, financial, and auxiliary staff is composed of 2,585 persons. Post-graduate and doctoral studies

There are two levels of higher education beyond the master's degree. Doctoral studies last three years during which the candidates, who are free from teaching responsibilities, are expected to write their doctoral theses. They receive monthly grants during the whole period of their studies. The candidates are required to take a competitive entrance exam. Post-graduate studies which last 1 and 1/2 years aim at furthering the education of university graduates. Education is free but the participants do not receive any financial aid from the University.

Faculty advancement

Graduates who are interested in research and university level teaching and are accepted by University become members of the faculty. Their teaching load is 7 hours a week and they must conduct scholarly research. They are expected to complete their doctoral dissertations within a period of 8 years. For those who fail to fulfill this condition, contracts are not renewed. Further, if they become doctors, they are expected to submit, within the next 9 years, another thesis ("habilitacja"), all the time continuing their teaching activities. The degree of "doktor habilitowany" entitles them to a permanent position at the university. After another few years, following a recommendation of their Faculty Council and approval by the University Senate and the Government Commission, they may receive professorial titles. Polish academic titles are:

magister (mgr)		= M.A. or M.Sc.
doktor (dr)		= Ph.D. (Assistant Professor)
docent (doc.)		= Associate Professor
profesor nadzwyczajny	= Professor 
professor zwyczajny	= University Professor


The Main Library contains 2,190,000 volumes and each year gets 26,000 to 27,000 of new ones. Apart from it there is a network of over 40 branch libraries. Each department and institute has its own library to enable both faculty and students to carry on research directly in their departments. This is necessary also in view of the limited space in the Main Library. There are altogether around 4,100,000 volumes in all these libraries.

University authorities

The supreme authority of the University is the Rector. Members of the Senate, the Rector, and the Deans are elected every three years by the university faculty and staff. The location of Warsaw University The main campus of the University is situated in a historical site dating back to the 17th century, on Krakowskie Przedmiescie. Because the main campus buildings, though beautiful, old, and imposing, are too small to accommodate the needs of the growing University, many departments are scattered around Warsaw, for instance Economics, Physics, Mathematics, or Russian Philology.

Financial conditions granted to foreign students and faculty

Each year a number of foreign students and academic teachers come to Warsaw University. There are 130 foreign exchange programs between Warsaw University and foreign establishments of higher education in force now.

S t u d e n t s

Each foreign student receives the following benefits:

- a monthly grant
- free accommodations in a student dormitory (2-3 people to a room) or financial equivalent
- lunch in the student canteen or equivalent
- free medical care
- discount prices for city transportation tickets

Faculty members

Each visiting foreign faculty member receives the following benefits: - monthly salary paid on the basis of equivalent Polish academic status plus 50%

- free furnished accommodations (with the exception of telephone bills, bills for electricity, etc.)
- free medical care
- the right to a paid summer holiday, if spent in Poland
- discount prices for city transportation and railway tickets

Scheme of Organization

1. Department of Biology 
- Institute of Biochemistry 
- Institute of Botany 
- Institute of Microbiology 
- Institute of Zoology 
2. Department of Chemistry 
3. Department of Journalism and Political Science 
- Institute of Journalism 
- Institute of Political Science 
- Institute of International Relations 
- Institute of Social Politics 
4. Department of Physics 
- Institute of Experimental Physics 
- Institute of Theoretical Physics 
- Institute of Geophysics 
- Astronomical Observatory 
- Chair of Mathematical Methods in Physics 
5. Department of Geography and Regional Studies 
- Institute of Physical Geography 
- Institute of Social, Economical and Regional Geography 
- Institute of Developing Countries 
- Chair of Cartography 

6. Department of Geology 
- Institute of Geochemistry, Mineralogy and Petrography 
- Institute of Basic Geology 
- Institute of Hydrology and Engineering Geology 

7 Department of History 
- Institute of Archeology 
- Institute of Library Management and Scientific Information 
- Institute of History 
- Institute of Art History 
- Institute of Musicology 
- Chair of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology 

8. Department of Mathematics, Information Science and Mechanics 
- Institute of Mathematics 
- Institute of Mechanics 
- Institute of Information Science 

9. Department of Economics 
- Chair of Political Economy 
- Chair of World Economy and International Economic Relations 
- Chair of Theory of Economic Development 
- Chair of History of Economic Thought 
- Chair of Economic History 
- Chair of Planning and Economic Policy 
- Chair of Economics of Non-Material Sphere 
- Chair of Statistics and Econometrics

- Chair of Cybernetics and Operational Research
- Chair of Cooperatives

10. Department of Philosophy and Sociology
- Institute of Philosophy
- Institute of Sociology

11. Department of Neophilology
- Institute of English Studies
- Institute of German Philology
- Institute of Oriental Philology
- Chair of French Philology
- Chair of Italian Philology
- Chair of Iberian Philology
- Chair of Hungarian Philology
- Chair of Balkan Philology
- Chair of Formal Linguistics

12. Department of Polish Philology
- Institute of Polish Language
- Institute of Polish Literature
- Institute of Polish Language and Culture for Foreigners
- Chair of Polish Culture
- Chair of General Linguistics
- Institute of Classics
- Institute of Slavonic Philologies

13. Department of Law and Administration
- Institute of Legal and Administrative Theory
- Institute of History of Law
- Institute of Public and Constitutional Law
- Institute of Civil Law
- Institute of Penal Law
- Institute of International Law

14. Department of Pedagogics
- Chair of General Pedagogics and General Theory of Education
- Chair of General Didactics
- Chair of Teaching Techniques
- Chair of Primary Education
- Chair of Social Pedagogics
- Chair of Rehabilitational Pedagogics
- Chair of Adult Education
- Chair of Comparative Pedagogics
- Chair of History of Education
- Chair of Health Education

15. Department of Psychology
- Chair of Psychology of Individual Differencies
- Chair of Psychology of Learning
- Chair of Educational Psychology
- Chair of Social Psychology
- Chair of Cognitive Psychology
- Chair of Personality
- Chair of Clinic Psychology
- Chair of Psycho pathology and Psychotherapy

16. Department of Russian Philology and Applied Linguistics
- Institute of Russian Philology
- Institute of Applied Linguistics
- Chair of Byelorussian Philology
- Chair of Ukrainian Philology
- Chair of Polish-East Slavonic Comparative Studies

17. School of Management
- Chair of Organizational Theory
- Chair of Theory of National Economy
- Chair of Organization and Management of Business Companies
- Chair of the Legal Problems of Administration and Management
- Chair of Quantitative Methods of Management
- Chair of System of Management

18. Department of Social Prevention. Re socialization and Social
- Institute of Social Prevention and Re socialization
- Institute of Applied Social Sciences

19. School of Foreign Languages
20. Teacher's College of English
21. Teacher's College of French
22. Teacher's College of German
23. British Studies Center
24. American Studies Center
25. Soviet Studies Center
26. Center of French Culture
27. Inter-university Center of Methodology of Foreign Language
28. Inter-university Computer Center for Blind Students and
  Students with Impaired Vision
29. Open Learning Center
30. University Center for Natural Environment Research
31. Archaeological Studies Center in Novae
32. European Institute of Regional and Local Development
$'1 Institute of Social Studies
34. Warsaw University Archives
35. Warsaw University Museum
36. Warsaw University Press
37. Mediterranean Archeology Center
38. Environmental Laboratory of Heavy lons
39. University Library
40. Center of Physical Training and Sports
41. Computer Center
42. EEC and European Studies Center
43. International Management Center
44. Polish Committee of Cooperation with Alliance Francaise
45. Center for Latin American Studies


1. Department of Humanities
- Institute of Polish Philology
- Institute of History
2. Department of Mathematics and Natural Sciences
- Institute of Chemistry
- Institute of Mathematics
- Chair of Physics
3. Department of Pedagogics and Psychology
4. Department of Economics
- Chair of Legal-Economical Basis of Environmental Protection
- Chair of Rural Economy
5. Department of Law
6. Students' Military Training Study
7. Operative Study of Foreign Languages
8. Institute of Philosophy and Sociology
9. Study of Physical Training and Sports



Warsaw University
Graph. Mieczyslaw Bancerowski. Photo Jan Dabrowski, Marek Swiezawski
Wydawnictwa Akcydensowe. Warszawa 1991
Zam. 776/VI/91. Druk "Scangraph"