Studying at Universities in Greece is free even for foreigners. Students who do not speak Greek can learn it over a year at university courses. Another option is to just enroll in an English program. They exist in the country, but there aren’t many of them. Studying in Greece is an opportunity to get a European diploma avoiding high costs.

Best universities in Greece

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Advantages of Greek universities

  • Low tuition fees. Education at public universities in Greece is free for everyone. Foreigners who do not speak Greek pay only for language courses. Their average price is 760 USD/year. For comparison: a year of study at an Italian or Hungarian university costs 4,341 USD. Greek private tertiary education costs 7,597-13,024 USD / year.
  • No entrance tests. Enrollment in public universities in Greece is based on GPA competition. Foreign applicants don’t take any exams. All that matters is the school grade point average. You don't even need to be proficient in Greek. A special preparatory year is allotted for studying it.
  • European diploma. Greece is part of the European Union. This means that you will receive a degree that is recognized throughout the EU. Studying in Greece is a chance to get a European education at a low cost. Although, of course, it is inferior in quality to its German or French counterparts. Greek universities lag far behind in international rankings. The Athens Polytechnic, the country's highest-ranking university, occupies only 421st place in the world[1].
  • Great climate. Greece is a warm, picturesque country with a developed tourist sector, clean air and spacious beaches on the coast of the Aegean and Ionian Seas. Greece might just be the ideal place to live a few years as a student, if spending that time with pleasure is a high priority to you.

Disadvantages of Greek universities

  • Knowledge of the Greek language is required. Free education in the country is only available in Greek. There are also programs in English, but they are much more expensive. For example, the Medicine School of Aristotle University offers an English-language program for 13,024 USD/year. You can learn Greek after arriving in the country in preparatory courses. During that time, a seat at the university is reserved for you. After passing the language proficiency test, you will be able to begin your studies.
  • Longer programs. Bachelor's degree programs in Greece last 4 years. But because of the language courses, they get stretched. As a result, you will study for five years. Plus, Greek universities are distinguished by their cooperativeness. If the student does not pass an exam on time, they can transfer the subject to the next semester and try again. A potentially endless learning process, that only you control the duration of.
  • Complicated admission process. There are no entrance exams in Greece, but there is bureaucracy. All documents must be translated into Greek and certified by the appropriate authorities (in some cases, in Greece). And then they have to be sent to the Ministry of Education of Greece in both electronic form and by courier.
  • Having to certify your Greek degree. If you plan to return home and get a job there, be prepared to prove your qualifications. To do this, you will likely need to go through the recognition procedure, and sometimes the legalization of the diploma.
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Admission to universities in Greece

What you need to know about admission to a Greek university:

  • Submission of documents. All applications for undergraduate programs are directed to the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs. The applications are accepted for 7 days once a year, often in July. The exact dates should be confirmed on the ministry's website. There is a special information system for foreign applicants that works only for the period of documents’ acceptance.
  • Choice of specialty. When filling out the application, you can list up to 20 faculties from different universities in order of priority. The selection takes place on a competitive basis. The higher the GPA, the more chances of admission to the most desired university you have.
  • Admission to graduate programs is different from undergraduate programs. An applicant submits an application to a specific university. The conditions of admission and the rules for processing documents are determined by the university itself. Precise information can be found on the website of the education institution.

You can also learn the details of admission on the Study in Greece website. It is an official portal run by the Greek government. It describes in detail all the steps, documents and features of admission to universities in Greece.

Documents for admission

To apply to a Greek university you will need:

  • school certificate, validated by the competent educational authority of candidate’s country of residence;
  • birth certificate, ratified by the competent authority of candidate’s country of residence;
  • certificate of translation of grades, validated by the competent educational authority of candidate’s country of residence;
  • certificate of lack of absence from classes;
  • certificate of absence of Greek roots — confirmation that your parents are not Greek;
  • certificate of a completed full-time school program;
  • certificate stating that the applicant has not previously studied at a higher educational institution in Greece and is not a graduate of a Greek school;
  • confirmation that you are allowed to enter the university of your home country with a present certificate;
  • two photos;
  • a photocopy of the passport for everyone and a photocopy of the visa if you are in Greece at the time of application.

All documents must be translated into Greek and certified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Greece or by a Greek Embassy abroad. Candidates from certain countries do not require special certification from the Greek diplomatic authority abroad. All they need is an apostille stamp.

Types of higher education institutions in Greece

Higher education institutions in Greece are divided into:

  • universities;
  • state academies;
  • commercial universities.

They differ in terms of studies’ duration, tuition fees, and quality of education. At public universities in Greece and academies, studies last for four to six years, and education there is completely free. They offer Bachelor's, Master's and PhD degrees.

Commercial universities enjoy autonomy and design the programs as they see fit. As a rule, a Bachelor's degree program lasts 3-4 years. Tuition fees vary between 7,597-13,024 USD/year. Doctoral studies are not available everywhere, because the Greek government allows research activities only in public universities.

Public universities in Greece

Public universities enjoy special prestige in the country, largely because of their age. But do not think that modern Greek universities appeared in the days of Ancient Greece. The oldest University of Athens was founded in 1837.

At least 6 Greek universities have been listed in the British QS University Rankings, albeit not ranking high. None of them is in the first hundred[1]. State universities differ from private ones in their broad teaching profile. They bring together Fine Arts and Industrial Design, Classical Studies and Bioengineering. You can study almost anything in one place.

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Technical universities

Technical universities in Greece (known as "polytechnics") are more specialized. Mostly Engineering and other exact sciences are taught there. However, they are in no way inferior to broad-profile universities. The most esteemed educational institution in the country is also a polytechnic — the National (Metsovian) Technical University of Athens[1]. Admission to technical universities is the same as to other state universities: through the Ministry of Education. Just like in ordinary universities, you can start either an academic and research career there, or study an applied specialty for a professional career.

Until 2019, there was another type of technical educational institution in Greece — the Technical Institutes (TEI). After an education system reform, they were all integrated into larger universities and polytechnics.

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Greek academies

An academy is a state-run university that gives education in a specific field. For example: navigation, aviation, military affairs, and so on. Among the Greek academies, the Ewelpid Military School, founded in the 19th century, is especially famous. It enjoys a certain prestige due to its exclusive nature. Studying at any academy promises a brilliant career in the public sector.

The requirements for admission to military academies are determined by the Ministry of National Defense, but the submission of documents still goes through the Ministry of Education[2]. Only Greek citizens can enter them after passing the Panhellenic exams and entrance tests. The latter tests the health and physical abilities of the applicant. In academies, cadets train and study like full-fledged students: they take exams and defend dissertations. Here is, for example, a list of subjects for different specialties in the Greek Air Force Academy.

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Private universities in Greece

Under Greek law, the diplomas of higher education in the country can only be issued by public education institutions: universities, polytechnic universities and academies. They are all managed by the Ministry of Education and other departments to which they belong. Private colleges are usually affiliates of foreign universities. For example, the Swiss Alpine Center business school. Their diplomas are recognized both in Greece itself and in the countries where the main body of the institution is located. The qualifications obtained at the American College of Greece are valid in the United States, but do not carry the same weight there as degrees from local universities.

Despite the attractiveness of programs in private universities, public ones are still more popular. Largely due to the fact that studying there is free. Plus, the Greek government still restricts private higher education. Private university degrees are recognized, but are less credible than public ones[3].

Best business schools in Greece

There are universities in Greece where you can get an MBA. But in the country they are called not business schools, like in the rest of Europe, but colleges. Tuition fees for the MBA programs are 5,427-10,854 USD/year. You don't have to go to a commercial college to get a degree in business and management. Some public universities also offer such programs.

Athens University of Economics and Business

According to the ranking of business schools in 2020, the MBA program at the Athens University of Economics and Business ranks first in the country[4] and 35th in Europe[5]. Duration of studies is 16 months. The full cost of tuition is 10,528 USD. The program is run entirely in English. You will need a TOEFL (79 points) or IELTS (6.5 points) certificate for admission, as well as a recommendation letter, a CV and proof of 3 years of work experience. Students have opportunities to receive additional funding. The university's website lists at least 10 scholarships for potential candidates.

Alba Graduate Business School at the American College of Greece

The American College of Greece offers MBA and EMBA programs. The cost of the first is 21,436 USD for 12 months of studying, noticeably higher than at the Athens University of Economics. At the same time, according to the ratings, Alba Business School is inferior to it in the quality of education and holds only 61st place in Europe[5]. The advantage of the American College program is that the degree will be automatically recognized in the United States. Their site also contains detailed information about career centers, forums and internships — graduates are assisted with employment. Scholarships are available for students, but there are fewer of them than at the Athens University of Economics and Business.

Alpine Center

The Swiss Alpine Center school is open to those seeking a degree in tourism and hospitality. The college offers undergraduate and graduate programs. As for prices, for example, the program "International Hospitality and Tourism Management" costs 10,257 USD/year[6]. Studying takes as long as in other European countries: three years for a Bachelor's degree and one for a Master's. For admission, you need a B1-B2 level of English, a letter of motivation and recommendations. Experience in the hospitality industry is encouraged[7].

Best public universities in Greece

The strongest fields of study in Greek universities are: technical sciences, Engineering, and Medical education. In the first category, the Athens Polytechnic is in the top-100 best in the world[8]. And among medical universities the leaders are the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and the Aristotle University[9]. There are also the traditionally Hellenic disciplines of Philosophy, Philology, and History. Among the creative directions in Greece, sculpture and architecture are the most developed, which is not surprising[10]. Although the latter are far from being as well represented in international rankings as technical and medical specialties.

National Technical University of Athens

Most often, this educational institution is called the Polytechnion, or Athens Polytechnic. The Athens Polytechnic ranks 100th in the world in technical specialties: Computer Technology, Applied Mathematics, and Civil Engineering[8]. The figure may not seem particularly impressive. But in the QS ranking, 520 universities from all over the world are listed, so the 100th place is a rather high result. And regionally, the Athens Polytechnic is the 28th best technical university in Europe, beating Bologna and Aalto University[8]. The Athens Polytechnic is definitely worth considering for those who want to study engineering or other technical professions in Greece.

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Aristotle University is the second best university in the country after the Athens Polytechnic[1]. It is located in the city of Thessaloniki. It is a multidisciplinary university with a large number of faculties: medical, philosophical, pedagogical, engineering, legal, natural sciences, and even fine arts. There is a Greek language school at the Aristotle University, which holds preparatory courses for foreign students. It is one of only two educational institutions in the country that are eligible to organize the Greek proficiency test.

Interesting fact: in 2021, Aristotle University took the 14th position in the world in terms of the quality of teaching the discipline "Ancient history"[11]. Who would have thought-

National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

This institution, often called the University of Athens, is Greece's oldest university. It was founded in 1837. Structurally, the university includes: the Institute of Philosophy, Law, Economics and Political Sciences, Natural Sciences, the Medical Institute, as well as the theological school of the Greek Orthodox Church. At the same time, according to the QS rating, dentistry is the best study direction at the University of Athensis[-].

Among all the universities in Greece, this one is the most international. More than 6200 foreign students study there. For comparison: there are 4600 of them at Aristotle University, and less than 1000 at other universities[12].

University of Crete

University of Crete is located on the picturesque namesake Greek island. It is a young university with two campuses: in Heraklion and Rethymno. It has only five faculties, scattered between the two cities: Philosophy, Social and Political Sciences, Teaching, as well as Engineering and Medical faculties. The peculiarity of the University of Crete is its vibrant research activity. The university cooperates with the Greek Center Foundation for Research & Technology — Hellas and the Institute of Marine Biology and Biotechnology, which are also located on the island. There is also a hospital at the university and a museum of natural history of Crete.

The university stands out not only for its educational programs, but also for its unusual architecture. This is what the main building of the university looks like.

University of Patras

The University of Patras ranks fifth among Greek universities. It is located in the largest settlement of the Peloponnese — the city of Patras. The university has five schools: Natural Sciences, Humanities, Medicine, Business, and Engineering. The latter holds the third place in the country for the quality of teaching, right after the Athens Polytechnic and the Aristotle University[8]. The university participates in international educational programs such as TEMPUS and Erasmus. It also has agreements with the Medicine School of Johns Hopkins University in the US and the Center for Greek Studies at Harvard[13]. This gives students the opportunity to gain experience of interacting with teachers and students from other countries.

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