Hungary National Overview

Updated in June 2018 by Beata Furka, Head, International Affairs and Development at Franz Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest.

Overview of Higher Music Education System

Music in Hungary is taught on every level – lower, middle, high – from ages 8 to 24, in accordance to the method created by Zoltán Kodály, our greatest ancestor in music education. The Liszt Academy is the only independent higher music education institution in the country as all remaining institutions (in the cities of Győr, Pécs, Szeged, Miskolc, Debrecen or Székesfehérvár) are all faculties of a university.
Among the secondary music high schools in the country the Béla Bartók Conservatory of Music functions as the preparatory school of the Liszt Academy, establishing a direct connection between the two study cycles – secondary and higher education – in a student’s life.

The teaching system at the Liszt Academy is organized in semesters. Students have to fulfil 6 semesters (3 years) to be able to complete their studies and receive BA a diploma while they have to fulfil 4 semesters (2 years) to be able to complete their studies and receive a MA diploma. Teacher training (MA level) has two types: 4 semesters (2 years) immediately after BA, or 2 semesters (1 year) after MA degree or at the same time with the MA’s 2nd year (this training contains only pedagogy and psychology courses as all music subjects are completed in the MA). Postgraduate studies (DLA, PhD) can also be completed at the Liszt Academy.

The system for professional music training is not different from other higher education institutions in Hungary. Since the undersigning of the Bologna Declaration, there have been important developments in two main areas – introduction of the ECTS system and the introduction to the two-cycle system.

Higher Music education institutions in Hungary are sustained by the Government as there are no private schools in music education. This also means that the provisions of the Higher Education Act are prevalent upon determining the governing structure of such institutions. The governing bodies of these institutions are administered by the Ministry of Human Capacity.

Total number of institutions
There are seven music institutions at the highest level in Hungary.
Total number of music students
Approximately 2.000
Professional music training institutions are funded basically by the State through the Ministry for National Resources.
There are no nationally determined curricula, those are developed by the associates of the corresponding universities. The ratio between instrumental and non-instrumental subjects is approximately 65-35, in favour of the non-instrumental classes.
Classical music; contemporary music; jazz; folk music; church music; early music
2-cycle system
Professional music training is organized in a two cycle system.
Entry requirements 1st cycle
The entrance examinations for all courses at the Liszt Academy of Music take place at the end of June and at the beginning of July. Applicants are informed about the exact date of their entrance examination during May. Please refer to the Courses and Requirements section of the institution website (
Entry requirements 2nd cycle
% of students who continue with 2nd cycle
3rd cycle
The Doctoral School of the Liszt Academy of Music offers the possibility of obtaining DLA and PhD degrees in music. The department is aimed at composers and performers who wish to achieve artistic development integrated with complex theoretical training. The PhD Department is unique in Hungary as it offers the only accredited doctoral program in musicology in the country.
The full-time doctoral programs consist of four years of training in theory and practice, followed by a doctoral procedure of one year.
Credit point system
Institutions make use of a credit point system, which is compatible with ECTS.

The Liszt Academy has established excellent relations with multiple European and overseas higher musical institutions, enabling various workshops, masterclasses and concerts for our students both in Hungary and abroad. One of the main pillars of our international presence is the regular mobility exchange programmes, while the other, is the project based international projects.

The Liszt Academy is an active participant in the Erasmus exchange programme: full-time students of BA, MA or PhD/DLA study programs can apply in case they have completed at least 2 semesters; while students from sending institutions have the opportunity to apply for an exchange at the Liszt Academy as well. The institution also has further mobility opportunities, such as the EEA exchange.

The Liszt Academy, based on its extensive international network realises: joint projects on a regular basis with key partner higher music institutions, such as the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, the Koninklijk Conservatorium Den Haag, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, the University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna; the Iceland Academy of the Arts or the Haute école de musique de Genève. In frames of these joint projects, students of the Liszt Academy have the opportunity to extend their artistic expertise on an international scale.

Quality assurance

The Hungarian Accreditation Committee (HAC) reviews all Hungarian higher education institutions and all their study programmes. New study programmes are reviewed by HAC before their launch and there is a general review every eight years. HAC informs the institution of the upcoming accreditation procedure. HAC’s visiting team evaluates the institution and submits a report to HAC. HAC issues and publishes a final report. The evaluation covers the institutional level, faculty level, and all programmes, and results in an accreditation decision by HAC. Visiting teams may include non-academics who are experts in a particular area or applied field if called for by the profile of the institution to be evaluated or by some of its programmes (e.g. artists, musicians, etc.). The visiting team members are given a briefing on the procedure prior to the visit.

There are several levels of standards used in the process. The Ministry of National Resources define the level and minimum content of study programmes on the level of a government decree (they are reviewed by HAC) and HAC itself has Bylaws which define the accreditation procedure and accreditation requirements which address the quality standards for study programmes in particular disciplines on the college and university level. Further information is available at

Benefits of the system include assurance of a continuing and comparable review of the quality of higher education in Hungary. Problems within the eight-year cycle system include issues such as a) the quality may not be judged consistently due to different visiting teams and ongoing changes in the system, and b) standards are general and require individual and subjective judgment on the part of visiting teams and HAC members, the solution to which would require more extensive training for evaluators than is currently the case.

Non-teacher diplomas are entitled to work as a performing artist (BA and MA) or (in the field of theory type trainings) e.g. musical assistants (BA), musicologists or composers (MA) while only a teacher diploma (MA) entitles to teach in lower and middle levels. DLA/PhD is a requirement for teaching in higher education.
Academic Year
The academic year is organised in two semesters: from September to January and from February to June.
Overview of the Pre-College Music Education System
Music education in Hungary is divided in three levels:
Basic level which includes elementary music school and Music and Art Schools; a secondary level, which consists of the Conservatoire (Professional Secondary Music School), the Music Gymnasium, Junior Department and Preparatory Courses; and a professional level, which includes the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music, Budapest and other music faculties of universities (Miskolc, Pécs, Győr, Szeged, Debrecen). The basic and secondary level are considered to be Pre-college levels.

Types of Pre-College Education

Basic Level:
Elementary Music School
Elementary music schools combine general education with music education. Daily music lessons are integrated into the general subjects, and there are additional choir and instrumental lessons. The schools are open to students from 6 to 14 years of age.
Music and Art School

Hungary knows 570 Music and Art Schools (afternoon music schools). Some of them are state sponsored, others are private. In total, they teach 130.000 students.

A six year curriculum is being used: students enter at 8 years of age, and study until they are 14. It is possible to take (maximum) two years of preparatory study beforehand. Students then enter at 6 years of age.

The curriculum is divided into two different categories, called A and B level. The A level is meant for amateur studies. Students receive two 30-minute instrumental lessons a week. B level studies focus on future professionals. Students receive two 45-minute instrumental lessons a week, as well as solfège. From the fourth year of study, students receive chamber music, music theory and music history lessons as well.

Secondary Level:
Professional Secondary Music School (Conservatoire)
There are 21 secondary music schools that teach a total of 2200 to 2300 students between the age of 12 and 19 (14-18).

Conservatories provide general education together with music education at an advanced level. Their education is aimed at preparing students for the entrance level of higher music education institutions.
The curriculum is a combination of general education subjects and music studies: instrument, theory, solfège, chamber music, music history, choir/orchestra, etc.

50% of the conservatoire students continue their musical studies in higher music education; therefore, conservatories are considered to be the most effective part of the Hungarian pre-college music education system.

Music Gymnasium
Music Gymnasia provide general secondary education with a special focus on music. There are no instrumental lessons provided; only singing, theory, music history and choir.
Junior Department The Liszt Academy of Music has a School for Exceptional Young Talents open to extraordinary talented students who play piano, violin or cello. The number of students is about 18.
Students can enter between the ages of 10-13. They leave when they are 18 or 19 years of age.
The School for Exceptional Young Talents only provides music education. Students receive two 90-minute instrumental lessons a week. Additionally, they take theory, solfège, chamber music, and music history classes.
Preparatory Course The Liszt Academy regularly organises preparatory courses for students who aim to apply to the institutions. Professors of the university teach the participating students specifically for the admission process so applying musicians have a clear idea about the requirements.

Additional Information

Pre-college education is primarily aimed at preparing students to higher music education. The most talented students at afternoon music schools are also expected to participate in higher music education. For those who chose a different higher education field, understanding and appreciating music remains as an essential element of their lives.

Music and Arts in General Education
Students in secondary schools without specialisation have one singing and one drawing lesson a week; while students in secondary schools with specialisation on music have approximately 4-5 singing or drawing lessons. In case of secondary schools with specialisation, music education takes a significant space in the curriculum. General music education is taught from the age of 6 until graduation.
Students entering Higher Music Education
Most students come from conservatories. Other students come from junior departments or preparatory courses and from music and art schools.
Special Facilities for Talented Students at Pre-College Level
Hungary has many youth orchestras and choirs. There are many (international) competitions and festivals open to young talent as well.

Overview of Music Teacher Education System

Music teacher training at universities in Hungary has currently been reorganised as part of the Bologna Process. Higher education institutions in Hungary train music teachers for general education working in public elementary and secondary schools and instrumental/vocal and music theory teachers working in the state-sponsored lower grade art education schools (‘afternoon’ schools providing art education for their students) and in the music conservatories. Lower-grade art education institutions are open to students between the ages of 7 and 18. Music conservatories in Hungary are secondary level institutions providing general education combined with advanced studies in music for students between the age of 14 and 18.

Music teacher training programmes like all other teacher training programmes are currently run at graduate level only (Master of Arts).

Three kinds of music teachers are trained within the Hungarian system:

  • Classroom music teacher/music teacher in general education (Grade 5-12)
  • Instrumental/vocal and music theory teacher – 120-credit program (two years) following the BA-degree programme in music (this strand includes jazz and folk music education as well as all the classical instruments and voice)
  • Instrumental/vocal and music theory artist-teacher – 60-credit programme (one year) following the MA-degree programme in performance or music theory. Teachers of music history, composition and church music are also trained at this level, prerequisite for acceptance is an MA degree in musicology or composition or church music.

Degree programmes in music education belong to a separate strand and they are distinguished from the performance-degree programmes.

Instrumental/Vocal Music Teacher Education

In the Hungarian music education system the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest offers the broadest range of music studies that include instrumental and vocal performance, composition, musicology, theory, orchestral and choral conducting, church music, early music, folk music and jazz. It trains instrumental/vocal/music theory/composition/music history/church music teachers and classroom music teachers for all levels. It is also at the Liszt Academy where folk music and jazz teachers are trained. The Kodály Zoltán Music Pedagogy Institute of the Liszt Academy offers training programmes in Kodály-based music pedagogy for the international body of students at graduate and postgraduate levels. The classes are offered only in English.
There are four types of graduate teacher training programmes provided by the Liszt Academy:
  • MA-degree in music education for artist-teachers (instrumental, vocal, theory, musicology, composition, church music).
    • One-year programme.
    • Admission requirements: MA degree (performance, music theory, musicology, composition, church music) and entrance examination (pedagogical and psychological aptitude test).
    • This level of teachers focuses on the training of future professionals.
  • MA-degree in music education for music teachers (instrument, theory, folk music and jazz).
    • Two-year programme.
    • Admission requirements: BA degree and entrance examination (instrument, music theory, music history, and pedagogical and psychological aptitude test, piano where applicable)
  • MA degree in Kodály music pedagogy.
    • Two-year programme.
    • Admission requirements: BA degree in music and/or music education and entrance examination (aural skills, music theory, folk music, piano, voice, choral conducting, personal interview)
  • Classroom music teacher and choral conductor (programme ending in 2011). The Liszt Academy runs the Doctoral school providing the highest academic/artistic training (PhD, DLA) in Hungary. For a certain level of teaching position in professional training institutions this is obligatory. Other universities run PhD’s in pedagogy so some highly qualified music teachers obtain a PhD there. All doctoral schools can be entered only with a university degree. Besides the Liszt Academy music faculties of five other Hungarian universities: Győr, Pécs, Szeged, Debrecen and Miskolc offer instrumental/vocal/music theory teacher training for the lower-grade art-education institutions. These faculties provide university level training and a degree in instrumental/vocal and theory teaching depending on the available staff needed for accreditation. Earlier all these faculties belonged to the Liszt Academy and formed a network of Teacher Training Colleges of the Liszt Academy. Currently, following the restructuring of higher education in Hungary, these institutions are now linked to the closest university.
Type of training provided:
  • MA-degree in music education (instrument, vocal, theory) for music teachers. Two-year programme. Admission requirement: BA degree and entrance examination (instrument/voice, music theory, music history and pedagogical and psychological aptitude test)
  • Classroom music teacher (available only in Pécs and Debrecen)
Structure and Curriculum
The learning outcomes/competencies are described below:
  • in general in a government document for the whole country;
  • in detail in the individual training plans of universities, faculties, colleges, etc.

Individual plans are to be presented to Educational Authority (EA) who forwards it to the Hungarian Accreditation Panel (HAP). The HAP comments on the plans and sends it back to the EA who, based on the suggestion of the HAP grants permission to start the given training/course and issue the degree.

BA training takes three years at the Liszt Academy. Training at this level can be divided into two main branches: one is performing arts, the other is creative arts and musicology. Each department belongs to either of these. BA training focuses primarily on the main subject, and music related subjects, however, other theoretical subjects, such as philosophy, aesthetics, etc, form important part of the curriculum. At the end of the third year, students have to take a final exam.

After having completed the BA course, graduates receive a diploma. This diploma allows them to work on certain fields of the musical scene – e.g. amateur ensembles – but the BA degree alone is not enough to fulfil serious positions. Those who pursue serious ambitions need to apply to the MA course. The following options are available: performance, musicology, composition, church music and various music education strands.

The overall structure of the curriculum for the two year MA music education programme can be outlined as follows:

  • Musical subjects related to the area of specialization (50 credits): instrument/voice/theory; analysis; methodology; didactics; ensemble; master class;
  • Subjects related to music pedagogy and music psychology (40 credits)
  • Practicum (30 credits)
The one year MA programme training artist-teachers slightly differs from the one above:
  • Subjects related to music pedagogy and music psychology (40 credits)
  • Practicum (20 credits)

The ratio between theoretical and practical subjects in both programmes is 40:60.

Through the compulsory teaching practices there is a wide network of schools of different levels linked to music teacher training: general primary and secondary schools, music schools, music secondary schools, etc. However, a large part of teaching practice is done in the ‘practice schools’ of the universities – in the case of the Liszt Academy this is the Bartók Conservatoire (secondary school). Practice agreements with other schools are also formalised, the teachers are personally picked and contracted.

Types of assessment:

  • Attendance: classes that require regular attendance respectively.
  • Practical grade: the assessment that takes into consideration how the student can apply the practical requirements of the course. Requirements should be completed mainly during terms. Assessment is carried out according to a five-grade scale: excellent (5), good (4), satisfactory (3), pass (2), and fail (1).
  • End of term exam: the assessment of the student’s knowledge of the material of the entire semester. Assessment is carried out according to a five-grade scale.
  • Comprehensive exam: the final assessment of the material of several semesters or the whole course. Assessment is carried out according to a five-grade scale.
  • Complex comprehensive exam: the complex examination of the material of several semesters of several courses.
  • Final examination: checks and evaluates the knowledge necessary for the special training and graduation at university-level.
Music teacher training is available in almost all music genres.
While the International Kodály Institute organises multiple trainings for international music teachers, there is no centralised internationalization plan for the music teacher training programmes.

Those graduating from the two year MA programmes in music education can expect to be employed by lower-grade art-education schools throughout the country. Artist-teachers (one year MA programme currently available only at the Liszt Academy) can, however, apply for positions at music conservatories where training of students is aimed at preparing them for the entrance examination at higher music education institutions. Most of music conservatoire students continue their studies in higher music education.

Type of school Minimum qualification required Training institutions
Lower-grade art-education schools
instrumental/vocal/theory tuition
MA in music education instrumental/vocal/theory Liszt Academy of Music (Budapest)
Universities in Győr, Pécs, Szeged, Debrecen, Miskolc
Music Conservatories (age 14-18)* MA in performance** and MA in music education Liszt Academy of Music (Budapest)

* In music conservatories subjects such as composition, theory and history are taught by teachers in possession of an MA-degree in one of these fields of specialization and in music education.
** The universities in Győr, Pécs, Szeged, Debrecen and Miskolc offer MA degrees in performance of some instruments and/or voice.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

Music teachers are obliged to follow regular postgraduate training within a 7-year cycle, as are other kinds of teachers. This postgraduate training need not be in music exclusively.

Music teachers are obliged to follow regular postgraduate training within a 7-year cycle, as are other kinds of teachers. This postgraduate training need not be in music exclusively.
Postgraduate training programmes are accredited by the Educational Authority (Oktatási Hivatal).

Different music contests (e.g. instrumental contests for music school pupils, choir contests at different levels, international music competitions) and festivals offer also a platform to continuous self-improvement. Often there are forum and training (master) courses linked to these events.

The Association of Hungarian Music and Art Schools also offers a platform for information and experience exchange for instrumental/vocal teachers. This association links the schools together and other associations count individual instrumental teachers as members. The Hungarian branches of different international organisations for instrumentalist/instrument teachers (such as European Piano Teacher Association and the Association of Flutists) serve as catalysts of contacts within the country and beyond, and bring together instrumental teachers of different level from basic to professional training.

Training courses (2-3 week up to full year) provided by the Kodály Institute in Kecskemét offer high level postgraduate training to classroom music teachers and choir conductors: refreshing courses, new methodologies, etc.

Education for Music Teacher in General Education (primary and secondary school)

Music teachers (Grade 5-12) for public music education are trained at teacher training colleges. Most of them are incorporated into higher education institutions such as a university. The training provided by these institutions is either for classroom music teachers only, or in combination with another subject (arts, humanities or science).
In most schools elementary music education – grade 1 to 4 – is provided by the classroom teacher who might have very little experience in music. The amount of course work in music offered as part of primary teacher training is 120 hours in total. The so-called elementary Kodály music school combines general education with high-level music education, however, there are music specialists teaching music at the elementary level as well.
It can be asserted that admission requirements to instrumental/vocal and music theory teacher programs are much more demanding from the musical point of view than those for classroom music teacher programmes. This division has to be diminished in order to maintain high-level of musical instruction in the public school system corresponding with the tradition of high-standard music education established in Hungary during the decades following World War II and generally associated with the Kodály concept.
Structure and Curriculum
The training of classroom music teachers (Grade 5-12) takes place also at graduate level. Because graduates are required to major in two subjects the training lasts two years and a half and requires the completion of courses weighing 150 credits in total.
The overall structure of the curriculum for the MA in education programme can be outlined as follows
  • Subjects related to the area of specialization (80 credits): including music and another area of specialization.
  • Subjects related to pedagogy and psychology (40 credits)
  • Practicum (30 credits)
 Type of school Minimum qualification required Training institutions
Elementary school (Grade 1-4) Teacher training certificate Elementary teacher training institutions
Primary and Secondary School (Grade 5-12) MA in education (music and another subject) Teacher training colleges or teacher training faculties of universities
Kodály music schools* MA in education
MA in music education
Liszt Academy of Music
Teacher training colleges or teacher training faculties of universities

*Currently there are about 100 Kodály music schools in Hungary. In these schools daily music lessons are integrated into the general subjects. There are additional choir and in some schools instrumental lessons as well.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)