Lately, there has been a growing interest in Hungarian academic education on part of foreign students, most of them choosing universities sited in Budapest. In the following series, we will present some of the best Hungarian universities, hoping that during your summer trip to one of our exciting festivals, you’ve taken a deep interest in our culture and history.  

Given that the number of foreign students (either visiting with Erasmus, or being full-term students) has quickly grown in the recent years, we’ve decided to give a short overview of why you should study at one of those Hungarian universities that are among the top and also offer courses in English or other widely spoken languages. After having discussed the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Eötvös Loránd University, Corvinus University of Budapest, and Semmelweis University, we continue our series with institutions outside the capital city, such as the University of Debrecen.


University of Debrecen

The University of Debrecen came a long way since 1538 when the Calvinist College of Debrecen was founded. Since then, major changes happened to the College, transforming it to the current University of Debrecen. This makes the institution the oldest continuously operating one in Hungary.* In the early 20th century, the College slowly took up the structure of a university, and gained new names (of course the name was changed all the time, it always happens), was restructured with some faculties separated, others added to it. There is one point, however, when the institution’s transition to its current state began: in 1912 when the Hungarian Royal University was founded. Aside from theology, other subjects were taught, such as medicine, arts, and law.

During the communist era, a restructuring took place in 1949-50.

This meant that the faculty of theology was transferred back to the Calvinist College, the faculty of medicine was separated, and the teaching of western languages was completely shut down.

At the same time, the faculties dealing with Russian studies expanded greatly.

Finally, in on January 1st, 2000, the three universities of Hajdú-Bihar county (the University of Agriculture, Lajos Kossuth University, the Medical University – remember, it was separated in 1949/50) have merged, becoming the University of Debrecen.


According to the latest rankings and the QS rankings, the University of Debrecen is the most popular higher education institution in Hungary among international students. Students choose UniDeb mainly because of the medical studies faculty. It is also

the most popular university outside Budapest.

QS World Rankings

If you choose to study at the University of Debrecen, then you won’t have to worry about finding research material or books to read, as it has the second largest library in the country.

What to study at UniDeb?

The University of Debrecen’s student body is easily the biggest in Hungary (outside Budapest), as according to the latest data found on the university’s website, there are altogether 26994 students enrolled.

This institution offers two dual Bachelor’s programs too, in engineering and agricultural studies. What does this mean? Well, it means that apart from acquiring the theoretical knowledge needed in their chosen fields, students also have an opportunity to gain practical skills.

Since there is only one institution of higher education in the region, there are no separate universities for medicine, informatics, economy or law, arts, social sciences as we can see in the case of Budapest.

The University of Debrecen thus offers education in all major areas, at 14 faculties:
– Faculty of Agronomy
– Faculty of Arts
– Faculty of Dentistry
– Faculty of Economic Sciences
– Faculty of Medicine
– Faculty of Informatics
– Faculty of Law
– Faculty of Music
– Faculty of Pharmacy
– Faculty of Science and Technology
– Faculty of Public Health
– Faculty of Engineering
– Faculty of Child and Adult Education


The university operates on two major campuses and smaller units scattered across Debrecen. At the older campus, you will find the faculties of arts, science, informatics, medicine, music and the botanical garden. At the newer, Kassai-road campus, the faculties of law end economy reside.

The university’s Eclectic and Neo-Baroque main building is actually said to be the largest one in the city.

An old picture of the main building

International students and foreign language courses

There are 49 programs offered in languages other than Hungarian, with courses especially in the field of medical studies, as most international students choose to study medicine at the University of Debrecen.

Over 4400 foreign students attend UniDeb, the majority of them are either full-term students or Erasmus students.

Students arrive from 105 countries, either from the neighbouring countries where a lot of ethnic Hungarians live or from entirely other places.

As we’ve seen already in the case of the big universities based in Budapest, the Erasmus network is well-developed in Hungary: the University of Debrecen has 602 Erasmus contracts.


The University of Debrecen takes pride in the fact that five of their alumni have been awarded the technical Academy Award in 2014.

Aside from the medallist technicians, the most prominent figures of Hungarian literature have attended UniDeb over the course of its history. These are poets Endre Ady, Ferenc Kölcsey (wrote the national anthem of Hungary),

János Arany (whose birthday’s 200th anniversary is being celebrated all year long in Hungary), and Magda Szabó (the 100th anniversary of her birth was celebrated recently).

We would also like to mention Zsuzsanna Jakab, who is the World Health Organisation’s Regional Director for Europe.

Magda Szabó’s statue being revealed earlier this month at Debrecen’s main square
photo: MTI/Czeglédi Zsolt

Also, two former students have participated at the 2016 Summer Olympics organised in Rio.

Leisure time: sports, culture

At the University of Debrecen, it is compulsory to take up sports courses for credits. Luckily, there is a lot to choose from, so you will surely find something out of the 197 physical education courses offered by the university at 74 different locations. You have numerous choices, for example ball games, athletics, tennis, gym, fencing or even cheerleading. The university organises several sport programs throughout the academic year, along with competitions and camps.

If you’d like to move a bit more and explore the city with your friends, then you can rent bikes too.

90 bikes are available for rent, accessible at four campuses.

All bikes are equipped with a GPS tracking device.

Have you heard of Campus Festival? It’s the region’s biggest musical event, and is quite popular in Hungary. The students of UniDeb set up tents each year at the festival, where they advertise the university, organise fun games and overall have great fun. As a student, you can take part in that too.

The Water tower garden

If you would like to kick off the boot and just have some time to relax by yourself or with friends, then you can opt for taking a walk in the Botanical Garden, or the Nagyerdő Park, visit the Lovarda Cultural Conference Center or the Víztoronykert (water tower garden).


Main office:
Address: Egyetem tér 1, 4010 Debrecen
Phone number: +36 52 512 900
E-mail: [email protected]

featured image:


* A usual, this statement is a matter of opinion. Many argue, that it is hardly the oldest university, for example because it only gained that title in the 20th century.

Source: Daily News Hungary

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