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Higher Education System in Russia

Higher education in Russia is similar in structure to the central European system, with several key differences. The system is divided into four main sections – primary, secondary, tertiary and postgraduate education. 776 higher education institutions in 82 regions of Russia accept international students, and choosing Russia as your study abroad destination will give you a wide range of options for finding the higher education that is right for you!

Russian education system

It takes 11 years to complete secondary education in Russia before students can enter the higher education system. Upon successful completion of the ninth year of school, students will receive a certificate of Basic General Education with the option of continuing secondary education in two more years. Upon completion of the two additional years, a Complete Secondary Education Certificate will be awarded. This certificate serves as proof that these students are eligible to continue their higher education.

Three types of higher education institutions in Russia

  1. Universities offers a variety of programs at all levels.
  2. Academies place more emphasis on research and practical skills, usually dedicated to specific subject areas such as art, architecture or the sciences.
  3. Institutions is a branch of an independent university or academy that offers professional educational courses.

The higher education system in Russia is well known for its achievements and emphasis on science and technology. Many of the courses offered at state-funded institutions focus on science, but a wide variety of humanities and social science programs are also offered!

In recent years, private higher education institutions have emerged to complement these traditional Russian institutions, offering programs in other fields such as economics, business and law.

Degree Structure in the Russian Education System

While education in Russia is largely based on the Bologna principle, education in Russia has a degree structure that is slightly different from other countries in Europe.

After completing secondary education, students may pursue a Bachelor’s or Specialist degree, both of which are eligible students to later pursue a master’s degree. A bachelor’s degree is awarded after four years of full-time study at the university. A specialist degree is awarded after a minimum of five years of study and is focused more on practical education in the student’s chosen field. Both qualifications require students to successfully defend a thesis and pass an exam. This degree is awarded in all fields except medicine, where the first stage of education lasts six years.

  1. A master’s degree is awarded after two years of study with one year dedicated to research that includes practice and preparation for thesis defense.
  2. Students who have a master’s degree are eligible to continue their PhD studies. Postgraduate education is divided into two parts in Russia, and two degrees are required to confirm a student’s status as a scientist. Postgraduate studies can only be carried out at a university or scientific institute. Upon successful completion of the first part of their postgraduate education, students are awarded the Science Candidate degree.
  3. The final Doctoral Degree is obtained after an additional 2-4 years of study in postgraduate education. This certification then leads to a doctorate degree. Because there is a 10 year gap between the two degrees, final Doctoral qualifications are often awarded to Science Candidates once they have entered their career in academia.

Neither Bachelor nor Master degrees existed in the Soviet system and were introduced to adapt the Russian education system to international standards according to the Bologna Process.

In addition, MBA degrees in Russia are becoming increasingly popular among international students, as Russia is considered a financial superpower in the energy and gas sector.

These changes have helped Russian higher education qualifications receive recognition and acceptance abroad, which was a previous problem for international alumni, and explain the growing number of international students choosing Russia as their study abroad destination!


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