Higher education in Russia

The principal language of instruction is Russian. The study of Russian as a state language of Russian Federation in all State-accredited educational establishments, except pre-school institutions, is regulated according to the State Educational Standard. The citizens of the Russian Federation have the right to receive their basic general education in their native languages as well as to choose their languages of instruction within the range of possibilities offered by the educational system. The language (languages) in which education and training are conducted are selected by the founder(s) and/or by the statutes of given educational establishments.

There are two kinds of higher education in the Russian Federation:

  • non-university level higher education (educational programmes not leading to academic degrees);
  • university level higher education (educational programmes leading to academic degrees).

Despite the different levels of education, these two kinds of higher education have the following common features:

  • the lists of specialities available through both kinds of higher education are interlinked;
  • the educational programmes are convergent in particular with regard to the list and the volume of specialized disciplines;
  • state requirements as to the minimum content of education and to the knowledge and skills of graduates are developed for both kinds of higher education on the basis of secondary (complete) general education;
  • teaching technologies typical of universities are introduced in non-university level higher education.

Admission Requirements:

Traditionally, a diploma granting admission to university level higher education institutions may be earned at institutions offering secondary (complete) general education and non-university level higher education.

Admission to higher education establishments is competitive. The selection is based on entrance examinations, school leaving certificates, interviews, etc. The entrance examinations are the major component of the selection procedure. The number and the list of entrance tests are stipulated by the admission regulations of given educational institutions. The subjects of the entrance examinations are set by the individual institutions according to the requirements of the faculties to which admission is sought.

Course Programme Structure:

  • Intermediate Diploma or Diploma of Incomplete Higher Education - at least two years of study;
  • Bachelor (Bakalavr) Diploma - at least four years of study;
  • Specialist Diploma - five to six years of study;
  • Master (Magistr) Diploma - six years of study.

In order to establish the relationship between these qualifications in the future, the Government of the Russian Federation adopted the State Educational Standard of Higher Professional Education of 12 August 1994. It designates three levels of studies:

  • Level 1 comprises the first two years of studies for the Bachelor (Bakalavr) or Specialist Diplomas and is concentrated on compulsory fundamental courses in the given speciality. After this period, students may either continue their studies or, if they do not want to do so, leave the institution with an Intermediate Diploma;
  • Level 2 is the continuation of studies for the Bachelor (Bakalavr) degree the duration of which is at least another two years. It leads to the four-year Bachelor (Bakalavr) degree;
  • Level 3 represents an educational level common both to the Master (Magistr) Diploma and to the Specialist Diploma.
  • Master (Magistr) degree programmes are based on Bachelor (Bakalavr) degree programmes, while Specialist Diploma programmes are not.

The hierarchy of advanced degrees in Russia traditionally includes doctor's degrees of two levels: the Candidate of Sciences (Kandidat Nauk) and the Doctor of Sciences (Doktor Nauk). The Candidate of Sciences degree normally requires at least three years of study beyond graduation from a university level higher education institution and the award of the Specialist or the Magistr diploma.


Federal law of Russia N 273-ФЗ "On education".
Mutual Recognition of Qualification: the Russian Federation and the other European Countries / Compiled by Dr. Oleg Kouptsov; Ed. Leland C. Barrows. – Bucharest: UNESCO, 1997. – 134 pp. – ISBN 92-9069-146-8. – CEPES Papers on Higher Education. 2nd Edition. For more Information, please visit website: http://en.russia.edu.ru/edu/.