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>> Russian Education | General Information



1.   Types, levels and programs of education
2.   Languages of instruction
3.   Management and administration
4.   Quality assurance
5.   General education
6.   Non-university post-secondary professional education
7.   Higher education
8.   Doctoral programs
9.   Recognition
10. Grading system


There are two types of educational programs in the Russian Federation:

  • general education;
  • professional education.

General education comprises:

  • pre-school education;
  • primary general education;
  • basic general (lower secondary) education;
  • secondary general (upper secondary) education.

 Since all programs, except general education programs, lead to diplomas or to diplomas and degrees as well as to professional qualifications, which give the right to exercise professions, they are identified as professional education programs.

 Professional education also comprises four levels:

  • vocational education, including short cycle tertiary education (srednee professionalnoe obrazovanie);
  • first cycle university education: Bakalavriat (Bakalavr degree) programs;
  • second cycle university education: Specialitet and Magistratura (Specialist and Magistr degree) programs;
  • the highest qualification cadres training: Candidate Nauk (PhD) and Doktor Nauk (Higher Doctorate) programs.

  Besides wide range of courses and programs of supplementary education to the listed levels are offered, which generate an array of lifelong learning. Supplementary to general education courses and programs are offered to children and adults. Supplementary to professional education courses and programs are referred to upgrading, retraining and other forms of LLL (dopolnitelnoe professionalnoe obrazovanie). It should be noted that supplementary education courses and programs do not lead to a change in the level of qualification/diploma of trainee..


  The principal language of instruction is Russian. Instruction in Russian, which is an official (state) language, is carried out in all accredited education institutions, except pre-school institutions. Citizens of the Russian Federation have the right to be taught in their native languages in law secondary school as well as to choose languages of instruction within the range of other possibilities offered by the educational system. The language (languages) of instruction is selected by the founder of each educational institution.


 The Ministry of Educationis responsible for the development and implementation of the government policy and legal regulation of: general education, secondary vocational education, supplementary vocational education, and vocational training, supplementary education of children and adults, childcare and parenting.
 The Ministry of Science and Higher Education is responsible for the development and implementation of the government policy and legal regulation in the field of higher education and related additional professional education, scientific, and R&D activities. The majority of state HEIs are established and funded by of the Ministry. These institutions are closely related to the economic branch of the ministry in question. For example, medical institutions are under administration of the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for agricultural institutions. Nevertheless all education establishments keep nationwide regulations of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education in relation of education and research.

The Federal Service for Supervision in Education and Science is another central body which carries out:

  • control and supervision over legislative execution and quality control in institutions of all education levels, which it carries out independently and together with state regulatory bodies of education of constituent parties (republics, territories, regions, etc.) of the Russian Federation;
  • licensing and state accreditation of institutions and their branches;
  • recognition of degrees and titles obtained abroad.

 In addition, there are local authorities, which carry out their regulatory functions in the constituent parts of the Russian Federation and municipalities. All of these bodies have administrative responsibilities for educational institutions which they establish.

 In state HEIs routine activities are supervised by Academic Councils headed by rectors. The term of office of an Academic Council is five years. In non-state HEIs supervision is the responsibility of their founders or of a trusteeship council, which is appointed by the founders. The direct administration of a higher education institution is the responsibility of rector. The statute of HEI defines the demarcation between the functions of the Academic Council and the rector. Depending upon the structure of a given institution, Academic Council may be also set up in each faculty. Their members are elected from representative of academic staff. Academic Council terms of reference is defined by the charter of the institutions in question. Each faculty is headed by a dean who is elected by the faculty Academic Council and approved by the institution Academic Council. Faculties are composed of chairs that are administered by their heads.


 In order to ensure quality of education a nationwide mechanism for quality control and assessment is in function. This mechanism includes the state educational standards; licensing and state accreditation.

State educational standards
 The standards set out requirements for learning outcomes, structure of curricula, and conditions of their implementation in educational institutions. The State Educational Standards are prepared by colleges/universities Associations under the auspices of the Ministry.
 Standards for higher education allow a wide margin of academic freedom to ensure curricula content compliance with the regional and local labor market needs. In addition, top universities have the authority to design their own educational standards in respect of learning outcomes, structure and content of programs.

 Licensing is a procedure of assessment of the compliance of educational facilities, laboratory equipment, expertise of teaching staff, and teaching materials with state requirements and the issuing of a duly worded authorization (license). Being licensed an educational institution is granted the right to carry out educational programs in relevant fields of study and at corresponding levels of education.
 The license for conducting educational activity is unlimited. It comprises a supplement with a list of educational programs which the education institution is allowed to offer. In case of any complaints about violation of the licensing requirements and according to the established schedule the Federal Service of Supervision in Education and Science nominates a commission for reviewing the conditions for carrying out education activities according to the Russian legislation.

State Accreditation
 Accreditation is the formal recognition (confirmation for the next term) of the status of a HEI by the state on the basis of solid evidence that its activities conform to nationally established norms, including compliance of the content and quality of education with the state educational standards. The accreditation procedure includes both a self-evaluation and a peer review. The successful completion of this procedure allows the institution (public and private) to issue state recognized diplomas. In case of a positive decision about the state accreditation the HEI is granted the Certificate of State Accreditation with a supplement which lists the accredited educational programs the HEI has the right to offer. The certificate is granted for the period of six years. All university level HEIs have to pass licensing and accreditation procedures carried out by the Federal Service for Supervision in Education and Science.

 Licensing in non-university post-secondary education is the prerogative of the local authorities. It includes a formal assessment by a visiting expert group to ensure that an educational establishment meets the state and local requirements, including facilities, sanitation, equipment, staff, etc. Each new program must also be assessed and licensed. Accreditation allows the institution to issue state recognized diplomas.



  General education consists of four levels: pre-school education, primary general education, basic general (lower secondary) and secondary general (upper secondary) education.

Diagram of the Russian education system

  Pre-school education is provided by licensed institutions for children up to age 6,5 - 7 years, that is, before they enter formal school. Currently, almost 100% of children of the respective age groups covered by pre-school education.
  Primary general education comprises grades 1-4, from the age of 7 to 10 years.
  Lower secondary education takes 5 years and comprises grades 59, from the age of 11 to 15 years.
  Upper secondary education takes two years (grades 1011). Students complete secondary education at the age of 17-18 years.
  All four levels of general education are provided on the basis of their own federal state standards. Secondary general education with 11 years of formal schooling is compulsory since September 1, 2007.
  General education curricula normally stipulate 34 weeks of study per year and, as a rule, 27 to 38 hours of study per week. The school year starts on 1 September and runs through the beginning of June. Unified State Examinations scheduled in the end of May - beginning of June are culminating school studies.
  A state educational standard for general education lays down requirements to the minimum content of education and the workload of students. It also prescribes compulsory fields of study (humanities with emphasis on Russian language, literature, social sciences, and physical education; natural sciences with priority given to mathematics; technology). Social sciences include such subjects as foreign languages, Russian history, world history, economic and social geography, law, political science, economics, etc. Natural sciences cover biology, physics, astronomy, chemistry, ecology, etc. Technology normally includes drawing and a number of disciplines for the imparting of certain basic skills of general utility for pupils, such as home economics, sewing, cooking, metal work, carpentry, etc. In upper school grades basic skills for the exercise of certain professions are offered. Local authorities and schools have the right to set up good proportion of curriculum. In practice each school designs its own curriculum, basing it upon the state education standard named the Basic curriculum. Latest standards of general education give more initiative to local authorities and schools in designing curricula with the purpose to facilitate independent activity of students.
  Russia has well-developed networks of schools offering advanced programs which are based on the Basic curriculum and can be offered in a number of ways:

  • through schools offering advanced programs in selected disciplines such as foreign languages, mathematics, physics, etc.;
  • through schools with developed out-of-school activities giving a profound mastery of fine arts, philosophy, economics, sports, and other fields;
  • through schools in which senior grades work under tutorship of HEIs and use the academic staff and facilities of the latter.

  On completion of lower secondary education (grade 9), students take final examinations (state final attestation) and they are awarded the Certificate of Basic General Education (Attestat ob osnovnom obshchem obrazovanii). This Certificate entitles its holder to be admitted either to secondary general education or to technical and vocational education and training (srednee professionalnoe obrazovanie). Holders of such certificates should be trained for 1 year longer in all training programs in comparison with those students who have graduated upper secondary education (grade 11). This allows them to explore upper secondary education and have the right to take Unified State Exams.

  On completion of upper secondary education (grade 11) a school leaving certificate is awarded. The name of this qualification is the Certificate of Secondary General Education (Attestat o srednem obshchem obrazovanii).
  The general secondary school study program is culminated with mandatory state final attestation of each graduate in the Russian language and mathematics, which is an obligatory part of the Unified State Examinations (USE). Graduates who have successfully passed the USE in Russian language and mathematics are issued Certificate of Secondary General Education (Attestat o srednem obshchem obrazovanii). In this Certificate the final marks are set, which are defined as the average of annual assessments for graduate in grades 10 and 11.
  The Certificate of Secondary General Education confirms the possession of a complete school education and the right of a graduate to continue education in a higher education institution first cycle university education). Admission to Russian higher education institutions is carried out on a competitive basis. For this purpose, a high school graduate must take part in the passing of Unified State Examination.
  Exams in other subjects, such as: literature, physics, chemistry, biology, geography, history, social studies, foreign languages, informatics and ICT graduates pass as a part of the USE on a voluntary basis and by their own choice. Graduates who have passed the state final attestation in the form of the NSE are given a Certificate of the USE results. In Certificate the results in the subjects on which assessment is not below the approved minimum level are indicated. These results are presented for competition of applicants to those universities, which school graduate plans to enter (up to 5 universities). Nearly 100% of new students are admitted to HEIs by the result of the Unified State Exams now. A very small number of graduates accepted to universities without the USE based on the successful participation in the All-Russian school competitions.
  Thus, the holder of a school leaving certificate with the NSE grades in mathematics and Russian language not below the minimum specified mathematics - 27 points, the Russian language -24 points) are eligible to enter the university. However, a graduate must still participate in the competitive selection of applicants. Voluntary sitting exams in other the USE subjects allows graduates to participate in the competition of applicants to universities. Uniform State Exams is a screening tool of graduates based on the competition results of their individual scores.
  Public and private schools at all levels are required to go through the procedure of state accreditation, which is held by the local authorities. A successful passing through this procedures leads to authorization to issue nationally recognized school leaving certificates.



  Technical and vocational education (srednee professionalnoe obrazovanie) offers training programs of two stages:

  • first stage programs: for skilled workers, junior technicians and employees;
  • second stage programs: for mid-career professionals.

  Graduates of technical and vocational education programs are awarded Diplomas. The Diploma Supplement contains the list of subjects learnt during studies and the grades earned.

Diagram of the Russian education system

  First stage vocational education
  The duration of the first stage vocational programs depending on prior schooling is:

  • from 2 to 2,5 years following completion of basic general (grade 9) education;  
  • from 10 months to 1,5 years following completion of secondary general (grade 11) education.

  Such vocational training is offered by institutions called Professional centers or schools.

  Second stage vocational education
  Education institutions of the second stage non-university education are generally known as Tekhnikums and Colleges. College can be independent educational institution or constituent part of HEI. It offers professional education programs of basic and advanced type. As a rule these programs are well coordinated with university level programs in the same field of study.
 The admission requirements for non-university level education after general education (grade 11) are successful results of State unified exam in the Russian language and math, which leads to award of school leaving certificate and, if needed, entrance tests.
 Quite a number of non-university level post-secondary education institutions offer course programs following completion of basic general education (9 years). Selection of applicants is done on the basis of their academic achievements in basic secondary school and/or admission tests.
 Duration of studies in non-university level institutions is from 2 to 3 years after secondary general education (grade 11) and from 3 years to 4.5 years after basic general education (grade 9). Credits are given by HEIs to holders of the second stage non-university education Diplomas, if they enter program in the same field of study (transfer from 2 to 4 semesters on a case-by-case evaluation basis).

 Licensing in post-secondary professional education is a prerogative of local authorities. It involves a formal assessment by a visiting expert group to ensure that the institution meets the state and local requirements, including building, sanitation, equipment, staff and some others. Each newly introduced program must also be assessed and licensed. Accreditation is an act allowing the institution to issue state recognized diplomas. Accreditation is carried out by local authorities in cooperation with the Federal Service for Supervision in Education and Science.



Currently there are six types of higher education institution in Russia:

National university: There are only two universities which have such a status granted by a governmental decree in Russia. They are: Lomonosov Moscow State University and Saint Petersburg State University. This status provides special opportunities for public funding and development of education and research.

Federal university:It is a leading higher education institution and centre of research at national level. Currently, there are 10 federal universities. Some of them were established following the merger of a number of small local universities.

National research university and University/Winner of national innovative program: It is a higher education institution integrating regional research activities. Currently, there are 29 universities in the first category and 21 universities in the second one.

University: It is a higher education institution offering a wide range of programs in many disciplines and carrying out applied and fundamental researches.

Academy: It is a higher education institution that delivers diverse programs and carry out research predominantly in a certain area (e.g. agriculture, health, arts, etc.).

Institute: It is an education institution which trains specialists for a specific profession and carry out related research.

Along with the state sector there is also a sector of municipal higher education institutions run by municipal and regional authorities as well as a sector of non-state HE institutions. The latter are run by private and religious organizations.

530 state and 366 non-state HE institutions operated in Russia in 2015/16. Due to policy of merges and liquidation of ineffective HEIs provided by the Ministry of Education and Science in recent years their number is steadily decreasing.

Diagram of the Russian education system

Admission requirements
Admission to HE institutions is based on the results (scores) in Unified State Exam.

Degrees and Diplomas
Russian higher education institutions confer the following degrees and diplomas:

  • Bakalavr Diploma after four years of study or 240 credit units;
  • Specialist Diploma after five and six years of continuous training programs or 300 credit units;
  • Magistr Diploma after two years of study or 120 credit units.

Bakalavr (Bachelor) degree
Bakalavr degree is conferred after a four-year course of study. Bakalavr programs cover wide range fields of study, except medicine. The function of Bakalavr degree is to provide a more academically rather than professionally oriented education. Bakalavr degree is a prerequisite for admission to Magistr studies. State final attestation includes the defense of a thesis prepared over a period of four months and State final examinations. Following a successful attestation, a state Diploma is issued attesting conferral of Bakalavr degree. The Diploma supplement includes the list of disciplines, the number of hours or credits, the grades, practical training, and the results obtained on final state examinations and in the defense of the thesis.

Specialist Diploma
The qualification of Specialist Diploma/Degree has two functions. It opens access to professional practice (e.g., to engineers, teachers, chemists, etc.), and it is also the traditional prerequisite for admission to doctoral studies. Specialist Diploma/Degree is conferred on completion of continues education program with duration not less than five years. The Degree is awarded predominantly in technical fields of study (specialities). The State final attestation includes the defense of a project "thesis" and State final examinations.
Specialist Diploma is considered as the qualification of the same level with the Magistr degree in accordance with the Russian legislation.

Magistr (Master) degree
A Magistr program is a two-year course focused more on research activities in comparison with Specialist program (up to 50% of students workload). But above all, this is a profound analytical and practical training of professionals in a particular field of study and practice. State educational standard defines only general requirements for Magistr educational programs and not the requirements regarding the content of education. HEIs are free to make their own decisions regarding the contents of Magistr programs. The State final attestation for a Magistr degree covers the defense of a dissertation and State final examinations.
Access to Magistr studies is open for holders of Bakalavr degree. HEIs themselves set up admission procedures (examinations, interviews, etc.) for applicants. Those holders of HE degrees wishing to pursue Magistr program in different field of study must pass an additional test/s which reflects the requirements for the chosen Magistr program.

Medical training
The duration of study in the medical sciences is the following:

  • five years in dentistry and pharmacy;
  • six years in medicine;
  • four years in nursing (Bakalavr degree);
  • three years in nursing, and four year in first-aid of non-university post-secondary education after general education (grade 11).

Medicine is the only area in which diplomas of university level HE do not give the right for their holders to exercise their professions independently. In order to be admitted to the medical professions, the holders of university level HE diplomas must undertake further in-depth professional training: a one-year course programme (called the Internatura) or a two- to four-year course programme (called the Ordinatura).

Training in the Internatura or the Ordinatura takes place on the premises of the best hospitals, clinics, and research medical institutes. Graduates from the Internatura or Ordinatura are awarded certificates that specify their specialization areas and entitle them to exercise their professions independently.
Those persons who, for whatever reason do not graduate from higher education program and stop education before obtaining a degree, the university issue a certificate of study period in a free form.



 The hierarchy of advanced scientific degrees in Russia traditionally includes Doctor's degrees of two levels: Candidate of Sciences (Kandidat Nauk) and Doctor of Sciences (Doktor Nauk).

 The Candidate of Sciences degree normally requires three years of study after the award of Specialist or Magistr degrees. After three years programme the Diploma of Aspirantura Completion is awarded. To obtain the Diploma of Kandidat Nauk an applicant must successfully defend a dissertation.

 The Doctor of Sciences degree can be earned after a period of further study following the award of the Candidate of Sciences degree. In reality, to earn a Doctor of Sciences degree requires five to fifteen years beyond the award of the Candidate of Sciences degree.

 Both university level higher education and research institutions have the right to set up doctoral study programs. The Federal Service for Supervision in Education and Science is responsible for supervision of doctoral studies. Upon the decision of this body, doctoral study programs (Aspirantura - for the Candidate of Sciences degree and Doctorantura - for the Doctor of Sciences degree) can be opened in those HEIs and research institutions that possess the required personnel as well as scientific and financial resources. HEIs must be accredited, and research institutions must have a license granting them the right to carry out educational activities.

 The defense of doctoral dissertation is carried out before a Dissertation Council. Dissertation Councils are organized by the Higher Attestation Committee (Vysshij Attestatsionnyj Komitet part of the Ministry of Education and Science) to accept dissertations in given fields of science for evaluation and hearing in accredited HE and research institutions. Kandidat Nauk and Doktor Nauk degrees are awarded by the dissertation councils in question and approved by the Higher Attestation Commission.
 A defense of the dissertation is held in the form of a public presentation and scientific debates.

 A list of 19 universities, which are entitled to award degrees was approved by government decree of August 23, 2017 1792-p.


Recognition of foreign qualifications is implemented in a diversified model.

The Federal Service for Supervision in Education and Science is the agency responsible for recognition procedure throughout the country. It is the only national body empowered to take decisions on recognition of qualifications/degrees both in academic and professional purposes, with the exception of research/scientific degrees. Technically this function implements its subordinate organization "Glaveksperttsentr".

At the same time leading Russian universities are authorized to make assessment and take decision on recognition of all foreign qualifications, including doctoral degrees, in both academic and professional purposes for their own needs. The rest of HEIs are eligible to accept foreign qualifications only if they fall within the scope of mutual recognition agreements between Russia and other countries.

The qualifications/degrees originated from world prominent universities (more than 200), listed by the Governmental decree are also accepted by all Russian educational institutions and companies without a procedure of formal recognition.

The Higher Attestation Commission is entitled to make assessment of any foreign doctoral degree and draft recognition decision, which is taken by the Ministry of education and science. It is manifested by the Ministerial order on recognition of foreign degree/s.
State Scientific Academies are also empowered to make assessment and to take recognition decisions on foreign doctoral degree relevant to their field of research activity.

Besides, doctoral degrees which fall within the scope of bilateral recognition agreements on doctoral degrees between Russia and other countries are accepted in all HEIs, research centers and companies without passing formal recognition procedure.

Glaveksperttsentr is responsible for provision of information on recognition in the Russian Federation.

The National Information Center on Academic Recognition and Mobility is responsible for provision of information on Russian education and qualifications, especially in cases when there is a need for such information from the part of recognition bodies and individuals abroad, who have any Russian qualifications on recognition procedure, as well as for a wider range of stakeholders (see: Other functions).



Main grading system in secondary school

  • Full Description: Pass, "2" - unsatisfactory, "3" - satisfactory, "4" - good, "5" - excellent.
  • Highest on scale: 5
  • Pass/fail level: pass, "3"(satisfactory) / "2"(unsatisfactory)
  • Lowest on scale: 2 unsatisfactory

Main grading system used by higher education institutions

  • Full Description: unsatisfactory, pass, satisfactory, good, excellent
  • Highest on scale: excellent
  • Pass/fail level: satisfactory, pass/unsatisfactory
  • Lowest on scale: unsatisfactory

Grading system for defense of Kandidat Nauk and Doktor Nauk thesis
-Awarded / Not Awarded

The text is revised in accordance with the law
On Education in the Russian Federation entered into force on September 1, 2013.


National Information Center on Academic Recognition and Mobility
updated 02.11.2017


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>> Recognized Universities
>> Diagram
>> Diplomas/Qualifications Samples (In Russian)

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