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Levels of Russian Education in Russia

Levels of Russian Education in Russia
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Russia has a multi-level education system with different forms and tracks for gaining knowledge. This article addresses the levels of Russian education.

Classification of Russian education

Let us look into the education system in Russia.

  1. Preschool. A child can start nursery at the age of 3.

  2. Primary. Children go to school at 6; primary education is obligatory and lasts four years.

  3. Basic general. School studies from 5th through 9th grades are compulsory for all. After finishing the 9th grade, pupils take examinations. They can continue their education at school for two more years or enter a vocational college.

  4. Secondary general (9th-11th grades at school) or intermediate vocational (vocational school/college). In the first case, studies last two more years; at the end of the 11th grade, pupils take the Unified State Examination (EGE); its results are taken into account in competitive selection of prospective students applying to universities. Vocational training lasts three to four years; graduates acquire a profession and can seek employment.

  5. Higher education. Russia’s present-day education system is based upon the Bologna principles and includes undergraduate, specialist, graduate and PhD studies, medical residency etc.

Levels of higher vocational education

Higher education implies acquiring qualifications in a chosen profession. The Soviet Union had a one-level higher education system: after five years of studies (six years for medical students), graduates were awarded a specialist degree from the university. In 2003, Russia joined the Bologna process meant to establish a common European higher education standard. Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia was the first to adopt the two-level higher education system (bachelor’s and master’s degree) in 1995. Later on, all Russian higher education centres followed suit, although certain fields such as medicine still practice five-year specialist studies.

It takes four years to complete undergraduate studies. Bachelor’s degree confirms the holder’s higher education. Graduates can land jobs matching their degree or pursue further studies. Bachelor’s degree holders cannot apply for PhD studies or engage in research, i.e. undergraduate studies largely aim to train practicing specialists rather than scientists.

Master’s studies last two years. Master’s degree holders can get a job or enrol in a PhD programme and engage in research.

Training research personnel

Holders of specialist or master’s degree who consider a career in research or teaching can enrol in a postgraduate programme while teaching or doing research at the same time. Postgraduate studies can last two to four years. In liberal arts professions, assistantship is equivalent to postgraduate studies and army or navy officers can pursue military postgraduate studies.

Postgraduates work towards perfecting their research skills. They have to publish scientific papers and prepare to defend their Candidate of Sciences thesis. This academic title is equivalent to PhD. The Candidate of Sciences level gives the right to seek the title and employment of assistant professor and paves the way to doctoral studies. The latter are supported by special units at universities or research centres. Doctoral students improve their qualifications preparing to earn the next top academic degree (Doctor of Sciences).