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Levels of education

Education in Russia is a multi-stage system that ensures lifelong learning.

In general, education can be divided into general (kindergartens and schools) and professional (colleges, technical schools and universities). In turn, professional is divided into secondary and higher education. The last level is considered to be professional skill improvement programs and professional retraining programs.

Secondary professional education

At this level of education, workers and middle-level employees are educated. For instance, car repairmen, cooks of cold and hot workshops or electricity specialists. Students enter colleges or technical schools after the 9th or the 11th grade and study for 2-4 years.

Bachelor and specialist degree

Russia has joined the Bologna system in which higher education consists of two levels: bachelor’s and master’s degrees. During 4 years of study bachelors receive a wide knowledge of the chosen specialty with the opportunity to cover different profiles. Graduates with a bachelor’s degree can immediately go to work in the acquired profession or can continue their studies at the next level. Moreover, some universities have specialty programs. Such a level exists only in Russia. Specialty level implies a more focused training for 5-6 years in order to learn practical skills.

Master’s degree

Master’s degree in higher education in the Bologna system. It is possible to enter master’s degree programs only with a bachelor or specialist degree. Here students get acquainted with research activities and delve deeper into the selected profiles of learning. As a rule, master’s studies last two years and most of them are self-study.

Postgraduate studies

Postgraduate studies are a form of training of scientific and pedagogical staff. Graduate students of master’s degree or specialist can enter the postgraduate studies. The training includes the educational part, pedagogical activity, practice, research work. Graduate students choose the scientific direction, the research topic for their thesis. Full-time education lasts at least 3 years, extramural education lasts at least 4. Diploma of postgraduate studies with qualification («Researcher», «Teacher-researcher») is issued. At the end of the thesis defense the degree of candidate of sciences is awarded (the first degree, officially confirming the status of a scientist). Candidates of sciences are allowed to get the degree of Doctor of Science (second degree, confirming the status of the scientist), which is awarded on the basis of the results of the defense of the doctoral thesis.

Assistant traineeship

Assistant-trainee is for representatives of creative professions. Instead of research work, trainee students are required to prepare creative work in their own training, such as a theatrical performance, a finished film or a symphonic concert.



The adjuncture trains scientific personnel for the Russian Armed Forces, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Emergency Situations and other military departments. Only military personnel or employees of institutions with higher education have the right to enroll in it and a military adjuncture requires at least two years of service experience.



Residency is the final stage of training in a number of fields of medicine (pharmacy). Only holders of higher medical (or pharmaceutical) education are allowed to apply for residency. The education lasts for two years and is a combination of advanced study of the basics of medical sciences with practice in medical institutions during which students develop the necessary professional skills. A three-stage qualification exam is taken at the end of the education. Graduates are given a diploma on completion of residency and are given a qualification of a specialist, giving the right to work in medical institutions.

Additional professional education

This level of education is aimed at meeting educational and professional needs, ensuring the professional personal development and ensuring that his or her qualifications correspond to the changing conditions of professional activity and social environment.

Additional vocational education is carried out through the implementation of additional professional programs: 

  • The Skills Development Programs are aimed at improving or acquiring new competencies which are necessary for the professional activity or upgrading the professional level within the existing qualifications.
  • Professional retraining programs are aimed at acquiring the competence necessary to perform a new type of professional activity or acquiring new qualifications.

Second higher education

There are no quantitative restrictions on getting a higher education in the Russian education system. It should be taken into account that it is possible to study on a budget basis only once. However, foreign students who have graduated from universities in another country have the right to participate in the competition for state funding of education in Russia.


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