Higher education is under the jurisdiction of The Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation, which is responsible for the accreditation and licensing of higher education establishments, and for developing and maintaining State Educational Standards.

History of education in Russia

Russia’s higher education system started with the foundation of the universities in Moscow and St. Petersburg in the middle of the 18th century. The system was constructed similar to that of Germany. In Soviet times all of the population in Russia had at least a secondary education. The pursuit of higher education was and still is considered to be very prestigious. Nowadays more than 50% of people have a higher education.


In the Russian Federation, there are 180,000 educational establishments of all types and categories. About 35 million people or 23 % of the total population of the country are annually involved in one or another type of education. More than 6 million people are employed in the sphere of education.


  • More than 700 State Higher Educational Institutions
  • More than 15 million students
  • More than 300,000 foreign students studying at Russian State Universities

Higher education is provided by public and non-public (non-state) accredited higher education institutions. There are two levels of higher education:

Undergraduate education: Bachelor’s degree (4 years)

Postgraduate education: Master’s degree (2 years, after completing Bachelor’s degree)

PhD (3 years, after completing Master’s degree)

After obtaining a Master's degree, students can continue their studies towards doctoral degree: the first level is equivalent to Ph.D. and the second, highest level, is equivalent to Professor.


Russian educational system, as it has been noted many times by major international experts, is one of the most developed and advanced educational systems in the world. In the context of a changing society the educational system proved to be capable of adapting to rapid transformations of new realities (while preserving its well-known strong qualities) and to the phase of prolonged evolutionary reformation.

Higher education is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation, which is responsible for the accreditation and licensing of higher education establishments, and for developing and maintaining State Educational Standards.

Only accredited higher education establishments have the right to issue state diplomas and degrees ensuring full vocational and academic rights, and are covered by the international agreements on mutual recognition and validation of education documents. Only accredited higher education establishments have the right to use the seal with the national emblem of the Russian Federation. All state degrees award specific qualifications to a graduate, irrespective of the type of educational institution (University, Academy, and Institute) and the ownership pattern (state, municipal, non-state), are equal in status.

Academic Year:

The academic year starts on the 1st of September and ends at the end of June. It is divided into an autumn and spring semester.


A study period of 16 weeks in autumn term and a study period of 15-16 weeks in spring term. Each semester ends with one assessment week during which students take course tests and present assignment works and defend course projects.

Exam session: each semester two or three weeks’ period of examinations and final assessments take place.

The system of education in Russia evolved for centuries under the influence of Christianity, and since the end of the 17th Century, under the influence of the Enlightenment. In the 20th Century, when general and professional education came more than ever to be considered as a factor of social and economic change and as an inherent individual right, illiteracy was eliminated, access to higher education was extended, and an educational system for adults was created. Many people, however, came to feel that the educational system, that had been built up by the beginning of the 1980's, was not sufficiently flexible and not entirely capable of meeting the demands of individuals.

The socio-political changes that took place in Russia and the transition to a market economy have led to a need to reform the education system. The Constitution of the Russian Federation of 1993 and the Federal Law “On Education in the Russian Federation” of 1992 and its 1996 revisions strengthened the right of citizens to get education, stimulated the democratization of life in educational institutions, extended academic freedom and institutional autonomy, and promoted the humanization of education. The former centralized and unified system was replaced by a system which, to a fuller extent, takes into account the interests of students and teachers, of the academic community, and of employers. The non-state education sector, including educational establishments founded by both individuals and by non-state organizations, has been developing rapidly. The Federal Programs for the Development of Education, aimed at the encouragement of innovations in all components of the education system, has been designed for the support of educational reforms.

In recent years, the system of education of the Russian Federation has been undergoing drastic changes in the framework of the comprehensive transformation of the country as a whole. The main changes have been proceeding along the diversification: emergence of new types of educational institutions, introduction of a multi-level higher education system (Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in addition to the traditional Diploma – Specialist Degree), and profound changes in curricula.

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