There are several types of higher education institutions. These are Universitet (University), Academia (Academy), Institut (Institute), Technicheskiy Universitet (Technical University), and Konservatoria (Conservatory).
Universities, academies and institutes have similar functions. Technical universities offer specialized instruction such as learning a skill, and conservatories offer lessons in music.
Higher education is provided by public and non-public (non-State) accredited institutions. In public institutions students must pass competitive exams to be admitted. Those few who achieve outstanding results are awarded scholarships.
Approximately 1/3rd of students pay for their studies. At Moscow State University 3,400 students study on scholarships while another 1,000 pay tuition. In most non-public establishments all students pay tuition fees without receiving any financial help.
Higher education in Russia consists of 3 levels: incomplete (2 years); basic (4 years) and postgraduate (at least 5-6 years).
Incomplete Higher Education
The first stage of Russian university studies consists of at least 2 years in a higher education study programme. The Diplom O Nepolnom Vysshem Obrazovanii (Diploma of Incomplete Higher Education) gives students the right to get jobs that require some training but not a degree.
Basic Higher Education
A Bakalavr's degree is equivalent to the Bachelors degree in the US or Western Europe. The programme usually takes 5 years of full-time studying. In medicine, the first stage lasts for 6 years.
The State Educational Standards regulate nearly 80% of curriculum content. The universities are responsible for the other 20%. The programmes cover disciplines in the sciences, humanities and socio-economics.
The Bakalavr's degree is awarded in all fields (except Medicine) after carrying out a final research project under the guidance of a supervisor and sitting for final state exams.
Postgraduate Higher Education
Those who hold a Bakalavr's or have completed 5-6 years of continuous study beyond the high school diploma can enter the Magistr's degree programme. This Specialist Programme is equivalent to a Master’s Degree in the US or Western Europe.
To obtain the Magistr's degree students must carry out a year of research with the objective of preparing and defending a thesis.
Those who hold a Specialist Diploma or a Magistr's can access the Aspirantura (postgraduate education period) by passing an exam. The studies in Aspirantura last for 3 years, at the end of which students must pass qualifying exams.
The Kandidat Nauk is equivalent to a PhD in the US or Western Europe. Students must carry out independent research and prepare to defend their dissertation in public.
The highest degree in Russia is Doctor Nauk, equivalent to Professor. This programme is specific and does not have a fixed duration. It follows the Kandidat Nauk and is awarded after preparation and public defence of a dissertation.