information for global expats

Universities for Expats in Russia

Submitted: December 2013

Russia boasts of having more than 880 higher education institutions which offer a wide range of study and research programmes designed to meet varied academic needs.

In Russia, higher education is within the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education and Science. Higher education is provided by state and non-state higher education institutions. Approximately half of the State higher education institution students pay for their studies whereas students in non-state higher education institutions all pay tuition fees.

Higher education in Russia is traditionally divided into four levels:

  1. Incomplete higher education (2 years at least) leading to the Diplom O Nepolnom Vysshem Obrazivanii (Diploma of Incomplete Higher Education).
  2. 4-year programs leading to the Bakalavr degree. This degree is awarded in all fields except for Medicine. It is equivalent to a Bachelor’s degree.
  3. Postgraduate studies of 1-2 years of full time studies leading to the Specialist Diploma or the Magistr degree. The Specialist Diploma is a professional qualification that allows a holder to enter professional practice in their field or seek admission to doctoral programs.
  4. Scientific degrees (Aspirantura programs) leading to Kandidat Nauk (Candidate of Science - equivalent to a PhD), lasts 3 years and requires the Specialist Diploma /Magistr for admission. It is very competitive and the enrollment process trains the candidate for research and teaching activities.


In Russia, a student is allowed to apply to only one university at a time. Applicants are expected to have an educational level equivalent to the complete secondary education in Russia. Applications must be submitted by 15 May of the year in which the applicants wish to begin their studies.   

The admission to higher education establishments is highly competitive. Prospective students will be required to take an entrance exam, produce their school certificates, as well as undergo interviews. Admission into any particular university will depend on the marks obtained in the entrance examinations as well as the number of places available. Further, foreign students will be required to attend a preparatory course if they are seeking admission to a university which is free of charge.

Alternatively, it is possible to apply to a university as a fee-paying student. There tends to be less competition for these places. Tuition fees will ultimately vary from one institution to another. Fee-paying students are responsible for their own costs and should be prepared to pay between USD 3,000 and 10,000 per annum for rent, medical care and all expenditure related to education, depending on their institution and choice of degree-programme. 


If you were educated abroad, then moved to Russia and wish to attend a university there, your documents on education when brought to Russia should undergo the procedure of recognition, known as nostrification. This is merely a form of legalization of educational qualifications attained abroad.

The decision on recognition is made by the Federal Education and Science Supervision Service (also called ‘Rosobrnadzor’). For more information on this see: https://en.russia.edu.ru/edu/inostr/prizn/refer/

NB – visit: https://en.russia.edu.ru/faq/4880/   for Frequently Asked Questions on Foreign Qualifications.


  • The main language of instruction is Russian, although universities also offer some English courses.   
  • The academic year typically lasts ten months, generally from 1 September to 23 June and it is divided into 2 semesters
  • See: https://en.russia.edu.ru/idbv/ - for a comprehensive database of all universities and higher education establishments in Russia
  • Also, see: https://www.scholarshipportal.eu/students/search-results/?q=fo-30|to-22||25509af0, for available scholarships for foreign students who wish to study in Russia   



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