Russian System of Education

Russia in the Bologna Process


Russian Academic Year and Grading System

Doctoral Studies


Russia in the Bologna Process

Russia officially joined the Bologna process in the autumn 2003.

Within these years Russian system of education was gradually moving to the main Bologna goals, especially crucial for country’s involvement into the European Higher Education Area.



Specialist  was a traditional degree for Russian system of higher education (it was used since USSR times).

Specialist  degree required 5 years of full studies and in this term is equal to initial European versions of the bachelor-master system «3+2» or «4+1». As a result, the graduate of a Russian higher education establishment with a Specialist degree is equal to European Master degree (see: Mutual Recognition of Qualifications: the Russian Federation and the Other European Countries. – UNESCO. – Bucharest, CEPES, 1997).

Since January 1st, 2011, all Russian universities officially shifted to the bachelor-master system of higher education. Practically first country-wide enrollments within this system were made on September 1st, 2011. Russian universities got the right to award Bachelor and Master degrees since 1992 but only few implemented this approach.Thus, the two main degrees for students now are Bachelor and Master.


Since 2011 Specialist degree is kept only for some special fields of studies (public service, medicine and some others); Specialist Diploma will be also awarded to those students who entered universities before 2011.

Bachelor  degree in Russia takes 4 years of full-time studies (240 ECTS).

Master  degree requires 2 years of full-time studies (120 ECTS).

According to Russian Law a student get be enrolled on Master’s program only if he/she holds a corresponding bachelor degree or qualification of Specialist.

Thus now former Russian university students can have at least one of the following diplomas: Diploma of Specialist; Diploma of Bachelor; Diploma of Master.


Russian Academic Year and Grading System

Academic year in Russia consists of 2 semesters:

  • autumn (winter) semester – from 1st  September till end of January;
  • spring (summer) semester – from mid of February till beginning of July.

Each semester ends with one assessment week during which students take course tests and present assignment work and defend course projects.

Assessment week is followed by the exam session: two or three week period for examinations and completion of final assessments.

Duration of studies

Unit measure / comments


Study workload academicheskie chasy (academic hours (AH)) 1 AH =

45 minutes

1 ECTS = 36 AH (or 27 astronomic hours)

Standard lesson 2 AH =

1h 30min

One week of full-study ≈ ½ for university workload and ≈ ½ for self-workload 54 AH or 1,5 ECTS
Semester 1080 AH or 30 ECTS

Grading system for bachelor and master students in Russia since 2011

Old Russian grading system (is to be out of use)

New Russian grading in 100 points system

(since 2011)

ECTS Grading System

“5” or excellent



“4” or good



“3” or satisfactory







“2” or unsatisfactory/failed






Doctoral studies

Even though Russian universities have fully accepted the Bologna three-tier system, as in many European countries there are still national peculiarities for the third cycle qualification.

Degrees in the third cycle qualification

Russian academic degrees in the third cycle qualification are presented in two levels:

  • Kandidat Nauk degree and
  • Doktor Nauk degree.

This system is true for all fields of studies with no exception (social, humanities, medical, engineering, natural sciences, etc.)

Kandidat Nauk degree (Candidate of Science) is the first level of the third cycle qualification, and can be regarded as an equivalent to Ph.D. Prerequisite for obtaining a Kandidat Nauk degree is holding a Specialist or Master degree (for more details about these degrees see Russian System of Higher Education). Duration of full time studies – 3 years.

Doktor Nauk degree (Doctor of Science) is the second, highest level of the third cycle qualification. Prerequisite for Doctor Nauk degree is holding of Kandidat Nauk degree. Duration of studies has no strict limitations.

The degree is awarded in a specified field of science which is included into the degree title (e.g. Candidate of Science in Economics, Doctor of Science in Medicine, etc.).

Degrees conferment system in the third cycle qualification.

Kandidat Nauk degree and Doktor Nauk are conferred after thesis defense. 

Thesis is to be defended at the Dissertation Council at university (Dissertation Council is a special body, accredited by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation). The Council decides whether the degree is to be conferred on the candidate but this decision must be approved by the Higher Attestation Commission of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation (it checks the thesis, defense verbatim, and other documents).