Education structure of Russia

Category: Study Destinations
Posted on September 27, 2019

Russia has the best mass-education systems in the world, which produces a literacy rate of 98%, that is higher than most Western European countries. The education system covers primary education and higher education, which is compulsory in Russia for children in the age group of six and fifteen.

There are :

  • Public Schools
  • Private Schools
  • International Schools

Apart from the regular state schools, there are specialist gymnasium and lyceum schools which may be partially funded by the government or private. These schools will have a more advanced curriculum, and the standard length of the education program will be longer than in the regular state schools.

Schools decide on the curriculum that best features the basic syllabus set out by the government. It includes Russian literature, science, social sciences, maths, and physical education. Higher class students will have some practical disciplines such as:

  • Carpentry
  • Sewing
  • Classes that focus on vocational training
  • Courses that focus on business studies

The primary and secondary school will have a total of eleven years of research and follows the core curriculum of academic subjects. Pupils get the Certificate of Secondary Complete General Education which is locally known as Attestat o Srednem (Polnom) Obshchem Obrazovanii.

Many Children choose to enter a vocational school or non-university institutes that offer programs of academic subjects and training in a technical field. Non-university institutes were called technikum in the past, which is now known as colleges.

The Russian school have four terms with vacations in between, like

  • One week in November
  • Two weeks in January
  • One week in March
  • Three months in summer 

School starts from September until the final week of May and term exams in June.

There are mandatory subjects such as:

  • Russian literature
  • Russian language
  • Russian history
  • World history
  • Maths
  • Sciences


Pre-school in Russia is not compulsory, but most of the kids go to playschools before they enter the primary level of education.

Children who are in the age group three and six years old get a place in preschools. It is important to note that the privately operated preschools are not free. The central government does not regulate preschools like the other levels of education.


Primary School

This stage is the beginning of the necessary level of education. Children start compulsory education at the age of six in Russia. This mandatory education lasts for 11 years, which is known as Basic General Education. The primary stage of schooling is provided free of charge by the Russian government.

Primary school spans for four grades with a broad curriculum that covers the:

  • Basic skills
  • Physical education
  • Languages.

Every school covers the core areas of subjects, but few individual institutions add their topics to make up the full timetable. These schools develop a specialism in specific subject areas, covering subjects according to the region but might not have the core content.


Secondary School

Secondary education splits into two sections in Russia, where the first five years are mandatory for everyone. The Basic General Education at the end, where all the students must sit for national exams. National examination results determine whether or not students should stay on at school to pursue further studies. Alternatively, to get a job or start a vocational training course.

Higher Education

After completing senior secondary school education, many students go on to higher education. For this, aspiring students have to appear a competitive exam. The higher education programs in Russia usually offer five years of study for undergraduates in several fields.

Different types of higher education institutions in Russia are:

  • Universitet (University)
  • Academia (Academy)
  • Institut (Institute)
  • Technicheskiy Universitet (Technical University)
  • Konservatoria (Conservatory)

The first three types of higher education institutions, i.e., Universities, academies, and institutes, have similar functions. Whereas technical universities have specialized instruction such as:

  • Learning a skill
  • Conservatories that offers music lessons

Public and non-public accredited institutions provide higher education, where the students of public institutions should pass competitive exams to get a place. Students who achieve outstanding results get scholarships and positions in top Universities.

Higher education in Russia comprises of 3 levels:

  1. Incomplete (2 years)
  2. Basic (4 years)
  3. Postgraduate (5-6 years)

Incomplete Higher Education

The first stage of Russian university studies run for two years in a higher education study program. On completion of the Diploma of Incomplete Higher Education or (The Diplom O Nepolnom Vysshem Obrazovanii), gives students the right to get jobs without having a degree but require some training.

Basic Higher Education

Basic higher education known as a Bakalavr's degree is equivalent to the Bachelor's degree. This full-time program usually takes five years to complete. In Medicine, the first stage lasts for six years.

A Bakalavr's degree is awarded in all fields (except Medicine) after the final research project is over. Students do the research work under the guidance of a supervisor and later appear for final state exams.

Postgraduate Higher Education

A Bakalavr's degree holder or those who have completed five to six years of continuous study beyond the high school diploma can carry out the Magistr's degree program. This program is equivalent to a Master's Degree after carrying out a year of research to prepare and defend a thesis.

What is a Kandidat Nauk?

One who holds a Specialist Diploma or a Magistr's can access the postgraduate education period by passing an exam. This diploma is known as Aspirantura, study that lasts for three years, and towards the end, students must pass a qualifying exam.

The Kandidat Nauk is equivalent to a Ph.D. program where students work on independent research work and prepare to defend their dissertation in public. It is the highest degree in Russia which does not have a fixed duration.


Grading System

  • A   Excellent
  • B   Very Good
  • C   Good
  • D Satisfactory
  • E Sufficient
  • FX Fail
  • F Fail


Some of the top Universities of Russia:

  • Moscow State Institute of International Relations – MGIMO University
  • Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU)
  • National Research University - Higher School of Economics (HSE)
  • Bauman Moscow State Technical University (BMSTU)
  • National Research Nuclear University "MEPhI" (Moscow Engineering Physics Institute)
  • Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology
  • Tomsk State University (TSU)
  • Novosibirsk State University
  • Saint-Petersburg State University
  • Lomonosov Moscow State University

We hope that the information provided will be useful and helpful to equip with the necessary skills and knowledge to move up in your career. All the Best.

Bhumika Sharma
Bhumika Sharma

Bhumika has more than 4 years of experience as a software engineer. Having done MCA from Dayananda sagar Institutions, Bangalore and BCA from Sikkim Manipal University, Sikkim, she found her calling as the head researcher at PlanAll. In her free time, her 5 year old daughter, Mishka, keeps her busy and happy.

Arya Pal
October 02, 2019 - 13:15pm
Arya Pal October 02, 2019 - 13:15pm

Really nice. Thanks for sharing.

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