Structure of Russian Education
The system of higher and secondary education in Russia has been going through a transitional period since 1992. The reforms have sought to strengthen consolidation of academia in Russia, to modernize the degree structure in line with Bologna Process, to give more academic freedom to faculties and students, and to develop a new financial mechanism. All secondary schools, institutes and universities, until recently, have been funded by the state. There are now many private fee-paying primary and secondary schools, and more and more universities have fee-paying departments.
Education in the Russian Federation is provided predominantly by the state and is regulated by the Ministry of Education and Science.
Russia has an 11-grade system of secondary education, which is separated into elementary (grades 1-4), middle (grades 5-9) and senior (grades 10-11) classes. The school year extends from September 1 to the end of May and is divided into four terms or two semesters, depending on the school. The eleven-year secondary education has been compulsory since September 1, 2007. After finishing the 11th grade, students must pass the EGE (Unified State Examination) and are then awarded a Certificate of Complete Secondary Education (ATTESTAT) in June.
Higher education in the Russian Federation is provided at universities, academies, and institutes. Broadly speaking universities can be divided into “classical,” “pedagogical,” and “technical” classifications with special attention being paid respectively to social sciences and humanities; pedagogy; and natural, fundamental and applied (engineering) sciences.
Because the transitional period is still ongoing, some institutions of higher education offer degrees modeled on the “old” Soviet system (Specialist), some offer only new ones (Bachelor's and Master's), while others have both. Different departments of the same educational establishment can also offer different degrees representing these two systems.
- Bakalavr (Bachelor's) degree: Programs last for at least 4 years of full-time university-level study. The programs include professional and special courses in science, the humanities and socioeconomic disciplines, professional training, completion of a final research paper/project and sitting for State final exams. Having obtained the Bachelor's degree, students may apply to enter Master's programs or continue their studies in the framework of the Specialist Diploma programs. The Bachelor's degree is awarded in all fields after defending a diploma project and passing final exams.
- Magistr (Master’s degree), Specialist Diploma: Holders of the Bachelor's degree can be admitted to Specialist and Master's programs. Access to these programs is competitive. The Master's degree is awarded after the successful completion of two years of full-time studies. Students must complete advanced studies, prepare and defend a thesis and pass final examinations. The Specialist Diploma can be earned in two ways: upon completion of at least 1 year's study after the Bachelor's program or upon completion of five to six years of continuous study beyond the Attestat o Srednem (Polnom) Obshchem Obrazovanii (Certificate of Complete General Education). The Specialist Diploma is a professional qualification that gives the right to exercise professional activities and to apply for doctoral programs. It is conferred after one has completed advanced studies, prepared and defended a thesis and passed final examinations.
- ASPIRANTURA – There are two successive postgraduate degrees: Kandidat Nauk (Candidate of Science) and Doctor Nauk (Doctor of Science). Access to the Aspirantura is competitive. Applicants must hold a Specialist Diploma or a Master's degree. Studies last for 3 years. The Aspirantura programs train for research and teaching activities. Students must learn research and teaching methods, Information and communication technology, and pass qualifying (Kandidat Nauk) exams in certain fields of study. After carrying out independent research and preparing and defending a dissertation, they are awarded the Kandidat Nauk scientific degree. The duration of the Doctor Nauk program is not fixed and can last from 5 to 15 years. The Doctor Nauk scientific degree is awarded after a public dissertation defense. It does not always have an equivalent in other countries.