Basic Information about Latvia
Latvia is comparatively small country in North-eastern Europe, on the east coast of the Baltic Sea and is bound by Belarus, Estonia, Lithuania and Russia. It is situated on a trade crossroads and has long since served as a bridge between Western Europe and Russia. Nearly one third of the 2.3 million people population live in Riga, the capital of the country. The landscape of the country is marked by lowland plains and rolling hills. It has an extensive network of rivers, thousands of lakes and hundreds of kilometres of undeveloped seashore lined by pine forests, dunes, and continuous white sand beaches. The official language is Latvian. The most widely used foreign languages in the country are English, Russian and German.
The Higher Education in Latvia
The Latvian educational system comprises pre-school education, 9-year basic education, upper-secondary education and higher education. Formal post-secondary non-tertiary education in Latvia is classified within the secondary education level
In Latvia there is a difference between academic and professional higher education
, nevertheless, it is not institutionalised. Universities and other higher education institutions run both academic and professional programmes, e.g. lawyer, teacher, translator, marine mechanic etc. Bachelor’s (bakalaurs) and master’s (maģistrs) degrees are awarded in both academic and professional higher education programmes. A master’s degree is awarded after the second stage of academic/professional education (post-graduate studies) and requires a total of at least 5 years of university studies. Graduates of both types of bachelor’s degree have access to master’s studies, graduates of the master’s degree – to doctoral studies.
Latvia is using a national credit point system
in higher education. One Latvian national credit point is defined as a one-week full-time study workload. The average full-time workload of an academic year in most higher education programmes is 40 credits. The Latvian credit point system is compatible with ECTS
. The number of ECTS credits is found by multiplying the number of Latvian credit points by a factor of 1.5.
The objectives of academic higher education
are to prepare graduates for independent research, as well as to provide theoretical background for professional activities. Academic education programmes are implemented according to the national standard of academic education.
Academic programmes leading to a bachelor’s degree
comprise 120 – 160 national credit points (160-180 ECTS), including:
- compulsory subjects – not less than 50 national credit points (75 ECTS);
- electives not less than 20 national credit points (30 ECTS);
- thesis not less than 10 national credit points (15 ECTS);
- the remainder is left for students as free choice.
The duration of full-time studies is 6 – 8 semesters (3-4 years).
Academic programmes leading to a master degree
comprise 80 national credit points (120 ECTS), of which:
- the thesis is not less than 20 national credit points (30 ECTS)
- the compulsory part of the programme includes theoretical aspects of the specific field of scientific discipline – not less than 30 national credit points (45 ECTS)
- and the practical application of theory in solving actual problems – not less than 15 national credit points (22,5 ECTS).
The duration of full-time studies is 4 semesters (2 years) and requires at least 5 years total length of bachelor and master studies.
The objectives of professional higher education
are to provide in-depth knowledge in a particular field, preparing graduates for design or improvement of systems, products and technologies, as well as to prepare them for creative, research and teaching activities in this field.
Professional programmes leading to a professional bachelor’s degree
comprise at least 160 national credit points (240 ECTS) of which:
- general courses – not less than 20 national credit points (30 ECTS),
- theoretical courses of the chosen field – not less than 36 national credit points (54 ECTS),
- specialized courses – not less than 60 national credit points (90 ECTS),
- optional courses – not less 6 national credit points (9 ECTS),
- practical placement – not less than 26 national credit points (39 ECTS),
- and state examinations including thesis – not less than 12 national credit points (18 ECTS).
The duration of full-time studies is 8 semesters (4 years).
Professional higher education programmes leading to a professional master’s degree
comprise no less than 40 (60 ECTS) credits, of which:
- up-to-date achievements in the field – in theory and in practice ≥7 (10,5 ECTS) credits,
- practical placements ≥6 (9 ECTS) credits,
- state examinations including thesis ≥20 (30 ECTS) credit
- research training, courses of design, management, psychology etc.
Duration of full-time studies is 2-4 semesters (1-2 years).
Studies in medicine, dentistry and pharmacy professional studies
(5 and 6 year studies), are equal to the master’s degree and graduates of these programmes can continue their studies in doctoral level programmes.
First-level professional higher education (college) programmes
comprise 80-120 national credit points (120-180 ECTS) credits. These programmes are targeted mainly to the labour market. Graduates of the first-level programmes can continue their studies in related second-level professional programmes or professional bachelor programmes.
Second-level professional higher education programmes
can comprise either at least 40 national credit points (60 ECTS) for holders of the bachelor’s degree or at least 160 national credit points (240 ECTS) for secondary school leavers. In both cases programmes should include a practical placement of at least 26 national credit points (39 ECTS) and graduation examinations including thesis of not less than 10 national credit points(15 ECTS).
The degree of master or equivalent is required for admission to doctoral studies
. A doctoral degree is awarded after public defence of a doctoral thesis and successfully passed exams in the chosen scientific discipline. The doctoral thesis has to include results of original research and new insights in the scientific discipline. The duration of doctoral studies is 3-4 years.
The system of higher education is binary. Most universities and other institutions of higher education offer both academic and professional programs. Academic higher education programs are based on fundamental and/or applied science; they lead to a Bachelors degree and Masters degree. A Bachelor’s degree is awarded after three or four years of study. The Bachelors degree is considered a complete academic qualification. A Master’s degree is obtained on successful completion of a second phase of academic higher education, lasting one or two years. Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees are not awarded in medicine or dentistry, but a degree in medicine or dentistry is equated to a master’s degree. Doctoral programmes have length of 3 to 4 years at different institutions.
There are six universities and a number of other higher educational institutions in Latvia. All the universities and 32 other institutions (including 18 colleges) are state-run. In addition, there are 22 private institutions (including eight colleges), all of which are state-recognized. All the recognized institutions enjoy autonomy.
The cost of studies depends on the institution and the programme being followed. The range is from 1000 EUR per year in Teacher training programme (4 years of studies) to 10,000 EUR per year for a Dental Surgeon’s degree (5 years) to 24,000 EUR for Executive Master of Business Administration studies. Contact us for more detailed information on tuition fees.
The Latvian higher education system is open to international students. The Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Latvia offers scholarships to students and teaching staff of several countries for studies and research work in state higher education institutions, as well as for participation in summer schools. The eligible countries whose citizens can apply for the Latvian scholarship are the following: Azerbaijan, Czech Republic, Greece, Belgium (Flanders Community and Belgian French Community), China, Estonia, Israel, Lithuania, Moldova, Mongolia, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Slovenia, and Hungary. At present no scholarships are available for Indian students, but enrolment in the Latvian higher education system is possible and also Please contact us for availing tuition fee waiver for all level study programs in Latvia.