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Home / Education in Russia / Educational programmes / Higher professional training programs / Introduction /


Akimov Yu.P.

Since 1992, Russian higher education has had a multi-level structure, and higher education institutions may confer the following degrees and diplomas:

The term, multi-level, indicates that degrees now may be obtained at three levels instead of at only one level, as in the former Soviet Union. In addition to the traditional Specialist Diploma, an Intermediate Diploma, a Bakalavr Diploma, and a Magistr Diploma were introduced after the changes in the early 1990's and are modeled on the Anglo-Saxon system of Bachelor's and Master's Degrees. The Magistr is based upon and comes after the Bakalavr.

In order to establish the relationship between these qualifications in the future, the Government of the Russian Federation adopted the State Educational Standard of Higher Professional Education of 12 August 1994. It designates three levels of studies:

Level 1 comprises the first two years of studies for the Bakalavr or Specialist Diplomas and is concentrated on compulsory fundamental courses in the given speciality. After this period, students may either continue their studies or, if they do not want to do so, leave the institution with an Intermediate Diploma;

Level 2 is the continuation of studies for the Bakalavr degree the duration of which is at least another two years. It leads to the four-year Bakalavr degree;

Level 3 represents an educational level common both to the Magistr Diploma and to the Specialist Diploma.

Magistr degree programmes are based on Bakalavr degree programmes, while Specialist Diploma programmes are not.

The Intermediate Diploma

The first function of the Intermediate Diploma (Diplom o nepolnom vysshem obrazovanii) awarded after at least two years of studies for the Bakalavr or Specialist Diplomas, is to certify that the student has successfully finished the first two years of basic higher education in a particular field of study.

This Diploma is conferred in all fields of study. Courses follow a curriculum that imparts the fundamental contents of the education offered in the appropriate field of study. The Diploma is not a degree; it is only an intermediate qualification. However, the Diploma gives its holder the right to exercise a professional activity in accordance with the level of education it represents. The Diploma is issued at the request of the student. The Diploma supplement lists the results of the normal examinations taken during the first two years of study. The Intermediate Diploma is called upon to facilitate mobility among the different types of higher education institutions.

The Bakalavr Degree

The Bakalavr degree is conferred after at least a four-year course of study. Bakalavr programmes can cover all disciplines except medicine. The function of the Bakalavr degree is to provide a more academically rather than professionally oriented education. The Bakalavr degree is a prerequisite for admission to Magistr studies.

The defense of the thesis Bakalavr programmes reflects the State educational standard regarding the state requirements for the compulsory minimum of the content of education for the Bakalavr degree in the appropriate field of study. In the meantime, the State Committee for Higher Education has published for the Bakalavr degree the State Educational Standard of Higher Professional Education, Moscow, 1995, that describes the structure, aims, and contents of education. Each Bakalavr programme contains a defined portion of fundamental education with courses taken from the humanities, the social sciences and economics, and the natural sciences. The continuing stages provide basic professional and specialized education as well as field work relating to professional training.

Examinations must be taken and passed at the end of each semester. The State final attestation includes the defense of a thesis prepared over a period of four months and State final examinations. Following a successful attestation, a State Diploma is issued attesting conferral of the Bakalavr degree. The supplement to the Diploma includes the list of disciplines taught during the period of education, the number of hours, the grades, the practical training, and the results obtained on the final state examinations and in the defense of the thesis or project.

The Specialist Diploma

The traditional qualification of Specialist Diploma has two functions. It opens access to professional practice (e.g., to engineers, teachers, chemists, etc.), and it is also the traditional prerequisite for admission to doctoral studies. The qualification of Specialist Diploma is conferred after studies lasting five to six years. The diploma is awarded in all fields of study (specialities).

Students are required to take and to pass examinations at the end of each semester. The State final attestation for a Specialist Diploma covers the defense of a project or a thesis and State final examinations. The procedure for the State final attestation and for the award of the Diploma as well as the content of the supplement to the Diploma are the same as for the Bakalavr degree.

The Magistr Degree

A Magistr programme is at least a two-year course programme centred more around research activities than the Specialist Diploma. The license to conduct Magistr studies is granted by the Ministry for General and Professional Education only to those higher education institutions that are accredited and possess adequate academic staff and facilities.

The State educational standard defines only general requirements for Magistr educational programmes and not the requirements regarding the content of education. Higher education establishments in Russia interested in introducing Magistr degree programmes are free to make their own decisions regarding the contents of programmes. The recommendations prepared by the teaching and methodological associations of higher education institutions are taken into consideration.

Access to Magistr studies is open to the holders of the Bakalavr degree. For the holders of the Bakalavr degree wishing to pursue a Magistr programme in the same field of study (speciality), the higher education institutions themselves set up admission procedures (examinations, interviews, etc.). Those holders of the Bakalavr degree wishing to pursue the Magistr programme in another field of study (speciality) must pass an additional test which reflects the requirements for the Bakalavr programme in the speciality corresponding to the chosen Magistr programme.

The university level higher education curriculum stipulates thirty-six weeks of study a year. Depending on the field of study (speciality), the proportions of mandatory and optional courses in a curriculum are around the following: mandatory courses: 80 to 85 percent; optional courses: 15 to 20 percent. The total workload of a student should not exceed fifty-four hours a week including classwork and independent studies. A student's total workload of classwork is, on average, twenty-seven hours a week (for the Magistr programme, fourteen hours a week). For part-time (evening) education, classwork should not be less than ten hours a week. In the case of correspondence education, students are offered the possibility of having no less than 160 hours a year of contact classes. The academic year begins on 1 September and ends at the beginning of June.

University level higher education diplomas (the Bakalavr Diploma, the Specialist Diploma, and the Magistr Diploma) give their holders the right to exercise professional activities in accordance with the qualifications indicated on the diplomas. Specialist and Magistr Diplomas entitle their holders to be admitted to doctoral study programmes.

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