Skip Navigation

The Education System in the Russian Federation

Figure A-14. Levels of education in the Russian Federation, by age and year of schooling: 2013

Levels of education in the Russian Federation, by age and year of schooling: 2013

NOTE: Education levels are defined according to the 1997 International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED97). Ages represent the typical age at the beginning of the school year (rounded up as necessary). Numbers in bold print indicate ages of universal enrollment (i.e., an enrollment rate of over 90 percent). Numbers highlighted represent the age at which compulsory enrollment begins through the age at which compulsory enrollment ends. No meaning should be inferred from width of subdivisions. Duration of first university degree program is generally 4 years in the Russian Federation.
SOURCE: Miller, D.C. and Warren L.K. (2011). Comparative Indicators of Education in the United States and Other G-8 Countries: 2011 (NCES 2012-007). U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.


  • Common name: Doshkolnoe obrazovanie
  • Ages of attendance: As early as age 3 to age 6 ½
  • Number of years: 1 to 4
  • Start of universal enrollment: Does not begin in preprimary; see below
  • Compulsory: No


  • Common name: Nachal'noje obshchee obrazovanie
  • Ages of attendance: 6 to 10
  • Number of years: 4
  • Start of universal enrollment: Age 6 ½7
  • Compulsory: Yes, begins at age 6 ½8

NOTE: There are no formal divisions between primary, lower secondary, and upper secondary schools in the Russian Federation, and they are generally located in the same buildings, except in rural areas.

Lower secondary:

  • Common name: Osnovnoe obshchee obrazovanie (basic school)
  • Ages of attendance: 11 to 15 (most students turn 15 during the last year of lower secondary school)
  • Number of years: 5
  • Universal enrollment: Yes
  • Compulsory: Yes
  • Entrance/exit criteria: In order to graduate from basic school, students must pass four written examinations: one in Russian language, one in mathematics, and two in other subjects chosen by the student.

NOTE: Basic general education includes primary and lower secondary school. Graduates of lower secondary school may either continue their education at upper secondary school to receive a secondary complete general education, go to vocational schools to receive professional training, or go to secondary vocational schools to receive a combination of academic and vocational education.

Upper secondary:

  • Common name: Professional'no-technicheskoe uchilische; kolledž,professional'nylitsei,or technikum; srednee (polnoe) obshchee obrasovanie
  • Ages of attendance: 16 to 17 for secondary general school, and 16 to 19 for vocational schools
  • Number of years: Varies  according to the type of school: 2 (for secondary general school), 2 to 4 (for vocational schools)
  • Universal enrollment: No
  • Compulsory: Yes, through age 179
  • Entrance/exit criteria: Students in the Russian Federation must pass two written exams at the end of secondary school in  order  to obtain the Certificate of Secondary Complete General Education. These exams include Russian language and  mathematics and are administered in the form of the Unified State Examination

NOTE:  Students who have graduated from lower secondary school have the option to continue in three types of upper secondary schools:

  • Professional'no-technicheskoe uchilische:  These schools provide professional education in a program that usually lasts
    2 years.
  • Srednee (polnoe) obshchee obrasovanie:  Students who wish to continue their academic education enter these upper secondary schools. The program lasts for 2 years, and students receive a Certificate of Secondary Complete General Education, which qualifies them to  apply for entrance into higher education. Graduates may also continue their study in initial and secondary vocational schools.
  • Kolledž, professional'ny  litsei, or technikum: These schools provide combined professional and academic programs that lead to a diploma (Certificate of Secondary Complete General Education). The programs are usually 3 or 4 years.

Postsecondary and  tertiary:

  • Common name: Kolledž, technikumuniversitet
  • Ages of attendance: Varies
  • Number of years: Varies according to degree
  • Universal enrollment: No
  • Entrance criteria: Candidates are accepted into postsecondary vocational institutions on the basis of the results of the Unified State Examinations or additional examinations called vstupitelnoe ispytanie. The number of exams and the subjects vary according to the department a student wishes to attend, although all students must take an exam in Russian language.

Common degree programs:

  • Nonuniversity-level diploma: Obtained  from kolledž (colleges) and technikum (technical colleges). These  diplomas are in applied  or vocational fields and require 2 years of study after  secondary school. Students may be able to  enter university-level institutions after completing this degree and transfer some or all credits toward a bakalavr.
  • Diploma  o  nepolnom  vysshem obrazovanii  (diploma  of
    incomplete  higher  education):  If students leave university after  at  least 2 years of study,  they may ask for this diploma, which allows them to work in jobs that require some university experience, but not a degree.
  • Bakalavr (bachelor's  degree):  Program requiring 4 years of university study.
  • Magistr (master's  degree): Competitive  2-year programs for students who have completed their bakalavr degree. Most require a year of research and a thesis.
  • Diplom:  This  specialized diploma can be obtained either by completing 1 year of study beyond the bakalavr or by completing 5 to 6 years of continuous study after upper secondary school.
  • Kandidat  nauk:  Students who hold a diplom or magistr are eligible to apply for these programs, which typically last for
    3 years and require students to carry out independent research and defend a dissertation in public. Equivalent of a doctorate in the United States.
  • Doktor nauk: This is the highest possible academic degree in the Russian Federation, and there is no U.S. equivalent. This degree  requires that  a kandidat nauk become known in his or her field of study, publish independent research, and have experience  supervising undergraduates. A  3-year sabbatical is often taken to prepare research for the degree, although there is no specified length of time required to obtain it. The doktor nauk requires  a public dissertation defense (in addition to the defense completed to obtain a kandidat nauk).


EuroEducation Net. (2006). Education Systems in Europe: Russia.
London: EuroEducation.  Retrieved March 26, 2013, from

Marlow-Ferguson, R. (Ed.). (2002).  World Education Encyclopedia: A Survey of Educational  Systems Worldwide,  Vol. 2 (2nd  ed.). Farmington  Hills, MI: Gale Group.

Mullis, I.V.S.,  Martin, M.O.,  Minnich, C.A.,  Stanco, G.M., Arora, A., Centurino,  V.A.S., and Castle, C.E. (Eds.). (2012).  TIMSS2011 Encyclopedia. Education Policy and Curriculum in Mathematics and Science (Vols. 1–2). Chestnut Hill, MA: Boston  College.

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. (1996).
Education at a Glance 1996: OECD Indicators. Paris: Author.

Robitaille,  D.F. (1997).  National  Contexts for Mathematics  and Science Education: An Encyclopedia of the Education  Systems Participating in TIMSS. Vancouver, Canada: Pacific Educational Press.


7 This is rounded up to 7 in the accompanying figure A-14, which is in concert with the data presented in Indicator 2.
8 This is rounded up to 7 in the accompanying figure A-14, which is in concert with the data presented in Indicator 2.
9 In the Russian Federation, general secondary education (including lower and upper secondary) is compulsory through age 17, per the review of the country expert. This will differ from the 2011 data presented in Indicator 2, which indicates the end of compulsory education is age 17 (i.e., through age 16).