Latvian Education System
Primary and lower secondary education is being organized in a single structure system (pamatizglītība or basic education). Education starts at the age of 7 and consisting of nine years of compulsory schooling. Basic education ends after grade 9 with a final examination.
Upper secondary education (vidējā izglītība) begins at the age of 16 and ends at the age of 19, and is provided in general and vocational pathways by vidusskola, ģimnāzija and profesionālās izglītības iestāde. Although upper-secondary education is not compulsory, the proportion of population with completed upper secondary education is still high and above the OECD average.
Admission to Higher Education
Admission to higher education is decentralized, and organized at institutional level. The results of the national final examination for secondary education is basis for admission.
Higher education institutions may formulate further admission requirements, in the form of examinations, interviews or aptitude tests. The Atestāts par vispārējo vidējo izglītību (comprehensive general secondary education certificate) and Diploms par profesionālo vidējo izglītību basically grants access to all forms of higher education.
Higher education in Latvia is being offered on academic and professional/polytechnic level. The majority of the Latvian institutions offer both degrees.
- Academic education focusing on research skills, while providing a theoretical background for their career. Programs lead to a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree.
- Professional – polytechnic/vocational education focusing on hands on experience is a particular field, often containing internships as part of the curriculum.
The Latvian higher education system is a part of the Bologna process, and follows the 3-cycle system:
- 1st cycle includes short cycle programs and academic or professional Bachelor’s degree programs
- 2nd cycle includes academic or professional Master’s degree programs
- 3rd cycle includes Doctor’s degree programs
Bachelor’s programs at Universitāte, Akadēmija, Augstskola en Institūts have a duration of 6 to 8 semesters (120-160 Latvian credits: 1 Latvian credit corresponds with 1.5 ECTS). Upon completion students obtain a Bakalaura Diploms degree
Master programs have an average duration of 1 to 2 years. Upon completion, students obtain a Mağistra Diploms degree.
Most PhD programs have a duration of 3 to 4 years. The doctorate degree program leads to the award of the Doktora grāds.