The Latvian Study Abroad Market

In this market report on Latvia we will cover socio-economic, educational and mobility trends. Latvia is one of 3 Baltic States. It regained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, joined the European Union and NATO in 2004, and joined the Eurozone in 2014.

Latvia is a small, open economy depending largely on exports. Due to its geographical location, transit services are highly-developed, along with timber and wood-processing, agriculture and food products, and manufacturing of machinery and electronics industries.

Latvia has an open society with many ethnic groups of which the Russian minority is the largest one. To facilitate the internationalization of higher education Latvia has started a scholarship program to attract foreign talent. This program contributes to the nation’s 2030 education goals which stipulates that 10% of the student body must be made up of international students.

The Latvian scholarship program offers scholarships to students, researchers and teaching staff of countries which have signed an agreement on co-operation in education with Latvia or of countries that offer scholarships for Latvian students. As such the program promotes internationalization of higher education in Latvia and enhances development of competitive study programs and attraction of tertiary staff of other countries. All this and more in the Market Report on Latvia.

Quick facts

  • Population: 1,93 million (2020)

  • Education: compulsory between the age of 7 and 16

  • Academic year: September – June

Secondary education

  • Starting age: 12

  • Duration: 7 years (4 years basic secondary, 3 years upper secondary education)

  • Enrollment numbers: 117,360 (2019 data)
    Enrollment rate: 111%

Higher education

  • Duration: 4 – 6 years (bachelor 3 – 4 years, Master 2 years, PhD 3 – 4 years)

  • Enrollment numbers: 82,9014 (2019)

  • Tertiary enrollment rate: 88%

  • Universities / Higher Education Institutions: 25

Latvian Education System

Secondary education

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

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 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
Master programs have an average duration of 1 to 2 years. Upon completion, students obtain a Mağistra Diploms degree.

PhD programs
Most PhD programs have a duration of 3 to 4 years. The doctorate degree program leads to the award of the Doktora grāds.


Visual depicting the Latvian Educational System

Latest Latvian Higher Education study abroad stats

At this point a total number of 4,982 Latvian students are studying abroad (source: UNESCO). These are the most popular study abroad destination among students from Latvia:

Latvian students studying abroad
UNESCO study abroad data

IB schools in Latvia

Best performing Latvian Universities

Looking to partner with Universities from Latvia? These are the best performing universities.

University of Latvia

THE Rank: 601 – 800

Riga Technical University

THE Rank: 1001 – 1200

Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technology

THE Rank: 1200+

Upcoming Education Fairs in Latvia

Scholarships for Latvian students

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