Study in Latvia

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Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Latvia

Valnu street 2, Riga

LV-1050, Latvia

Phone: +371 67226209

Fax: +371 67223905



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Higher education


There are three levels of higher education programmes in Latvia ā€” Bachelor, Master and Doctor. There are 34 public institutions of higher education and 22 higher education institutions established by legal bodies. One can receive higher education in Latvia in 6 Universities, 26 Institutions of higher education and 24 Colleges. Universities and colleges implement academic and professional higher education programmes as well as scientific activities, research and artistic creativeness. Colleges provide first level professional higher education programmes. Colleges can act as colleges established by higher education institutions or as independent educational institutions.

Academic higher education programmes are based upon fundamental and applied science. The aim of the academic education is to secure the acquisition of theoretical background and skills for scientific research gradually preparing for independent scientific research in the chosen scientific branch or sub-branch. The State Academic Higher Education Standard determines the education content and scope of academic higher education. Passing exams and the development of Bachelor's or Master's Paper are an integral part of the academic higher education. Upon successful completion of academic study programme students receive the degree of Bachelor or the Master's degree.

Bachelor's degree is awarded to the group of related branches of science. In Latvia students can receive the following Bachelor's degree: Bachelor of Science in Education, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor's degree in Social Sciences, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Engineering degree, Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, Bachelor's degree in Health Sciences, Bachelor's degree in Environmental Sciences.

Master's degree or its equivalent for completing higher education programme is required for admission to doctoral studies. Doctoral studies include advance studies of the subject in the relevant study programme and a scientific research and creative skills development. Doctoral thesis is an integral part of the Doctoral study programme to receive the Doctor's degree. Promotion Council awards Doctor's Degree after public defence of doctoral thesis. Doctor's degree certifies scientific qualification.

Professional higher education programmes are based upon fundamental and applied science that ensures opportunities to prepare for professional activities. The State first level professional higher education Standard and the State second level professional higher education Standard determine the content and scope of professional higher education. Passing state exams is an integral part of professional higher education programme. Upon completion of second level professional higher education programmes students receive the degree of

Professional Bachelor or the professional Master's degree and the corresponding professional qualification.


Study year


Pedagogical staff

Educational institutions(accredited)



127 050

5 454




125 350

5 804




112 555

5 360




103 782





97 035






Basic studies(Bachelor, Colleges)

Master programme

Doctoral studies


Public institutions of higher education

54 694

12 116

2 354

69 164

Higher education institutions established by legal bodies

24 591

3 111


27 871


79 285

15 227


97 035


Latvia is among the countries which signed the Bologna Process Declaration in 1999 and is a full-fledged participant of the European Higher Education Area launched during the Bologna Ministerial Anniversary Conference on April 27 and 28, 2012 in Bucharest. The majority of Bologna Process reforms are successfully implemented in Latvia; three-cycle degree system (Bachelor, Master and Doctoral studies), Diploma Supplement, ECTS, internal quality assurance systems, accreditation process of higher education institutions and study programmes to ensure the recognition of Diploma issued by higher education institutions in Latvia also abroad.

The modernisation process in higher education is carried out according to the European Union University modernisation agenda. Management reforms of university administration were continued in 2009 shifting from ā€˜strong rulingā€˜ to ā€˜soft steeringā€˜ and granting the derived public person's legal status to the state founded higher education institutions. In order to strengthen the autonomy of higher education institutions, significant changes are introduced in the system of funding of higher education institutions, thus ensuring the ,,block grant" funding of higher education institutions and allowing them manage their assets more freely.

In order to increase international competitiveness of higher education in Latvia, the Ministry of Education and Science has begun to implement several reforms that will provide a variety of measures through three courses of action: 1) improvement of the quality of studies and scientific activity; 2) consolidation of the higher education and science sectors and efficient use of resources; 3) internationalisation of the higher education and science sectors. To increase the quality of the higher education in Latvia, a new higher education accreditation and quality management model has been implemented that provides for stricter accreditation procedures of universities and study courses, to be organised by a foreign body that is part of the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education ā€“ EQAR. A new higher education funding model is expected to be implemented starting from 2014, which would ensure that everybody will have access to high quality higher education. In order to ensure efficient use of the higher education resources and the concentration of resources in higher education institutions that provide quality studies and scientific activity, a consolidation process of the higher education sector has been launched that will result in a reduced number of universities and an increase in their capacity. In order to carry out studies and scientific activity processes in Latvian universities in a modern, international environment, the Ministry continues to improve the regulatory framework to facilitate attraction of academic staff from other countries and provide an opportunity for universities to carry out their study programs in the official languages of the EU, thus promoting the integration of Latvian higher education into the common European higher education sphere. Regulatory framework has been prepared, which will make it easier for universities to attract foreign students in the future, as well as implement joint study programs together with foreign universities, issue joint degrees and grant scholarships to foreign students.

It is expected that in 2014 the above measures will result in an increase of the number of foreign students in Latvia by 10% of the total number of students, and that foreign academic staff will constitute 5% of the total academic staff. It should be noted that the number of foreign students in Latvia over the past 6 years has almost doubled and its share in 2011 was 2.9% of the total number of students.

In academic year 2011/2012, there were 2717 foreign students from 74 countries around the world studying at Latvian higher education institutions. 48% of the total number of foreign students in Latvia are from the EU countries (and their share is increasing every year), while 31% represent the Commonwealth of Independent States. The most popular among foreign students are medicine, engineering and social sciences study programmes.


  • 2 500 (27% of students studying in these spheres for Master's degree for the years 2009-2014) Master degree students studying Science, Maths, Engineering, Agriculture, Health Care, Environmental Protection, Logistics and the Arts will receive grants;
  • 1 600 (43% of total number of students of doctoral studies for the years 2009-2014) Students of Doctoral studies will receive grants for their studies and for the development of qualification paper;
  • 60 higher education programmes will be revised and 1 500 teaching staff of higher educational establishments will undergo professional development raining according to the labour market demands and the new content of study programmes;
  • renovated rooms and infrastructure in 31 higher education institutions;
  • new study programmes for colleges developed in the field of aviation.


It is planned to intensify the international cooperation on the Ministerial level and on the level of higher education institutions in Latvia by placing emphasis on signing bilateral/trilateral cooperation agreements, as well as participating in the international programmes and projects:

  • Support is provided to higher education institutions and students for taking part in different European Union programmes, for example, Erasmus and Erasmus Mundus as well as the Nordic Council of Ministers ā€œNordplus" education programme's subprogramme ā€Higher Education" and in the framework of international bilateral financial instruments;
  • The Ministry of Education and Science offers scholarships to students, scientists and academic staff from foreign countries in the framework of bilateral and trilateral intergovernmental and interministerial agreements for studies and research work in higher education institutions in Latvia;
  • Active cooperation among higher education institutions in Latvia and abroad is carried out by signing bilateral cooperation agreements and supporting exchange of students and academic staff among the countries.

Latvia is interested to start negotiations with countries outside the European Union with the intention of concluding new international intergovernmental and interministerial agreements for the recognition of education documents, as well as the received degrees and qualifications in order to mutually increase the quality of higher education and its export incentives in long term.

More information:

Procedures by which Permits for the Opening and Operation of Representative Offices of Foreign Institutions of Higher Education are Issued

Last update: 28/01/2015

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Valnu street 2, Riga, LV-1050, Latvia Phone: +371 67226209 Fax: +371 67223905

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