WHY STUDY IN LATVIA?
- Multi-ethnic country with rich cultural and education traditions
- World class higher education system
- Majority programs taught in English
- Safe and welcoming country
- Affordable tuition fees and living cost
- Qualifications accepted across EU
- Curriculum with global perspective
- Attractive stay back and work rights
- One of the strongest economies in EU
Latvian state scholarships
In accordance with bilateral agreements on co-operation in education and science concluded between Latvian government and a few countries Latvia offers scholarships to foreign students, researchers and teaching staff for studies, research and participation in summer schools in Latvian higher education institutions.
Application for academic year 2020/2021 is now open from 1st February until 1st April 2020.
More information below:
Higher education in Latvia
The Latvian educational system comprises pre-school education, 9-year basic education, upper-secondary education and higher education. Formal post-secondary non-tertiary education in Latvia is classified within the secondary education level.
Universities and other higher education institutions run both academic and professional programmes, e.g. lawyer, teacher, translator, marine mechanic etc. Bachelor’s (bakalaurs) and master’s (maģistrs) degrees are awarded in both academic and professional higher education programmes. Graduates of both types of bachelor’s and master’s degrees have access to further studies.
Latvia is using a national credit point system in higher education. One Latvian national credit point is defined as a one-week full-time study workload. The average full-time workload of an academic year in most higher education programmes is 40 credits. The Latvian credit point system is compatible with ECTS. The number of ECTS credits is found by multiplying the number of Latvian credit points by a factor of 1.5.
Academic programmes leading to a bachelor’s degree comprise 120 – 160 national credit points (160-180 ECTS), including:
- compulsory subjects – not less than 50 national credit points (75 ECTS);
- electives not less than 20 national credit points (30 ECTS);
- thesis not less than 10 national credit points (15 ECTS);
- the remainder is left for students as free electives.
The duration of full-time studies is 6 – 8 semesters (3-4 years).
Academic programmes leading to a master degree comprise 80 national credit points (120 ECTS), of which:
- the thesis is not less than 20 national credit points (30 ECTS)
- the compulsory part of the programme includes theoretical aspects of the specific field of scientific discipline – not less than 30 national credit points (45 ECTS)
- and the practical application of theory in solving actual problems – not less than 15 national credit points (22,5 ECTS).
The duration of full-time studies is 4 semesters (2 years) and requires at least 5 years total length of bachelor and master studies.The objectives of academic higher education are to prepare graduates for independent research, as well as to provide theoretical background for professional activities. Academic education programmes are implemented according to the national standard of academic education.
Professional programmes leading to a professional bachelor’s degree comprise at least 160 national credit points (240 ECTS) of which:
- general courses – not less than 20 national credit points (30 ECTS),
- theoretical courses of the chosen field – not less than 36 national credit points (54 ECTS),
- specialized courses – not less than 60 national credit points (90 ECTS),
- optional courses – not less 6 national credit points (9 ECTS),
- practical placement – not less than 26 national credit points (39 ECTS),
- and state examinations including thesis – not less than 12 national credit points (18 ECTS).
The duration of full-time studies is 8 semesters (4 years).
Professional higher education programmes leading to a professional master’s degree comprise no less than 40 (60 ECTS) credits, of which:
- up-to-date achievements in the field – in theory and in practice ≥7 (10,5 ECTS) credits,
- practical placements ≥6 (9 ECTS) credits,
- state examinations including thesis ≥20 (30 ECTS) credit
- research training, courses of design, management, psychology etc.
Duration of full-time studies is 2-4 semesters (1-2 years).
The objectives of professional higher education are to provide in-depth knowledge in a particular field, preparing graduates for design or improvement of systems, products and technologies, as well as to prepare them for creative, research and teaching activities in this field.
First-level professional higher education (college) programmes comprise 80-120 national credit points (120-180 ECTS) credits. These programmes are targeted mainly to the labour market. Graduates of the first-level programmes can continue their studies in related second-level professional programmes or professional bachelor programmes.
Second-level professional higher education programmes can comprise either at least 40 national credit points (60 ECTS) for holders of the bachelor’s degree or at least 160 national credit points (240 ECTS) for secondary school leavers. In both cases programmes should include a practical placement of at least 26 national credit points (39 ECTS) and graduation examinations including thesis of not less than 10 national credit points(15 ECTS).
Studies in medicine, dentistry and pharmacy professional studies (5 and 6 year studies), are equal to the master’s degree and graduates of these programmes can continue their studies in doctoral level programmes.
The degree of master or equivalent is required for admission to doctoral studies. A doctoral degree is awarded after public defense of a doctoral thesis and successfully passed exams in the chosen scientific discipline. The doctoral thesis has to include results of original research and new insights in the scientific discipline. The duration of doctoral studies is 3-4 years.
Latvian is the official state language of Latvia. Latvian belongs to the Baltic branch of the Indo-European language family. Although the official state language is Latvian, you will easily get around with a command of Russian and English, as a large part of the population of Riga is Russian-speaking, and most Latvians do understand Russian. In Riga and other bigger cities you can use English as well.
Government-funded bilingual education is available only in primary schools for ethnic minorities. These include Russian, Jewish, Polish, Lithuanian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Estonian and Roma schools.
In the public universities the language of instruction mostly is Latvian; at the same time programmes for foreign students are designed and taught in English. Private universities may offer programmes in Russian language
The academic year in most higher educational institutions starts in September, it comprises 40 weeks and is divided into 2 semesters.
lectures: September to December
exams: December / January
holidays: Christmas time
lectures: February to the end of May
exams: May / June
holidays: July, August
Recognition of diploma
Based on the data provided by the European diploma recognition network ENIC/NARIC, the Academic Information Centre of Latvia determines whether a certificate/diploma or an academic degree awarded in a foreign country can be equated to a similar qualification in Latvia. In cases when the document being assessed does not satisfy the standards of the certificates/diplomas or academic degrees awarded in Latvia, the assessment report states what additional requirements must be met to achieve the required compliance. Based on the assessment report, the institution of higher education to which the student has applied can take a decision about enrolment.
See detailed information in Entrance Requirements.
According to the Latvian Central Bureau for Statistics, the average expenditure per household member per month in the Riga region of Latvia in 2014 (reported in 2015) was the following:
|TOTAL MONTHLY BUDGET||299.48||100.0|
|Food and non-alcoholic beverages||82.40||27.5|
|Housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels||48.25||16.1|
|Recreation and culture||23.62||7.9|
|Clothing and footwear||17.45||5.8|
|Miscellaneous goods and services||15.72||5.2|
|Hotels, cafes and restaurants||14.03||4.7|
|Furnishings, household equipment and routine household maintenance||13.81||4.6|
|Alcoholic beverages and tobacco||9.49||3.2|
According to the EURES (European Employment services) data on living and working conditions in Latvia, the country has a fairly low standard of living as compared to other European countries, so students from abroad may be used to spending more on their lifestyle. Average food prices include: meat – EUR 6/kg; frankfurters, sausages – EUR 5/kg; chicken – EUR 4.5/kg; cheese – EUR 6-15/kg; milk – EUR 0.8/litre; bread – EUR 0.5-1; potatoes – EUR 0.5/kg; beer price in shops – EUR 1-2/500 ml). An average restaurant meal costs between EUR 7 and EUR 30. The ERASMUS+ grant set by the European Commission for European Voluntary Service participants on exchanges to Latvia is set at 550 EUR per month.
State Education Development Agency offers scholarships to foreign students and teaching staff for studies, research work and participation in summer schools in Latvia.
Some universities have their own student dormitories, others provide assistance with housing search (studyinlatvia.lv database provides information on accomodation arrangments offered by each university in the section on Provider information). You should ask the foreign student advisor at your chosen university for advice, since the housing market in Latvia is not very easy to navigate even for locals
Arrival at the university
Upon arrival at the university, the student meets with university representatives in order to become acquainted with the programme and to receive answers to any questions. Most frequently it is the staff of the external relations division or members of the student council who look after visiting students. The wellbeing of students is important to each university, thus universities take care to inform foreign students about university life and to involve them in social activities. Latvian students have always been helpful and friendly. Most often it is the student councils which organize student activities and social life, and membership in these student organizations is open to foreign students as well.
Good to know
As of 1 January 2014 Latvia has joined the euro zone. This means that Latvian currency is the euro (EUR), 1 EUR consists of 100 euro cents.
Student cards accepted in Latvia: ISIC (International Student Identity Card), student identity cards provided by education institutions
Drinking/smoking age: 18
Driver’s licences: a driver’s licence issued by any of the EU member states is valid also in the territory of Latvia. However, be careful! Latvians are pretty ruthless drivers. NB: the legal limit for blood alcohol content is 0.05% and 0.02% for new drivers in the first two years after getting their licence.
Business hours: Shops are usually open Monday to Friday 8/10am-6/8pm. Some have reduced working hours on Saturdays and Sundays and a few stores close on Sunday. Stores located in shopping centres usually have the same working hours throughout the week. Most food shops stay open until 10pm and are also open on Sunday. Central offices of banks are open 9am to 5pm. Several banks have neighbourhood service centres that have opening hours into the evening and on week-ends.
Most shops and all banks will be closed on the following
public holidays : January 1; Good Friday; Easter Day; May 1; May 4; Mothers’ Day (second Sunday in May); June 23 (Midsummer); June 24 (St John’s Day); Nov 18 (National Day); December 25 & 26; and December 31. If May 4 or November 18 fall on a weekend, the following Monday is free.