Academic higher education
Academic higher education programmes are based upon fundamental and/or applied science; they usually comprise a thesis at the end of each stage and lead to a Bachelor’s degree (Bakalaurs) and Master’s degree (Maģistrs). Duration of Bachelor’s programmes may be 3 or 4 years at different institutions. The 3-4-year Bachelor’s degree is considered as a complete academic qualification. Master’s degree is awarded after the second stage of academic education and requires at least 5 years of university studies.
Professional Higher Education (ICSED level 4 and 5)
The Law on Higher Education Institutions and the Law on Vocational Education and Training stipulate a two level professional higher education – the first level of professional higher education (ICSED level 4 and 5) or college education (2-3 years) leading to professional qualification Level 4 (diploms par pirmā līmeņa profesionālo augstāko izglītību), and second level of professional higher education leading to qualification Level 5 (2-3 years). Having mastered a programme of professional higher education, students are awarded a professional qualification or a professional Bachelor’s degree that can be followed by a further 1-2 years of professional Master’s studies. The Master’s degree (Magistrs) of higher professional education is awarded if the total duration of studies is at least five years.
There can be the so-called “short” second level professional higher education study programmes (1-2 years), where qualification is obtained on the basis of the previously acquired first level professional higher education or academic Bachelor’s degree. In total the duration of professional qualification Level 5 study programmes is not less than 4 years after secondary education and not less than 2 years after college education.
Postgraduate education (ISCED level 6)
Master’s degree or the equivalent (graduates of 5-6 year professional higher education programmes in Law and Medicine can continue education at postgraduate level directly) is required for admission to doctoral studies (Ph.D.). Doctoral studies last 3-4 full-time years. They include advanced studies of the subject in a relevant study programme (or an equivalent amount of independent research while working at a university, research institution, etc.) and a scientific research towards doctoral thesis. Publications in internationally quoted scientific journals are required before public defence of the doctoral thesis as an integral part of a study programme. The Council of Science appoints Promotion Council and sets the procedures for award of Doctor’s degrees.