In Latvia the main institution responsible for overseeing higher education in the country is the Ministry of Education and Science. All HEIs provide both professional and academic courses. Organised as schools, universities, institutes or academies, there are 57 recognised institutions of higher education, out of which 23 are private. In the academic year of 2018/2019, 27,700 students were enrolled in Latvian higher education institutions, which is almost 2% more than in the previous year. Although among OECD countries Latvia is one of the least visited countries by international students, 44.3% represents the proportion of foreign students who enrolled in a Master’s programme in the academic year of 2017/2018. This means that they represent almost half of all the Master’s students in one year. Also, the countries’ universities rank well within European institutions with the University of Latvia being in top 50 Central & Eastern European HEIs. For further information you can visit the Study in Latvia website or the Ministry of Education’s website at https://www.izm.gov.lv/en/.
Latvia has implemented the usual Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD cycles in the 1990s and it is part of the Bologna process. In terms of academic credits, Latvia has its own system where one credit point is equal to 1.5 ECTS credit point and the academic year has 40 Latvian credit points. A Bachelor’s degree (Bakalaura Diploms) can be obtained at Universitāte, Akadēmija, Augstskola en Institūts after a duration of 6 to 8 semesters (3-4 years) of studying or 120-160 Latvian credits achieved. In the same way, Master’s degrees (Mağistra Diploms) require 1 to 2 years of studying or 80 Latvian credit points. Integrated courses are, therefore, less than 5 years and are present in subjects like Medicine or Architecture. Finally, a Doctorate degree is awarded after 3 to 4 years of studying and research. Apart from those, HEIs in Latvia offer short cycle programmes and professional degrees. You can earn a professional Bachelor’s degree (Profesionãlã Bakalaura Diploms) after 4 years or a professional Master’s degree (Profesionãlã Mağistra Diploms) after 1 to 2 years.
Admission to higher education requires evidence of 12 years of schooling. In Latvia, these are confirmed by the Atestāts par vispārējo vidējo izglītību (general secondary education certificate) and Diploms par profesionālo vidējo izglītību (certificate for professional education). Foreign students must obtain equivalent certificates. All students must apply directly to the institutions. For postgraduate studies, you need to have achieved a Bachelor’s degree if you wish to pursue a Master’s or a Master’s degree if you wish to pursue a PhD. The main language of instruction is Latvian, but courses in English are also a popular choice. Russian and German are also frequently used.
The cost of tuition fees will depend on the institution or programme chosen. The full range of prices are between less than 1,600 EUR per year for a Bachelor’s degree course to 25,600 EUR per year for an Executive MBA degree. It is usual for a degree in Health Care or Medicine to be more expensive than a degree in Computer Science, Management or Engineering. Nevertheless, there are a number of scholarships awarded for both citizen and non-citizen students. You can check here all relevant information.
Information for International Students
Non-EU students will be required to obtain a residence permit and/or a visa upon entry in the country. You must have been already accepted into a course and it might take several weeks before your application is reviewed. Further information is available here for residence permits. For the visa, you need to get in touch with Latvian consular missions or with the consulates of other Schengen member states.
On average, one person spends around 450 to 700 EUR per month in living expenses. Students can obtain accommodation in dormitories or student hostels which are cheaper alternatives rather than renting a private place. You must apply for a health insurance in Latvia, which is a requirement in order to receive a residence permit.