Consult Compendium

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Chapter 1: Higher Education System

Section 1.1.: Schematic Description of the Higher Education System


Section 1.2: Description of Higher Education System

Lithuania has a three cycle degree structure:

  • 1st cycle: profesinis bakalauras (Professional Bachelor) and bakalauras (Bachelor);
  • 2nd cycle: magistras (Master);
  • 3rd cycle: mokslo daktaras (Doctor of Sciences) and meno daktaras (Doctor of Arts).

1st cycle
Professional Bachelor degree is awarded after completion of the first cycle college level study programmes, which are aimed towards preparation for professional activity and are based on applied research.

Bachelor degree is awarded after completion of the first cycle university level study programmes, which are aimed at providing integration of theoretical knowledge, professional and analytical skills based on applied and scientific research.

The degrees are placed on the level 6 of the Lithuanian Qualifications Framework (LTQF), which is referenced to level 6 of the EQF. They provide access to the labour market and further study at Master degree programmes.

Their workload of study ranges from 180 to 240 ECTS.

2nd cycle
Master degree is awarded after completion of programmes designed for preparation for independent research or other activity, which requires scientific knowledge and analytical competence.

There are also Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Master of Laws (LL.M.) degrees, which are professionally oriented degrees.

The workload of study ranges from 90 to 120 ECTSMBA and LL.M. degrees require at least 60 ECTS.

Master degree may also be awarded after completion of integrated long-cycle university studies, which combine the requirements for 1st and 2nd cycle of university studies. These studies are offered in several fields of medicine, pharmacy, veterinary medicine, law, architecture and religious studies. The workload is 300-360 ECTS.

The degree is placed on the level 7 of the LTQF, which is referenced to level 7 of the EQF. It provides access to the labour market and further study at Doctoral (PhD) degree programmes.

3rd cycle
The purpose of studies for the Doctor of Science is to prepare scientists who would be able to independently conduct research and experimental (social, cultural) development work, and to solve scientific problems.

The purpose of studies for the Doctor of Arts is to prepare artists researchers who would be able to create, interpret and develop research based on art practice.

Nominal length of study for Doctor of Science is up to 4 years and Doctor of Arts is usually 4 years, 240 ECTS .

The degrees are placed on level 8 of the LTQF, which is referenced to level 8 of the EQF.

non-degree programmes

Lithuania also has non-degree granting study programmes. The aim of the programmes is to prepare students for independent professional practice or to upgrade a professional qualification. Admission to these programmes requires a higher education qualification.
There are two types of non-degree programmes:

  • residency programmes in medicine, odontology, and veterinary medicine (2 to 6 years);
  • pedagogical (teacher training) programmes (30 to 120 ECTS).


Section 1.3: Number of Higher Education Institutions

Higher education in Lithuania is offered by 2 types of institutions:

  • universities (titled universitetas (university), akademija (academy), or seminarija (seminary)) and
  • colleges (titled kolegija (college) or aukštoji mokykla (higher education institution).

Universities offer bakalauras (Bachelor), magistras (Master), and daktaras (Doctoral) degrees. Colleges award profesinis bakalauras (Professional Bachelor) degrees only.

Currently (2020) there are 19 universities and 22 colleges operating in Lithuania. The updated list of recognised higher education institutions is available at


Section 1.4 Number of Students in Higher Education

Number of Students     
 2013-2014  2014-2015  2015-2016  2016-2017  2017-2018 2018-2019 2019-2020
Professional Bachelor and Bachelor  113 881  108 083  102 425  95 539  88 468 82 178 77 130
Master  31 822  29 911  28 597  27 587  27 076 26 870 26 591
Doctor of Sciences and Doctor of Arts  2 686  2 635  2 737  2 737  2 743 2 720 2 733


 Number of Foreign Students  
 2013-2014  2014-2015  2015-2016 2016-2017 2017-2018 2018-2019
Colleges    359  409  567 700 577 819
Universities  5 104  5 646  6 198 6 595 7 153 7 592


 Number of Domestic Students on Exchange Programmes
 2012-2013  2013-2014  2014-2015 2015-2016 2016-2017 2017-2018 2018-2019
Colleges    646  690  803 867 634 724 754
Universities  2 628  2 653 3 254 3 307 3 168 3 225 3 374


Section 1.5: Structure of Academic Year

The academic year consists of two semesters: autumn (usually September-January) and spring (usually February-June). Usually the last month of the semester is dedicated to taking the final examinations.


Section 1.6: National Qualifications Framework (or Similar)

The Lithuanian National Qualifications Framework has the same 8 levels as the European Qualifications Structure for Lifelong Learning. It was adopted in 2010 as a comprehensive framework, which encompasses all sectors of formal education. The national qualifications framework has been formally referenced to the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) in 2012.

Levels of the Lithuanian Qualifications Framework:

Doctoral diploma
Master diploma
Certificate of residency
Bachelor diploma
Professional bachelor diploma
VET diploma*
VET diploma
Matura diploma**
(on completion of the upper-secondary education programme and passing matura examinations)
VET diploma
Lower-secondary education certificate**
(completion of lower-secondary education programme and testing learning outcomes) (grades 5 to 10)
VET diploma
VET diploma
Additional information is available at: 



Section 1.7: Learning Outcomes in Higher Education

All higher education qualifications in Lithuania are based on learning outcomes. Generic descriptors of learning outcomes are provided in the NQF (approved by the Governmental resolution, available here and cycle and degree descriptors (adopted by the Ministry of Education and Science, available here: Some of the study fields also have study field descriptors, also approved by the Ministry of Education and Science, which are available at:

Higher education institutions develop programme specific learning outcomes, which should be in line with the aforementioned framework.


Section 1.8: Admission Requirements to Higher Education

  • Admission to the first cycle programmes requires brandos atestatas (school leaving certificate) or a foreign qualification recognised as comparable to brandos atestatas.
  • Admission to the second cycle programmes requires profesinis bakalauras (Professional Bachelor), bakalauras (Bachelor), or a foreign qualification recognised as comparable.
  • Admission to the third cycle programmes requires Magistras (Master) degree or a foreign qualification recognised as comparable.
  • Recognition of foreign qualifications is carried out by the Centre for Quality Assessment in Higher Education and/or higher education institutions. Additional information on the system of recognition in Lithuania is available at:


Section 1.9: Grading System

Since 1993 a ten-point grading scale with 5 as the minimum pass grade and with 10 as the maximum pass grade was in use.

Alongside the ten-point grading the institution can use the pass/fail system of evaluation. Examinations and work defence evaluations, as a rule, are graded. For the courses that do not end with examinations the pass/fail system is used to test if a student has earned the credits allocated to it. A student passes when he/she proves that he/she assimilated not less than 50 %of the required knowledge scope

Since 2016 higher education institutions can chose to use their own grading scale, but all the grades should be referenced to a common framework of achievement levels, which are excellent, typical, and threshold.


Section 1.10: Tuition Fee System for International Students

Students from the European Economic Area can receive a state funded place and study for free under the same conditions as students from Lithuania. The state funded places are allocated based on the grades of previous study. Those who do not receive state funding or are citizens of third countries usually have to pay a tuition fee, which is set by individual higher education institutions.


Section 1.11: Graduation Requirements and/or Qualification Awarding Requirements

Profesinis bakalauras (Professional Bachelor)
Graduation requirements include successful completion of all of the programme requirements amounting to at least 180 ECTS, which encompass a final thesis or a final thesis and final examination(s).

Bakalauras (Bachelor)
Graduation requirements include successful completion of all of the programme requirements amounting to at least 180 ECTS, which encompass a final thesis or final thesis and final examination(s).

Magistras (Master)
Graduation requirements include successful completion of all of the programme requirements amounting to at least 90 ECTS, which encompass a master thesis or a master thesis and final examination(s).
Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Master of Laws (LL.M.) degrees require at least 60 ECTS and do not require a final thesis for graduation.

Mokslo daktaras (Doctor of Science) and meno daktaras (Doctor of Arts)
Graduation requirements include doctoral dissertation and exams (in the case of Doctor of Science) or an arts project (in the case of Doctor of Arts). The artistic research project consists of two parts: an artistic work and scientific research.


Section 1.12: Relevant Current and Prospective Reforms in Higher Education

The number and profile of state higher education institutions are currently under review with the aim of consolidation of infrastructure and human resources. Some higher education institutions have been merged or are in the process of being merged together.

The external quality assurance system has been recently reviewed in terms of types of applicable procedures and criteria. Study programme accreditation has been replaced with study field accreditation (accreditation of clusters of programmes).

New qualifications to be placed on the Lithuanian Qualifications Framework level 5 (EQF level 5are currently being developed in the vocation education and training (VET) and higher education sectors.


Chapter 2: Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Section 2.1: Quality Assurance Body in Higher Education

In Lithuania the primary responsibility for quality of education rests with the education providers, which are autonomous. In addition, Lithuania also has an external quality assurance system.

External quality evaluation and/or accreditation in Lithuanian higher education is carried out by the Centre for Quality Assessment in Higher Education (SKVC) which is an independent body, established by the Ministry of Education and Research in 1995. SKVC is a sole national quality assurance agency, registered on EQAR and full member of ENQA, CEENQA and INQAAHE.

Evaluations of study programmes can also be carried out by any other agency listed in the EQAR (European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education), but the final accreditation decision is always taken by SKVC. Quality of catholic priest education is assured by AVEPRO under a bilateral treaty between Lithuania and the Holy See. Institutional reviews of HEIs are exclusively performed by SKVC.

Quality assurance in doctoral studies and research is carried out by the Lithuanian Research Council. (


Section 2.2: Quality Assurance System

Programme accreditation

External evaluation of study programmes for accreditation purposes started in 1998. Programme accreditation is applicable to the first and second cycle programmes. In Lithuania, a study programme has to be accredited before it can be offered by a higher education institution. The evaluation can be carried out by SKVC or any other agency listed in the EQAR. In all cases, either upon evaluation reports by an agency in EQAR, or based on evaluation reports by expert panels organized by SKVC, the final accreditation decision is made by SKVC. Other accreditation requirements apply for programmes in the field of theology and priest seminaries.
All new study programmes are checked for compliance with national legislation and can be accredited for a period of one year longer than the full duration of the study programme (ex-ante accreditation). Running programmes can be accredited for 3 years, 7 years, or not accredited (ex-post accreditation). In case of non-accreditation, student enrolment is discontinued; current students can be transferred into another programme or an institution can be allowed to finish implementation of the programme within a specified period upon urgent implementation of quality amelioration plans.
Starting from 2020 programme accreditation will no longer be applied. It is being replaced by periodic accreditation of study fields.
Evaluation of programmes will still be applicable for new study programmes outside of the study fields, which received full 7 year accreditation. If the outcome of the evaluation of the new study programme is positive, the study field will receive interim accreditation until the next round of accreditation in this field, but not longer than for 3 years.

Study field accreditation

Study field accreditation, which is applicable to the first and second cycle studies, was introduced in 2020. This external quality assurance procedure performs an evaluation of a cluster of programmes offered by a higher education institution in the same field.

The accreditation decision is based on the result of an evaluation by external panel of experts. The evaluation can be carried out by SKVC or any other agency listed in the EQAR, but the accreditation decision is always taken by SKVC. The accreditation decision lists a specific field of study and the applicable cycle (first, second cycle, or both). The study field can be accredited for 7 years, 3 years, or receive a non-accreditation decision.

If the study field is accredited for 7 years, a higher education institution can develop programmes within this field without additional external accreditation for individual programmes.

If the study field is accredited for 3 years, any new programmes developed in this field by the higher education intuition will have to undergo and evaluation.
Institutional accreditation

Regular mandatory institutional review and accreditation was launched in 2011. It is aimed at enhancing the culture of quality and improvement of the provision of higher education, as well as establishing compliance with the requirements of Lithuanian legislation and the principles of the European Higher Education Area. Higher education institutions can be accredited for 7 or 3 years depending on the results of the institutional review. In case of a negative review outcome, a repeated evaluation within a period of two years is carried out. In case of a negative repeated review outcome, the license to operate as a higher education provider is revoked.

Study programme
3 or 7 years
3 or 7 years
Further information: Any new provider wishing to offer higher education studies has to obtain a license for operations, which is applicable for provision of studies and/or provision of activities related to studies.


All study programmes are listed in the official register overseen by the Ministry of Education, Science, and Sports. Only programmes covered by study field accreditation can be offered by Lithuanian higher education institutions and lead to a formally recognised official award.

The list of recognised and accredited higher education institutions and their study programmes is available at:


Chapter 3: Credit System in Higher Education

Section 3.1: Description of Credit System

In 2011 Lithuania has implemented an ECTS credit system, which measures the workload required to attain intended learning outcomes.


Section 3.2: Credit Transfer System(s)

ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System).


Section 3.3: Additional Information

Credits from other higher education institutions can be transferred at the institutional discretion. The transfer of credits is based on learning outcomes and usually results in exemptions from parts of a programme, maximum amounts of transfer are stipulated in Ministerial regulations.


Section 3.4: Application of Credit System in Higher Education Institutions Obligatory?



Section 3.5: Number of Credits per Academic Year/Semester

The number of academic credits per academic year is 60 ECTS (30 ECTS per semester).


Section 3.6: Number of Credits per Higher Education Cycle

  • The workload of study for the first cycle programmes (Profesinis bakalauras (Professional Bachelor) and Bakalauras (Bachelor)) ranges from 180 to 240 ECTS.
  • The workload of study for the second cycle programmes (Magistras (Master) degree) ranges from 60 to 120 ECTS.
  • The workload of study for integrated long-cycle programmes (Magistras (Master) degree is awarded) is 300-360 ECTS.
  • The duration and/or workload of study for the third cycle programmes (mokslo daktaras (Doctor of Science) and meno daktaras (Doctor of Arts)) is usually 4 years or 240 ECTS.


Section 3.7: Description of Credit Unit

A credit is defined as a measure of workload required to achieve intended learning outcomes. One credit usually corresponds to 25-30 hours of student workload.


All higher education courses and programmes are based on learning outcomes. Credits are awarded once a student demonstrates that s/he has successfully achieved the intended learning outcomes through assessment. There is no possibility to issue Diploma Supplements listing failed subjects, where no credits were awarded, instead students are required to re-sit exams.

Last updated in 2020


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