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Last updated in February 2024

Chapter 1: Higher Education System

Section 1.1.: Schematic Description of the Higher Education System

Source: Academic Information centre (


Section 1.2: Description of Higher Education System

There are two types of HE programmes in Latvia: academic and professional study programmes. There are Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctor’s degrees in both academic and professional higher education.

Academic study programmes focus on scientific research and providing theoretical basis for professional activities; studies are completed with the defence of thesis.

  • The amount of an academic bachelor study programme is 120-160 credit points (180-240 ECTS) and it leads to Bachelor’s diploma (LQF level 6). Duration: 3-4 years.
  • The amount of an academic master study programme is 80 credit points (120 ECTS) and it leads to Master’s diploma (LQF level 7). Duration: 2 years.
  • The amount of a scientific doctoral study programme is 120-160 credit points (180-240 ECTS). Duration: 3-4 years.

Professional study programmes focus on the acquisition of in-depth knowledge, skills and competences in the scientific field. Bachelor’s and master’s studies include work placements and are concluded with a final stage examination (comprising defence of thesis).

  • The amount of a professional bachelor’s study programme is at least 160 credit points (240 ECTS) and it leads to Professional Bachelor’s diploma (LQF level 6). Duration: 3-4 years.
  • The amount of a professional master study programme is 40 credit points (60 ECTS) and it leads to Professional Master’s diploma (LQF level 7). Duration: 1 year.
  • The professional doctoral study programme in arts was introduced in 2018 and it leads to Professional Doctor’s diploma in arts (LQF level 8).

In addition, there are other types of professional HE programmes:

  • The amount of a first level professional HE programmes (short cycle programmes) is 80-120 credit points (120-180 ECTS) and it leads to Diploma of first level professional higher education (LQF level 5). Duration: 2-3 years.
  • The amount of second level professional HE programmes leading to Diploma of professional qualification (LQF 6) is:
    • At least 160 credit points (240 ECTS) after secondary school. Duration: minimum 4 years.
    • At least 40 credit points (60 ECTS) after bachelor’s studies. Duration: minimum 1 year.

Graduates of both types of programmes have right to choose either academic or professional pathway. However, Master’s degree (either academic or professional) is awarded if the full-time HE studies in total have been at least five years (including Bachelor level studies). Graduates of long cycle programmes (300-360 ECTS), e.g. in medicine, have right to enrol in doctoral programme.


Section 1.3: Number of Higher Education Institutions

In Latvia, HEIs are divided into:

  1. university type institutions (higher education institutions, academies, universities) that run all the levels of higher education (academic and professional programmes);
  2. non-university type institutions (colleges) that offer short cycle study programmes.

In total there are 53 higher education institutions (27 university type institutions, 24 colleges (short cycle programmes), 2 branches of foreign HEIs)


Section 1.4 Number of Students in Higher Education


  Total number of students

(Academic year 2023/2024)

Total number of graduates

(Year 2023)

State universities 53 078 9 921
Private universities 12 678 2 189
State colleges 4 787 1 296
Private colleges 3 474 653
Total 74 017 14 059

Source: Ministry of Education and Science, academic year 2023/2024

Number of foreign students studying in Latvia (academic year 2023/2024): 10 801

Type of programmes Number of students
Short cycle 12 797
1st cycle / Ba 41 668
2nd cycle / Mg 17 685
3rd cycle / PhD 1 867
Total 74 017

Source: Ministry of Education and Science, academic year 2023/2024


Section 1.5: Structure of Academic Year

The academic year is a 40-week study period starting in September and lasting until the end of June. The academic year is divided into two semesters – autumn and spring. Each semester ends with an examination period.


Section 1.6: National Qualifications Framework (or Similar)

The Latvian Qualifications Framework (LQF) is a state level referencing system established in 2010 where all formal qualifications awarded in the Latvian education system are arranged in eight levels. The structure and functions of LQF were developed on the basis of EQF and taking into account the context and traditions of Latvian education, as well as stakeholders’ interests. The LQF is referenced to the EQF and QF-EHEA.

Qualifications (higher education)
Diploma of first level professional higher education (college, 2-3 years of full-time studies)
short cycle
Bachelor’s diploma
Professional Bachelor’s diploma
Diploma of professional higher education, diploma of higher professional qualification (at least 4 years of full-time studies)
1st cycle
Master’s diploma
Professional Master’s diploma
Diploma of professional higher education, diploma of highest professional qualification (in total at least 5 years of full-time studies)
2nd cycle
Doctor’s diploma
Professional Doctor’s diploma in arts
3rd cycle


Section 1.7: Learning Outcomes in Higher Education

Since 2011, learning outcomes are a compulsory part of the HE study programmes, but already from 2005 general learning outcomes were elaborated for the NQF of HE.
In Latvia, learning outcomes are described in two levels: LQF level descriptors (Cabinet of Ministers Regulations), and learning outcomes of study programmes (developed by HEIs).

HEIs develop study programmes according to the relevant state education standards (Cabinet of Ministers Regulations) and occupational standards (in case of professional HE programmes). The state education standards include the part of learning outcomes in programmes, e.g. learning outcomes should be reflected in the strategic aim, main objectives of programmes, assessment criteria. The occupational standards outline knowledge, skills and competences necessary for performing the professional activity.

The expected learning outcomes of qualifications should be reflected in the Diploma Supplement by HEIs to all HE graduates.


Section 1.8: Admission Requirements to Higher Education

Admission requirements to HEIs are based on Cabinet of Ministers Regulations No 846 “Regulations Regarding the Requirements, Criteria and Procedures for Admission to Study Programmes”. Regulations state that candidates must have:

  • A filled-out form of application to the HEI.
  • For enrolling LQF level 5 and LQF level 6 programmes:
    • A proof of a completed secondary education: a certificate of general
      secondary education or a diploma of secondary vocational education.
    • Certificates of general secondary education outlining the achieved
      results of centralised state examinations in general study subjects.
  • For enrolling LQF level 7 programmes: a proof of a completed LQF level 6 education: Bachelor’s diploma, Professional Bachelor’s diploma or Diploma of professional higher education, diploma of higher professional qualification (studies minimum 4 years).
  • For enrolling LQF level 8 programmes: a proof of a completed LQF level 7 education: Master’s diploma, Professional Master’s diploma, or Diploma of professional higher education, diploma of higher education, diploma of higher professional qualification (studies minimum 5 years).
  • Statement of Academic Information Centre (Latvian ENIC/NARIC) indicating the level and corresponding Latvian qualification (for foreign students).
    HEIs may have additional requirements, for example, entrance exams or language certificate.


Section 1.9: Grading System

The degree of achievement of study results is evaluated on the 10-point scale or with the grade “passed / not passed”.
Results of state examinations are expressed in percentage showing the proportion of correct answers scored in points against the maximum points possible (5% is the lowest passing grade).
The grades of the study results in the 10-point scale are as follows:

very good
almost good
almost average
very poor
very, very poor
Grade 4 is minimum positive grade, grades 3-1 are unsatisfactory.


Section 1.10: Tuition Fee System for International Students

Tuition fees vary by study programmes and are determined by each HEI individually. Tuition fee depends on the chosen programme. Popular study programmes tuitions fees per year are approximately:

  • Medical Sciences, 7,000 – 15,000 EUR
  • Business Studies and Management Sciences, 2,000 – 6,000 EUR
  • Engineering and Technology, 2,200 – 4,000 EUR
  • Mathematics and Informatics, 2,000 – 4,000 EUR

Tuition fees for non-EU students are usually higher.


Section 1.11: Graduation Requirements and/or Qualification Awarding Requirements

Graduation requirements are regulated by the state education standard.

Graduation requirements are:

  • passed all study courses;
  • passed final state examination;
  • written and defended final thesis;
  • completed practice (for professional programmes).


Section 1.12: Relevant Current and Prospective Reforms in Higher Education

Modernization of teachers’ education
New teachers’ education system has been approved (09.01.2018) including structure and content reform. With the support of ESF project, teachers’ education programmes composed of competences-based modules in accordance with the teacher’s occupational standard will be created at all levels of higher education. At EQF level 6 two alternatives for obtaining teacher’s qualification should be developed:

  1. an integrated professional bachelor’s study programme for secondary education graduates and
  2. a study programme for obtaining a professional qualification of teacher after obtaining a bachelor’s degree in another field of study.


Chapter 2: Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Section 2.1: Quality Assurance Body in Higher Education

The Quality Agency for Higher Education (AIKA) of AIC is responsible for quality assurance in HE. The AIKA is autonomous and recognized as the national quality assurance agency for higher education, set up to improve the external quality assurance system for Latvian higher education, which would operate in accordance with the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG ) and promote the quality, visibility and international recognition of Latvian higher education, covering the entire Latvian higher education system: both state and private HEIs and from short-cycle HE programmes to doctoral ones.
Since June 2018 AIC is member of the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA) and since December 2018 AIC is included in the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR).

The Council of Higher Education is an independent institution which develops the national strategy in higher education, implements the cooperation between HEIs, state institutions and general public in the development of higher education, oversees the quality of higher education guarantees accepting of the best decisions in issues related to higher education. The Council takes decision on the accreditation of HEIs.


Section 2.2: Quality Assurance System

Study programme
Further explanation
6 – 7 years
More than 10 years
Further information:
 Initial accreditation of new programmes (local title “Licensing”) is an ex-ante evaluation and an initial assessment. Licensing is carried out to determine the potential quality of a new study programme in order to give a permission to start programme implementation and enrol students.
–  Accreditation of study fields is evaluation and assessment of programmes’ groups. Accreditation procedures lead to a formal decision. The conclusion is based on the set of pre-defined criteria. Maximum term of accreditation for study fields is 6 years, if avoidable deficiencies have been detected – 2 years. When conducting accreditation of the study field, all programmes in this field are accredited.
 Institutional accreditation includes examining the quality of all activities within a higher education institution that include the management of the organisation, financial matters, facilities, teaching and research, etc. There is no term for the accreditation of higher education institutions.
– Assessment of feasibility on changes in study programmes (i.e. study fields). Non-cyclical activity that is done based on the request of HEIs if changes were made in their study programme between two cyclical assessments of a study field falling under one of five cases mentioned in Cabinet Regulations (for example, changes in the title of the study programme, language of instruction, enrolment requirements, degree and qualification awarded and other).


The Register of Study Directions ( provides information on accredited Latvian HEIs, which have the right to award state recognized qualifications. The register also provides information on accredited study programmes. This register can verify the date of the accredited study programmes.


Chapter 3: Credit System in Higher Education

Section 3.1: Description of Credit System

Latvia has a national credit point system, but it is compatible to ECTS. Latvian credit point is defined as a one-week full-time study workload. Thus, an average workload of a full-time study year in most cases is 40 credit points. Transfer of Latvian credit points into ECTS credit points requires multiplication by 1.5.


Section 3.2: Credit Transfer System(s)

In Latvia, national credit points are used in higher education, which are equated with credit points of the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). The credit point (CP) in Latvia is defined as the amount of one-week full-time study work. When converting ECTS, the number of Latvian credits should be multiplied by 1.5.


Section 3.3: Additional Information

Not applicable.


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



Section 3.5: Number of Credits per Academic Year/Semester

The amount for one study year in full-time studies is 40 credit points (60 ECTS).


Section 3.6: Number of Credits per Higher Education Cycle

Academic higher education
credit points
Duration (years)
LQF level
Bachelor’s studies
120-160 CP (180-240 ECTS)
Master’s programme
80 CP (120 ECTS)
Doctoral studies
120-160 CP (180-240 ECTS)
Professional higher education
Credit points
Duration (years)
LQF Level
Short cycle studies
80-120 CP (120-180 ECTS)
Professional HE studies*
at least 40 (60 ECTS)
at least 1
Professional HE studies*
160-240 CP (240-360 ECTS)
Professional Bachelor’s studies
160 CP (240 ECTS)
Professional Master’s studies
At least 40-80 (60-120 ECTS)
*After secondary education


Section 3.7: Description of Credit Unit

Credit point is a measure of students’ workload. One credit point corresponds to 40 hours of student work – including contact hours (lectures, laboratory papers, practical work, seminars) at the university and independent work.


A student is awarded credit points upon achievement of the defined learning outcomes related to the educational unit/course.



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