The Latvian higher education system is a broad one: there is a number of institutions of higher education (college, higher education institution, academy, university), study programmes (academic, professional) and study types (full-time, part-time).

In order to facilitate the choice of studies, this section summarises the information on the Latvian higher education system at a general level.


Types of institutions of higher education

There are two types of institutions of higher education:

  1. Colleges
  2. Higher education institutions.

Colleges are institutions of higher education, providing acquisition of first-level professional higher education within 2-3 years. At this level of education, students also will acquire professional qualification such as accountant, programmer etc.

Higher education institutions can offer bachelor, master and doctoral study programmes, as well as first-level professional higher education. According to the number of professors and lecturers with the doctoral degree, they are classified as follows:

  1. Higher education institution (it offers studies in one or several sectors, focusing on applicability).
  2. Academy (it usually offers studies in one sector, focusing on all levels of study).
  3. University (it offers studies in several sectors at all levels of study)

Programmes for professional and academic studies

Regardless of the type of a higher education institution, both academic and professional study programmes can be acquired there. Academic programmes are primarily focused on theory and preparation for scientific research, while professional study programmes are more practically oriented, and students acquire professional qualification at the end of their studies.

Levels of study programmes

Study programmes are divided into the following levels of study:

Name Other names Duration of studies Educational document to be obtained Educational institution
First-level professional higher education College education 2 years Diploma of first-level professional higher education Higher education institution, college
Professional bachelor studies Second-level professional higher education 3-4 years Diploma of professional bachelor and diploma of higher professional qualification Higher education institution
Academic bachelor studies   3-4 years Bachelor diploma Higher education institution
Professional master studies Second-level professional higher education 1-2 years Diploma of professional master 


diploma of professional master and diploma of higher professional qualification

Higher education institution
Academic master studies   1-2 years Master diploma Higher education institution
Long-cycle second-level professional study programme   ~5 years Diploma of professional higher education and diploma of higher professional qualification Higher education institution
Doctoral studies   3-5 years Doctor diploma Higher education institution

Forms of studies

The form of study primarily determines a part of study time used by students for their individual work and amount of time used for interaction with lecturers. In case of intramural studies, the study process is mostly organised in the premises of a higher education institution (e.g. lectures, seminars). Extramural studies mean that most part of the teaching material is to be learned independently in the form of individual work, while meetings with lecturers will be organised mainly in the form of introductory lectures or consultations. There is also a subtype of extramural studies known as distance education where study process is basically organised in a remote mode, except for defending graduation and qualification papers.

Types of study

There are two types of study – full-time and part-time. Full-time studies are more intensive in the term of study time, i.e. studies take 30 hours per week. Part-time studies are less intensive with a smaller amount of hours per week, but more time is required to complete such studies. The form of study determines the amount of material to be individually learned by a student, while the type of study determines time required to complete a study programme.

Funding for studies

In the Latvian higher education system, there are two ways of funding for studies:

  1. State-funded studies.
  2. Studies funded by private persons.

In case of state-funded studies, students are granted a place in an educational institution according to the principle of excellence which is based on the results of the student’s centralised examination or his or her success at the previous study level and sometimes on the results of admission examination as well. You can find information on how to apply for state-funded studies on the website of the relevant institution of higher education.

Most institutions of higher education offer studies funded by private persons. There is a loan system created in order to pay for the studies. More information can be found on the website of the Administration of Studies and Research (