Latest Russian higher education curriculum standards mandate use of "credit units"

November 12, 2013
  • AACRAO Connect
  • International Admissions and Credential Evaluation

By Ann M. Koenig, AACRAO International Education Services

The Russian Federation has developed new “Federal State Educational Standards” (FSES) that define higher education programs at the bachelor, master and specialist level in terms of “workload credit units”, replacing the traditional system of expressing student workload in terms of hours. The introduction of “credit units” - ╨╖╨░╤╨╡╤é╨╜╨╕╨╣ ╨╡╨┤╨╕╨╜╨╕╤å / zachetnaja edinitsa in Russian - is a result of Russia’s participation in the Bologna process, which requires the use of credits that are compatible with the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) as one tool in increasing student mobility in Europe.

The FSES are the outlines of curricular structure and content mandated for use at all levels of education throughout the Russian Federation. The development of a credit system in Russian higher education was first approved in 2002. The Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia began using a credit system in 2005. By 2007, over 100 higher education institutions and branches of institutions were using the credit system. The 2009 Bologna process National Report of the Russian Federation states that 50-75% of programs at Russian higher education institutions were using ECTS credits at that time. However, the use of credits was not mandated until the publication of the most recent “Federal State Educational Standards”, which define the student workload for each section of the curriculum for programs of study at the bachelor, master, and specialist levels in terms of “credit units”.

The new credit unit is defined as representing 36 academic hours per credit. The academic hour in Russia is 45 minutes. A full-time year consists of 60 credits, making the Russian system compatible with the ECTS credit system. The four-year bachelor requires 240 credits. The five-year specialist requires 300 credits, while the six-year specialist program in medicine requires 360 credits. The two-year master, which follows the bachelor, requires 120 credits. The credit system is not used for the research-based degrees, the Candidate of Sciences and Doctor of Sciences.

The Russian ENIC, the National Information Center on Academic Recognition and Mobility, reports that the implementation of the credit-based FSES will take place in increments over the next several years. Students who began studies under previous iterations of the FSES will continue under the requirements of those programs and will receive a diploma and diploma addendum (transcript) in the state standard format of 2012. (Samples of all Russian academic documents in formats through 2012 are available on the Russian ENIC Web site.) Students who begin studies under the new FSES using the credit system will receive a newly-formatted diploma supplement that will show credits. The Russian ENIC will be posting the new document formats in the near future.

The rollout of the new FSES and the corresponding completion documentation is planned as follows:

Bachelor (╨▒╨░╨║╨░╨╗╨░╨▓╤): The FSES for bachelor studies were introduced in 2009-10. The first batch of diplomas with the new diploma supplement showing credits will be issued in 2014.

Specialist (диплом [higher education diploma] with квалификация [professional qualification]): The specialist FSES took effect in 2010-2011. The first batch of diplomas with the new diploma supplement will be issued in 2015.

Master (╨╝╨░╨│╨╕╤ü╤é╨╡╤): The FSES were introduced in 2009-2010, and some institutions have already begun awarding diplomas with the new diploma supplement format.

AACRAO Resources on education in Russia, including the USSR:


Russia: Transfer Credit Evaluation and the EducationUSA Connection, AACRAO Annual Meeting presentation, 2011

The Educational System of the Russian Federation, AACRAO, 2008 (reduced price)

The Soviet System of Education, A PIER World Education Series Special Report, AACRAO and NAFSA, 1992 (reduced price)

Other selected resources for information and credential evaluation:

Russian ENIC: The Russian Ministry of Education and Science’s official source for information on the educational system of Russia. Excellent informational material, including the latest updates based on recent legislation, diagrams of the Russian system in English and Russian, directory of higher education institutions in English, and links to samples of all academic credentials awarded since the Soviet era. See the list in the left side bar near the bottom of the home page. The link “Russian Education System” reflects the changes in the system based on the new State Federal Educational Standards.

Moscow EducationUSA Advising Center, Information about Russian Education for US Representatives

Russia Study Visit Report, Swedish ENIC, Summer 2013 (in Swedish)

TEMPUS Russia Report, 2012

The System of Education in Russia, Nordic Recognition Network (NORRIC), 2005

The Bologna Process and the Russian Federation:

ECTS, European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System

Bologna Process, European Higher Education Area, National Reports, 2003-12




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