Study system in Latvia
Latvia’s academic year is divided into two semesters:
- the summer semester from February to June
- the winter semester from September to January
Study achievements are assessed using a credit system. One credit point corresponds to one week of study. Since Latvia has signed the Bologna Agreement, the system is compatible with the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). The Latvian study system has been two-tiered since 1995.
Bakalarus, Maìistrs and Doktors – the degrees
Studying in Latvia can lead to different degrees:
- Students achieve their first degree, the Bakalaurs (Bachelor), after three or four years. Usually it ends with a written assignment. The four-year course usually leads to an independent academic degree that qualifies for the profession. On the other hand, courses with a duration of three years are used to prepare for a subsequent master’s degree.
- The postgraduate course to Maìistrs (Master) also concludes with a written, scientific thesis. Since the total duration of study is more than five years, one to two additional years of study are necessary for the master’s degree.
- Good performance and a deeper interest in independent research can be the starting point for a three to four year doctoral degree. The final examination consists of a written doctoral thesis and a public defense. After passing the examination, students receive the scientific doctoral degree (Doctor).
Special case: professional doctorates
A special case are subjects such as human, dentistry and veterinary medicine. The undergraduate degree there takes five years (dentistry) or six years (human medicine). The course leads to a professional doctorate, such as the Medical Doctor (MD) or Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS). Professional doctorates are awarded without prior doctoral studies. It is a professional qualification.
Studying in Latvia: requirements
To be able to study at a Latvian university, you need to have a 12-year-old school leaving certificate. The German Abitur is usually sufficient proof. Applicants must be at least 18 years old. There is no upper limit.
What tests can applicants take?
There is no central entrance examination at Latvian universities. The individual universities decide on the respective entry criteria. The admission process usually includes written exams and sometimes selection interviews. In addition, certain forms usually have to be submitted. Since the application deadlines and criteria of the universities differ from each other, you should inform yourself in advance about the exact requirements at the respective student’s office.
Study abroad in Latvia: demonstrate language skills
Latvian has been the official language since the country gained independence. Most subjects are therefore taught in Latvian. Regardless of the language in which the events take place, the following applies: Knowledge of the Latvian language in terms of grammar and vocabulary is required. That is why Latvian universities often offer special language courses in Latvian. “Buddies” also teach freshmen some Latvian.
For English-language courses, the universities require a minimum number of points in a standardized language test such as the IELTS or TOEFL. Since German is taught as a third foreign language in many Latvian schools, there are seldom courses in German.
Costs and financing options
Tuition fees in Latvia are to all facilities usual. They vary depending on the type of stay, the chosen university and the field of study. At state universities, an average of EUR 750-2,000 per year can be expected, for English-language courses around EUR 8,000-10,000. In addition, there are usually one-off fees for admission and registration at the university.
Cost of living while studying in Latvia
According to a2zdirectory, the cost of living in Latvia is on average slightly lower than in Germany. They depend on the chosen study location. The rental cost level in the capital Riga is comparable to that in Germany. You should plan for higher heating costs due to the long Latvian winter. For example, if you have a medium lifestyle in Riga, you can expect monthly living costs of around EUR 600–800.
Flat-sharing communities among students are a common form of living in Latvia. Otherwise, student residences offer inexpensive alternatives. Since the single and multi-bed rooms there are in great demand, it is important to register with the respective student’s office in good time. These rooms cost around EUR 150-350 per month.
How do I finance my study stay?
There are several ways in which you can finance your own study visit:
- Partial or full scholarships from organizations
- University scholarship programs
- Foreign BAföG of the federal government. The Auslands-BaföG covers tuition fees up to EUR 4600 for a maximum of one year. Subsistence grants and a travel allowance can also be added. The assessment rate of the foreign BAföG is higher than that of the domestic.
- Student or education loans
- Working alongside your studies. In Latvia, however, due to the language barrier and the comparatively low wages, it can be difficult to fully finance a living with a side job.
Visa and entry requirements of Latvia
How do German citizens have to behave when entering Latvia? German citizens do not need a visa to enter Latvia. Despite the Schengen Agreement, identification is required. You should therefore always have a valid identity card or passport with you. For stays of more than three months, you can apply for a residence permit at the Latvian embassy in Germany. It also makes sense to take out health insurance abroad.
Latvia’s infrastructure is developed to varying degrees. There are few railway lines, but the country is easy to travel by bus.