Tuesday, April 18, 2017

WES Credential Evaluations for Russian Students

By Lily Jandreska
World Education Services


The estimated population of Russia is 142 million. With a literacy rate of 98 percent, Russia is one of the most educated countries in Western Europe. In this post, we will review the structure of Russian education and how it can be translated to North American education standards through a credential evaluation.

The official language of instruction in Russia is Russian. However, citizens of the Russian Federation have the right to receive basic general education in their native language.  Academic years in Russia run from September to June and Russian education is administered by The Ministry of Education and Science and the Federal Services for Supervision in Education and Science. This system consists of both compulsory general education and higher education.

General education in Russia has three distinct stages:
  • Primary education: Lasts four years
  • Basic general education: Lasts five years
  • Secondary education: Lasts two to three years
Secondary Education
After completing 11 years of secondary general education and after passing the state final attestation (final examinations), students are awarded Certificate of General Secondary Education or Attestat ob Sredem Obshchem Obrazovanii. This certificate allows them to continue vocational education or both non-university and university level education.

The World Education Services (WES) U.S. equivalency for this credential is a high school diploma; the Canadian equivalency is a secondary school diploma. The major for both the U.S. and Canadian equivalency is general academic. Students benefit from having a high school WES evaluation report because they can use it to continue their education in the U.S. or Canada.

University Higher Education
These are the most common university higher education credentials evaluated at WES:
  • Diploma of Specialist or Diplom
  • Bachelor's degree or Bakalavr
  • Master's degree or Magistr
  • Candidate of science or Kandidat Nauk
Read below for more information on these degrees and their equivalency to U.S. and Canadian degrees:

Diploma of Specialist (Diplom)
This degree usually requires five years of full-time study or one to two years after the completion of a bakalavr degree. The admission requirement for a diploma of specialist is the diploma of completion of secondary school education. The professional diploma of specialist in medicine, veterinary medicine, and dentistry requires five to six years of study. This program allows students to access doctorate programs in Russia.

There are two facets of the diploma of specialist degree: 
  • Non-professional diploma of specialist: WES equates this degree that has a five-year program length with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the U.S. and Canada. This degree is granted in all disciplines and majors except medicine, veterinary medicine, and dentistry.
  • Diploma of specialist: WES equates this degree that has a one- to two-year program length with a master’s degree in the U.S. and Canada. The professional diploma of specialist is equated to a first professional degree in medicine, veterinary medicine, or dentistry.
Bachelor’s Degree (Bakalavr)
This degree is awarded after four years of full-time study and the diploma of completion of secondary school education is required for admission to this program. The award of the bakalavr program grants access to the magistr or diploma of specialist. The U.S. and Canadian WES equivalency for this program is a bachelor’s degree (four years of study). The bakalavr is awarded across all disciplines and majors except medicine, veterinary medicine, and dentistry.

Master’s Degree (Magistr)  
This is an academic degree designed for students who want to pursue a career in academia. It can be completed within two years or less. The admission requirement for this program is the bakalavr or diploma of specialist. The U.S. and Canadian WES equivalency for this program is a master’s degree and is awarded across all academic disciplines. Russian students are eligible to apply for a doctorate program after earning a magistr degree.

Candidate of Science (Kandidat Nauk)
This is one of the highest university credentials in Russia. It takes a minimum of three years to complete this program and students must have completed their magistr or diploma of specialist degree to be considered for the kandidat nauk. The U.S. and Canadian WES equivalency for this program is an earned doctorate and can be awarded in any academic discipline.

For more information on U.S. and Canadian degree equivalencies, please use our Free Degree Equivalency Tool. To further understand the WES grade conversion scale for Russian credentials, please go to our Grade Conversion Guide.  To calculate what your GPA will be worth, try our free GPA Calculator.

WES Required Documents
Here are some required documents you will need for your evaluation:
  • Secondary education: Certificate of General Secondary Education certified with an apostille by the authorized body of education of the Russian Federation
  • Higher Education: The diploma and diploma supplement also certified with an apostille by the authorized body of education of the Russian Federation
For more information on which documents are acceptable for WES evaluation, please visit the required documents section of the WES website.


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Lily Jandreska works as a credential analyst for the evaluation department at WES. 

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