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Russia, Academic Career Structure




Higher Education in Russia

All universities in the Russian Federation are under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education and Research. The Moscow State University has an independent position with the status of a ministry.

In 2005, Russia had 1,196,350 universities and higher education establishments that are authorised to offer undergraduate, postgraduate and doctorate degrees. Some of these establishments are private. See

The first Russian University was founded by Peter the Great in Saint-Petersburg in 1724. The Moscow State University was founded by Queen Elisabeth in 1755.


Career Curriculum

1. PhD Candidate (Aspirant)
2. Lecturer (Dozent)
3. Professor (Doktor nauk)
4. Chair Holder

The average age for obtaining the PhD degree is 25-27, which is very low compared to other countries. The age for the Habilitation is 50, for professors 60.


Requirements for Positions

To be accepted for doctoral studies a candidate must be approved by the Chair and pass certain exams. This position requires participation in the Chair activities, publications (at least two articles) and giving a seminar or teaching assistance at the Chair.

A lectureship requires a PhD. No additional postdoctoral training is required.

To become Professor, one needs considerable teaching and academic supervision experience, the habilitation and research output (at least two books). Carrier promotion at Russian universities reflects the acquisition of a research degree (PhD or Habilitation), production of academic articles and books, extensive teaching experience and the ability to supervise at least 3 PhD candidates.

Promotion is based on peer judgements and can only be granted within the same academic discipline. The promotion is locally managed; each institution is responsible for the assessment of applications from their own staff and it is the Faculty Council that approves the nominations. However, the final approval is given by the Ministry of Education and Research. Promotion can also be granted when applying for position in open competition at other institutions.



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Barriers to Career Advancement

Mobility in Russian Universities is very low and the Russian Federation is generally not open to foreign applicants besides visiting lecturers and professors coming for a certain course or within a partnership program with a particular university.

Although applicants are considered on the basis of their qualifications, networking and clientelism still seem to be significant. It should be noted that all academic appointments involve requests for references which also includes an informal reference of the Chair Holder to the Faculty Council. The final appointment is made by the Highest Attestation Committee (the VAK).


Job Security

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Contracts and Duties

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Sabbatical Opportunities

Paid sabbatical leave, which is expected to be used for research, is possible. Yet, due to the fact that the salary is substantially reduced during such leave only few academics opt for it.

Maternity leave is 30 weeks with full pay. Furthermore, there are partly paid 1.5 and 3-year periods of maternity leave during which one receives a maximum monthly stipend of around €200.


Gross Salaries

Gross monthly salary levels from 2007


PhD Candidate


250 €/month
(12,000 RUB)




600 €/month
(20,000 RUB)




900 €/month
(30,000 RUB)




1,100 €/month
(40,000 RUB)


Source: Year Report of the Law Faculty of MGU 2006


Number of Existing Positions





------All Disciplines

PhD Candidates























There is extremely low mobility in Russian universities among students and academics. Of the students, 95% continue their postgraduate training at the same institution where they obtained their first degree, and two-thirds of the professors received their PhD and Habilitation from the university where they are employed.


Accessibility for Non-Nationals

Russian academia is generally open to foreign students, although they have to pay much higher fees than Russian students. Some foreign students stay in Russia to obtain a PhD, but very few of them remain in Russian academia.

General information for foreign students can be found on the website of the Ministry of Research and Science.


National Universities

There are 2,597 accredited national universities in Russia. There is no official ranking, although there may be great differences in quality.. The 'classical universities'  are the oldest state universities in Moscow, Sanct-Petersburg, Kazan, Ekaterinburg, Samara, etc.


Research Institutions

The research institutions are subdivisions of the Academy of Sciences of Russia.



Academic Unions

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Useful Websites

Info for History

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Info for Economics

Info for Law

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Info for Social and Political Science

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Postdoctoral Information

The Economics and Social Research Councils offer well structured information on funding.


Websites for Job Postings

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Special thanks to:

Ekaterina Mouliarova, Max Weber Postdoctoral Fellow, EUI 2007/08 

Page last updated on 28 August 2018

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