Higher education in Lithuania is suitable for those who are looking for a budget-friendly option in a country with a high standard of living. By all means, the relatively low cost of education and affordable entry requirements make the country worth paying attention to.

In the article, we explain the features of education and employment, and briefly talk about the possibility of immigrating to Lithuania after studying.

Briefly about higher education in Lithuania

  • Higher education in Lithuania is not very popular among foreigners. There are only 600 foreign students in colleges, and 7000 at universities[1]. However, this does not mean that education in Lithuania is of poor quality. Four Lithuanian universities have high rankings in the QS EECA 2021: Vilnius University (20th place), Vilnius Gediminas Technical University (38th place), Kaunas University of Technology (50th place), and Vytautas Magnus University (65)[2].
  • Language. The official language of instruction in the country is Lithuanian, but there are more than 500 programs in English and 50 in Russian.
  • Visa. Students need a category D visa. You can apply for it only after enrolling in a college or university.
  • Price. For foreigners, education costs money at all levels except for doctorate studies. The minimum cost is 2,335 USD/year, and the maximum is 12,970 USD/year. Citizens of Lithuania and the EU can study for free.
  • Requirements. Admission to a bachelor's program is available after 11th grade. The required GPA is a 2.5. To study in English-language programs, you will need an IELTS (with scores from 5.0) or TOEFL (from 45) certificate. To study in Lithuanian — knowledge of the language at the CEFR B1 level is required. If you do not have any international certificates, it is possible to take a test at a college/university..
  • Legalization. Before submitting documents to a Lithuanian university, it is necessary to go through the procedure for recognizing a certificate or diploma. This is done by the Education Quality Assessment Center (SKVC) in Lithuania. The service is free. You can submit documents electronically, but be prepared for the process to take up to a month.
  • Integrated programs. This is an opportunity to simultaneously study bachelor’s and master’s programs in 5-6 years. At the end of the program, the student receives a master's degree. The average cost is 4,323 USD/year.
  • Job. To obtain a work permit, you will need a residence permit. It is issued after a year of studying at a Lithuanian university. A work permit is not required if your specialty is included in the list of in-demand professions or if you have already graduated from a Lithuanian college/university and are going to work in your specialty.

  • Relatively low prices. The average cost of education in Lithuania — 2,702 USD, which is one of the lowest costs for tuition in Europe. For comparison, a year of studies in the Czech Republic — 3,783 USD, in Finland — 8,646 USD, and in Spain — 5,404 USD.
  • High standard of living. Lithuania is ranked 34th in the prosperity index, ahead of Slovakia, Poland, and Greece. Its highest indicators are in the fields of education and ecology[3].
  • Free education is not for everyone. Only citizens of Lithuania and the EU can study at the expense of the state (bachelor's and master's programs)[4]. However, foreign students can apply for free placements in PhD programs.
  • Work while studying. You can get a job only after the first year of study, when you will be given a residence permit. You cannot obtain social security without a job[5].
  • Lack of funding. Every year, the number of colleges and universities decreases in Lithuania. Institutions with few students are closed. Teachers have some of the lowest salaries in Europe, forcing them to look for a second job or immigrate[6].

Vocational education in Lithuania

Vocational education in Lithuania is received in colleges called Kolegija. College educational programs focus on practice and applied research. Upon completion of the program, students are awarded a professional bachelor's degree (Profesinis bakalauras).

By law, at least half of the college teachers are required to have three years of work experience in their area of expertise[7]. This is a great incentive for those who have become disillusioned with teachers who give lectures according to a teaching manual.

The learning process includes lectures, seminars, and internships. The average duration is three years. During that time, you need to obtain at least 120 credits. This is the point system used to evaluate student work and study hours.

College graduates receive a higher education diploma (Aukštojo mokslo). Such a degree allows you to work in your area of specialization, but is not accepted to continue with a master’s program. Those wishing to continue their studies will have to study for an additional year in a bachelor's program at a university. The top 10% of college graduates can apply for a free placement at a university.

Vocational education has its advantages over academic degrees:

  • Low cost — an average of 2,162 USD/year
  • Shorter duration — 3 years
  • More professional experience — at least a third of the curriculum involves practical training[8]

Lithuanian colleges also offer programs in English — 120 in total.

Documents for admission
  • Diploma/certificate of secondary education and its translation into Lithuanian or English
  • Verification from the SKVC on the compliance of academic disciplines. To obtain it, you need a diploma, transcript, and the results of final exams
  • IELTS — 5.0 or TOEFL — 45 points, or college testing
Not for all colleges:

Bachelor's degrees in Lithuania

Bachelor's programs are the first level of the Lithuanian education system. The educational process is different for each field. In the humanities, there are many interactive teaching methods that include discussions, group projects, and case studies. In STEM fields, practical lessons predominate. This may include laboratory work or field research using scientific equipment. For example, biotechnology students conduct experiments in laboratories at their university. As project assignments, they develop medicines and food.

On average, a bachelor's degree in Lithuania lasts four years. You need to obtain at least 140-180 credits[9]. During one or two semesters, students can study in other countries. Each university has its own exchange programs. For example, Vilnius University offers ISEPs, ERASMUS+, NORDPLUS, and ARQUS.

For final exams, students defend a bachelor's thesis and take a final test. Upon graduation from the university, graduates are awarded a bachelor's degree (Bakalauras).

Some universities have integrated programs. These programs are mainly present in the fields of architecture, medicine, and international law[10]. They allow you to complete both a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in five to six years. To complete such a program, you need to obtain 200-240 credits. The medical field is an exception: in this direction, studies last up to seven years, requiring up to 280 credits[9]. Upon completion of the program, the student receives a master's degree.

When compiling curricula for foreigners, universities focus on areas in which there is a shortage of specialists: programming, game development, graphic design, aviation technology, construction, and chemistry[11]. More than 180 programs in English are available to students.

Average tuition fee:

  • Bachelor’s programs — 4,323 USD/year
  • Integrated programs — 6,485 USD/year

Documents for admission
  • Diploma/certificate of secondary education and its translation into Lithuanian or English
  • Verification from the SKVC on the compliance of academic disciplines. To obtain it, you need a diploma, transcript, and the results of final exams
  • IELTS — 5.5+, TOEFL — 65+, or university testing
  • Registration fee payment receipt (application fees cost 65-108 USD)
Not for all universities:
Need help with admission?

Master’s programs in Lithuania

A master's degree is the second tier of Lithuanian education. Approximately 25% of the total number of students in Lithuania are pursuing master’s degrees[1]. For some, this is a way to increase chances for employment and receive a higher salary[12], while for others it is an opportunity to build an academic career in the future.

Master's programs differ from bachelor's studies by their in-depth study of the chosen field without general subjects[13]. For example, if you are studying to be a linguist, mathematics or biology will not be in the curriculum. The volume of study in a master's program is 90-120 credits. On average, studies last up to 2 years. The curriculum depends on the university, but usually includes ten subjects (6 credits each) and a master's thesis (30 credits).

If you want to study in English, there are more than 90 programs to choose from.

Graduates receive master's degrees (Magistro laipsnis) or a degree in the European system, depending on the program of study:

  • Master of Arts
  • Master of Science
  • LL.M. Eur. (Master of European Law)

The average cost of a master's program is 5,404 USD/year. However, prices can reach 8,646 USD/year at branches of international universities.

Documents for admission
  • Bachelor's degree and its translation into Lithuanian or English
  • Verification from the SKVC on the compliance of academic disciplines
  • IELTS — 6.0, TOEFL — ≥85, or university testing
  • Registration fee payment receipt (application fees cost 65-108 USD)
  • Motivation letter
MBAs in Lithuania
An MBA (Master of Business Administration) is a program aimed at training entrepreneurs and managers with business experience. It can last from three to five years. In Lithuania, MBAs are recognized only as a professional qualification and not an academic degree. Unlike other master's programs, it is not always necessary to defend a research paper in order to obtain an MBA diploma[14]. There are two main types of MBA programs in Lithuania:
  • EMBA (Executive MBA) is a program for senior managers, usually with at least 10-12 years of experience
  • IMBA (International MBA) — business administration studies with an emphasis on the international market, cultural differences, and management of large global corporations

Doctorate studies in Lithuania

Doctorate studies are the last stage of higher education in Lithuania, mandatory for future teachers and researchers. Programs last from 3 to 4 years (240 credits). Doctorate studies consist of courses in selected subjects, 2-4 publications on the topic of the dissertation, participation in international and local conferences, and the defense of a doctoral dissertation.

All students can use the Academic Libraries Virtual Network (LABT), which greatly simplifies the search for research information. This network connects the libraries of universities, colleges, state research institutes, and the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences.

There are only 26 PhD programs in English.

Free education is available for foreigners, regardless of their citizenship. Paid doctorate programs cost an average of 3,675 USD/year.

Academic Career
A doctorate student can gain teaching experience while studying. He has two main options:
  • Paid full-time or part-time employment in university departments
  • Pedagogical practice lasting no more than 100 hours
Appointment to the position is carried out with the approval of the Academic Council (Akademinė taryba), which selects candidates on the basis of a competition[15]. Academic careers in Lithuania consist of four steps:
  • Assistant (Asistentas). Graduates of master's programs who have published at least three scientific articles are eligible for this position. You can become an assistant during your doctorate studies.
  • Lecturer (Lektorius). You will be allowed to teach others if you have a master's degree (or equivalent) and at least one publication in a scientific journal. Within five years, the teacher must teach students, engage in methodological work, and supervise the defense of bachelor's theses;
  • Associate Professor (Docentas). This position can be applied for by a PhD who has at least five publications in scientific journals and has teaching experience of at least three years.
  • Professor (Profesorius). To become a professor, you need to have a doctorate, more than eight published articles with a high citation index, and five years of experience in lecturing at any educational level[16].
There are also separate research titles:
  • Junior Researcher (Jaunesnysis mokslo darbuotojas)
  • Researcher (Mokslo darbuotojas)
  • Senior Researcher (Vyresnysis mokslo darbuotojas)
The minimum salary in higher education is 613 USD/month, the maximum is 1,468 USD/month[17]. In Lithuania, an academic career is not considered prestigious. This is largely due to the low salaries. Lithuanian researchers and teachers earn the least in the EU[6].
Documents for admission
Not at all universities:
  • IELTS — 6.0, TOEFL — ≥85, or testing at the university

Work while studying in Lithuania

International students can work 20 hours per week. Most often, jobs are found in the service industry or on campus. For permission to work, you need to have a residence permit, which is issued after a year of studies instead of a student visa[5]. Granted, you will not be able to work during the first year of your studies.

According to the law, the minimum wage of foreigners cannot be lower than that of similar specialists with Lithuanian citizenship. Now, it is 3 USD per hour[18], but the average wage is 6 USD per hour[19]. However, with a reduced schedule, even this amount may not be enough to pay for housing, food, and education. Monthly living expenses in Vilnius are listed below.

ExpensesAverage cost
Food162 USD
Accommodation581 USD / 392 USD / 81 USD
Public transportation31 USD
Internet (60 Mbps)14 USD
Clothing and shoes43-54 USD
IncomeAverage amount
Salary (40 hours)1,178 USD
Salary (20 hours)589 USD

If you aim to stick to a strict budget by living in a dorm and studying in a cheap program — you will need 432-540 USD per month. The average salary is quite enough for these expenses, but hardly enough for a comfortable life. In such conditions, it will not be possible to travel often, buy clothes, or go to the movies and cafes. Life will be difficult without an additional source of income. One of these sources can be scholarships and grants that are awarded for academic achievements, but it takes a lot of effort to receive them. Ultimately, combining studies with work will not be easy.

If you have enough money to live off of, try to get internships in your specialty (even free ones). You will gain experience, make it easier for yourself to learn the language, and you will be more likely to be employed in the given company after graduation. In Lithuania, working in the field of your education makes it easier to obtain a residence permit.

Many universities have their own career centers. They provide consultations, training, and help to find suitable internships. Take advantage of these services. They cooperate with the majority of Lithuanian companies.

Enter a university abroad

Prospects and employment opportunities

Lithuanian university diplomas are recognized in all European countries. You will be able to find a job in any country, including the US.

However, in Lithuania itself, the unemployment rate is high both among the population (7.2%)[20] and among foreigners (5.6%)[21]. At the same time, the chances of finding a job are much lower if you do not proficiently speak Lithuanian and are not an EU citizen. Do not consider migrating if you do not have funds saved for the period when you finish your education and start looking for a job.

In Lithuania, there is a list of demanded professions. This is an official document that is published on the website of the Department of Migration. We recommend checking it out if you plan to work in the country. You can receive a certificate stating that your specialty is in demand. This will make it more likely to find a job and reduce the number of required documents.

Immigration and opportunities to stay in Lithuania

Upon graduation, you can stay in the country for 15 months. To do so, it is necessary to apply for an extension of the residence permit for three months during the last year of study. It will remain valid after graduation. After graduation, you need to apply for a residence permit to look for work or self-employment, which is valid for 12 months. Once you find a job, you can renew it every year[22].

Foreigners who have lived in the country for 10 years or more are eligible to obtain Lithuanian citizenship. A portion of this time will pass during your studies.

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