Medical education in Russia is considered one of the highest quality in the world due to the work of qualified academic staff, a variety of curricula in English and even French, relatively low tuition costs and availability of scholarship programs for talented students. In addition, foreign applicants have every chance of studying for free at a medical university in Russia, but free education requires excellent academic performance.

The structure of medical education in Russia

Medical education in Russia has a complex multi-stage structure. The first step of an applicant on the way to mastering the profession of a doctor will be passing a unified state exam (USE) or internal examinations of a medical university, conducted for foreign citizens. Next, the student will have to complete a 4-year bachelor’s program, at the end of which the graduate will be able to work only in junior medical positions (nurse, paramedic), but only after undergoing accreditation.

To become a doctor, an applicant must take a different path — enroll in a specialty program. The duration of studies at the specialty programs is at least 5 years (psychology, pharmaceuticals, dentistry), after which a graduate will be able to begin medical practice, but also needs to undergo accreditation.

Graduates of medical universities (bachelors, specialists) must undergo the primary accreditation procedure, which includes checking the theoretical knowledge and practical skills acquired by students during the learning process. Only after passing the exam successfully the graduate has the right, without additional training, to start working in the positions of primary care specialists, that is, a pediatrician and local therapist.

To get a narrower specialty (for example, a surgeon, cardiologist or gastroenterologist), it is necessary to study for a total of 6-9 years and continue education in residency (2-4 years). If the student has a desire to engage in research activities, then he should think about entering a graduate school and then undergo doctoral studies.

It is interesting that Russian universities offer a wide range of higher education programs to train specialists in fields related to medicine, for example, physiology, medical psychology, medical physics, biochemistry, pharmacology, genetics, entomology, embryology, pharmaceuticals, zoology, physiotherapy exercises, and forensic science and biology. It is much easier to enter these specialties than medical ones, plus you can study at a state university at the faculty of chemistry or biology. Another advantage of such programs is that it is much easier to transfer to a foreign university to continue studying in the specialty "biologist" than in the medical specialty.

Medical education programs in Russia

ProgramDuration of study
General Medicine6 years
Pediatrics6 years
Dentistry5 years
Pharmacy5.5 years
Clinical Psychology5.5 years
Nursing4 years

The advantages of medical education in Russia

  • Teaching fundamental (anatomy, histology, biochemistry, etc.) and clinical disciplines (surgery, therapy) has always been a strong point of Russian medical education;
  • Low cost of training in Russian medical universities in comparison with similar programs in the USA and Europe;
  • Strict discipline. Being late might result in compulsory work at the time that is convenient to the professor, in case of being absent the student must pay to take a catch-up class. The absentees often have to prepare academic essays. For systematic absence from classes, the student might face expulsion, which motivates the student to always attend classes;
  • For foreign students, many medical schools provide preparatory courses, aimed at applicants who do not have sufficient knowledge of the Russian language;
  • Talented students have the opportunity to apply for state-funded places and receive a small scholarship;
  • Foreigners are allowed not to take the USE, as medical universities conduct internal exams in Russian or English for international students.
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Disadvantages of medical education in Russia

  • Russian medical universities are very theory heavy, while practical knowledge takes the back seat. While in European countries and the USA, medical students spend more time in practical exercises using various simulators, in Russia such luxury is not yet available to all universities;
  • Since the curators are not paid for mentoring residency students, young residents have to do the most rough work in the department in hospitals, which is practically not related to treating patients. Students have to independently look for an opportunity to practice.

Admission requirements at medical universities in Russia for foreigners

A foreign student can enter a medical university to undergo bachelor’s or specialty programs immediately after graduation from high school. If you wish, you can take a preparatory course to adapt to the new cultural environment, increase the Russian language proficiency and enhance knowledge in basic subjects.

What is required from a foreigner for admission?

  • Document on the received secondary or vocational education, equivalent to Russian (with notarized translation into Russian);
  • Application for admission;
  • Referral from Rosobrnadzor (upon reception of a state-funded quota);
  • Copy of the information pages of the passport with a notarized translation;
  • Copy of a student visa;
  • Certificate confirming the absence of infectious diseases and HIV;
  • 6 photos in 4x6cm format;
  • Migration card or temporary or permanent residence permit;
  • TOEFL, IELTS certificate or equivalent for training in English;
  • For applicants from the CIS countries, when enrolling to state-funded places it is necessary to have a birth certificate of one of the parents born in the USSR, or a marriage certificate.
UniversityMin. requirementsBeginning and end of acceptance of applications
Sechenov University
  • computer testing or USE results
  • average score for admission to the state funded seat is 56+
  • beginning June 20
  • end August 27-29
  • start of training September 1
  • beginning October 19
  • end October 25-29
  • start of training November 1
Pirogov Medical University
  • computer testing or USE results
  • average score for admission to the state funded seat is 73+
  • beginning June 20
  • end July 10
  • July 26th
  • until July 10
  • August 18th
  • start of training on September 1
St. Petersburg State Pediatric Medical University
  • USE results or a written exam for future bachelors and specialists, oral — for masters.
  • average score for admission to the state funded seat is 69+
  • beginning to June 20
  • Budget:
  • end of July 10 undergraduate / specialty
  • end of July 26 master
  • Contract:
  • end of July 10 undergraduate / specialty
  • end of August 8 master's
  • program start of studies on September 1 of
Pavlov University
  • exam results or exams: chemistry orally, biology in writing
  • average score for admission to the state funded seat is 75
  • beginning June 20
  • end July 10
  • start of training September 1
Ryazan State Medical University
  • results of the USE or internal exams in mathematics, the Russian language, chemistry and biology, the total passing score is 263 for the state-funded and 154 for the contract place.
  • For CIS citizens:
  • from June 20 to July 10 if taken an internal
  • entrance examinations
  • from 20 June to 18 July if talent the USE exam
  • For non-CIS citizens:
  • from June 20 to July 10 for admission after the training courses
  • from June 20 to August 10 for everyone else
  • the start of training September 1
Volgograd State Medical University
  • USE or internal exams results
  • average score for admission to the state funded seat is 60+
  • to 28 July for applicants without examination within quotas
  • before 1 August for the applicants on the basis of competition
  • training starting September 1
Siberian State Medical University
  • USE or internal exams results
  • average score for admission to the state funded seat is 60+
  • Bachelor’s/specialty:
  • beginning June 18
  • to July 14 (budget) until August 20
  • Master's program:
  • from June 18 to August 10
  • start of studies on September 1

Preparatory programs for admission to medical universities in Russia

Foreign applicants who do not have sufficient knowledge of Russian language can choose to participate in preparatory programs. The duration of training depends on the initial level of knowledge of the student. As a rule, foreigners enter a standard one-year course, which includes intensive classes in Russian (4-5 hours daily) and the study of several basic disciplines, for example, chemistry, biology and mathematics, which will help the student to consolidate existing knowledge and successfully pass the introductory exams. Moreover, the preparatory course most often includes various cultural events that allow a foreign student to quickly adapt to the new environment and get to know their classmates in an informal setting.

Most medical schools offer preparatory courses of varying lengths for students with different levels of Russian language proficiency, for example, a 5-month program that accepts foreigners with basic knowledge of the Russian language. To get training exclusively in Russian without studying additional disciplines, you can enter an intensive course. If the student wants to get more thorough training, then he should enroll in a two-year preparatory course, which includes the study of several specialized disciplines for medical specialists. During the first semester, students master the basics of the Russian language, and from the second semester, specialized disciplines are added to it, which students study in depth.

As a rule, classes in preparatory departments start at the beginning of the school year in September and end in June-July, but many medical universities enroll students for the course later, depending on when the foreigner arrived in Russia. At the end of the training, students pass an exam, according to the results of which they are enrolled in the main program at a medical university. If a foreigner does not gain the required number of points for the exam, he is expelled.

UniversityProgramLanguage proficiencyDurationCost
Sechenov University
  • preparation for entering a university
  • Russian as a foreign language
  • Russian as a foreign language (intensive)
  • Base
  • No prior knowledge
  • 5 months
  • 2 years
  • 1 year
  • 1,203 USD
  • 2,406 USD
  • 2,406 USD
Pirogov Medical Universitypreparatory departmentNo prior knowledge1 year2,396 USD
St. Petersburg State Pediatric Medical Universitypreparatory departmentNo prior knowledge1 year1,563 USD
Pavlov Universitypreparatory facultyNo prior knowledge1 year1,563 USD
Ryazan State Medical Universitypreparatory coursesNo prior knowledge1 year1,719 USD
Volgograd State Medical Universitypreparatory departmentNo prior knowledge1 year
  • 2,000 USD in Russian
  • 4,000 USD in another available language
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Tuition for medical specialties in Russia for foreigners (in Russian)

As a rule, teaching at medical universities in Russia is conducted in Russian, so a foreign student needs to have a proficiency of at least B1. This would be enough to start studying at the university. A foreigner can achieve this level of proficiency attending preparatory courses, which are conducted by many medical universities. Students who are fluent in Russian can apply for scholarships or study at the expense of the state budget.

UniversityBachelor’sSpecialtyMaster’sResidencyGraduate schoolDoctoral studies
Sechenov University1,146-3,073 USD2,198-55,209 USD1,042-2,865 USD2,979-4,167 USD2,083-4,333 USD1,917-2,708 USD
Pirogov Medical University2,396-4,010 USD2,396-4,010 USD-3,646-4,167 USD3,125-4,271 USD-
St. Petersburg State Pediatric Medical University1,646-1,771 USD1,776-3,125 USD1,922 USD2,302 USD2,151 USD1,146 USD
Pavlov University2,670-3,203 USD2,670-3,203 USD2,670-3,203 USD2,670-3,203 USD2,670-3,203 USD2,670-3,203 USD
Ryazan State Medical University1,224 USD1,542-2,969 USD1,310 USD2,813 USD3,229 USD-
Volgograd State Medical University2,330 USD2,330-6,600 USD2,330-6,600 USD3,900-8,000 USD4,000-4,500 USD-
Siberian State Medical University1,545-1,699 USD1,545-2,154 USD / 2,813 USD-1,819-2,188 USD1,790-2,390 USD-

The cost of training in medical specialties in Russia for foreigners (in English)

To study in a medical specialty at a Russian university, a foreigner does not need to know Russian, as some universities offer programs in English. Unfortunately, at this stage, the number of programs conducted in English is significantly less than in Russian. Another important point — training in English is possible only on a paid-contract basis.

Siberian State Medical UniversityGeneral Medicine5,700 USD5,700 USD5,700 USD-
Sechenov University
  • General Medicine
  • Pharmacy
  • Clinical Medicine
  • Dentistry
  • Medical Biochemistry
1,146-3,073 USD2,198-5,521 USD1,042-2,865 USD2,979-4,167 USD
Oryol State University
  • General Medicine
  • Dentistry
5,500 USD5,500 USD--
Ryazan State Medical UniversityGeneral Medicine4,250 USD4,250 USD4,250 USD-
Astrakhan State Medical University
  • Pharmacy
  • Medicine
  • Dentistry
-1,354-1,521 USD--
Volgograd State Medical University
  • Pharmacy
  • Medicine
  • Dentistry
5,930 USD4,530 USD6,600 USD6,500 USD-8000
RUDN University
  • Clinical Medicine
  • Dentistry
  • Fundamental Medicine
  • Veterinary Medicine
  • Biochemistry
  • Genetics
-8,500-9,500 USD4,200-5,300 USD-

State-funded studies for foreign students in Russia

Every year, the Russian government allocates the quota to 15 thousand foreign students. Each university conducts entrance examinations in various subjects, they can be oral or written. Some universities conduct computer testing. In addition, foreign citizens, if desired, can pass the exam. The law states that foreign students enrolled in the state-funded quota are provided with a hostel and state scholarship throughout the entire period of study, regardless of academic performance. To become a participant in this program, a foreign student must indicate that he is going to enter a medical university under a quota. It is worth mentioning that an applicant who wants to apply for the state-funded place in a medical university without knowing the Russian language can finish preparatory courses for free at the expense of the state budget.


After receiving a degree of higher medical education, a university graduate has two options — to start medical practice as a local doctor/pediatrician (available after accreditation) or to gain invaluable experience in residency and become a narrow specialist (gastroenterologist, gynecologist, etc.).

Graduates of medical universities who want to gain experience and acquire deeper knowledge in a particular specialty enter the residency. Residents are attached to the hospital or clinic, where they act as assistants. The work of a young specialist is supervised by a practitioner, who shows him various aspects of his work. But often the student has to do a lot of manual work, which includes filling out patient histories, staying on duty, and much more. In parallel with the work in the hospital, the intern attends lectures at the university and passes exams. The duration of training depends on the specialty, which the resident intends to receive, and varies from 2 to 6 years. At the end of the residency, the student passes final exams, after which he receives a certificate allowing him to begin a full-fledged medical practice in a narrow specialty.

For admission to residency, a graduate of a medical university must pass an entrance exam in a test format. In total, the applicant is invited to complete 60 tasks in 60 minutes. Exam results are valid for 1 calendar year.


A foreign student who is interested in developing his scientific potential can enter postgraduate studies immediately after graduation, bypassing internships. To become a graduate student, he needs to pass entrance tests and have recommendations from the members of Academic Council of the university, which have a specialist diploma. You can enter both state-funded and the contract places. A huge plus for state-funded students is the availability of monthly scholarship payments.

Postgraduate studies can be compared to advanced training, a graduate student studies a certain direction in medicine in-depth, and writes a scientific dissertation based on the chosen medical field. The success of the graduate student and the progress in writing scientific work is monitored by a curator; he also draws up an individual work plan for him, which sets the milestones and deadlines for writing a dissertation. It is noteworthy that if the plan is not fulfilled, graduate students can be expelled.

In addition to writing his scientific work, the postgraduate student's duties include attending additional classes, as well as actively participating in the work of the department to which he is attached. Often, graduate students give lectures or practical classes for junior students. After defending the dissertation, the graduate student is awarded the degree of candidate of sciences, which allows him to start a teaching career in his native or any other university, or to head off into science. The duration of postgraduate studies in the medical specialty is 3 years (full-time) or 4 years (part-time).

Doctoral studies

Doctoral studies are a great opportunity to pursue a career in the scientific field. To become a doctoral student at a medical university, you must have a russian title of candidate of science (or a foreign title equivalent to it), work experience in the specialty, as well as research experience of at least 3 years. In addition, the doctoral candidate must have published scientific papers. For a three-year period of study in doctoral studies, a doctoral student needs to do serious research work: prepare a plan for a scientific dissertation and provide the department with finished work. To help the doctoral student, the university appoints a scientific consultant who has a Doctoral of Science degree , and if necessary, experts from other educational institutions are invited as consultants. After defending a dissertation, a doctoral candidate is awarded a scientific degree, which is supported by a diploma of a doctor of sciences. An important point: doctoral studies are only possible full-time.

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Transfer from a foreign university to a medical university in Russia

Transferring from a foreign university to a Russian one cannot be called easy, since not all foreign qualifications are recognized in Russia and are equivalent to Russian ones. It is more or less clear with the university diplomas of participants in the CIS countries, since international agreements on the mutual recognition of documents on education are in place between them and the Russian Federation. But when it comes to universities in Europe and the USA the process is a little more complicated. In any case, the foreign applicant at the first stage notifies the selected university of his desire to continue his studies, prepares the necessary package of documents, which includes the applicant’s passport data, an application with the specified specialty and mode of study, documents about the education received from a foreign university, photographs, and also a medical certificate. More detailed information on the list of documents for transfer from a foreign university can be found on the website of the selected university.

As a rule, an application for transfer is submitted digitally and filled out on the website of the educational institution, digital copies of documents can be attached to the application (again, it depends on the requirements of a particular university). No later than 14 days after the application is submitted by a foreigner, the university certification committee, evaluates the documents for compliance with the qualifications received by the applicant in a foreign university with the requirements of a Russian university. The commission evaluates the list of completed disciplines, internships and scientific work credits for which can be reapplied in the future, after which the applicant will be allowed to study in the chosen specialty. The decision to consider or refuse documents of a foreign applicant is made by the commission within three calendar days. The commission shall notify the candidate of its decision via email.

A foreign applicant may receive a letter of refusal or transfer to the chosen specialty with the need for competitive selection. In the latter case, the applicant passes certification in the format of computer testing. Some universities may conduct additional tests in English (if the applicant does not have a language certificate). Computer testing can be carried out both in Russian and in English, if the applicant does not know Russian sufficiently.

Benefits and scholarships for foreign students in Russia

A huge advantage of studying at a medical university in Russia for foreigners is the opportunity to study for free and receive a state scholarship on an equal basis with citizens of the Russian Federation. However, for this you need to go through a very strict competitive selection. It should be noted that the size of the scholarship for foreign citizens can be called "symbolic" of only 17 USD (in 2018), which is equivalent to 25 USD per month. But together with the scholarship, a foreigner gets the opportunity to study and live in a university dormitory for free. Another nice bonus is that the scholarship is paid regardless of the academic performance of a foreign student, which is not the case for Russian students.

The scholarship does not cover travel expenses to the place of study, accommodation (food) and medical insurance. The student must take care of this on his own accord. In some cases, a foreigner can apply for other scholarships organized by private foundations and non-governmental organizations. To do this, the student must demonstrate excellent academic performance, participate in various competitions and contests, as well as be an active member of the university community.

Recognition of a Russian medical diploma in other countries

Diplomas of Russian medical universities are not recognized by most countries of the world (USA, Europe), but are quoted in the CIS countries due to existing agreements on mutual recognition and equivalence of educational documents, academic degrees and ranks. Even if a diploma issued by a Russian university falls within the scope of this agreement, it is quite possible that upon further examination of educational documents the receiving party (university, employer) will oblige a graduate of a Russian university to undergo legalization and/or recognition procedures for his diploma, pass additional exams or study. This decision may be affected by the accreditation of the institution that issued the diploma, the difference in the number of hours worked in a particular discipline, and the content of the curriculum itself. You should also take into account the fact that higher requirements are imposed on graduates of medical universities for employment, since the lives of patients depend on the level of competence of the former student.

As for the recognition of medical diplomas of Russian universities in foreign countries, everything here is much more complicated. A university graduate and even a doctor with experience must have their diploma officially recognized and pass a qualification exam. This is due to the fact that Western doctors study at universities and medical schools longer than their Russian counterparts. In some countries (Germany, Czech Republic, etc.), a graduate of a university can immediately get a job as a doctor’s assistant, while his diploma is being recognized, but has to be proficient in the local language.

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Accommodations for foreign students during their studies at a Russian medical university

A foreign student may apply for a place in a university dormitory, provided that the institution has its own dorms. As a rule, students live in rooms of 2-3 people and are provided with necessary furniture and bedding. Students acquire household items and electrical appliances at their own expense. Many dormitories (but not all) have a student cafe or a dining room, a self-study training center, a gym, a medical room, a laundry room and an Internet center with computers and copy machines.

As for amenities, they are usually located on the floor, as well as kitchens equipped with gas stoves and dining tables, so students can cook their own meals. It is worth noting that often hostels are located in dilapidated buildings, so before entering it is worth separately checking information on the quality of accommodation and the housing conditions. The cost of accommodation in a hostel varies from 40 USD to 80 USD per month.

If the university cannot provide a foreigner with a place in the residence, then the student can only rent a house or apartment. It is worth noting that in the capital and other major cities, accommodation can cost "a pretty penny." Therefore, foreigners often rent housing for several people to reduce costs. Prices for rental housing in Moscow start from 32 thousand rubles per month for a one-room apartment and from 208 USD per month per room in a two-three-room apartment. Plus, it is worth adding food expenses — about 150-200 USD per month. Renting a place in the province is not demanding for a student’s budget, for example, living in a one-room apartment in Rostov-on-Don will cost around 156 USD per month, and you can rent a room for 104 USD per month. Food costs will also be less — about 120-150 USD per month.

Prospects after graduation in Russia

After acquiring a diploma, a foreign student can return to their home country or apply for a work permit and search for suitable vacancies. The most resourceful students are looking for work during their studies at the university. It is noteworthy that foreigners are allowed to work while studying, but only in their free time, because if the student misses classes due to work, he or she might have to retake said classes or be expelled in case of repeated absenteeism.

A foreign student can count on finding a job in Russia as medics thanks to the vacancies that medical universities regularly post on their websites, as they work with both public hospitals and private clinics throughout Russia. In some universities, special departments have been created to help foreigners with finding work not only in Russian but also in foreign companies. An important role is played by the personal contacts that the student establishes during his studies at the university. Interestingly, the presence of a Russian diploma allows a foreigner to obtain citizenship of the Russian Federation according to a simplified procedure. In addition to a diploma from a Russian university, he needs to have three years of work experience in a specialty, confirmed by an entry in the workbook.

Foreign students who have completed a specialty or master's program can continue their research activities in a graduate school, and then in doctoral studies, after which they can get a teacher's place in their native university. It is worth noting that in Russian medical schools there is a fairly small percentage of foreign teachers, but much depends on the aspirations and plans of the student himself.

The best medical universities in Russia

Rating in the worldUniversity% of foreign students at the university
194Lomonosov Moscow State University 22%
401-500Kazan Federal University9%
401-500Novosibirsk State University18%
401-500St. Petersburg State University10%
1001+Far Eastern Federal University14%
1001+RUDN University32%
1001+Sechenov University10%
1001+Ural Federal University7%
1001+Voronezh State University9%

The table shows the data according to the world rating THE, which includes only large state universities where you can get a medical specialty. However, in Russia there are specialized medical universities, in which education is much more valued.

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Photos of Russian medical universities

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