Latvia is an Eastern European country fondly referred to as ‘The best-kept secret in Europe.’ The country is stunningly beautiful, and at the same time not very popular outside of Europe like the bigger countries. That is what makes it a gem.
The country’s culture and way of life are heavily influenced by Estonia to the north, Lithuania to the south, and Belarus and Russia to the east. This makes the country a nation of several ethnic mix and cultures.
Add the wide beaches to the east and dense sprawling forests, you get a country immensely blessed with natural beauty.
The landscape of the country, especially the capital Riga, is dotted with unique architectural masterpieces like the St Peter’s Church, the National Museum, and the huge Central Market.
Higher Education in Latvia
This country of about 2 million people has two types of tertiary education programs. These are Academic and professional programs.
Academic programs are strictly focused on improving the student’s ability to conduct independent research while giving a theoretical foundation for a future career.
Professional programs, on the other hand, prepare students for careers in all aspects of Latvian society. Graduates of the professional programs can end up as teachers and researchers in their fields.
All universities in Latvia offer both types of programs and the language of instruction is mainly in the Latvia, the main language of the country.
Latvian universities follow a strict academic calendar that runs from September to June for each academic year. Bachelor’s degrees are generally 4-year programs while Master’s degrees are at most 2-year programs.
The duration of Ph.D. level programs largely depends on the student’s researching abilities.
Reasons to study in Latvia
- There are several English-taught courses in Latvian universities targeted at foreign students
- The education is comparatively affordable
- The living costs are also lower than in many Western countries
- A degree from Latvian University is equivalent to a degree from any EU country making it valuable around the world
- Latvia is known for producing high-quality engineering and IT students.
Students cost of living in Latvia
The cost of living in Latvia is dependent on your location in the country and lifestyle. Obviously, there would be a disparity between the cost of living in the capital Riga compared to another town like Liepaja.
On the average though, the cost of living should be between €450 and €750. Depending on the type of accommodation, the amount should take care of transportation, utility bills, food, and accommodation.
Students who love traveling a lot should expect to pay more though.
Tuition fees at Latvian universities vary depending on the program and the institution of choice. However, like in most Study abroad countries, there is a disparity in the fees paid by Latvian students on the one hand and EU and Swiss students on the other.
Non-European students should expect to pay a higher tuition than domestic and EU students.
In general, the approximate tuition range for some popular undergraduate programs are as follows:
- Medicine 7500 — 15,000 Euros per year
- Business programs 2,000 — 6,000 Euros per year
- Management programs 2,000 — 6,000 Euros per year
- IT and Engineering programs 2,200 – 4000 Euros per year
- Mathematics 2,000 — 4,000 Euros per year
- Informatics 2,000 — 4,000 Euros per year
At the Master’s level, the tuition can go as high as $4,000 per year for international students while EU students should expect to pay about half of that.
Applying for admission to study in Latvia
The admission procedure varies for each University in Latvia. But generally, all study abroad students to Latvia must provide the following when applying for admission:
- Academic transcript
- Degree/diploma/certificate from your previous educational institution(s) and
- English language test results if you want to study in English
These must be sent to the university of choice in addition to other peculiar prerequisites demanded by the university.
To get the detailed admission requirements for each University, students should contact the relevant admission office through their websites or email.
Once your admission has been processed and granted, a conditional acceptance letter would be issued to you. You would need to sign a letter accepting the admission.
The full first-year tuition fee must be paid before final approval is granted to come to Latvia to study. Some universities might ask for a security deposit to prove you have enough funds.
All international students coming to Latvia (except citizens from the EU) must obtain a student visa and a residence permit to study in the country.
In some cases, your chosen university would guide you on how to obtain a student visa and a resident permit. They might also apply on your behalf.
The cost of obtaining these two documents also vary depending on the location. The embassy close to your location would give you details of the cost.
Non-European students must go to the nearest consulate/embassy to complete the process of getting a student visa and residence permit.
The documents needed include:
- The completed student visa application form which you can get here
- Passport sized photo
- Your traveling passport
- Your admission letter from the admission
- All your academic records
- Proof of payment of tuition fee (to be provided by the university)
- Bank statements to show you have enough money to finance your stay in Latvia
- Proof of accommodation from the University
- Proof of health insurance
Getting the student visa and residence permit can take several weeks. So intending students are advised to apply months before the beginning of the school year.
List of top 10 universities in Latvia
- University of Latvia, Riga
- Riga Technical University, Riga
- Latvia University of Agriculture, Jelgava
- Turiba University, Riga
- Riga Stradins University, Riga
- Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences, Valmiera
- Rezekne Higher Education Institute, Rezekne
- Riga Graduate School of Law, Riga
- Transport and Telecommunication Institute, Riga
- Daugavpils University, Daugavpils