Education System of Lithuania

The education system of Lithuania is defined by the law on education. As per the law, the education system of Lithuania comprises of formal and non-formal education. Formal education encompasses primary, basic/lower secondary and upper secondary education, formal vocational education and training, and tertiary education. Non-formal education encompasses pre-school education, pre-primary education, and other non-formal education for adults. 

According to the laws of the Republic of Lithuania, each and every child has the right to primary, basic/lower and upper secondary education in Lithuania. Education in Lithuania is free of cost. 

Lithuanian Educational Background

The education system of Lithuania was developed in the 16th century. In the 16th century there was a growth in primary and catholic schools in Lithuania. Earlier there were no higher education institutions so children use to study in Western Europe universities. In 1579 was established the first local university- Vilnius university. This is the oldest university in Eastern Europe. The first Ministry of Education, also called as “Education Commission” was set up in 1773. The Ministry was responsible for the education system in Lithuania. Another university- Kaunas university was founded in 1922. In 1988 started the education reform. Core principles of Lithuanian education system were laid down. Many educational institutions –public and private were established.  As per 1992 constitution, education in Lithuania is mandatory for children aged 6/7 to 16 and free of charge at all educational levels. 

Lithuanian Education Profile 

The education system of Lithuania comprises of pre-tertiary and tertiary education. The pre-tertiary education in Lithuania is divided into four stages:
  • Pre-school education
  • Pre-primary education
  • Primary education
  • Secondary education- Basic/lower and upper secondary education

Pre-school Education

This educational level is for children aged 5 or 6. The pre-school education in Lithuania is not mandatory to attend, and is provided by the public and private kindergartens and nursery schools.

Pre-primary Education

This educational level is for children aged 5 to7.  This educational level lasts for 1 year and is provided to children aged 6, while in some cases, to children aged 5. This educational level prepares children for school level. Education at this level is not compulsory and free of charge. It’s the parents who decided whether this educational level programme is required for their children or not.

Compulsory Education

In Lithuania, education is compulsory for all children aged 6/7 to 16. 

Primary Education

The primary education in Lithuania lasts for 4 years and is for children aged 6 to 11. This educational level is compulsory in Lithuania and provided by the primary schools. This level provides basic literacy, moral, social and cultural maturity.

Secondary Education

Secondary education in Lithuania encompasses basic/lower secondary and upper secondary education. This educational level is not mandatory to attend.

Lower Secondary Education/Basic Education

This educational level lasts for 6 years and is for children aged 10 to 17. Students who have completed primary education are eligible for lower secondary education under the six year basic education programme. This programme is carried out by the secondary, basic, youth schools, vocational education and training schools, and gymnasiums. This educational level is compulsory and comprises of 2 parts:
  • Part 1: Consists of a 4-year programme carried out in the 5th to 8th forms
  • Part 2: Consists of a 2-year programme executed in the 9th-10th forms or 1st-2nd forms of the gymnasium. 
Students get to learn a second foreign language in the fifth and sixth form. In the ninth form or the first form of the gymnasium, students can select subject modules and elective subjects as per their capabilities, bent and interests.

Upper Secondary Education

This educational level is for children aged 16 to 19 and lasts for 2 years. This level prepares students for higher education. The upper secondary education in Lithuania is not mandatory. It covers 11th-12th forms of the secondary education or forms 3 and 4 of the gymnasium. This educational level is offered in secondary schools, gymnasiums, and vocational education and training schools.

Tertiary/Higher Education

The higher education in Lithuania is imparted by the universities and colleges. Lithuania has adopted the Bologna system in 2006.  Tertiary education in Lithuania is based on the European credit system (ECTS). 

Higher Education Institutions: Snapshot

In Lithuania, there are two types of higher education institutions:
  • Universities: These higher education institutions provide academic studies that lead to a bachelor, master and PhD degrees. 
  • Colleges: These higher education institutions are non-academic and provide vocational education and offer professional bachelor degrees. 

Higher Education Qualifications

Following are the degrees offered by the higher education institutions in Lithuania:
  • Bachelor’s degree: This degree lasts for 3-4 years
  • Master’s degree: This qualification lasts for 1-2 years
  • Doctorate degree: The duration of this qualification varies depending upon the study area. 
The studies at the higher educational level can be full-time or part-time.

Special Needs Education

Special needs education in Lithuania is offered by the pre-school and general education schools. Children with special needs also obtain general basic education at the special schools. All kinds of educational support is being provided. 
The special education needs of a child are decided by a school special education commission, or by a municipal pedagogical psychological unit. 

Vocational Education and Training

The vocational education and training in Lithuania comprises of:
  • Initial vocational education and training (IVET)
  • Continuing vocational education and training (CVET)

Initial Vocational Education and Training

The IVET begins at the age 14 or the fifth year of basic/lower secondary education. This educational level lasts for 2-3 years. Students who have attained secondary education, for them this level lasts for 1-2 years, and awards a vocational qualification. Such students can then go for vocational upper secondary education that lasts for 2-3 years, and concludes with a "matura" examination.

Continuing Vocational Education and Training

The CEVT is for individual aged 18 and above.  This level comprises of short programmes that lasts for 1 year, and focus on practical education and training, leading to a vocational qualification.

Adult Education

Adults can go for primary, lower secondary or upper secondary education in adult schools or education centres. In Lithuania, general education schools have been set up for adults. These schools provide non-formal adult education programmes. Courses in Literature, basics of law and business, arts, psychology, foreign languages, philosophy, and computer literacy are provided. 

Admission Requirements

The admission requisites vary. Pupils can apply directly to the educational institution of their choice. To gain admittance into the first university degree- bachelor’s degree, students must have completed secondary level education. For master’s, students must hold a bachelor’s degree; and for doctorate studies, a master’s degree is required. To know more about the admission requirements for higher education in Lithuania, click here


Maturity Exams

At the end of secondary education, students sit for the maturity examinations. The Matura exams are of 2 types: 
  • Type 1: School-level
  • Type 2: National-level
Students are required to pass at least 2 Matura examinations in order to receive the maturity certificate. Out of the 2 exams, one must be an exam in Lithuania- this exam is compulsory; and other one is an optional exam. 
Examinations are managed and administered by the National Examination Centre of the Ministry of Education and Science.
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