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Second-cycle programmes


7.Higher education

7.3Second-cycle programmes

Last update: 27 November 2023

Master study programmes are designed to prepare individuals for independent research (artistic) activities or any other work the performance of which requires scientific knowledge and analytical competence. Master studies are carried out at universities where the research (artistic) activities that are in line with the study field are conducted. Upon completion of the Master study programme a student is awarded a Master’s Degree in the respective study field.

Master study programmes can be of different orientation, however, they have to comply with the profile of the university and meet labour market demands. The nature of the Master study programme must be specified and motivated in a description of the Master study programme. It is obligatory to clearly formulate the aims of studies in the description of each Master study programme and relate them to the study results (knowledge, competences and skills) acquired by the graduate who has completed that study programme. The aims of study and formulation of the graduate’s competence must reveal the orientation of the study programme. The aims and contents of the subjects being studied, study methods, and requirements to the applicants are based on the aims of the Master study programme.

Qualification of the academic and research staff of the Master study programme and the facilities of the studies must be sufficient to achieve the aims and purpose of the study programme. If the Master study programme have a practical activity element, teachers’ must have experience of practical work and the university must cooperate with social partners in organising the students’ practical work. When a study programme whose aims are related to inter-field studies is carried out, subjects of another field are also studied alongside the basic subjects of the field and the university’s experience in both fields of studies is necessary. This experience must be proved by articles prepared at that university and publicised in scientific or professional journals, projects that have been successfully carried out and implemented, and also participation of social partners in drawing up study programmes and carrying them out.

Branches of study

Studies at institutions of higher education are carried out in six study fields: bio-medical sciences, physical sciences, technological sciences, social sciences, the humanities and arts. Study fields are divided into groups of fields, and the latter are divided into branches. Branches of science form separate fields.

The Government approves the list of study areas and fields according to which studies at higher education institutions are conducted

The Minister for Education and Science approves the list of branches that constitute study fields.

Admission requirements

Persons who have a qualification of higher education are admitted to the study programmes of the second cycle in the procedure established by the higher education institution. Persons with a Professional Bachelor’s Degree may enter the study programmes of the second cycle if they meet the minimum requirements approved by the Ministry of Education and Science.


Master study programmes and the scope of units and separate subjects are determined by the study credits and must be the same irrespective of the study mode (continual or extended). The modes of studies, the duration of studies and the timetable are established taking into consideration the safety and health requirements of the students approved by the university, and the duration of extended studies is established taking into account the possibility to combine studies and other occupations of the students (at work, duties in the family and others).

The Master study programme must be regularly updated. During the accreditation of the programme, by decision of the Senate, the University can change up to 30% of the study subjects of the programme field. Changes are announced on the webpage of the University. If during the accreditation period the scope of the study subjects of the field is changed by more than 30% or two or more study programmes are joined, the study programme is assessed and accredited according to the Description of the Procedure of the External Assessment and Accreditation of Study Programmes approved by order of the Minister for Education and Science.

Persons who have completed the first cycle of university studies and who meet the requirements set by the university or individuals who have completed the first cycle and additional studies and who satisfy the requirements set by the university are admitted to Master studies.

Additional studies are organised when a person has completed college studies with the exception of cases when the Senate of the University decides that it suffices for an applicant for specific study programmes to have experience of at least one-year practical activity of the nature and duration established by the University, or when the field of the Master study chosen does not coincide with the major or minor field of the university study programme of the first cycle completed by the applicant, with the exception of cases when the Senate of the University decides that it suffices for an applicant for specific study programmes to have experience of a practical activity of the nature and duration established by the University.

The Description of the Master Study Programme specifies what field or fields (branch or branches) of the first cycle studies the person admitted to study according to that study programme must have completed, and in every case it indicates in what particular cases additional studies are necessary prior to commencing the Master studies. The University establishes a list of study subjects and defines the curriculum. During these studies a student must acquire the competence necessary for successful Master studies that was not, however, awarded during the studies of the first cycle. When the field of the Master studies chosen by the applicant and the study field of the first cycle completed belong to the same group of study fields, the scope of additional studies cannot exceed 60 ECTS study credits; when the Master study field chosen by the entrant belongs to a group of study fields other than the study field of the first cycle that he/she completed, the scope of additional studies cannot exceed 90 ECTS study credits; if a candidate for Master studies lacks more knowledge and abilities than the additional studies can give him/her, he/she must acquire this knowledge and abilities by studying according to the first cycle studies programme.

The University can set additional requirements (both permanent and temporary) for applicants admitted to all or certain study programmes: the minimum level of completion of first cycle studies (the minimum average of all or some grades), necessary experience of a scientific or practical activity and other academic, competence or professional requirements.

The scope of the Master study programme is no less than 90 and not more than 120 ECTS study credits. Of these:

  • at least 60 ECTS study credits must be subjects of the field, which, from the point of view of content, must be of a qualitatively higher problematic or innovative scientific level than the subjects of the first study cycle of the relative field of knowledge that form the basis for the former ones;
  • at least 30 ECTS study credits can consist of subjects established by the University and chosen by a student depending on the orientation of the study programme devoted to preparing for doctoral studies (research work (a work of art), a practical activity (practical work of a professional activity) or subjects of another field when the study programme whose aims are related to inter-field studies is carried out, as well as general subjects of university studies and subjects freely chosen by a student, which are necessary to achieve the aims of the study programme;
  • at least 30 ECTS study credits are devoted to preparing and defending the final degree thesis or the final degree thesis (project) and the final examination (final examinations if they are established by legal acts of Lithuania or international legal acts).

Not more than five subjects can be studied each semester. Study subjects in the relevant field taken in the first cycle cannot be repeated. Self-study hours of the students must account for at least 30% of the scope of each study subject. Studies of every subject or module are completed by an examination or an assessment of the work (project) prepared by a student independently. If the system of cumulative assessment is used, intermediary assessments can constitute a part of the examination grade.

At least 80% (or 60%when the study programme is oriented towards a practical activity) of all teachers of the study subjects must have a scientific degree (be established artists), and the field of a scientific activity of at least 60% (or 40%when the study programme is oriented towards a practical activity) of the teachers of the field subjects must conform to the subjects being taught by them. If the study programme is oriented towards a practical activity, up to 40% of the teachers teaching the subjects of the field can be practitioners who, during the past seven years, have gained at least three-year’s experience of the professional activity that complies with the subjects being taught. Experience of the professional activity specified in this point is obligatory for teachers of applied subjects specified in the description of the programme. At least 20% of the scope of the subjects in the field must be taught by teachers holding the academic rank of Professor.

The final degree thesis must be based on independent scientific research or applied investigations and application of knowledge, or it must be prepared as a project revealing abilities that are in line with the aims of the programme. Thereby, in his/her final degree thesis (project), a candidate for a Master’s degree must demonstrate the level of his/her knowledge and understanding, the ability to analyse the chosen theme, assess other people’s work done in this field (branch), learn independently and carry out investigations in this field (branch), describe the research work that he/she has carried out, formulate conclusions of his/her research work clearly and reasonably according to the requirements set by the University. Through his/her final degree project a candidate for a Master’s degree must reveal the level of creativity and the ability to apply the latest practical knowledge and technologies in his/her creative work.

The final Master’s degree project in the area of art studies must be a creative project and a written research work related to that project describing the new ideas, knowledge and technologies used in the project.

The Commission on the Final Degree Thesis (Project) Assessment and Defence must consist of competent specialists in the study field (branch), namely, scientists (artists), practitioners–professionals, and representatives of social partners. At least one member of the Commission (in the best case this is the Chairman of the Commission) must be from another research and higher education institution than that in which the Master’s degree studies were carried out. The composition of the Final Examination Board, when such an examination is provided for in the study programme, must also be the same. The same protection of intellectual property or (and) commercial secrets is applied to the final degree thesis (project) as to published research (art) work.

Teaching methods

Study forms include contact hours, individual work and practical training. Various forms of delivery are used: lectures, seminars, laboratory work, project design, students’ independent work, library work, group tasks, research work etc. as well as a combination of these forms. Higher education can be pursued in the form of distance studies, too. Class work (contact hours) is organised in groups. Consultations may be given on an individual basis. The duration of class work is measured by the academic hour (45 minutes). The teaching staff in HEIs may use various methods in their work. The materials delivered during lectures or notes of lectures are often available on the Internet. ITs are widely employed in the study process.

Students carry out research in applied and fundamental sciences and take part in local and international research programmes. In higher art schools, apart from research, academic staff and student artistic activities directed toward promoting unity of higher education and creative work as well as educating society at large are developed.

All students have access to the Lithuanian Academic Libraries Network (LABT). This network integrates the libraries of universities, colleges, public research institutions and the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences into a Lithuanian virtual library.

Students buy textbooks and other teaching aids or avail themselves of the funds of libraries of higher education institutions.

Progression of students

Every higher education institution defines the circumstances under which students progress from one stage of studies to the next in its Statute (Regulations) of Studies. Low-achieving students may be excluded from the higher education institution in the manner established by each higher education institution.


The majority of higher education institutions of Lithuania have established their own career centres, which provide students with different consultations of a general nature and individual consultations, provide training on employment issues, help students find places to do practical work, and later to find a job, and help employers find employees.

Youth labour centres in cities and districts provide similar services. They provide young people with services of open information, counselling, professional information and guidance, organise meetings with labour market and social partners, carry out project activities encouraging employment initiatives of the youth, organise different activities (labour clubs, training sessions) and prepare information–methodological material.

At present, in implementing different projects financed from the EU structural funds, higher education institutions devote much attention to developing students’ entrepreneurship competence and organising their practical work in companies.

In 2010, the Seimas approved the package of proposals for reducing unemployment, thereby providing more possibilities for people starting work and small business, and also creating conditions for extending financing of public works, etc. The Amendment to the Law on the Support of the Unemployed includes the youth up to the age of 29 years in the list of supported individuals. In this way, those previously unemployed people under 29 years of age who qualify for subsidies, once employed, will receive a wage reimbursement for up to 6 months, and individuals who start work for the first time according to the acquired qualification and who participate in the measure of gaining work skills will receive a wage reimbursement for up to 12 months. Earlier, according to the Law on the Support of Employment of Lithuania, young people under the age of 29 years were not attributed to the group of individuals additionally supported in the labour market, and, therefore, had no right to qualify for subsidies when employed if they did not belong to other groups of individuals supported in the labour market.

By order of the Minister for Social Security and Labour for 2013, the EU Council Recommendation for the Youth Guarantee initiative is being implemented. The purpose of the Youth Guarantee initiative is to activate and motivate young people within the shortest time, maintaining links with the labour market and providing the opportunity for further education. The aim is to reduce youth unemployment and improve the situation of young people, who have no work or no education by helping them to find a job after they complete their education.

As of 1 August 2012, a tool dedicated to promoting youth employment ‘Support for first job’ is running. Employers, who employ workers with no previous work experience, receive partial compensation for the wage of an employee if it is their first job. Support form – partial wage compensation. At the employer's request , the employer will receive fixed compensation for part (23.3% of the calculated employee salary) of an employee’s monthly salary if it is the first job for the employee who is between 19 and 26 years of age. By the end of September 2014, 22,545 claims for partial wage compensation were received under the ‘Support for first job’ tool. Of these 16,296 requests were positively received. To date 2,249 companies have received EUR 5.06 million for employing 15,508 first time workers. This tool is being implemented by the guarantee institution INVEGA.

Student assessment

Assessment of students is carried out in the manner prescribed by the study regulations of each higher education institution. The rules and procedures vary between different universities or colleges; however, on the whole, there are some basic assessment principles and modes that must be followed. A study programme is completed by assessing the competence acquired by the graduate through the defence of the final degree thesis (project) and (or) final examinations.

The main form of progress assessment is an examination. In many higher education institutions the number of examinations given in one examination session is limited. Achievements in some subjects may be assessed by giving students a ‘pass’ at a credit test or the final assessment is obtained by cumulative assessment. The rules and procedures of the cumulative assessment, as well as the preparation of tasks is the responsibility of the subject teacher. The examination (pass) results and written work are assessed in grades.

The results of examinations and graded credit tests are assessed by assigning students grade points 1 to 10, the results of credit tests are assessed by assigning a ‘pass’/’fail’ grade. Higher education institutions can lay down other principles of assessment, too. A positive assessment is one that is not lower than five points.


Upon completion of the study programmes of the second cycle, a graduate is issued a diploma and a diploma supplement attesting to the qualification degree awarded. The diploma supplement is an integral part of the diploma providing a description of the content of the education obtained.