With a literacy rate of 99.7%, Russia is home to bachelor’s and postgraduate degree programs recognized across the globe. As of 2020, Russia employs 737,000 doctors. In 2015, Russia cut back on the employment of healthcare workers in lieu of reforming the healthcare system and raising salaries. Practicing doctors in the country are slowly increasing and the demand is growing.

Aside from access to cutting-edge medical equipment and research facilities, medical education in Russia is affordable compared to other countries in Europe and the United States. The Russian government subsidizes tuition costs. Foreign students can have as much as 90% of their tuition costs subsidized.

Russia’s advanced level of intellect, innovation, and international recognition prove it to be an ideal environment to study medicine and become a doctor. The journey to becoming a full-fledged doctor is a long six years. Keep on reading to learn more about how to become a doctor in Russia.

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Steps to Become a Doctor in Russia

1. Finish your high school education

For domestic students aiming for medical school, the first step to become a doctor in Russia is to finish high school and pass the standardized state exams. International students on the other hand have to qualify for the admission tests of the university they are aiming for.

As a general rule, it is advantageous for medical school hopefuls to perform well in science subjects. Pay extra attention in chemistry, physics, biology, and Math. This can help leverage your application to medical school. While you are at it, also work on learning some Russian to ease your networking and socializing experience.

2. Qualify for a reputable university

Russia is home to world-class universities. With English as the primary medium of communication, foreign students will have an easier time navigating their way around campus and understanding lessons.

Most medical universities welcome international students. These schools offer a variety of medical programs to choose from.

Medical school education in Russia is divided into two degree types: bachelor and specialist. Bachelor’s degrees typically last four years. Nursing student hopefuls can choose to take the bachelor’s degree program for nursing care.

Specialist programs consist of five- and six-year programs. Dentistry and Pharmacy programs typically take 5 years to accomplish. If you want to become a general practitioner or pediatrician, you must finish six years of studying before you can work in the specialization of your choice.

Every medical school university has different strengths, so check your options. For example, the general medicine program offered by the Far Eastern Federal University trains international students in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases in humans. First Moscow State University mentors students to become top researchers for medical biophysics.

3. Accomplish your medical school education

This is a crucial step to become a doctor in Russia. A general medicine program will last for 6 years. Depending on the medical specialty you want to pursue, your residency can take 2 or more years to complete. Russia awards MD degrees to medical school graduates.

It is advantageous to earn your MD in Russia because the degree programs are recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) in the World Directory of Medical Schools. With an MD from Russia, foreign students can practice medicine in their home countries. They will still have to pass qualification exams, but the process to join the field is straightforward.

4. Complete your internship

An internship is accomplished under the mentorship of a department head. The internship exposes medical students to firsthand work experience in a hospital and with patients. An internship typically takes a year to complete.

Meanwhile, international students can complete their internship depending on the agreement between their home country and Russian health organizations, or based on endorsements. Qualifying for an internship differs for every university and the medical program you are taking. Tests and interviews are to be expected when applying for an internship.

5. Pass the state exam and earn Primary Accreditation

To conclude your medical education, you will need to pass the state exam. The state exam is the last requirement to accomplish to earn your MD.

The state exam is an important step to become a doctor in Russia and also determines your licensure to work as a doctor. Russia requires all healthcare workers to earn a Primary Accreditation before starting on a new journey as a fully-fledged doctor. Accreditations are awarded to doctors deemed knowledgeable and capable of attending to patients and prescribing safe and expert treatment. Various accrediting agencies oversee medical accreditation. These include the Independent Agency for Accreditation and Rating (IAAR), the National Accreditation Agency, and the National Centre for Public Accreditation.

Foreign-trained doctors wanting to practice medicine in Russia used to go through more complex processes to start their medical profession. However, foreign doctors are now welcome to practice medicine without filing for a medical license in Russia.

6. Accomplish residency

The length of residency depends on the medical specialty you are interested in. Specialization for general practitioners can take 2 years to finish, while neurology can take as much as 4 years.

Residency trains fresh graduates in working in the hospital and treating patients. Medical residents get to have a hands-on approach in practicing and learning the specialty they want.

In Russia, fresh graduates can also get endorsed for targeted residency. This is when the university and a medical institution get into an agreement to have the graduates earn their medical training post-graduation within the jurisdiction of the medical institution.

Residency is required for a doctor to pursue private practice. The years spent in training as a medical resident are all paid and recognized as official work experience.

7. Interested in research? Study for a PhD

The journey of becoming a doctor is a lifelong path of learning and practice. If you are interested in delving more into scientific research about medicine, diagnosis, and treatment, you can pursue postgraduate studies and earn a PhD in medicine.

A PhD in medicine is an extra step for students who wish to become doctors in Russia and typically takes 3 to 4 years to complete. However, Russia offers various medical degree programs that integrate science and technology courses, such as pharmacology and biomedicine.

It is notable how medical education in Russia is more affordable and simpler to accomplish than in most countries. This is perhaps because of the Russian government’s generous support for streamlining the education system. In 2020 alone, schools and universities all over Russia received Ruble 35 billion, or equivalent to around $500 million, to help the education system recuperate and get back on track after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Foreign-trained doctors are welcome to work in Russia, and students earning their MD in Russia can proceed with their profession back in their home countries. The transferable medical knowledge and practice of the Russian medical education system open a world of career opportunities to their medical graduates. Russia’s technological advancement also kickstarts their medical students’ familiarity in working with the different tools and equipment for a more efficient procedure to treat patients.


I hope that you found this article on the steps to becoming a doctor in Russia informative and helpful. You can also find more information on different European universities and scholarship opportunities on the Europe Scholarships Page!