The Law on Higher Education of 2000 embedded the reforms and changes in the Lithuanian system higher education, which had been taking place since 1993. The three level (cycle) system and a binary system of higher education consisting of universities and colleges (non-university type HEI) were introduced.
According to the Law, the higher education is organised in three cycles:
- First cycle (Undergraduate: Bachelor and Profession Bachelor (at non-university HEI) programmes);
- Second cycle (Graduate: Master, Specialised Professional Programmes);
- Third cycle (Doctoral studies; Residency).
The Law on Research and Education adopted on 30 April, 2009 decrees that for a Bachelor programme the regular duration of studies might span 3-4 years, which amount to 180–240 ECTS credits.
The regular duration for a full-time Master’s programme varies from 1,5 years – 90 ECTS credits to 2 years – 120 ECTS credits. Some of the degree programmes at Vilnius University make use of these allowances.
Some study fields still retain integrated type of studies insofar as they are not broken into the first and second cycle and lead directly to either Master degree and/or professional qualification (Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Law).
Doctoral programmes include studies, research, and preparation a Doctoral thesis. The standard duration for doctoral studies at Vilnius University is 4 years. Not less than 30 ECTS credits have to be earned by the doctoral students during the study stage. The rest of the time is allotted to the research and writing of the Doctoral thesis.
Those pursuing medical education may continue their studies in the residency. The duration of residency study programmes at Vilnius University may vary from 3 to 6 years depending on the programme. Graduates are awarded a professional qualification.