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About Latvia
Country Handbook

University of Latvia

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Latvia, on the Baltic Sea, shares borders with Estonia to the north, Lithuania to the south, and Russia and Belarus to the east. In territory it exceeds Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland. It is the central and strategically most significant part of the Baltic States, with a population of 2.5 million people. As a result of the intense Russification during the Soviet occupation from 1945 to 1991, ethnic Latvians make up only 56 percent of the population. Riga, its capital, was founded in 1201 and is by far its largest city; it is also one of Latvia's major ice-free seaports that handles considerable shipping to and from Russia.

ISEP Exchange: undergraduate programs available for single semesters only

ISEP-Exchange for US students.

Chance of Placement
ISEP Exchange chance of placement for US students is generally Good.
For the most current chances of placement, see the Sites Open for Applications for US Students

Program Dates
Semester exchanges only:
Semester 1: Late August to late January
Semester 2: Late January to late June

Fast Facts
Riga, Latvia (pop. 706,413)
Student Enrollment: 22,096
Language of instruction: English, Latvian, Russian, German
University Home Page

Biology; Business Administration; Chemistry; Commerce; Computer Science; Economics; Education; Environmental Science; Geography; Geology; History; Law; Library Science and Information; Mathematics; Medicine; Optometry; Latvian, Russian, English, French, German and Finno-Ugric Philology; Philosophy; Physics; Political Science; Psychology; Sinology; Sociology; Theology.

Courses taught in English
See: Courses in English.

Academic Notes
The field especially recommended for ISEP students is the Baltic/Latvian Studies Program. It is taught in English and includes a Latvian language course. It covers Latvian literature and anthropology/cultural studies (focusing on Latvia); other topics include history and economics of Latvia and the Baltic region.

There is also a Russian Studies Program, taught in Russian (with some courses in English) and requiring Russian language proficiency.

Students typically enroll in 3-4 classes per term which averages to 20-25 hours in class per week. A term runs for 15-16 weeks.


Transcripts are sent to ISEP and then immediately released to the studentís home institution if there are no outstanding financial obligations.

Language Notes
Most students take courses in English. Students may take Latvian and Russian language courses during the academic year as a part of ISEP benefits.

Hints for Researching Courses
See: Courses in English.

Housing and Meals
ISEP students are housed in a residence hall and receive a stipend for their meals and accomodation.


You are responsible for all of your personal expenses including: optional fees (e.g. computer, language, science lab fees), books, local transportation, entertainment, etc. The amount below is provided as a guide; the actual amount needed will vary depending on courses and personal habits. Your personal expenses per month, including books, are estimated at: 500-600 USD

There will be a five hour session regarding the system of higher education in Latvia, the history of the University of Latvia, student activities, studies at the university, and social life. In addition, there will be tours around the university, the library, the museum, and computer facilities.

Host will provide arrival directions with acceptance packet.

Student Activities
ESN-Riga (local section of the Erasmus Student Network) during each semester organizes different activities for foreign exchange students which include introduction week, trips inside Latvia and journeys to the neighboring countries, thematic evenings etc. ESN maintains as well the buddy system which helps exchange students to integrate in the Latvian society and offers opportunity to meet local students.

Under Russian rule in the 18th and 19th centuries, the Tsarís offer to establish a university in Latvia was repeatedly rejected by the rulers in Riga, who feared that such an institution could become a breeding ground for opposition to the established order. The Latvian intelligentsia was educated mainly at the universities of Tartu (Estonia) and St. Petersburg. The first institution of higher education in Latvia, the Riga Polytechnic, was founded in 1862. The University of Latvia was established in 1919, when Latvia first become independent from Russia; it used the facilities and staff of the Riga Polytechnic. Total enrollment: 22,000 students in 68 study programs.