Since 1993 and in line with the Bologna ideals, there are three cycles of study within universities: first cycle (undergraduate); second cycle (graduate); and third cycle (post-graduate). Oversight of the whole of the education system including higher education is provided by the Ministry of Education and Science.
The quality of the programmes as well as the educational and scientific activities of higher education institutions are periodically assessed by the Centre for Quality Assessment in Higher Education. Study is normally based on 40 national credits per year. One credit equates to 40 hours of study or to 1.5 ECTS credits (approximately an average of 1600 working hours per academic year).
The higher education sector in Lithuania consists of 22 universities who deliver three cycles of study at the tertiary level, split between state (15) and private sector (7) provision. Private institutions can operate by gaining a licence from the government. There are other institutions offering study beyond secondary school and these are called colleges and tend to be more vocational in focus.
Before 2007 graduates from colleges received only a professional qualification and they did not receive a degree. Since 2007, colleges which had been approved through a quality assurance review (performed 4 years after their establishment), have been given the right to confer a profesinis bakalauras (Professional Bachelor) degree. Importantly though it does not give students access to 2nd cycle studies. Graduates can enter university-level Master studies only after they take additional courses. The additional courses should not exceed 80 credits.
To gain entry to a university undergraduate programme, students must have a brandos atestatas from secondary education or an equivalent education certificate. As outlined below, to progress through the cycles of study students must successfully complete the previous stage. Admission is through a competitive process whether for initial 1st cycle or for 2nd and 3rd cycles and admission rules set up by the higher education institution and validated by the Ministry of Education and Science.
University studies are organized in three cycles, which are as follows:
Finally, in some disciplines such as engineering, law and medicine there are vientisosios or integrated programmes that combine 1st and 2nd cycle studies.
 European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) is a standard for comparing the study attainment and performance of students of higher education across the European Union and other collaborating European countries. For successfully completed studies, ECTS credits are awarded. One academic year corresponds to 60 ECTS-credits that are equivalent to 1500-1800 hours of study in all countries irrespective of standard or qualification type and is used to facilitate transfer and progression throughout the Union.