Candidate of Sciences

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Cover of a Soviet Candidate of Sciences diploma

The Candidate of Sciences (Russian Wp→: кандидат наук - Kandidat Nauk) is a first post-graduate scientific degree in some former Eastern Bloc countries, such as Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, which is awarded for original research that constitutes a significant contribution to a scientific field. The degree was first introduced in the USSR on January 13, 1934, by a decision of the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR. According to par.262 International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) UNESCO 2011, for purposes of international educational statistics Candidate of Sciences is equivalent to PhD as awarded in many English-speaking countries as it allows its holders to reach the level of the Associate Professor (Docent).

However, in order to become a full Professor, a Doktor Nauk degree is required, in the same way that the Habilitation is required in Germany, as well as the PhD dissertation and a second book in the United States and the United Kingdom. On the other hand, Immigration New Zealand places both Candidate of Sciences and Doctor of Sciences at "Level 10" (Doctors Level, which is the highest level there).[1] Only holders of master's and specialist's degrees are eligible for Candidate of Sciences programs.[2]

In the United States the Candidate of Sciences degree in physics, chemistry, biology, and other natural sciences is recognized as an equivalent of PhD, and holders of this degree awarded in countries of the former Soviet Union and Russian Federation work as postdoctoral fellows in most state and private universities and research establishments of the Federal government. AcAccording to "Guidelines for the recognition of Russian qualifications in the other countries", in countries with a two-tier system of doctoral degrees, the degree of Candidate of Sciences should be considered for recognition at the level of the first doctoral degree. In countries with only one doctoral degree, the degree of Candidate of Sciences should be considered for recognition as equivalent to this degree.

In Azerbaijan the Masters degree replaced the old Candidate of Sciences.[3]

The highest attainable degree, one level higher than the Candidate of Sciences is the Doctor of Sciences, which is roughly analogous to the Habilitation in Germany, Poland, Austria and Switzerland, the Ph.D in the United Kingdom and the Habilitation à diriger des recherches in France, as it is required for the rank of the full Professor, because one can only become a lecturer with a Kandidat degree (and not a full professor.)

Procedure for attaining the degree

The work on a dissertation is commonly carried out during a postgraduate study period called aspirantura. It is performed either within an educational institution (such as a university) or a scientific research institution (such as an institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences network). It can also be carried out without a direct connection to the academy. In exceptional cases, the Candidate of Sciences degree may be awarded on the basis of published scholarly works without writing the thesis. In experimental sciences the dissertation is based on an independent research project conducted under the supervision of a professor, the results of which must be published in at least three papers in peer-review scientific journals.

A necessary prerequisite is taking courses in philosophy and foreign language, and passing a qualifying examination called "candidate minimum". In the Soviet Union, the candidate minimum included exams in the specialty field of the "dissertant", in a foreign language of his/her choice and in Scientific communism. In post-Soviet Russia and other post-Soviet states, the latter examination was replaced by the one in Philosophy, and in Russia recently in History and philosophy of science; in Ukraine it is still Philosophy.

The dissertation is presented (defended) at the accredited educational or scientific institutions before a committee called the Scientific Council. The Council consists of about 20 members, who are the leading specialists (including the academicians) in the field of the dissertation and who have been selected and approved to serve on the Council. The summary of the dissertation must be published before public defense in the form of "autoreferat" in about 150-200 copies, and distributed to major research organizations and libraries. The seeker of the degree must have an official "research supervisor". The dissertation must be delivered together with official references of several reviewers, called "opponents". In a procedure called the "defense of the dissertation" the dissertation is summarized before the Commission, followed by speeches by the opponents or the reading of their references, and replies to the comments of the opponents and question of the Commission members by the aspirant.

If the defense is successful (66.6% majority of votes by the secret ballot voting by the members of the Council), it is recommended and later must be approved by the central state-wide board called Higher Attestation Commission or "Vysshaya attestacionnaya komissiya" or VAK (or by similar authority in other applicable countries).[4]

Local characteristics

Former Czechoslovakia

In Czechoslovakia, the Candidate and Doctor of Sciences (Template:Lang-cs, Template:Lang-sk) degrees were modeled precisely after the Soviet one by Law 60/1953 in 1953. Requirements to attain the degree were thus literally the same as in the USSR. Since all Czechoslovak top academic research institutions were dissolved after the Communist Putsch in 1948, the supreme academic authority was represented by the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences, newly established in 1953. The degree could also be awarded by the Slovak Academy of Sciences and universities.

The abbreviation of the degree is CSc. (Template:Lang-la), added behind the bearer's name and a comma.

There also have been other academic degrees in Czechoslovakia and its successional states, that incorporate the "Dr." abbreviation, e.g.

and others. These doctor degrees are not to be confused with a Ph.D., although its holders are addressed "doctor". Technically it is an extension of a master-like degree, always stated before names and awarded for elaborating a so called rigorous thesis and defending it at a viva voce (rigorous) exam. Unlike Ph.D., no post-graduate studies are required.

  • MUDr. (Template:Lang-la) is a "Doctor of Medicine" degree equivalent to the North-American MD, attained after 6-year university studies.
  • RSDr. (Template:Lang-la) was a quasi-degree, awarded exclusively to functionaries of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ) during the Communist era, who either or not "graduated" from the Political College of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. The leading subject taught was Marxism-Leninism and there was no need to have completed even a secondary school to attain the degree. RSDr. was also possible to attain at some military universities, however, contrary to the previous case, the applicant had to pass further exams.

Czech Republic

Granting CSc. was abolished in 1998 and replaced with Ph.D. or Th.D. (Template:Lang-cs) An applicant is required to have master's degree (or its equivalent, e.g. Engineer (Ing.) or Doctor of Medicine MUDr in technical and economic university programs), enroll in an approximately three-year post-graduate program and defend their dissertation before a panel of expert examiners appointed by the university.


Candidate was abolished in 1996 and replaced with PhD. (Template:Lang-sk, in 1996-2002 officially in Latin: philosophiae doctor). Requirements are similar to the Czech system.


Since medieval Polish tradition was to call Ph.D. equivalent as "doktor". Only for short period of time between 1951-1958 the communist government tried replace the title of "doktor" with "kandydat nauk" to follow the Soviet model.

Former Soviet Union, Russia, Ukraine

Sample contents of modern Candidate of Sciences diploma (here, Candidate of Engineering Sciences), 1999.

In the USSR, there was required at least three original scientific papers published and/or submitted. At least one paper should be in one of the journals listed by the Higher Assessment Commission (VAK) of the Russian Ministry of Science.[4] In Ukraine now, all the three publications have to be published in the journals listed by the VAK.

In 1971, there were 249,200 scientists holding the Candidate degree.[5]

According to "Guidelines for the recognition of Russian qualifications in the other countries" in countries with a two-tier system of doctoral degrees, the degree of Candidate of Sciences should be considered for recognition at the level of the first doctoral degree. In countries with only one doctoral degree, the degree of Candidate of Sciences should be considered for recognition as equivalent to this degree.

Branches of science

Depending on the specialty of research in the dissertation, a candidate is awarded one of the following degrees:[6]

  • Architecture
  • Biological sciences (abbr.: к.б.н.)
  • Veterinary sciences
  • Military sciences
  • Geographic sciences (abbr.: к.г.н.)
  • Geologo-mineralogical sciences (abbr.: к.г.-м.н.)
  • Art criticism
  • Historical sciences (abbr.: к.и.н.)
  • Culturology
  • Medical sciences (abbr.: к.м.н.)
  • Pedagogic sciences
  • Political sciences
  • Psychological sciences
  • Agricultural sciences (abbr.: к.с.-х.н.)
  • Sociological sciences
  • Engineering sciences (abbr.: к.т.н.)
  • Pharmaceutical sciences
  • Physico-mathematical sciences (abbr.: к.ф.-м.н.)
  • Philological sciences (abbr.: к.ф.н.)
  • Philosophical sciences (abbr.: к.филос.н.)
  • Chemical sciences (abbr.: к.х.н.)
  • Economic sciences (abbr.: к.э.н.)
  • Juridical sciences (abbr.: к.ю.н.)

Previously, there was also the degree of "naval sciences".[7] For some time (in the 1940s) the degree of "candidate of art criticism" called "candidate of art criticism sciences".[citation needed]

Some specialties permit the award of the candidate degree for several variants of branches of science, depending on the dominant subject area of dissertation, e.g., specialty 02.00.04 (physical chemistry)[6] can be awarded the degree of candidate of physico-mathematical, technical, or chemical sciences. However, for each one dissertation only one branch of science can be chosen.

See also


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