Russian love for university diplomas

This will be a short post about Russians and university diplomas and why I literally shock every Russian I meet. Firstly I should start by saying that in Russia, if you are Russian, you will find it almost impossible to get a decent job doing other that something menial without a university degree. Higher education was free in the Soviet Union and available for all which may have started the trend. 

So what’s the big deal? Well, I am in Russia without a university diploma. For me it’s not difficult at all to get offered language related jobs and translation work here as my Russian does the talking for me, although translators and teachers here don’t exactly get paid the big bucks. When I explain to Russians that I taught myself and then qualified myself when I got here, a strange expression appears on their face. They just can’t understand that it is possible to live without higher education but I understand why. The fact that a university diploma in Russian would make zero difference in my life is quite another matter because over here the paper takes precedence (preceded only by university). The worst thing is, i think my girlfriend's dad will probably be against me marrying her because I don't have a degree (he believes that without one i will be unable to provide for his daughter). I understand his concern, but a Russian linguist with two higher educations doesn't exactly pull in serious money so I think what most people really mean is a degree in oil & gas or economics (i.e. where there is a pseudo guarantee of big money). Maybe if i got a history degree it would calm him down somewhat...

My advice to you if you come here and find you need of a diploma is lie. Seriously, save yourself the trouble. If you need to prove it, get a scan of a friend’s diploma, invent a subject and use than (I’ve done this using MS paint alone). There are even people that stand in the metro and offer university diplomas (for 20000 roubles) but it’s equally cheap and easy to DIY it. Nobody checks anything, if your diploma is from England or abroad so you don’t have anything to worry about. I’ve been forced to forge quite a lot lately, especially with buying work permits and all.
 If you have a high-horse complex about this type of thinking and approach to problem solving, Russia will eat you alive.

So that’s it. If Russians do look at you like you’re from another planet for not having a university degree, don’t worry about it. I don’t have any problem with higher education or anything, I just like to do things my way. If you were a Russian without the all-important degree you really would be fucked, but thanks to your golden expat tongue, you should do just fine. 

As for me, my goal and passion was Russian language and in this area, I have succeeded. Now my goal will be to make a viable living from my passion and interest. Degree or not, you can't decieve yourself in life, no matter how hard you try and I most certinaly won't be getting a degree anytime soon just for the sake of it or to please someone else (just don't tell my girlfriend's dad!)

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Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

This is the first time since I came to Moscow that I ve encountered a text, which is written as it is mine, your other topics are also pretty good :) Would you send me your contact, cause when I tried to contact you, outlook express was starting to open.

Lt. Columbo on January 19, 2014 at 5:47 PM said...

thanks man, you can drop me a message via the facebook group or at

Unknown on April 23, 2014 at 3:37 AM said...

Howdy! Why not get a degree to satisfy you're future father-in-law? Wouldn't hurt anything to at least be working towards it with a class here and there far and few in between. Just a thought!

Also, a question to you, my man: I do have a degree (BA Russian Language and Lit.) and am looking for employ IN Russia so that my wife and I can escape the social doldrums of Kansas -- do you have any connections or know of any job openings? I'm not looking to become wealthy, only to make an OKAY income. My main concern is to keep up on my language skills, seeing as how I graduated a year ago and have been outside of Russia for over four years now.

Thank you for your post, and your time -- Big Jon

Lt. Columbo on April 23, 2014 at 1:12 PM said...

What up big J! This post is actually about 5 years old, although Russians are still obsessed with diplomas.
I don't have many contacts, but i'd suggest you take a peep at a couple of posts i wrote that deal with the issue of getting work here from abroad, the visa and all that
give this one a look >

and also this post about finding work freelancing here might be of interest too

good luck and keep the ruski sharp!

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