There are two successive postgraduate degrees: kandidat nauk (Candidate of science) and doktor nauk (Doctor of science). Both are a certificate of scientific, rather than academic, achievement, and must be backed up by original/novel scientific work, evidenced by publications in peer-reviewed journals and a dissertation defended in front of senior academic board. The titles are issued by Higher Attestation Commission of the Ministry of Education. A degree is always awarded in one of 23 predetermined fields of science, even if the underlying achievement belongs to different fields. Thus it is possible to defend two degrees of kandidat independently, but not simultaneously; a doktor in one field may also be a kandidat in a different field.
Kandidat nauk can be achieved within university environment (when the university is engaged in active research in the chosen field), specialised research facilities or within research and development units in industry. Typical kandidat nauk path from admission to diploma takes 2–4 years. The dissertation paper should contain a solution of an existing scientific problem, or a practical proposal with significant economical or military potential. The title is often perceived as equivalent to Western Ph.D., although this may vary depending on the field of study, and may not be seen as such outside of Russia.
Doktor nauk, the next stage, implies achieving significant scientific output. This title is often equated to the German or Scandinavian habilitation. The dissertation paper should summarize the author's research resulting in theoretical statements that are qualified as a new discovery, or solution of an existing problem, or a practical proposal with significant economical or military potential. The road from kandidat to doktor typically takes 10 years of dedicated research activity; one in four candidates reaches this stage. The system implies that the applicants must work in their research field full-time; however, the degrees in social sciences are routinely awarded to active politicians.
Academic titles of dotsent and professor are issued to active university staff who already achieved degrees of kandidat or doktor; the rules prescribe minimum residency term, authoring established study textbooks in their chosen field, and mentoring successful postgraduate trainees; special, less formal rules apply to professors of arts.
Military postgraduate education radically falls out of the standard scheme. It is provided by the military academies; unlike their Western namesakes, they are postgraduate institutions. Passing the course of an academy does not result in an explicitly named degree (although may be accompanied by a research for kandidat nauk degree) and enables the graduate to proceed to a certain level of command (equivalent of battalion commander and above).