History of Kyiv

National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy

National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy (NaUKMA) (Національний університет «Києво-Могилянська академія» (НаУКМА), Natsional'nyi universytet "Kyyevo-Mohylians'ka akademiya") is a public, coeducational research university located in Kyiv, Ukraine. The Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, the school's predecessor, was established in 1632 making NaUKMA the oldest institute of tertiary education in Ukraine. The university is located on the Academy's grounds in the ancient Podil neighborhood. In 1991, it was re-organized, and teaching began the following year. NaUKMA has the highest level of accreditation as outlined by the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, and takes part in numerous international university collaborations, such as the European University Association. The university is bilingual in English and Ukrainian.

With around 3000 students, NaUKMA is one of the smallest universities in Ukraine. Its multiple-choice entrance examinations make university admission a highly competitive process. Alumni of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy played a formative role in the intellectual and church life of Ukraine and Russia in 17th and 18th centuries. Among the most notable alumni were hetman Ivan Mazepa, philosopher Hryhori Skovoroda and polymath Mikhail Lomonosov.


Kyiv-Mohyla Academy

The predecessor of NaUKMA, the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, was one of the oldest academic and theological schools among Orthodox Christian East European countries. The Academy was first opened in 1615 as Kyiv Brotherhood School. In 1632 the Kyiv Brotherhood and Lavra schools merged into the Kyiv-Mohyla Collegium (Collegium Kijovense Mohileanum). The Collegium was named Mohyla after Petro Mohyla, the proponent of Western educational standards at the institution. In 1658 under the terms of the Treaty of Hadiach the Collegium obtained the status of an Academy, similar to Cracow Academy. This was recognized in 1694 by the Russian tsar Ivan V, then reaffirmed by Peter I in 1701.

The Academy educated the Ukrainian political and intellectual elite in the 17th and 18th centuries, and it was highly acclaimed throughout Eastern Europe with students coming from Poland, Russia, Belarus, Moldavia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece. The admissions were open to all social classes. Due to the exceptional quality of the language program, its students often continued their education abroad, which required many to convert from Orthodox Christian to Roman Catholicism. However, upon their return, they returned to their Orthodox roots in order to attain positions in the clergy or academia. In this way, the Academy played an important role in transmitting Renaissance ideas from Western Europe to Ukraine and Russia.

Hetmans of the Zaporozhian Cossacks, military leaders second only to the monarch, actively supported the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. The school flourished under the term of Hetman Ivan Mazepa, an alumnus.

Kyiv Theological Academy

Kiev Mohyla Academy was closed in 1817 by Alexander I of Russia. In response, alumni of the Academy made numerous unsuccessful petitions to the Tsar to turn Kyiv Mohyla Academy into a university. Instead, in 1819 Kiev Theological Academy, a purely clerical institution, was opened. In contrast to its predesessor, admissions became open only to children of the existing clergy. The key positions were held mostly by the alumni of the Saint Petersburg Seminary.

During the Soviet Union era, Kyiv Theological Academy was closed, its library plundered, and the main church of the school, the Bohoyavlensky cathedral was destroyed. In its place, a military school was developed and today a university building still bears a mosaic portraying a military ship with the words of Vladimir Lenin as a remembrance of the school's totalitarian past.

Reestablishment as a modern university

In 1991, following the fall of the USSR, Kyiv-Mohyla Academy was reestablished with the assistance of Vyacheslav Bryukhovetskiy, who became the first president of NaUKMA. The returned institution was modeled on the North American post-secondary system and Bachelor's and Master's degrees were offered according to a credits system.

On August 24 1992, which is also the independence day of Ukraine, the first students matriculated. NaUKMA saw its first six graduates in 1995. In order to establish continuity between the two century-long break and today, a Research Center "Legacy of Kyiv Mohyla Academy" was founded. NaUKMA also initiated the revival of another historical Ukrainian educational institution the Ostroh Academy. NaUKMA is notable for being the first university where students and professors openly protested against massive electoral fraud during the Ukrainian presidential election, 2004. After those events a museum dedicated to the Orange Revolution was opened at NaUKMA.

Claims on continuity of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy traditions

Except NaUKMA, there are two modern theological schools, which also claim the continuity of the old Kyiv-Mohyla Academy academic tradition. These are Kyiv Theological Academy and Seminary of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) and Kyiv Orthodox Theological Academy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kiev Patriarchate).


Master of Business Administration, Candidate of Science (PhD) and Doctor of Science are also offered at NaUKMA. The university was first in Ukraine to join the reforms of the doctoral education within the Bologna process.

NaUKMA is a bilingual institution with Ukrainian and English being the languages of instruction, although the primary language is Ukrainian. The university offers business courses in English to the general public, in partnership with Grant MacEwan College of Edmonton, Canada. NaUKMA organizes an annual summer school in Ukrainian studies for international students and an English-language term program for international students entitled "Transitional studies: Ukraine and post-soviet space" Recently a Master program "German and European studies" is offered in collaboration with the University of Jena; the program is offered in German.

Similarly to other public universities in Ukraine, students receive modest monthly scholarship payments from the government. The amount varies according to the student's grades in the previous trimester. Additionally, a number of private scholarships are given to the best students on a merit system. Further, students are rewarded scholarship monies for their social activities, thus awards are given to those who make the greatest contribution to the revival of NaUKMA or to those who excel in the promotion of Ukrainian language and culture.

NaUKMA is a state university and governed by the Supervising Board appointed by the Government of Ukraine. The highest university official is the President of NaUKMA, who is currently Prof. Serhiy M. Kvit. Education and research at the university are coordinated by the Scientific Board. Several public bodies consult the management of the university. These include the International Consulting Board, Board of Trustees, Student Council and Arts Board.


Admission to NaUKMA is open to both Ukrainian and international applicants. Admission is granted based on entrance examination scores. Entrance exams are administered as multiple choice tests covering several subjects including Ukrainian, English, law, mathematics, history of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, humanities (literature or history) and one of the natural sciences with the tests being machine scored. The admissions procedure was introduced in order to stem alleged corruption in the admission process. Admission tests are considered challenging and cover a broader range of subjects than the typical entrance examinations held at the majority of other universities in Ukraine. Testing the knowledge of history of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy is exceptional among ukrainian universities. It was introduced because of the role of the university in ukrainian history. The university also has a Department of Preuniversity Training, which organizes test preparation courses for prospective students as well as trial testing sessions.


In 2007, both the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine and the Dzerkalo Tyzhnia, a daily national newspaper ranked NaUKMA in third place among the Ukrainian universities. Likewise, the university's business school has the best reputation in the country. The Delovoy magazine ranked it as the best business school in Ukraine in 2007. NaUKMA was ranked as number four in the ranking "Top-200 Ukraine" conducted by UNESCO in 2007.

NaUKMA often houses visits of foreign and national politicians. Among the latest visitors were Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Alejandro Toledo, David Kilgour and Jean Chrétien.

Institutions associated with NaUKMA

Following its reestablishment, NaUKMA has been active in the revival and founding of institutions sharing a common vision of educational standards. Thus, NaUKMA assisted with the development of the National University of Ostroh Academy, the T. Shevchenko Kremenets Pedagogical Institute, and the Petro Mohyla Mykolayiv State University until they became separate universities. However, these schools still share a common admissions system with NaUKMA. Moreover, NaUKMA is an umbrella institution for a network of high schools throughout Ukraine called the collegiums. The curricula of collegiums aim to prepare the students for the NaUKMA entrance exams.

The university publishing house "Kyiv-Mohyla Academy", which specializes in publishing scientific and educational literature in Ukrainian, is situated on the NaUKMA campus.


Science at NaUKMA is organized into six faculties, 29 departments and 24 research centers. An annual scientific conference Dni nauky NaUKMA (The Days of Science at NaUKMA) takes place in the last week of January. The main focus of research at the NaUKMA is in the fields of economics, law and humanities. Many faculty members hold permanent positions at the research institutes of the National Academy of Science of Ukraine and NaUKMA students are allowed to use its facilities for scientific and educational purposes.


The library of the old Kyiv Mohyla Academy contained a notable collection of books. However, the archive was plundered in 1920s when the academy was closed. Currently the university administration focuses on creating a research library equipped to modern standards. In addition to the central undergraduate library there are a number of departmental libraries as well as reading halls for research and periodicals. Further, several international cultural organizations such as the Goethe-Institut, British Council and American library are located on campus and are open to the public. Lastly, all NaUKMA students can also use the Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine.


The university occupies the grounds of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy in the Podil neighborhood, from Kontraktova Square to the Dnieper River. The campus of NaUKMA is composed of a number of buildings constructed in the times of its predecessor institutions. The oldest buildings date from the 17th century, and include the Halshka Hulevychivna house and the old academic building also called the Mazepa building in honor of its financier Hetman Ivan Mazepa. The Mazepa building contains the congregation hall for ceremonial events, the Center for Contemporary Art and the research library.

In the same neighborhood is the historical museum complex of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, although the building is currently undergoing renovation. The complex contains a sundial and the house of Halshka Hulevychivna, which was the first building of the Kyiv Brotherhood School. Another historical building called the bursa faces the Dnieper River and was used as a student dormitory during the time of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. The Blahovishchenska (Annunciation) Сhurch built in 1740 for students is also on the NaUKMA campus. Most other buildings were constructed during the time of Kyiv Theological Academy with some additions made during the Soviet era. The dormitories are situated outside the main campus.

An environmentally friendly office called the Green Office was recently opened at the Department of Environmental Studies at NaUKMA and uses modern energy saving and environmentally friendly technologies. The project was largely the initiative of students and is the first example of an office based on sustainable development in a Ukrainian educational institution.

University traditions

Following reestablishment, the NaKUMA academic community has attempted to restore the traditions of its predecessor. However, during NaKUMA's current reincarnation, several new traditions have been founded. Every year on October 15 the school celebrates Academy day and NaUKMA students wash the monument of the noted Kyiv Mohyla alumnus philosopher Hryhorii Skovoroda. This action is called clean Skovoroda. The monument of Skovoroda in front of the university is also decorated with a mortarboard during the annual graduation ceremony held on June 28. Another tradition during the ceremony is to carry the university turtle named Alma around the new graduates who make wishes while touching her shell. A student tradition connecting the old Kyiv-Mohyla Academy and NaUKMA is theatrical performances called verteps. Verteps possibly were introduced by the students of the old Academy. Currently they are performed during different festive events. Lastly, it is a tradition to open each academic year with a welcome event for the new students, followed by a lecture by a renowned scientist, who is given an honorary professorship at the University. The ceremony of new NaUKMA student initiation includes taking a traditional student oath. During the first term at NaUKMA, students of all faculties introduce themselves to the academic community during the acquaintance ball.

Student life

Despite the relatively small number of NaUKMA students (about 3000 in 2006) there are a number of extracurricular activities on campus. NaUKMA students are also known for their activism, which is also supported by the university administration. Notable among the student organizations on campus are: the Student Council, the Christian Students Union, Mohyla Intellectual Club, the Student Brotherhood, the ecological club Zelena Hvylya, and the Youth Center for Humanities. The NaUKMA student portal Bo.Net.Ua is an online platform for student and alumni communication.

Sports courses are compulsory for NaUKMA students in their two years of study. These courses include elements of calisthenics, sport (soccer, basketball, volleyball and swimming) and fitness exercizes. Additionally, there are a number of student sport groups ranging from Combat Hopak to Go.

Arts and music at NaUKMA are represented by the Center of Culture and Art and the Center for Contemporary Art

Kyiv-Mohyla Academy in literature and popular culture

  • Kyiv-Mohyla Academy is mentioned in Nikolai Gogol's novel Taras Bulba.
  • Kyiv-Mohyla Collegium is mentioned in several novels by Pavlo Zahrebelnyi including Southern Comfort and I, Bohdan.
  • Kyiv Theological Academy is mentioned in Nikolai Leskov's Pecherskie antiki.
  • A building of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy is portrayed on the 500 hryven' banknote.
  • A postage stamp dedicated to Kyiv-Mohyla Academy and its revival was issued in 1992.

Notable alumni and faculty members

Alumni of the old Kyiv Mohyla Academy have played an important role in Ukrainian professional life. Many hetmans of Zaporozhian Cossacks, political leaders of the Ukraine in the 17th and 18th centuries, were educated here. These include Ivan Mazepa, Pylyp Orlyk, Pavlo Polubotok, Ivan Skoropadsky and Ivan Samoylovych. The Grand Chancellor of Russia Alexander Bezborodko was of Ukrainian origin and an alumnus. The Kyiv Mohyla Academy was a religious school of note in the Orthodox world and archbishops of the Russian Empire such as Stephen Yavorsky and Feofan Prokopovich as well as the metropolitan bishop of Rostov Dimitry of Rostov were all alumni.

More recently, several generations of writers, artists and scholars have been schooled at the Kyiv Mohyla Academy. Examples include writer Simeon of Polotsk, architect Ivan Hryhorovych-Barskyi, and composer Artemy Vedel. Ukrainian philosopher Hryhori Skovoroda was another alumnus of the university. Mikhail Lomonosov, Russian scientist and founder of Moscow University was briefly a student at Kyiv Mohyla Academy.

After 1819, when the university was turned into a purely religious institution, it still upheld its international reputation and has been an alma mater for the Moldavian poet Alexei Mateevici and metropolitan bishop of the Romanian Orthodox Church Visarion Puiu.

Alumni of NaUKMA are employed by national and international companies, research and governmental institutions and many graduates continue their studies abroad. Journalist and politician Andriy Shevchenko and the contemporary Ukrainian writer Maryna Sokolyan studied at NaUKMA.

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