Study Abroad for students of Russian and Eurasian Studies

The poet Dana Gioia has written: 'We want a world to walk upon, not reasons to remain at home.' One of the best ways to "walk the world" is to learn another language, and one of the best ways to learn another language is to go where they speak it twenty-four hours a day. If you want to learn Russian, at some point you've got to go to Russia.

The Department of Russian and Eurasian Studies highly recommends that all of its majors and minors take advantage of a learning opportunity abroad in Russia or in Russian speaking Eurasia. Learning abroad will provide unique study and/or research opportunities which will expand a student’s understanding of the language and culture. Opportunities to study the non-Russian languages of Eurasia are rapidly expanding. There are summer and year-long programs (below) in Polish, Czech, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Estonian, Armenian, Georgian, Azeri, Uzbek and Tajik available for students interested in pursuing other Eurasian languages. Applicants may be expected to have an intermediate-level command of Russian.

When to Study
Most students elect to study abroad in their junior year, but it could be earlier or later. Some double majors spend only one semester abroad. Study Abroad can be used toward the fulfillment of your major requirements.

Credit Transfer
Russian and Eurasian Studies or Russian Language and Literature majors and minors should contact the department before registering for courses abroad to determine which of them can receive credit towards the major or minor upon completion. Many courses taken abroad will be able to count towards fulfillment of the major or minor.

Where to Study

The Department of Russian and Eurasian Studies recommends the following programs to students who wish to study for a full academic year, one semester or just the summer in Russia and Eurasia. For more information about study abroad programs, how to apply, for financial aid, and to learn more about credit transfers, see the McCulloch Center for Global InitiativesLaurel Fellowships (need-based financial aid) are readily available to qualified students.

Admission to study abroad programs is competitive. Consult with members of the department early in your academic career to ensure the program is right for you.

Semester and academic year programs

Bard-Smolny Study Abroad Program

  • The program is based in Smolny College, Saint Petersburg, the first liberal arts college in Russia. You can study in Smolny for a summer, a semester, or a year.
  • If you wish to study in Smolny for a semester or a full academic year, you need to have completed at least two years of college Russian or equivalent (Bard-Smolny also offers a great Summer Language Intensive). You are enrolled both in Russian language courses (3 hours per week) and regular academic courses taught in Russian and attended by regular Russian students. The program offers cultural excursions and internship and volunteer opportunities.

Middlebury Schools in Russia

  • This program is for students at intermediate (at least one year of Russian) and advanced levels of Russian. Students can choose to study for a semester or a full academic year in one of three cities: Irkutsk, Moscow, or Yaroslavl. 
  • In Irkutsk (Siberia), the host institution is Irkutsk State University; in Moscow, the Russian State University for the Humanities (RGGU); and in Yaroslavl, the Yaroslavl State Pedagogical University (YGPU). Students at all three sites take both language and regular academic courses in Russian within the Middlebury program, and advanced students are encouraged to enroll in regular university courses with Russian students.

American Councils (ACTR) currently has several programs in Russia

  • Advanced Russian Language and Area Studies(RLASP) is for students with at least two semesters of Russian, who can study for a summer, a semester, or an academic year. The program is offered at four locations: Moscow (Moscow International University), St Petersburg (Herzen Institute), Vladimir (KORA Center for Russian Language Study), and Almaty, Kazakhstan (Al-Farabi Kazakh National University). All RLASP programs offer intensive Russian language study (20 hours per week) and content courses for area studies. All courses are taught in Russian. The program also features homestays, cultural program, trips to other regions of Russia, and internship opportunities.
  • Contemporary Russia Program is for those who want to learn about contemporary issues facing Russian society. Students explore these issues through lectures, seminars, and discussions with the faculty of Moscow International University. All courses are taught in English.
  • The Business Russian Language and Internship (BRLI) program is for students interested in developing their Russian business communication skills and gaining professional experience through internships in Russian companies or NGOs (10-15 hours per week). There are summer, semester, and year-long options in Moscow and St Petersburg for students at intermediate to advanced levels.

Center for International Educational Exchange (CIEE) Study Abroad in Russia
At St Petersburg State University, students can choose between these programs:

  • The Russian Language Program has summer, semester and academic year options: features include intensive language study; elective courses in literature, visual and performing arts, politics, and cultural studies. There are also homestays, language partners, excursions, and volunteering opportunities. Semester and year-long programs require at least 4 semesters of college-level Russian prior to arrival; however, the summer program accepts beginners.
  • Russian Area Studies Program (summer, semester, full year) offers two levels of Russian language coursework, but the emphasis is placed on area studies courses on literature, history, politics, sociology, art, and others. There is no Russian language requirement.
  • The Russia Past and Present program is offered both in St Petersburg and Moscow in the summer. Students explore contemporary Russian politics through lectures, seminars, and discussions with professors and experts at St Petersburg State University or Moscow State Institute of International Relations. All courses are taught in English. Students are offered an optional 1-credit Communicative Russian course.
  • In Moscow, CIEE offers summer, semester and year-long programs in business and international relations hosted at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. Students take courses in business and international relations in English while improving their Russian language skills in beginner, intermediate, and advanced level courses.

School of International Training (SIT) Study Abroad

The School of Russian and Asian Studies (SRAS) Study Abroad in Russia

  • SRAS offers summer, semester, and year-long programs in Moscow (Moscow State University) and St Petersburg (St Petersburg State University of Economics). All programs combine intensive Russian language study and courses in business, law, history, politics, literature, cultural studies, and art, which are taught in English.

Moscow Arts Theater Semester

  • If you are a majoring in theater, explore this opportunity to study at the Moscow Arts Theater in the fall semester. Combine intensive Russian language study with acting, voice, design, and theater history classes.

Other Resources

There are numerous programs you can choose from. You should consult with the faculty on the best program for you and visit the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives here at Mount Holyoke. Below are some other organizations and links that can help:

  • Intern Abroad contains information on internships, volunteer projects, language schools, and job opportunities abroad.
  • Global Experiences offers internships in Italy, Australia, Spain and France in many fields, as well as ESL teaching, adventure travel, and volunteer abroad programs in Ecuador.
  • International Research and Exchanges Board is a congressionally-funded body dedicated to field research and exchange programs between the U.S. and countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

For other links and details on study abroad, see Study Abroad Programs in Russia and Eurasia. For a list of where past Russian and Eurasian studies and Russian language and literature majors have studied, and a summary of the courses they took abroad, check this searchable database Note that this is not a definitive list of what is possible and should serve only as a useful guide and planning resource.

Rebecca Rothstein

Little rose of the Caucasus.

Rebecca Rothstein '14: One cannot divorce Russian politics from Russian literature.

A Russian and Eurasian studies adventure.

Billie Jean Stirewalt '14: I've visited 12 countries, met the love of my life, adopted a Georgian mountain dog, and published research papers for USAID.
Gabriella Gonzalez '16

A Roller Coaster Worth The Ride

Gabriella Gonzalez '16: Language is one very important part of communication, but there is more to it.

Next Steps

Students interested in exploring possibilities for learning abroad are encouraged to contact the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives. April Stroud is the primary advisor for study abroad, and Kirk Lange can offer guidance on internships or research abroad. Students should also consult with their advisor about how they can best connect and integrate learning abroad with their work in the major.