Types of Studies in Russia
No mystery here. This could be group study (on average 20 academic hours per week) or individual (usually a bit less, with 10-12 academic the most common). The methodology for teaching Russian to foreigners is excellent – developed to a very high level when the USSR was actively recruiting international students who did not know a word of Russian and so had to be trained in a 10-month program for entry into the Russian universities. Language study could be as short as one week (if incorporated into your travel) and up to a year or more. During or after your language programs, you can also request to take the “TORFL” (Test of Russian as a Foreign Language). This test exists in 5 levels, and passing level 2 is required for entry into a Russian university or to apply for citizenship in Russia.
The advantage is that, of course, you will speak Russian, but also — the language studies let you obtain a student visa, which lets you stay continuously in Russia for a year or longer and that is a much easier option than getting a work permit. Besides, the studies will not takee too much of your time.
You may be surprised, but despite the low ratings of Russian universities there are some really great degree programs in Moscow and in other Russian cities. The most interesting one and internationally renowned is the Strelka Institute for Contemporary Media, Design, and Architecture.
Russia has some of the top universities in the world and there really are some degree programs that can’t be topped – especially at the currently low cost. At present, most universities accept international students on a “non-competitive” basis, meaning you do not need to go through the very rigorous entrance exam system that is currently conducted by each individual university (Russia is working on converting to a national college entrance exam like the SAT in the US). We anticipate that as more and more foreigners realize that Russia is actually an enjoyable place to live and they see the relatively low cost of quality education, entrance may start to become more competitive for foreigners. Some of the best things to study in Russia are law (at the BA level), any of the pure sciences (chemistry, biology, physics), mathematics and computer science, the arts (music, dance, theater) and of course anything related to Russia (history, language, literature).
Otherwise known as stazhirovka, this is study at another faculty (department) within a university, where the primary focus is not language learning. It is assumed that you already have a fairly high level of Russian, as you will be attending classes with Russians and potentially doing additional research and independent study under an advisor.
Student exchanges are gaining popularity in Russia, although still not too many universitites have a link with institutions abroad. If you would like to study in a Russian university for a few months, you can arrange a student exchange between your school / university and a Russian school or a university. Don't worry if the link doesn't exist yet: by establishing it you will get more chances to be accepted.
These and other specialized courses are generally short-term programs (less than a month) and could focus on law, history, literature, and other subjects.
Internships, often also referred to in Russia as stazhirovka, are generally organized by private language schools and organizations and not by universities themselves. In evaluating internship opportunities, you should not look at them as job placement (although they certainly can eventually lead to a job offer) but rather an educational experience.
Some Recommended Schools in Russia
For General Studies (Top Russian Schools):
Russian Academy for Theatre Arts (GITIS) - www.gitis.net/eng/info
Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MFTI or PhysTech) - www.phystech.edu
For Russian Language Studies or Linguistics:
Moscow State Linguistic University - http://www.linguanet.ru/
Linguistic University of Nizhny Novgorod - www.lunn.sci-nnov.ru
Irkutsk State Linguistic University - www.islu.ru
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