“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Amongst the most popular regrets, living abroad and learning a foreign language rank highly. Whether it’s to study in your given field or improve your language skills, a semester or year abroad in a foreign university will always look good on your CV. Russia is becoming an increasingly popular destination for studying abroad.

There are over 800 universities across the country with over 230,000 international students attending each year.

So how do you choose the right one? Which should you go for and how to do you get accepted onto a course?

Here’s our advice.

What Should You Study in Russia?

Whether you want to learn a foreign language like Russian or finish studying engineering, Russia is a great destination for a lot of students. That’s why it’s climbing the rankings of destinations chosen by students to study abroad. There are a lot of exchange programmes and Russian universities are quite open to foreign students.

What should you study in Russia?
If you're going to Russia, you don't need to study Russian. You could always learn Russian through immersion and study another subject. (Source: Mistery08)

Why should you choose Russian universities? Because speaking Russian looks great on your CV!

Before you head off to study in Russia, there are a few things to think about:

  • What you’ll study
  • Which university you’ll pick
  • How to apply
  • The administrative steps
  • Etc.

The first thing you need to know is that the education system in Russia is a bit different than in the UK. In the UK, the system goes degree, master’s, doctorate/PhD. In Russia, it's a bit different:

  • Firstly, there’s a 4-year degree/bachelor’s programme.
  • 5 years for a specialism (specialist)
  • 6 years for a master’s degree (magistratura)
  • 9 years for a doctorate (kandidat naouk)

In the UK, you can get a degree in 3 years, a master’s in 4, and a PhD in 7 or 8.

That said, you can study almost all the same subjects in Russia as in the UK:

  • Political science and international relations
  • Linguistics and other languages
  • Economics and marketing
  • History and art history
  • Finance and international business
  • Social sciences and humanities
  • Engineering
  • Technology
  • IT

Rather than thinking “Which university should I attend?” you might want to ask “What does each university offer?”.

Find out more about learning Russian.

The Best Russian Universities

After your A Levels, you could always apply to universities in the UK, get your degree, and then move onto master’s degrees and doctorates. A lot of courses in the UK now offer the option for a year abroad and Russia is included as several UK universities have agreements with Russian universities.

So which universities are they?

Which Russian university is the best?
There are a lot of good universities in the country to choose from, but competition can be fierce. (Source: StockSnap)

Keep in mind that in Russia:

  • There are 818 universities
  • Of which, 502 are public universities, 29 are national research universities, and 10 are federal universities.
  • Of the public universities, there are universities like MGU that have a special status
  • There are 316 private universities
  • There are 216,000 lecturers and teachers
  • There are nearly 4.4 million students in the country.

Some very prestigious UK universities offer exchange programmes with Russian universities and some even offer the opportunity to get two degrees.

Here are the best overall universities in Russia:

  • Moscow State University
  • MGIMO, the Moscow State Institute of International Relations,
  • Tomsk Polytechnic University
  • Saint Petersburg State University
  • Novosibirsk State University
  • The Higher School of Economics

The 2021 World University Rankings placed:

  • Moscow State University in 74th place.
  • Novosibirsk State University in 228th place.
  • Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) in 281st place.

To choose your Russian university, you may also want to consult the league tables for various subjects. You can often narrow your search by looking for your field of study, the language you want the lessons to be in, etc., which is a good way to find exactly what you’re looking for.

You might also want to check out sites like Russia Study to see if there’s funding or bursaries available to you.

The best university will depend on the level you’re studying, the subject you choose, and your financial situation.

Find out more about studying abroad in Russia.

Getting Onto a Russian University Course

The first thing you’ll have to do to study at a Russian university is to be accepted onto a course. This process will vary from school to school but generally, you’ll have to have:

  • An application form
  • A CV and covering letter
  • A photocopy of your passport
How do you apply to Russian universities?
Much like getting a Russian visa, applying to Russian universities isn't a simplified process. (Source: Free-Photos)

The good thing about the Russian system is that you can gamble with the free universities. While this is a bit of an oversimplification, there is a highly-competitive selection process run by the Russian government offering bursaries (sometimes at random) through the Russian higher education system. The process is quite simple and once you’ve applied, you just have to wait for the answer.

If you’re rejected, you can always apply directly to the university and generally, you’ll have to apply for the whole year.

If accepted, you can go to university for almost nothing. The following fees are covered by the state:

  • Registration fees
  • Various admin fees
  • Housing costs
  • Sometimes, there are also bursaries for living costs between £100 and £300.

Everyone’s in the same boat and there’s no allocation according to class.

As Russia isn’t part of the EU, there aren’t any Erasmus options. It’s better to go through their system.

Have you been accepted onto a course?

Congratulations! You can now move onto the next administrative steps:

  • Applying for scholarships
  • Applying for a visa

Studying abroad is a great way to broaden your horizons by learning more about a foreign culture and language.

Check out our top tips for studying abroad in Russia.

Living With Russian-speaking Students in Moscow or Saint Petersburg

Once you’ve been accepted onto a course to study Russian, you’re far from done. After you’ve got your visa, there are a few things you need to do before you can start studying in Russia. Your accommodation will be one of the first things you need to sort out. Nearly 70% of students live in university accommodation and with good reason:

  • They’re often quite cheap (between £30 and £100 a month).
  • The opportunity to live with other students and practise Russian.
  • It can make university admin much easier.

Your accommodation will dictate who registers you in the territory. The registration will state that you’re staying at the university. In case your papers are checked by the police, on the train, or at the border, you’ll need this. You’ll also have to update it if you travel outside of the territory.

Can you share a flat in Russia?
To get the most out of your experience in Russia, you may want to live with other students. (Source: designerpoint)

Generally, your life will be easier if you just live on campus or in university accommodation.

It’s also recommended that you choose an internationally-recognised university. Don’t hesitate to get lessons in Russia if you’re looking to really learn the language and meet other students. It’ll help you to avoid the trap of only hanging out with English speakers.

You can also get a job to earn some extra cash and immerse yourself further in the culture. Unlike in some countries, international students are allowed to work on campus.

Russia is a country full of opportunities.

So which university will you be looking at?

Don't forget to learn more about staying with Russia host families.

If you are just starting to learn Russian or need to brush up before you go, consider getting private tuition from one of the many talented and experienced private tutors on Superprof!

When it comes to learning languages, you need to practise and having someone regularly teach you and allow you to use your new language is a great way to learn.

There are a few different ways to get private tutorials and each type of lesson comes with its pros and cons. It's usually up to you, how you like to learn, and your budget that will decide which tutorials are right for you. Make sure you spend the time to talk about this to any potential tutor before choosing to have private tutorials with them.

Don't forget that a lot of the tutors on Superprof offer the first lesson for free. Use this to try a few different tutors out before deciding which one is right for you and what you want to learn.

Need a Russian teacher?

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Joseph is a French and Spanish to English translator, language enthusiast, and blogger.