Everyone knows that Russia is the largest country in the world. With a population of near 145 million people and being large enough to include more than 11 time zones, its consideration as a superpower country comes as no surprise. The country is known for its vibrant yet turbulent history dating back centuries and centuries back, as well as its rich and diverse traditions.
Nevertheless, a major factor of Russia is not just the fact that it has a booming economy; it is also one of the most popular study abroad destinations in the world as well. Annually attracting over a million students, the country has more than 700 institutions of higher education which are also ranked among the best in the world. Here, we detail the main aspects of studying in Russia for international students.
How International Students Can Study in Russia
To maximize your chances of studying in Russia, you need to do the following:
- Preparing to finance your education. Most important, you need to be able to study in Russia financially. You can do this by attending affordable universities in Russia, working while studying, or just paying from your own bank account.
- While you are preparing your finances, you need to also prepare to meet the application requirements.
- Then, you will need to apply to universities in Russia.
- After you get accepted, you need to apply for a Russian student visa.
This looks complicated, but we will delve into this further later in the article.
1. Financing Your Studies in Russia
Prospective students will notice that universities and institutions in Russia offer education at a comparatively lower expense to other universities in the world, specifically in North America and Europe. Bachelor’s degrees tend to vary from as low as USD 3000 (RUB 200,000). Postgraduate courses begin from around USD 3400 to 4500 (approximately RUB 240,00 to 250,000).
In terms of accommodation, this varies from the location of the universities. Generally, the cost of accommodation can range from USD 100 to 600 (up to RUB 30,000) on a monthly basis.
2. Meeting the General Application Requirements for Studying in Russia for International Students
In this section, we detail the general requirements for applying to study as an undergraduate and graduate student at a Russian university for international students.
English Requirements for Undergraduate Students
Most universities and institutions in higher education in the country tend to offer education with Russian as the main language. However, with the increasing number of international students that Russia attracts every year, a growing number of universities are offering several courses in English as well for students who prefer this option as opposed to learning Russian.
Only a selected few universities offer English-taught undergraduate programs to prospective students, which means that they need to be flexible in their choices. For example, the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology offers English programs in Aerospace Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, and Computer Science with a minimum IELTS score of 5.0 or a TOEFL score of at least 65 for entry.
Another example is the HSE University which offers programs such as the Bachelors in Data Science and Business Analytics. In this case, students are required to have an IELTS score of at least 5.0 or a TOEFL score of at least 70.
English Requirements for Graduate Students
Interestingly, a lot more English-taught programs at the postgraduate level are offered by the Russian universities and institutions of higher education compared to undergraduate programs.
Examples include the Lomonosov Moscow State University (which offers programs in a range of departments from Business to Biological Sciences), the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, the St. Petersburg State University (offering more than 10 Masters degrees in English), and the Ural Federal University.
Most programs go by the CEFR framework and require an English level of B2.
Other Main Application Requirements of Undergraduate Students
To study in Russia as an international student, it is vital that you meet the below requirements. Application requirements tend to differ from university to university but the general requirements are as follows. Note that not all of these will be required by the relevant university.
- Russian language proficiency – One of the core application requirements for all students, whether you are an undergraduate or a postgraduate, is your proficiency in the Russian language. However, this is not always a huge problem – much to the good news of most international students, the majority of universities and institutions of higher education in Russia now.
- Unified State Entrance Examination – This is an entrance exam similar to the SAT exams for United States universities. A majority of Russian institutions require the USE as a prerequisite for admission. It consists of a 2 part written paper and can be taken across a range of different subjects and fields.
- Proof of English Proficiency- Usually through B2 accredited exams.
- Academic transcripts – Transcripts such as GCSE/GCE exams (or international equivalent exams).
- Medical certificate – Students will need to have medical examinations confirming they are not diagnosed with specific diseases.
- Curriculum Vitae/Resume
- Scanned copy of ID/National Passport
- Letters of Recommendation/References – Usually this will depend on the university or the program that you are applying to but in most cases, 1 to 3 references or letters of recommendation from valid referees will be needed with the application.
- Cover letter
Other Main Application Requirements of Graduate Students
In addition to most of the requirements listed in the previous section, graduate students do not have that many more prerequisites.
- Proof of the previous degree: Naturally, you will have to provide proof of your undergraduate degree usually as a certificate or transcripts.
3. Apply to Russian Universities
The application procedure for the majority of Russian universities and institutions of higher education tend to be fairly similar to each other. The procedure is typically seen as follows:
- Identify the program or degree of study that you wish to pursue.
- Explore financing options as well as the availability of scholarships that are external to the university. You can do this even after you have identified a university you are interested in as well.
- Identify the university or institution you are interested in applying to.
- Prepare the documents necessary and specific for the application to the relevant course at the relevant university.
- Do the necessary tests and the competitive selection such as interviews, if applicable to the program you are applying for.
- Once you get accepted, prepare the necessary documents for your student visa application and submit them for approval!
This is the general outline when it comes to applying to universities and institutions of higher education in Russia. These procedures are also mentioned in most, if not all, of the university websites. For example, we have attached the application page for the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. The MIPT specifies the ‘How to apply process’ as follows:
- Prospective students should choose a full degree program or course (i.e. either a Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctoral, Preparatory, or short-term internship program).
- Find a suitable program within the relevant degree level.
- Check if the student meets the entry requirements for the program.
- Collect the required documents for the application.
Applying to Russian universities is one of the most important steps for international students wishing to study in Russia, so make sure to follow the application process completely.
4. Apply for a Student Visa
Student visas are obviously a very important aspect of the application process and are required for all international students who wish to study in Russia. Additionally, although the country is an extension of Europe, it is not a member country for the EU/EFTA so the EU-visa free entry is not applicable to study in Russia. Exceptions are made to students from certain countries, specifically those that are members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (the CIS).
- Prospective students can start applying for student visas after accepting an offer from the Russian university and up to 45 days prior to their arrival in Russia.
- Students can apply for visas through their local Embassy of Russia or via a designated and official visa center. Visa processing lasts for around 2 to 3 weeks.
- Required documents for applying for a visa:
- Official acceptance letter from the applied university or institution.
- A valid passport (ideally valid for up to 18 months from the date of issue)
- A printed application of the Russian student visa form
- A medical letter or certificate (specifically confirming HIV-Negative status) no older than 90 days at the date of application
- A letter of consent from a parent, guardian that is certified by a Notary for applicants under 18 years of age.
- Once the visa has been approved and the student has arrived in Russia, it is mandatory to register with the local GUVM office, specifically within 7 days of arrival. If this is not done, the student can receive a fine or possibly even be expelled from the country.
- Visas are usually valid for up to 90 days from the date of approval. This can be extended up to 1 year and then periodically renewed by the local embassy.
For added information regarding the student visa process, please click on this link which will direct you to the VFS Global Russia website.
And there you have it! This article covers the most important and essential points to remember when considering pursuing further studies in Russia. As you could tell from above, it is a fairly straightforward process in terms of applying to Russian universities.
I hope that this article was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Europe Scholarships Page.