Live with a Russian host family, meet local students, eat the food, read the news, and, of course, study the language. If you’re a Russian major, you probably know that the Russian language plays an important role in American foreign policy and that it’s a relatively difficult language for native English speakers to learn. Studying abroad in Russia will not only improve your language competency by giving you the opportunity to interact with native speakers, but it will also provide you with an experience of Russian culture that will broaden your worldview and give you a competitive edge in applying for graduate programs and jobs.

While there is no usual post-graduate trend for Russian majors, recent graduates are Peace Corps volunteers in Russian-speaking countries, ESL teachers in Russia, U.S. government and foreign service workers, and graduate students. Many of the positions Russian majors consider for post-graduation require advanced language skills and knowledge of Russian culture.

Whatever your post-graduate plans are, study abroad in Russia is an experience that will benefit all Russian language students. From eight week summer programs to full-year programs, there are plenty of opportunities for you to earn credit toward your degree.

About half of UI Russian majors don’t declare their major until the semester following their freshman or sophomore year. Don’t worry, you still have plenty of time to study abroad! In fact, because the Russian language is so tough to learn, it’s highly recommended that you complete Third-Year Russian I and II before traveling to Russia. Generally, the summer after your junior year and your senior year are ideal times for you to study abroad.


Your first year is best spent fulfilling general education requirements and language prerequisites.

Sophomores & Juniors

Depending on your language level, study abroad during your sophomore or junior year is possible. If you are unsure whether you are at the right language level for study abroad, check with your major advisor in the Department for Asian and Slavic Languages.


Assuming you have completed three years of language study at the college level, senior year is an excellent time for study abroad. Just double check that all of your course requirements will be met for graduation upon your return. Refer to the Academics tab on this MAP for suggestions for coordinating your study abroad experience with your Russian major requirements.

Russian Major Courses

Be sure to review your Russian major requirements before registering for courses abroad. In general, Russian majors can transfer up to 16 credit hours per semester toward their major (as long as those credits were earned in Russian-speaking classrooms). The Department of Asian and Slavic Languages is relatively flexible about transferring credit earned abroad and will work with you to suit your individual needs. For the most part, Russian language, literature, civilization and culture courses taken abroad will be transferable upon your return.  

Consult with your academic advisor and visit the Study Abroad office to discuss study abroad courses you can take to fulfill your major requirements. Once you have chosen your courses, you’ll need to fill out a Credit Approval Form with your Study Abroad advisor and return it to the Study Abroad office prior to your departure.

General Education

Because the courses you take abroad will be taught in Russian, general education courses are best fulfilled at the UI (i.e. you probably don’t want to learn calculus in a Russian-speaking classroom).

Traveling to Russia can be quite expensive, but don’t let cost dissuade you! It will be important for you to apply for scholarships to fund your study abroad experience. Most of the scholarships available to you will have application deadlines far in advance of your departure, so be sure to apply for funding early.

For more information about study abroad opportunities in Russia, check the Russian Language Program website and/or consult with an advisor in the Study Abroad office.

Due to the linguistic and cultural challenges of studying abroad in Russia, it will be particularly important for you to organize your study abroad experience through an accredited program that will provide you with a solid infrastructure (embassy contact, resident director, etc.).

ACTR Language and Area Studies Program

A program of the American Council of Teachers of Russian (ACTR), the Language and Area Studies Program is a nationally accredited program that provides students from all over the country with the opportunity to study abroad in Russia for an academic year or semester. ACTR also offers an 8-week language immersion program in the summer.

Most program participants live with Russian host families (screened in advance by American Councils home stay coordinators) for the duration of their stay. On-site resident directors provide students with contact information for peer tutors recruited from host universities as well as information about volunteer and internship opportunities. Excursions to local sights of social, cultural or historic significance take place weekly and are conducted in Russian.