Conceived by Peter the Great as a “Window to the West,” and christened “The Cradle of the Great October Socialist Revolution,” St. Petersburg is the perfect setting to explore the intriguing complexities of Russia’s past and present.
Whether you’re beginning or continuing your study of the Russian language, studying abroad in St. Petersburg will help you develop your skills while gaining a greater appreciation of Russian politics, history, and culture. And with homestays, peer tutors, volunteering, excursions, and specialized cultural events, study abroad in Russia offers you unparalleled insight into the city, county, and people, and an a truly immersive international experience.
Study abroad in Russia and you will:
- Improve your Russian language proficiency, and learn about Russian culture in an authentic and stimulating environment in the longest-running U.S. study abroad program in Russia
- Experience a rich cultural program including local and regional excursions, visits to museums and historical sites, and theaters, and interaction with locals
- Live in 300-year old St. Petersburg, known as the “Venice of the North,” and experience the relationship between traditional and modern forces impacting Russia today
The CIEE Difference
Build a curriculum that suits your needs and abilities. Choose from two levels of Russian language courses as well as a host of area studies electives, taught in English, on a variety of subjects from history, politics, and sociology to art, literature, and cinema.
Explore the city through a series of museum visits, boat tours, a group cooking class in Russian cuisine, visits to the Russian bathhouse, and tickets to concerts, ballets, and sporting events.
The study abroad program also offers three overnight field trips that take place on the weekend each semester to Moscow, Novgorod, and other regional destinations such as the Pskov region or Kiev, Ukraine. These trips include excursions to places of educational, cultural, and historic significance, while still allowing some time for you to explore the sites on your own.
Each semester, study abroad students organize a special cultural event. This event is a chance for you to delve into a specific topic of Russian history and experience that epoch in a fun and entertaining way with other students from the School of Political Science or their Sobesedniki. In past semesters, students have organized a Spring Ball (the period of Catherine the Great), a Stilyagi (Retro Hipsters style of the 1950s) project, and a Russian Rock project that culminated in a live performance by study abroad students accompanied by professional musicians.
This breakdown has been prepared from the program budget for the purpose of calculating eligibility for financial aid. During the course of program operations, actual figures may vary. It should not, therefore, be used as a basis for calculation of refunds. CIEE reserves the right to adjust fees at any time.
Students required to study on CIEE programs through a School of Record will be charged a $340 administrative fee in addition to the Program Fees listed.
Click here for info about prices and fees.
Estimated Additional Costs
The estimated additional costs indicated are intended to assist students and parents in budgeting for those additional living and discretionary expenses not included in the program fee. Actual expenses will vary according to student interests and spending habits.
- Overall GPA 2.75
- 0–4 semesters of college-level Russian or equivalent
- At least one semester of Russian is recommended, but motivated students with no previous Russian have been very successful in this program.
- Due to the length of the Russian visa process, CIEE requires students to have a valid passport in order to be accepted. Russian immigration requires that this passport is valid for 18 months beyond the end date of the program.
Recommended credit for the semester is 17–18 semester/25.5–27 quarter hours.
Course contact hours for CIEE area studies courses are 45 hours and recommended credit is 3 semester/4.5 quarter hours per course. Course contact hours for CIEE language courses are 84 hours and recommended credit is 4 semester/ 6 quarter hours.per course, unless otherwise indicated.
Study abroad students must take the Russian language component at the elementary or intermediate level. Participants are placed at the appropriate language level based on language testing conducted at the beginning of the program. It consists of two courses—grammar and conversation. In addition, students take three area studies courses taught in English. Students may also enroll in the CIEE Seminar on Living and Learning in St. Petersburg course to enrich their overall experience of living in a foreign country.
About The City
Envisioned by Peter the Great as the “Window to the West” and created by French and Italian architects, St. Petersburg became a testimony to opulence with golden palaces, pastel-colored mansions, and landscaped parks, gardens, and canals. Having endured the horrors of World War II and Stalinist repression, the people now cope with a new political and economic reality. Known as Leningrad from 1924 to 1991, the city of nearly five million is easily navigated by foot, bus, trolley, and an efficient metro system.
Where You'll Study
Founded in the 18th century, St. Petersburg State University is one of Russia’s leading institutions of higher education. The campus has expanded from its original site on the Neva River, and now includes over 400 buildings around the city center. CIEE students study at the University’s stunning Smolny campus—on the territory of the renowned school for noble ladies founded in 1764—in a quiet neighborhood on the east side of downtown St. Petersburg.
Housing & Meals
All study abroad students live in Russian homestays. Participants have their own room with a Russian family in a private apartment. Housing and most meals (two meals daily and three on weekends) are included in the program fee. Students are responsible for weekday lunches. The University cafeteria offers reasonably priced meals.
You'll begin your study abroad experience in St. Petersburg even before leaving home by participating in a CIEE online pre-departure orientation. Meeting with students online, the resident director shares information about the program and site, highlighting issues that alumni have said are important, and giving you time to ask questions. The online orientation allows you to connect with others in the group, reflect on what you want to get out of the program, and learn what others in the group would like to accomplish. CIEE’s aim for the pre-departure orientation is simple—to help you understand more about the program, and identify your objectives so that you arrive well-informed and return home having made significant progress towards your goals.
The on-site orientation last three days, although there are additional orientation activities throughout the first two weeks of the program. At the beginning of the program, you will participate in an intensive introduction to Russia, the culture, health and safety issues, and the academic program. The orientation is supported by Russian student assistants in order to facilitate your entry into your new culture. Ongoing support is provided by CIEE staff on an individual and group basis throughout the program.
You are encouraged to bring a wireless-enabled laptop. Internet access in homestays is not guaranteed; however, limited, but free, wireless is available at the CIEE Study Center. Wireless Internet is also available through local cell phone providers, 4G Internet providers, and many Internet cafés throughout St. Petersburg. Additionally, there is a fee-for-service Internet classroom maintained by the University.
Cultural Activities and Field Trips
The academic study abroad program is supplemented with excursions, study tours, and field trips. All excursions for RAS students are conducted in English.
Required program excursions in previous semesters have included a city bus tour, the Hermitage, Russian Museum, and Peter and Paul Fortress, Pavlovsk, and Peterhof. Optional excursions organized by CIEE staff include Tsarskoe Selo, Yusupov Palace, a walking tour of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Pushkin’s Apartment Museum, Nabokov Museum, and Baltika Brewery. In previous semesters, CIEE arranged a night at the ballet, group cooking classes in Russian and Georgian cuisine, visits to the Russian bathhouse (banya), and group tickets to hockey and soccer games. Most of our optional excursions are scheduled for weekends.
The program offers three overnight field trips that take place on the weekend each semester—Moscow, Novgorod, and other regional destinations such as the Pskov region or Kiev, Ukraine. These trips include excursions to places of educational, cultural, and historic significance, while still allowing some time for you to explore the sites on your own.
There is also an independent Russian Travel Week each semester. You are encouraged to visit areas outside of St. Petersburg on your own. Students travel independently and the cost of this travel is not included in the program fee. In past semesters students have visited the lovely towns of old Russia in the Golden Ring surrounding Moscow, camped on Lake Baikal, explored Vladivostok, taken in the sites of the Tatar Republic, and relaxed on the shores of the Black Sea.
You may take advantage of a range of volunteer projects in St. Petersburg. You'll have the opportunity to work as teaching assistants in English language classes at St. Petersburg State University and private language schools. Although volunteer opportunities may change from semester to semester, it is generally possible for you to volunteer at the Hermitage, International Red Cross, and Salvation Army.
In 2013, the CIEE Study Center marks its 46th year in St. Petersburg. CIEE began its close relationship with St. Petersburg State University when the Summer Russian Language Program began there in 1967. The CIEE semester Russian Area Studies program (RAS) was established in 2000. The Russian Area Studies program is for students who are interested in an academic program in Russia with an English component. The program offers a set of courses, taught in English, on Russian history, culture, politics, civilization, and cinema, as well as a rigorous language program.
The study abroad program is designed for students with zero to four semesters of Russian. Students at a higher level (having taken at least one Russian class beyond intermediate) enroll in the Russian Language Program. Cross-registration between RAS and RLP is not possible.
Classroom attendance and participation are monitored carefully and may have a significant impact on final grades. Homework assignments serve to reinforce what is discussed in class. Much of the academic material is presented in class, and the 90-minute periods provide plenty of time for a range of learning activities.
All electives are taught by experienced instructors who have experience teaching American students in Russia and the U.S. In-class participation often accounts for a large percentage of students’ grades as Russian teaching methodology emphasizes in-class learning.
CIEE teachers have years of experience with American students, but sometimes they may express their feelings more frankly than Americans expect.
The area studies classes may include visiting lecturers, topic specific visits to museums, and other activities.
Nature of Classes
Participants take classes with other CIEE study abroad students only and not with Russian students.
Tutoring and Oral Proficiency Interview
Our study center offers extra help with language classes in the form of tutoring. Students’ personal needs in language learning are met in sessions conducted either with experienced instructors or students of the St. Petersburg State University Philological department. In these sessions, students can go over difficult topics of Russian grammar or classwork. Our program includes OPI testing which is conducted at the beginning and end of each semester, allowing students to receive a quantifiable score of their oral proficiency progress.
CIEE Community Language Commitment
As students gain proficiency in Russian, resident staff encourage them to use their language skills in everyday settings, in school and homestays, and on the streets. Students from the Russian Area Studies Program should respect that their peers in the Russian Language Program are expected to speak Russian at all times within the CIEE Study Center.
Grades are assigned using the Russian grading scale of one to five and converted to U.S. letter grade equivalents. Plus and minus grades are also assigned. Grades are determined by a combination of short quizzes, written assignments, and exams. Additionally, participation often accounts for a large percentage of students’ grades as Russian teaching methodology emphasizes in-class learning. Attendance is mandatory for all CIEE courses.
Language of Instruction
All courses are taught by faculty from St. Petersburg State University.
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** Indicates the Office of Education Abroad pre-approval deadline. Students will also need to meet the actual program application deadlines, which may be earlier. See the Getting Started page for more details.