Studying in Russia
Updated 2017-09-19 06:44

In order to study in Russia, you will need to have been accepted at an institute of higher education before you apply for a student visa.

Thousands of students across the globe dream of studying in Russia. If you are one of them, you are advised to inquire on related formalities beforehand. Russia has set up a series of regulations regarding foreign students' registration in Russian universities. However, these should not prove too challenging if you planned suitably in advance. Studying in Russia will not only be a unique experience, but also a valuable asset on your resume once you have joined the international labour market.

Higher education system

Russia hosts many public and private higher education institutions and universities. So if you wish to study there, you first have to decide where you would prefer to enroll. Here are a few key points which you might consider before making a choice.

Higher education institutes

The country has just under 3,000 higher education institutes, among which a hundred are private institutes. In most cases, you have to pass an examination to be admitted to the selected institution. However, if you come to Russia to study as part of a double-award degree with another foreign university, or if you won a Russian scholarship for foreigners to study in Russia, you will not have to sit an examination to be admitted. Depending on the standing of the university you choose, yearly fees may amount between 400 and 8,000 euros per year.

Moreover, some 700 institutes are modelled on American universities and offer preparatory training for 3 to 4 years. You can choose between those offering short technological training and those offering more conventional academic training.

Students seeking vocational training for a maximum of two years can turn to technical colleges.

Public universities

Russia hosts some 500 public universities and 400 private universities offering various programs, mainly in the fields of humanities, natural and social sciences, law, engineering, etc.. Some programs are taught in English, especially courses which are part of double-award degrees. However, if you are not coming as part of a double-award degree with another foreign university, you will be required to pass the TRKI (Test of Russian as a foreign language) which is compulsory for registration to a Russian study program in a Russian university. Depending on your initial level of Russian, this exam will require little to advanced preparation (3 to 10 months) in order to pass the required B1 level.

Note that the State University of Moscow, the Higher School of Economics, Moscow State Institute of international relations and the University of St Petersburg are Russia's most famous and prestigious universities. Students have to attend all classes. Failing to do so, may put you at risk of being expelled.

The academic year covers 10 months and is divided into four semesters, each of which ends with a series of exams.

Good to know:

Enrollment procedures in Russia are quite complex. Hence, you are advised to start tackling the various formalities at least 9 months before your scheduled date of departure.


For enrollment in a Russian university, you will have to produce the following documents:

  • copies of all your recent qualifications, such as your secondary school certificates and their notarised translation and original apostille
  • a list of all your fields of study in your home country along with a copy of your result slips and their notarised translation and original apostille
  • a copy of your passport
  • your TRKI language test or any other certificate indicating that you are eligible to follow any course in the Russian language.

Note that enrollment application forms are generally available on most universities websites. You can print them to fill in and sign.

Study visa

You will definitely need a visa to be allowed to study in Russia. However, you are advised to wait for the university's decision before applying for the visa, as you will have to include the university's official acceptance and invitation in the visa application request.

Hence, documents to be produced to apply for a study visa are the following:

  • an invitation to visit Russia which has been established by the Russian Federal Migration Service
  • the decision of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia to issue a visa or an official written document issued by a Russian host organization
  • a valid passport with at least 2 blank pages for the visa stamps (it should be valid for at least 6 months following the visa expiry date)
  • a signed and completed visa application form, which is available at
  • a 3.5 x 4.5 cm color photograph of on a light background, showing a clear image of your face, without glasses or tinted glasses and without headgear (excluding national or religious affiliated foreigners who can be photographed with a head covering in their passport)
  • a medical insurance covering the whole duration of your stay in Russia
  • an AIDS screening certificate if you wish to stay for more than 3 months

Useful links:

Moscow State University
St Petersburg State University
Top Universities ' List of universities in Russia
Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation ' Education for foreigners

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.