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Programs : Brochure

  • Locations: Moscow, Russian Federation; St. Petersburg, Russian Federation; Vladimir, Russian Federation
  • Program Terms: Fall, Spring, Year
  • Budget Sheets: Fall, Spring
Fact Sheet:
Fact Sheet:
Click here for a definition of this term Language of Instruction: Russian Click here for a definition of this term Language Prerequisite: 4 Semesters of college level language
Minimum Cumulative GPA: 3.0 Click here for a definition of this term Credit Available For: College
Other Eligibility Requirements: Grades of B or better in Russian Click here for a definition of this term Type of Program: Semester/Year Study Abroad
Click here for a definition of this term Housing Options: Homestay, University Residence Hall/Apartment Click here for a definition of this term Application Deadline: Fall/Year: March 1, Spring: October 1
Program Description:

American Councils: Advanced Russian Language and Area Studies Program (RLASP)

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The Advanced Russian Language and Area Studies Program (RLASP) provides students with in-class instruction in Russian grammar, phonetics, conversation, and cultural studies at Moscow International University, the Russian State Pedagogical University (Herzen Institute) in St. Petersburg, or the KORA Center for Russian Language in Vladimir.

For additional information, visit the American Councils RLASP website
The Cities of Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Vladmir

In the years since the collapse of the USSR, Moscow has grown into a multiethnic and multinational metropolis. Elements of its Soviet past remain, but the city has moved fully into the capitalist present, embracing western economic and cultural norms to a much greater degree than much of the rest of Russia. Today, Moscow remains the country's political and economic capital, and rivals St. Petersburg in both arts and culture.

A young city by Russian standards, St. Petersburg celebrated its 300th anniversary in 2003, just one year after a national census put its population at around five million residents. Since its near demolition and depopulation during WWII, St. Petersburg has been painstakingly rebuilt to reflect the glory of the former capital and both its current status as the cultural center of Russia and its historical origins as the window to Europe.

While a small city by Russian standards at 360,000 residents, Vladimir boasts cultural clout as a one-time Russian capital and an important member of the historical Golden Ring. Located 125 miles to the east of Moscow, Vladimir is both far enough from the country’s epicenter to maintain its sense of traditional Russian hospitality and close enough to eschew any sense of isolation.

Notice to Applicants: The travel destination of this study abroad program is in a location currently on Penn’s list of Heightened Security Risk Regions.  Study abroad to this location is subject to review and approval by Penn’s Committee on International Travel Risk Assessment (CITRA). Please refer to Penn’s International Travel Guidance for more information.

The American Councils Advanced Russian Language and Area Studies Program is for College credit only

Minimum GPA Requirement
: 3.0

Language Prerequisite: Grades of B or better in all Russian language courses.  Completion of 4 semesters of college-level Russian or the equivalent, by the end of the academic semester (fall or spring) prior to departure.

Language of Instruction



RLASP features approximately twenty hours per week of in-class instruction; roughly sixteen hours of which are dedicated to Russian-language study. Students are placed according to proficiency level in groups of three-to-five for language classes. Core Russian language classes include Russian Conversation, Phonetics, Russian Grammar, and Lexical Studies. Area studies offerings include (but are not limited to) Studies in Mass Media, Russian Literature, Russian History and Politics, and Contemporary Russian Society; all area studies and literature courses are taught in Russian.

Students in Moscow have the option of auditing classes at their host university. In recent years, RLASP participants completed courses at their host universities in Art History, Mathematics, Engineering, Sociology, Theater Studies, Russian History, Religion, Psychology, and Literature.

Fall semester dates generally run from late August to mid-December; spring semester dates generally run from mid-January to mid-May. 

Penn students must maintain a full course load while abroad and may only enroll in courses at the undergraduate level.

American Councils RLASP Website

Grading Scale

As on all Penn Abroad programs, grades are recorded on the Penn transcript and are calculated in the cumulative grade point average.  The pass/fail option can be exercised according to the Penn on-campus policy of your home school. Be sure to review Penn Abroad’s academic policies.

Grades are reported to Penn on a standard A to F scale.

BRU Special FeaturesOrientation Activities

All Penn students are required to attend the orientation activities organized by American Councils prior to the start of each semester. American Councils conducts an informative (mandatory) pre-departure orientation in Washington, D.C. and an in-country (mandatory) orientation upon arrival.

More information on American Council’s RLASP orientation activities can be found on the program website.

Volunteer Opportunities

Upon arrival in Russia, American Councils staff can arrange internships or community service placements for RLASP participants. Internships are unpaid and non-credit bearing. 

Excursions & Cultural Activities

One day a week of the academic program is set aside for travel to local sites of social, cultural and historical significance. Around the middle of the semester, resident directors arrange a week-long regional field studies trip outside of the host city.
BRU Special Features 2
Conversation Partners

To aid cultural integration and support academic learning, participants have the opportunity to meet with conversation partners two hours per week. Conversation partners introduce participants to local people, accompany participants on sightseeing tours, organize cultural activities (cinema, museum, etc.), and provide students with academic support. The conversation partners are expected to speak only the target language.

BRU Campus
Participants must be willing to live under local conditions for students.

Students have the option to live in a university dormitory or with a Russian host family.

Information regarding accommodation can be found on the RLASP program website.

Penn Abroad Financial Policies

Students are charged Penn tuition and academic fees for all Penn Abroad programs.  Additional expenses will typically include items such as housing, visas, and airfare.  Please see the program budget sheets below for more information. Be sure to review Penn Abroad’s financial policies.

Financial Aid and Study Abroad
In most cases, financial aid applies to Penn-approved programs. Student Financial Services reviews program budget sheets each semester to determine how to appropriately adjust your aid package. Visit SFS's website for more information on how Financial Aid will work during your semester abroad.

Budget Sheets


Scholarship Opportunities

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program: Competition for awards for study abroad, for US citizen students who are receiving federal Pell Grant funding at a 2-year or 4-year college or university.

Please review the Penn Abroad application process, policies, and procedures.

To open an application or learn more about the program, please schedule an appointment with a Penn Abroad Global Programs Manager.

For a student perspective on life and academics in Russia, contact a Penn Abroad Past Participant.