Advanced Russian Language and Area Studies Program (RLASP)

One of the oldest and most respected overseas Russian immersion programs available to students today, RLASP is designed to improve participants' oral, listening, reading, and writing proficiency in Russian language and to develop their knowledge of Russian history, politics, culture, and society.


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RLASP serves both graduate and undergraduate students as well as working professionals. The academic year, semester, and summer programs provide approximately 20 hours per week of 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, and the KORA Center for Russian Language in Vladimir. In the fall of 2014, American Councils also launched RLASP at Kazakh National University in Almaty, Kazakhstan for students who wish to study Russian in an immersion environment but are unable to travel to Russia due to funding restrictions or other concerns.

Program features include homestays, weekly excursions, travel to other regions of Russia/Kazakhstan, conversation partners, and a wide range of opportunities to pursue internships, volunteering, hobbies and personal interests in a Russian context. Content courses for area studies credit are offered in subjects such as Russian literature and history, political science, and contemporary Russian society. All courses are taught in Russian by expert faculty with experience teaching foreign students.

One day per week of the academic program is set aside for local cultural excursions. Excursions and travel include major sites such as art galleries and churches, but also include destinations off the beaten path. Students also participate on an extended regional field studies outside their host city.

Participants have the option of living with host families or in university dormitories. Host families provide private rooms and engage students in conversation and culture. All participants receive two meals per day.

American Councils conducts an informative pre-departure orientation in Washington, D.C. and an in-country orientation upon each group's arrival. Full-time, expert resident directors are available to assist participants abroad. Additionally, participants receive comprehensive overseas medical
insurance for the duration of the program.

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Academic Program

American Councils semester, academic year, and summer programs maximize linguistic and cultural immersion into Russian society. All programs feature 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.

Host University Faculty

All courses are conducted by host university faculty with extensive experience in teaching Russian as a foreign language to American students. Faculty at our partner universities also attend regular development seminars sponsored by American Councils and led by U.S. experts in Russian-language pedagogy. Recent seminars have addressed American academic culture, the American idea of a liberal arts education, student-centered learning, and communicative teaching strategies.

Auditing Classes

Academic year and semester students in Moscow and Almaty have the option of auditing classes at their host university. This feature depends significantly upon university schedules and the readiness of individual faculty to accommodate American students whose schedules may require early completion of the class. With guidance from the resident director, it is the responsibility of each individual student to locate a viable class and obtain permission from the instructor to attend. 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.

Research Papers

Academic year participants with advanced Russian skills may substitute an independent research project for one of the American Councils area studies courses while continuing their language classes during the second semester. Research projects culminate in a 15- to 20-page research paper written in Russian. Research projects require extensive work in libraries and archives and should be undertaken only after careful consultation with resident directors and faculty both in the U.S. and their host country.

Recent participants in the academic year RLASP program have completed research projects on topics such as Napoleon's invasion of Russia, Russian theater, Russian attitudes towards the Caucasus, nationalism in music history, the acquisition of listening skills in Russian, and contemporary urban youth movements.

U.S. Academic Credit

Participants receive academic credit through Bryn Mawr College, an institutional member of American Councils. Upon successful completion of the program, Bryn Mawr College issues:

  • 8 undergraduate/10 graduate credit hours for the summer program,
  • 16 undergraduate/15 graduate credit hours for the fall or spring semesters, and
  • 32 undergraduate/30 graduate credit hours for the academic year program.

American Councils will submit one transcript request per participant at the conclusion of the program. Program alumni may request transcripts at any time, however, at no additional cost. For more information on how to request transcripts, visit the Academic Credit page


Peer Tutoring

In 2000, American Councils established a peer-tutoring program for all RLASP participants. Students have the chance to meet for two hours per week with tutors recruited from the Department of Russian as a Foreign Language at their host universities (in Vladimir, peer tutors come from the Vladimir State University). In addition to valuable academic support, the peer-tutoring program provides an important opportunity for American students to meet their contemporaries in the increasingly fast-paced, cosmopolitan culture of today's Russia.
Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteer Opportunities

Upon arrival in the host country, American Councils staff can arrange internships or community service placements for academic year and semester RLASP participants. While American Councils does not arrange formal internship placements due to the brevity of the program, summer participants are encouraged to pursue volunteer opportunities. Internship placements depend significantly on the participant's Russian-proficiency level and the needs of the organization. Internships are unpaid and non-credit bearing; therefore, American Councils strongly encourages students to pursue internships and community service activities in fields which are of interest to them. American Councils asks that students realistically evaluate their time commitments abroad in order to maximize the experience of an internship or community service.

Participants consistently rate their internships and community service as substantive and valuable; many former students report that their out-of-classroom experiences gave them unique insights into the host country society and Russian language, as well as a deep sense of personal fulfillment.

Program participants have recently completed internships at the following organizations:

Academy of Sciences, American Chamber of Commerce in Russia , Anna Crisis Center for Women, AVC Advisory, Bakhrushin Theatre Museum, the BCS English Institute, Best Buddies Russia, Buff Theater , Carnegie Moscow Center, Center of International Cooperation, CTC Media, Future Leaders American Corner, German Forwarding Company, Hermitage Museum, Herzen University Newsletter, Institute for Cultural Programs, International Banking Institute, Lenfilm Studios, Moscow Helsinki Group, Moscow Times, Museum of the Bolshoy Theatre, Museum of the Political History of Russia, NGO Development Center, Russian State Geology Museum, the Samantha School, St. Petersburg Merchant's Club, Social Initiatives Assistance Institute, State Cultural Committee of St. Petersburg, UNAIDS, Vitrina Press, Women's Crisis Center in Vladimir.



Weekly Excursions

One day a week of the academic program is set aside for travel to local sites of social, cultural and historical significance. All excursions are conducted in Russian and include sites such as museums, churches, schools, research centers, municipal offices, and historical estates.

Regional Field Studies

At approximately mid-semester, resident directors arrange a week-long regional field studies trip outside of the host city. For summer participants, these regional field studies take place at the end of their program. RLASP groups have recently visited Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-na-Danu, Samara, Sochi, Suzdal, Volgograd, and Yaroslavl.



All RLASP participants are required to attend a pre-departure orientation in Washington, D.C. at the start of their program. Orientation sessions address health and safety, academic culture, host-family life, culture shock, strategies to maximize language gain, and key survival phrases in Russian. Participants have a chance to meet and get to know their resident directors, fellow participants, and RLASP alumni during the two-day program. Students are housed in three-person rooms in a downtown hotel, a short walk from the American Councils Washington office. Each group departs with its resident director for the host country from Washington, D.C. at the end of the program. Lodging and meals are provided.



Program participants may live in a university dormitory or with a host family. The majority of American Councils participants choose the host-family option. All host families provide private rooms, telephone access, and keys for their American guests. Host families also provide two meals per day. Living with a host family immerses program participants in everyday local life, while offering some of the comforts of home. Host families also expose participants to authentic, contemporary language and culture in informal, social settings.

All host families are screened, selected, and monitored by American Councils home-stay coordinators and resident directors. Students may change their housing arrangements during the program, although these adjustments require some time to be completed.

To hear what it's really like to live with a Russian host-family, see our video featuring RLASP alumni.

Financial Aid

Financial Aid

American Councils Funding Sources

American Councils offers a limited number of merit- and need-based scholarships for students including the AC Study Abroad Need-Based Scholarship and the AC Study Abroad Diversity Scholarship. All applicants to American Councils summer, semester, or academic-year overseas programs are eligible for partial scholarship awards . Awards are made on the basis of financial need and academic merit and typically range from $500 to $2500.

Provided by the U.S. Department of Education and administered by American Councils, Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad fellowships are available to advanced-level Russian speakers who plan to participate in the American Councils Advanced Russian Language and Area Studies Program in Moscow. Eligible participants must have a strong commitment to teaching Russian in universities or in K-12 schools, or to applying their language skills in government, international development, or other professional fields. Participants must also be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, who are undergraduate students with upperclassmen standing (juniors or seniors), graduate students, or U.S. K-12 teachers in order to be eligible for Fulbright-Hays funding. At the conclusion of the semester abroad, participants who received Fulbright-Hays funding are expected to conduct outreach activities in the U.S. to promote Russian study to the larger community. Fulbright-Hays fellowships are awarded on the basis of financial need and academic merit; fellowship awards are available for semester programs only and are made in the amount of $7,000.

Provided by the U.S. Department of State and administered by American Councils, Title VIII fellowships are available to participants who hold a Bachelor's degree or higher and plan to participate in the Advanced Russian Language and Area Studies Program (RLASP). Title VIII fellowships are awarded on the basis of financial need and academic merit; past awards have been made for as much as 75% of the program cost.

To apply for any American Councils scholarships/fellowships, simply indicate your desire to be considered for financial aid in the appropriate section of the program application and complete all the questions and forms that follow.

Federal Sources of Funding for Study Abroad

The National Security Education Program has funded RLASP participants in the past. For more information, visit:

The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship may be applicable to this program. The online application is available at the Gilman Program website:

Additional Considerations

Many colleges and universities also provide financial aid for participation in American Councils programs. For more information on scholarship and funding opportunities, visit the Financial Aid page.



  • Summer Term: February 15th
  • Fall Semester, Academic Year Program: March 15th
  • Spring Semester: October 15th


Please note, all participants must attend a pre-departure orientation in Washington, D.C. two days prior to departure.

  • 2016 Spring: January 21 (departure for all sites) - May 19, 2016
  • 2016 Summer Program in Russia: June 9 (departure for Russia) - August 8, 2016
  • 2016 Summer Program in Almaty: June 16 (departure for Kazakhstan) - August 13, 2015
  • 2016 Fall: August 25 (departure for Russia/Almaty) - December 20, 2016
  • 2016 - 2017 Academic Year: August 25, 2016 (departure for Russia/Almaty) - May 18, 2017
  • 2017 Spring: January 26 (departure for Russia/Almaty) - May 18, 2017


Below are the program cost breakdowns for the upcoming year:

Spring 2016

Room and Board:    $3,000
Health Insurance:$300
Visa Fee:$300*


Summer 2016

Room and Board:    $1,750
Health Insurance:$150
Visa Fee:$300*


Academic Year 2016-17

Room and Board:    $6,300
Health Insurance:$600
Visa Fee:$300*


Fall 2016

Room and Board:    $3,000
Health Insurance:$300
Visa Fee:$300*


Program price includes housing; tuition; most meals; all group travel in the host country; insurance; orientation in Washington, D.C.; and a Russian/Kazakh visa.

Items not included in the program cost (per semester):
  • Domestic transportation to Washington, DC for pre-departure orientation: cost varies
  • International airfare: approximately $1,000 to $1,500 roundtrip
  • Books and supplies: $150
  • Local transportation: $200
  • Meals (lunches) not included in the board cost: $400

*The visa fee will be waived for students who do not need a Russian visa to participate on the program (e.g. Russian passport holders). However, these students will be charged a $100 registration fee.

Program Deferral

For information on deferring and withdrawing, please visit our program policies webpage.