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How to Prepare for Enrolment at Russian University

How to Prepare for Enrolment at Russian University

Russian universities have a long experience in training foreigners: the first students from abroad came to Russia to study in the late 19th century. In 2016/2017 academic year, 244,000 foreign nationals were taking undergraduate, graduate or specialist’s degree programmes at Russian universities1.

Choosing one’s future occupation and the university is a responsible step. If you have decided to study abroad, come to Russia and enjoy many opportunities available to international students. They can enrol at most prestigious Russian universities training for professional careers in any field. Students gain not only theoretical knowledge but also practical experience. Many universities cooperate with well-known Russian and foreign companies which offer internship opportunities. Following is our advice to international prospective students on how to prepare for Russian university enrolment.

Step 1: choose your specialisation and university

The first priority is to decide on the field of study and university. Russian universities offer education programmes in engineering, natural sciences and humanities. Use our convenient search tool to find the appropriate programme. studyinrissia.ru presents the best Russian state-owned universities. They include engineering education centres such as Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, National University of Science and Technology MISIS, National Research Nuclear University MEPhI, ITMO National Research University, Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University, Samara University and Saint Petersburg Electrotechnical University “LETI”, medical universities including I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University and general education univerities offering training in any field (South Ural State University, Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University, Kazan (Volga region) Federal University, Far Eastern Federal University, National Research Tomsk State University, National Research Tomsk Polytechnic University, Higher School of Economics, Novosibirsk State University, Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia, Lobachevsky University, Ural Federal University, University of Tyumen, Siberian Federal University etc). Visit universities’ pages for more information. To write directly to university staff sign into studyinrussia.ru and send your enquiry; you can expect a reply within ten workdays.


Russian or English?

Some education programmes at Russian universities are taught in English but a majority of programmes are in Russian. Regardless of the option you choose, learning basic Russian skills is strongly recommended to facilitate your adaptation in the country. Many universities offer intensive Russian courses focused on pronunciation, grammar and basic vocabulary. You can also participate in a summer or winter school to combine study with recreation.

Another option is to enter a preparatory department and become proficient in Russian enough to take a Russian-taught programme. Preparatory Department courses usually last ten months; students take examinations at the end of training, get a certificate and can enrol at a Russian-taught programme of their choice.

Step 2: choose funding option

Under the Russian law2, international prospective students in Russia enjoy scholarship opportunities and can choose to sign an education contract.

If you seek a scholarship you can:

  1. Join the scholarship quota selection procedure;

  2. Participate in international Olympiads held by Russian universities;

  3. Take the Unified State Exam or university entrance examinations.

If you want to study under contract, you will have to take examinations anyway. Affordable fees are a key advantage of education in Russia. Tuition depends on the university, field of study, region and other factors but it will be lower than in the USA or Europe in any case. To look up the tuition fee for a programme, use our search tool or request this information from the university.


Step 3: prepare documents

You have to send an application to the university stating the desired level of education and the profession. University personnel then will ask you to fill out an application and attach translated and apostilled copies of your passport and education certificate and a photo.

Upon arrival in Russia will have to show the application, the originals of your passport and education certificate and a medical certificate. Please keep in mind that document requirements might differ from university to university, so contact the International Department for accurate information.

Step 4: pass competitive selection

To become a Russian university student, international applicants have to pass the tryouts.

Education contract

A student planning to study under contract must pass the entrance exams which the university holds for foreign nationals; the results are published on the university website.

Training on equal terms with Russian citizens

An international applicant can take the Unified State Exam. In foreign countries, it is held by the Federal Education and Science Supervision Service jointly with Russian state-accredited education agencies. The Unified State Exam is held in fourteen disciplines in Russian (except the foreign language). The applications opening date is announced on the Unified State Exam portal in January. Examinations are usually held from March till July. Foreign nationals can take them in their home countries at specialised venues such as Russian embassies’ schools. The school addresses are available at the website of Russian diplomatic missions.


Universities can also hold their own entrance examinations for international prospective students. Scholarship opportunities are open to ethnic Russians living abroad and those who enrol on the strength of international agreements.

Quota students

International applicants have the right to take part in the scholarship contest. Every year, the Russian government sets aside 15,000 university places for foreign nationals. The selection is the prerogative of the Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States, Compatriots Living Abroad, and International Humanitarian Cooperation (Rossotrudnichestvo) which has missions in many countries. In January-February their websites announce the start of the Russian universities’ applications season and later on post the examinations schedule. Contact the Rossotrudnichestvo centre or the Russian Embassy in your country for details.

An international prospective student can also participate in an international Olympiad held by Russian universities, university associations and Rossotrudnichestvo. Intellectual competitions are numerous but only Olympiad winners are entitled to advantages when enroling at a state-owned university. Some Olympiads are only focused on maths, computer science, physics or chemistry; there are also general Olympiads covering different fields.


Incentives for winners and runners-up depend on the Olympiad level (I, II or III) and university rules. A student can get extra points for individual achievement or the top score in the profession-oriented subject at the Unified State Exam or admission without taking entrance tests. Contact university staff for details. Follow link to see the list of Olympiads open to foreign nationals. 

Step 5: get an invitation and a student visa

In most cases, foreigners need a visa to enter Russia. It can be obtained with an official invitation which the university sends to the student. Russia has visa free travel agreement with several countries. Visit Russian embassies or consulates websites in your country for details.