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Program Description


CIEE St. Petersburg 6

CIEE St. Petersburg 3

Photo's courtesy of CIEE


Pure gold: it decorates the domes everywhere you look in St. Petersburg and will undoubtedly be your opinion about your experience in the Northern Capital of Russia. This city, which produced “father of American ballet” George Balanchine, where Mikhail Baryshnikov began his illustrious ballet career, and where artist Marc Chagall perfected his craft, is where you will develop your language skills, find adventure and gain a greater appreciation for Russian politics, history, and culture. Study abroad in St. Petersburg and you will have the opportunity to:

  • 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
  • Live with a Russian family
  • Experience a rich cultural program including local excursions and trips to the city of Moscow and other Russian regions; visits to museums, historical sites, and theaters
  • Dive into extensive interaction with locals through the variety of coordinated cultural events
  • 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
  • Become a member of a unique alumni network of remarkable individuals who have studied in St. Petersburg since the opening of the Study Center in 1967
  • Completion of 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.


CIEE St. Petersburg 2

Photo courtesy of CIEE


Location Details

About St. Petersburg
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.

Cultural Activities and Field Trips
The academic study abroad program is supplemented with excursions, tours, and field trips. All excursions for RAS students are conducted in English.

Required program excursions in previous semesters have included a bus city tour, the Hermitage, the Peter and Paul Fortress, and a trip to Peterhof. Optional excursions organized by CIEE include Russian Museum, Yusupov Palace, a walking tour of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Pushkin’s Apartment Museum, Lenin's Apartment Museum, and the Baltika Brewery. In previous semesters, CIEE arranged an evening 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 optional excursions are scheduled for weekends.

The program offers two overnight field trips that take place on the weekend each semester—Moscow and other regional destinations such as the Pskov region, Veliky Novgorod, or Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan Republic. 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. This experience will provide you with the wonderful insight into the diversity and everyday life of modern Russia.

In addition, you will have a chance to explore more new areas during the independent Russian Travel Week. Students travel independently and the cost of this travel is not included in the program fee. In past semesters students have visited the ring of ancient Russian towns surrounding Moscow known as the Golden Ring, camped near Lake Baikal, explored further parts of the country, such as Murmansk or Vladivostok, took in the sites of the Olympic city of Sochi, and relaxed on the shores of the Black Sea. During the Russian Travel Week, another opportunity to discover a new layer of Russian life and culture is CIEE’s Alternative Break program. This program is designed to encourage students to volunteer and make a difference by participating in community service projects based in smaller Russian towns. Alternative Break locations vary every semester, and some of the destinations chosen by CIEE in the past included Arkhangelsk, Cheboksary, Kirov, Nizhny Novgorod, and Tula.

Visa Information

U.S. citizens will require a visa* in order to participate in this program. Limited information about the visa application process may be provided by the ASU Study Abroad Office and/or CIEE, but it is your sole responsibility to research, apply, and secure a visa. Failure to obtain a visa may result in your inability to participate and, ultimately, your withdrawal from the program, subject to the terms of the Study Abroad Withdrawal Policy

Consult this page for additional information regarding visas. If you need assistance securing a U.S. Passport, visit the ASU U.S. Passport Acceptance Office in Tempe.

PLEASE NOTE: Visa requirements for non U.S. citizens may differ from those for U.S. citizens; students who are not U.S. citizens are advised to contact their International Coordinator and begin independently researching the visa requirements for their nationality as soon as possible.

*At the time of writing. This information is subject to change without notice; students should independently confirm this requirement with the relevant consulate/embassy.


Academic Program & Courses

Where You'll Study - Higher School of Economics (HSE)
The campus of Higher School of Economics is in the vicinity of the Mariinsky Theater and the gorgeous St. Nicholas Naval Cathedral, within walking distance to several metro and bus stops. Ranked as one of Russia’s top universities, HSE is a research-based institution and a leader in Russian education system. CIEE staff offers tutoring with experienced instructors to help students review challenging grammar or classwork. All courses are taught by faculty from HSE.

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 courses.

In addition to the academic program, previous semesters have included a series of enthralling guest lectures on a wide range of topics such as the genesis of Russian rock music to the phenomenon of the Soviet space dogs. Each lecture, brought to us by a well-known specialist, was another unmissable opportunity to learn something new about Russian culture and history.

The Russian Area Studies 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 (RLP). Cross-registration between RAS and RLP is not possible.

Academic Program
All Russian Area Studies 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. Language study consists of two courses: grammar and conversation. In addition, students take three area studies courses taught in English.

All electives are taught by qualified instructors who have experience teaching American students in Russia and the United States. In-class participation often accounts for a large percentage of students’ grades as Russian teaching methodology emphasizes in-class learning. Therefore, 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. Classes are 90 minutes in length. The area studies classes may include visiting lecturers, topic-specific visits to museums, and other co-curricular activities. Participants take classes with other CIEE study abroad students only and not with Russian students

Students complete 17-18 credits per semester.

Course contact hours for CIEE area studies courses are 45 hours and credit is 3 semester/4.5 quarter hours per course. Course contact hours for CIEE language courses are 84 hours and credit is 4 semester/ 6 quarter hours.per course, unless otherwise indicated.

CIEE St. Petersburg 1

CIEE St. Petersburg 7
Photo's courtesy of CIEE


CIEE St. Petersburg 5

Photo courtesy of CIEE

Program Housing

Housing and Meals

All study abroad students have the option to live in Russian homestays. Participants have their own room in a Russian family’s 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. 

CIEE also offers a limited number of rooms at a hostel in downtown St. Petersburg. The hostel is located within a 5-minute walk of Nevskiy Prospekt and a 30-minute bus or metro ride to the CIEE Study Center. Students are placed in single-occupancy rooms.


You are encouraged to bring a wireless-enabled laptop. The homestays have either wi-fi or Ethernet access to the internet; at the same time, free wireless is available at the CIEE Study Center. Wireless internet is also available through local cell phone providers, 4G and LTE internet providers, and many cafés throughout St. Petersburg.

Special Considerations

Below you will find information that may help you in planning for your study abroad experience. Early discussions and planning can help to support you in having a positive experience abroad. We invite you to meet with the International Coordinator for this program to discuss any questions or concerns you may have.

Physical Considerations

Study abroad participants may find themselves walking or taking public transit abroad more frequently than they are accustomed at their home campus.

Disability Accommodations Abroad

Individuals with disabilities can and do study abroad, but may find accessibility and accommodation in one of more of this program’s locations very different from the United States. For example, in Russia, access to public transportation, buildings, or public sites cannot be guaranteed and getting around in Russia is often difficult for persons with mobility issues. In general, public transportation is not accommodating to people with disabilities..

In general, the Study Abroad Office cannot guarantee access to public transportation, buildings, or public sites on this program. Any student who anticipates needing any kind of special accommodation due to a disability should contact the ASU Study Abroad Office early in the planning process to investigate the availability of accommodations (including accessible facilities) on this specific program. Contact Student Accessibility and Inclusive Learning Services and your Disability Access Consultant to include them in the discussion; be sure to give your Disability Access Consultant permission to speak with the Study Abroad Office on your behalf. You can find additional information and resources on our Students with Disabilities page.

LGBTQIA Students Abroad

Students of diverse sexual orientations or gender identities will find that the social climate, laws, and norms of other cultures will often differ from the U.S. If you identify as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, or queer student - or if you are still exploring your identity - you may face unique challenges when traveling abroad. For example, in Russia, discrimination towards LGBTQIA individuals can and does occur and students may find local police to lack meaningful response to incidents. Public displays of affection between same-sex individuals can evoke stereotyping and comments from passersby. There are no laws enacted that protect individuals from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. In fact, Russian law treats outward displays of LGBTQ+ sentiment or action as a form of propaganda that can be legally prosecuted (punishable by fines, up to 15 days in jail, and deportation).

We encourage students who identify as members of the LGBTQIA community to visit the U.S. Department of State website for helpful information about laws and attitudes in this program’s locations, including pre-travel tips and advice on staying safe while abroad. You can find additional information and resources on our LGBTQIA Students page.

Gender Identity Abroad

When traveling abroad, you may find different gender roles and norms than you’re used to. It’s possible that you may be treated differently or be expected to treat others differently based on your (or their) gender identity. 

You can find additional information and resources on our Gender Identity Abroad page.

Racial and Ethnic Minorities Abroad

Students of different ethnic and racial backgrounds may encounter unique challenges transitioning from life here in the United States to life as a student living abroad, including but not limited to access to personal care products and services. For example, in Russia, racism can be prevalent in some areas and towards specific minority and ethnic groups. Many foreigners of Asian and African descent have been victims of harassment, attacks and discrimination.

You can prepare yourself for the situations you may experience by researching the ethnic composition of your host country and exploring its history of racial and ethnic relations. We encourage students to start that research on our Racial and Ethnic Minority Students page.


Cost Information

Partnership program participants will NOT pay ASU tuition for the courses completed abroad.  Instead, participants will pay a Program Fee as a condition of participation. Partnership program participants are also responsible for paying a non-refundable $50 Application Fee, in addition to the published Program Fee. All other costs associated with participation in the program are the responsibility of the individual student. Be sure to reference the fall semester cost sheet or spring semester cost sheet for information on program fees and any additional estimated expenses.

The program may allow for time which can be spent in non-program activities. Participants may wish to travel, sightsee or participate in activities or events in which they have a personal interest. Please note that the participant is fully responsible for making arrangements and for all costs of transportation, lodging, food and additional expenses that may be associated with any non-Program activities.

Financial Aid & Scholarships

Please see Financing Your Study Abroad Program for detailed information about financial aid and scholarships.


Funding Your Study Abroad Program

Studying abroad is an investment in your future, which requires careful planning and management. However, the personal, academic, and professional rewards that you will gain from this experience will last a lifetime. You should carefully consider costs, budgets and financing when selecting and preparing for your experience abroad. If you have questions at any step of the process, we encourage you to reach out to your International Coordinator for guidance.

Steps to Financing Your Study Abroad Program

  1. Review the Considering Costs Table for a general overview and cost comparison of popular programs.
  2. Be sure to reference the Fall Semester Cost Sheet or Spring Semester Cost Sheet to find a breakdown of program expenses.
  3. Attend a Financing Your Study Abroad Workshop.
  4. Consider your Financial Aid options.
  5. Search and Apply for Scholarships and Grants.
  6. Exhaust your options by exploring Additional Funding Resources including our Community-Based Funding Guide.
  7. View our  Financing Your Study Abroad Program Handbook for more information, including Payment Information.

Unique Funding Opportunities for This Program



Dates & Deadlines
Dates & Deadlines
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Spring Semester 2022 10/15/2021 ** Rolling Admission TBA TBA
NOTE: Dates are subject to change. Do not purchase airfare until dates are confirmed by the Study Abroad Office and/or in any host institution acceptance materials.

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Students will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision tasks prior to the term's application deadline.