Admission to a Russian university is a relatively simple and understandable procedure. Citizens of the country pass the Unified State Examination (USE) in several subjects. For foreigners, the process is similar, but they can pass entrance tests conducted by the university in addition to the USE.
In this article, we will explain the process of entering Russian universities, how much it costs to study, and what kind of scholarships are available.
Guidance in the admission process
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The admission process to bachelor’s programs for foreigners is a bit more complicated than for Russian citizens. You have three main paths:
Contract training. You need to submit documents to your chosen university, pass exams (chosen by the university), participate in a competition based on the results of entrance examinations, and sign a contract. This option is for paid education only.
Education on equal terms with the citizens of the country. Another way is to pass the competitive selection together with applicants from Russia. To do this, you need to pass the USE or internal university exams. Subjects on the exam depend on the program, usually 3-4 exams are required. According to the general competition, you can apply for free education at the university — in Russia, this is called a "budgetary placement" or simply "budget". This option is only available to citizens of specific countries and migrants. For more details, navigate to the Study in Russia website.
University quota system (state scholarships). The Russian government annually allocates free places in 450 state universities for foreign applicants. To enter this quota, you need to apply and go through two stages of selection. The first is an interview with a representative of RossotrudnichestvoFederal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States Affairs, Compatriots Living Abroad, and International Humanitarian Cooperation or the Russian consulate in your country; the second is an internal test at the university. You can apply for a state scholarship even if you do not speak Russian. You will have a year to study the language during preparatory courses.
Another option to study for free is to participate in university olympiads available to foreigners. Winners have the right to enroll in a university without entrance exams.
Regardless of the path you choose, for admission you will need a:
Copy of an identity document (passport)
Copy of a diploma and transcript
Everything must be translated into Russian, notarized or approved at the consular department of the embassy. Upon arrival in the country, you will need to provide original documents and a medical certificate confirming that there are no contraindications for studying in Russia.
For admission, foreigners do not need to prove Russian language proficiency, but if an applicant takes the Unified State Examination or entrance examinations, it is assumed that he already speaks Russian and will be able to demonstrate this during testing. Those who follow the government's quota show knowledge of the language during an interview.
If you do not speak Russian well enough, but still want to study in the country, then you should enroll in a preparatory program. During the preparatory year, foreigners study the language and basic subjects in their specialty. Afterwards, they take exams in the disciplines they have passed, including Russian. Such programs cost from 1,200 USD/year to 3,500 USD/year, but if you enter under the quota of the Russian government, you can study for free. Read more about preparatory courses in Russia here.
Everything about the admission process to a Russian university can be found on the university's website or on the Study in Russia website.
Master's and postgraduate programs
Admission to master's and postgraduate programs is carried out:
As in the case of bachelor’s studies, foreigners can study for free at the master’s level. To do so, you must either apply on equal footing with applicants from Russia (participate in the general competition for budgetary placements), or apply for a government scholarship and be enrolled according to the quota. In the first case, you also pass entrance examinations and/or a portfolio competition (for details, look at the website of your university and program). For the second option, you will go through a dual stage competition with an interview.
Documents for admission to a master’s program:
Completed application for enrollment
Bachelor’s degree and transcript — the original and a copy
For a postgraduate program, you will additionally need to prepare an abstract or thesis of a research paper, and provide a list of scientific publications.
For master's and postgraduate studies, universities may require a language proficiency certificate in which the program will run, be it Russian, English, German, or French. However, they are more often needed as an element of the portfolio, for which they give points when participating in a competitive selection. Master's and postgraduate students also have access to preparatory programs and Russian language courses, but only for a fee.
Postgraduate studies in Russia can be conditionally considered equivalent to a PhD, but in reality they are not equal — the Russian system of degrees is somewhat more complicated. Postgraduate studies are followed by doctorate studies. The first gives the degree of Candidate of Science, and the second — Doctor of Science. Read more about the differences between degrees in Russia and abroad in our article about PhDs.
Legalization of a diploma in Russia
To confirm previous foreign education in Russia, it is necessary to go through the procedure of consular legalization or by apostille. You can check what type of legalization is required for your document on the National Information Center portal. After legalization, the document will be recognized by RosobrnadzorFederal Service for Supervision in Education and Science. You can submit documents in person, by mail, through your Personal Account or through the State Services portal. The term for consideration of the application is up to 45 days. The cost is 113 USD.
Some documents do not require legalization — for example, if they are included in the special list put out by the Government of the Russian Federation, or if they are issued by a country that has an agreement with the Russian Federation on the mutual recognition of qualifications. The full list can be found on the Government portal.
The main package of documents:
Identity document and a copy
Original copy of the document on education and transcript
Copy of the document on education and transcript
Documents confirming a name change (if discrepancies exist)
Additional documents confirming preparation — on request:
Documents on previous education
Archival certificate from the university (proof of studies and document issuance)
Copies of the license and accreditation of the educational program and university
Copies of documents proving advanced training or work experience
For documents in a foreign language (including passports), you must attach a notarized translation with a filed copy of the original
When applying by mail or through your personal account, you do not need to send original documents
Scholarships and grants in Russia
Scholarships in Russia are divided into the following types:
Federal quotas for foreign students
State academic scholarships
Scholarships of the President of the Russian Federation and the Government of the Russian Federation
Scholarships awarded by legal entities or individuals
Federal quotas for foreign students
Foreign students can study in Russia free of charge. There is a federal quota for budgetary placements for foreigners — in 2021 it amounted to 18000 places. The winners do not pay tuition, get free accomodation at a hostel, and receive a monthly stipend of about 35 USD. To get into this quota, you need to apply to the branch of Rossotrudnichestvo or the Russian embassy in your country. There, you can find detailed information about what documents are needed for admission. Usually this is a passport, photograph, completed participant questionnaire, and copy of a document on previous education. After the Russian representative office selects participants who meet the requirements, their list is sent to the Ministry of Education and Science, and from there to the universities themselves.
Academic stipend. All students enrolled in state-funded places receive a monthly academic scholarship during the first semester: from 26 USDBachelor's students up to 122 USDDoctorate students in the technical field per month, depending on the university. From the second semester, payments are assigned based on performance — they are issued only to those who passed the session with "good" and "excellent" grades. But even if students lose their scholarship for a semester (in case of satisfactory grades), they still continue to study for free. In addition, universities can assign an increased academic scholarship for academic excellence and special achievements, which reaches 260 USD.
The socialstipend is intended for vulnerable groups of the population, such as orphans, the disabled, and veterans. It does not depend on academic success and is at least 40 USD2021. However, universities have the right to increase the size of the payment: at the Omsk State Pedagogical University, such students receive an additional 87 USD once a semester, and at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology — 21 USD/month.
Government and Presidential scholarships
Especially talented students can count on presidential, government, and private scholarships. These additional payments are received by students of the third year and onwards — winners of olympiads, creative competitions, and authors of discoveries and scientific articles. The amount of the scholarship is from 25 USD to 121 USD for bachelor’s students and from 78 USD to 173 USD for graduate students. The exact amount of the payment depends on the source of the scholarship (president or government), personal accomplishments, and whether or not the program of study is prioritized in the countrythe Ministry of Education delegates such programs. Moreover, young scientists and graduate studentsup to 35 years old can receive 396 USD/month if they are engaged in advanced research. Candidates are nominated by faculty scholarship committees, meaning that the student himself does not need to apply directly.
There are also private scholarship programs in Russia. For example, RANEPA in cooperation with the British company BPBritish Petroleum pays 260 USD, 347 USD or 607 USD per month to undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate students, respectively. Gazprombank supports secondary vocational education — every year the best college students participate in company competitions and win scholarships. Lastly, the foundation of entrepreneur Vladimir Potanin pays a scholarship of 260 USD to the best master's students at 75 Russian universities. The conditions for receiving any private scholarship are determined by the organization that pays it out. To find out which scholarships you can apply for, contact the student department of your university.
To study in Russia, citizens of other countries need to obtain a student visa. Often, this rule is valid even for countries with which bilateral visa-free agreements have been concluded. Typically, such agreements provide only tourist trips lasting 1-3 months per year, rather than permanent residence.
A complete list of countries whose citizens can study in Russia without a student visa:
Everyone else needs to receive an official invitation from the university. It is issued 30-45 days after enrollment. Within 90 days after that, the student must apply for a visa at the Russian consulate or embassy. The process of registration takes 2-3 weeks. The student must enter Russia no later than 30 days before the end of this period. Upon arrival in the country, the university helps the foreign applicant to register and apply for a multiple-entry student visa. The processing time is 25 calendar days, during which the entry visa must be valid.
Passport (valid for at least one and a half years)