Russia Programs

The Notre Dame program in Russia is operated by the American Council of Teachers of Russian (ACTR) which is affiliated with the American Councils for International Education. The Council has operated programs in Russia for a quarter of a century and has the unique option of offering three locations in Russia. The first is in the country’s capital, Moscow, at Moscow International University. The second option is at the Russian State Pedagogical University in St. Petersburg, sometimes called Russia’s "window on the west." The third option is a new program in the ancient town of Vladimir (120 miles east of Moscow) at the regional campus of the Moscow University for Small Business Management.

The selection of which campus to attend should be made in conjunction with the Russian faculty at Notre Dame and the ACTR staff in Washington who can help the student to make the right choice in terms of curriculum and other factors.

Academic Program

Full-time American residential directors in St. Petersburg and Moscow monitor all aspects of the academic and cultural program. The directors assist participants with academic, administrative, and personal matters and coordinate activities with the host institution faculty.

Grading is according to the American system and course results are entered on the student’s records at the University of Notre Dame where they are included in the computation of the grade point average. The normal class load is equivalent to 15 credits per semester.

The quality of a participant’s academic experience will depend on his or her ability to accept cultural differences gracefully, a willingness to participate earnestly in classes, and a desire to form productive, friendly relations with his or her instructors.

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Besides a variety of Russian language classes selected on the basis of each student’s abilities in Russian, there are a number of area study courses dealing with contemporary Russian society, Russian history, literature and the arts, and the popular press in Russia. These are taught in Russian but will be aimed at students who are in the midst of developing their language skills. Students will be in groups of 5-8 people. Students who apply for the entire academic year can do an independent research project in the spring semester with an assigned university faculty member. A new tutoring opportunity provides each program participant with a Russian peer tutor for two hours per week of language practice. Classes meet five hours a day, four days a week. The fifth day is set aside for excursions.

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Special Opportunities

ACTR will help place participants in non-paid internships with Russian and multinational businesses, non-governmental organizations and charitable groups for three to 10 hours per week. However, the participant’s Russian language ability and other relevant skills will play an important role in determining available internships. The internship may replace the area studies courses, but all students are required to continue with the language classes. Students must contact Notre Dame in advance if they want credit for their internship.

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Housing and Meals

The ACTR programs offer students the choice of living in the university dormitory or staying with a host-family. Because the home stay offers a rich cultural experience and positively complements the student’s academic program, most participants choose to live with a host family and evaluate the experience very highly. Some Russian universities have special dormitories for foreign students. Residents live with other members of the ACTR group and/or with Russian students in a suite of two rooms and a shared bathroom. There usually are some kitchen facilities in the dorms, and all dorms have cafeterias. Participants who choose to live in the dormitory will receive a monthly ruble stipend to cover food costs.

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Site Calendar

The fall semester generally runs from early September to mid-December. The spring semester begins in early February and finishes at the end of May. 

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Sophomores and Juniors may participate with the approval of the chair of their major department and the dean of their college. Participants must have the equivalent of two years of college-level Russian with a grade of B or better. Normally only students with a GPA of 3.0 or above are admitted. Candidates must demonstrate adaptability to new situations, desire and motivation for residence and study abroad, and a satisfactory disciplinary record at Notre Dame. Students must attend the pre-departure orientation conference in Washington, D.C., and must travel to Russia with the rest of the ACTR group. Housing and meals are provided during the orientation.

Application deadline: November 15th for the fall, spring, or year-long program.

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Health and Safety


All program participants are provided with worldwide health insurance from the time of the group departure from the United States until the program departure date. The cost of insurance is included in the program fees with coverage provided by HTH Worldwide. For more detailed information, please visit the HTH website at

Participating students are required to submit a health questionnaire that is completed and signed by the student and a health care provider.  The provider can be a member of the University Health Services staff or your family physician.


Embassy Registration: The Office of International Studies requires participants to register with the Department of State at so that the US Embassy or Consulate abroad can assist or communicate with the student in time of need.

Specific consular information about Russia is available at Staff onsite provide information pertinent to the site during the orientation period and support the health and safety of students throughout their stay.

Personal Property Insurance

You may want to consider insurance coverage for your personal belongings. In many instances, homeowner’s insurance may not extend coverage for personal belongings while traveling abroad. There may also be limitations, restrictions or high deductibles on the amount of coverage provided. One option to insure your belongings is to purchase low cost Student Personal Property Insurance coverage provided by Haylor, Freyer & Coon, Inc. Coverage is provided worldwide on a replacement cost basis for personal property you own or is entrusted to you by a parent or guardian. An HFC Brochure is available through the Risk Management and Safety Department by calling 631.5037.

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Cultural and Recreational Opportunities

One day a week the academic program consists of excursions conducted in Russian to places of cultural and historical interest. For example, students in Moscow might visit the Kremlin, Novodevichii Monastery and Cemetery, Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Tret’iakov Gallery, Red October chocolate factory, Sergiev Posad, the KGB Museum, secondary schools, hospitals, studio theaters, newspaper editorial offices, and the Moscow City Council. In St. Petersburg students might visit the Hermitage, Pavlovsk, Petrodvorets, Piskarevskoe Memorial Gardens, Peter and Paul Fortress, Pushkin, Kresty Prisons, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, St. Petersburg Municipal Court, and the St. Petersburg Russian Orthodox Seminary. The relatively new program in Vladimir includes day trips to Moscow plus meetings with local journalists and university students, the Museum of History, the Museum of Art, Uspenskii Cathedral, Dmitrievskii Cathedral, Museum of Local Crafts, public schools and Suzdal.

Students are required to participate in one seven to ten day trip per semester to one or more regions in Russia. Past trips have included destinations on the Golden Ring, the Black Sea Coast, Murmansk, Lake Baikal and Karelia.

During vacations students may, of course, travel on their own, although their student visa does not allow them to leave and re-enter the country, which means that travel plans in Central and western Europe (or elsewhere) can best be carried out prior to entering Russia or at the end of one’s program of study

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Relevant Links

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