Students will register for all courses on-site after a brief introduction to the program and university courses. At all sites, students have a three weeks to make their final decisions about the classes that will take for credit in the semester. To sign up for your courses one has to submit a list of all the classes by email to your RC or Director and provide mainstream registration forms before the registration deadline (more about the mainstream forms below). A typical academic schedule for single semester students and first semester students staying for the academic year:

  • Intensive Russian Language I: Grammar: four academic hrs/wk* + Spoken Russian/Speech Practice: two academic hrs/wk
  • Spetskurs I: To be selected from offerings: four academic hrs/wk
  • Spetskurs II: To be selected from offerings: four academic hrs/wk
  • Spetskurs III / Mainstream Class

Exception: Middlebury undergraduates who have completed the 0300-level, and others of similar language ability who choose to take a mainstream class for credit will pursue that in place of one of the above-mentioned courses. Specific drop/replace options will be discussed and approved on an individual basis by the Director of the School in Russia.

Second Semester (academic year students):

  • Intensive Russian Language I: continued segment: four academic hrs/wk
  • Spetskurs: To be selected from offerings: four academic hrs/wk
  • Spetskurs: To be selected from offerings:  four academic hrs/wk
  • Mainstream course, or credit-bearing internship, or spring project (with advanced approval obtained prior to departure from the U.S.)

Exception: Middlebury undergraduates who have completed the 0300-level will pursue two mainstream courses in place of two of the above-mentioned courses.

*One academic hour is 45 minutes.

Russian Language Courses

For Russian language instruction, students will be grouped into appropriate skill/competence levels, based on tests taken prior to departure and/or on the results of the Russian Language Test taken at School in Russia in the beginning of semester at their host universities. All undergraduate students are required to take the core Russian language class taught exclusively for program students (Intensive Russian Language: Grammar + Practice Speech). The average enrollment is between three and six students per course.

Special Courses (Spetskursy)

The School in Russia offers a complement of spetskursy each semester. These are special content-oriented courses, covering a variety of subjects in the humanities and social sciences.  They are conducted entirely in Russian, but are geared toward a student audience composed exclusively of School in Russia students. Spetskurs may include a required excursion component.

All courses assume a working knowledge of Russian, based on at least two successfully completed years (4 semesters/6 quarters) of college-level preparation. While students’ capability in Russian does not figure in the evaluation of course work, some spetskursy may prove significantly more demanding than others for students who have completed only the minimum requirements for admission to the School in Russia.  Students are thus urged to consult with their Resident Coordinator and/or Director before finalizing their choice of spetskursy on site each semester.

No spetskurs assumes special preparation or prior knowledge in a particular area or discipline.  However, you are strongly advised to familiarize yourselves, if you have not already done so, with the basic outlines of Russian history and culture before beginning School in Russia spetskursy at any of the sites.

Students will receive information prior to departure about the specific spetskursy to be offered at their program site this fall/spring.  At that time you will be asked to rank your spetskurs selections for the upcoming semester in order of preference.

Please note that Middlebury spetskursy require a minimum enrollment of three students.  As such, we cannot guarantee that any spetskurs option will be available in any given semester.  Students who hope to fulfill a particular course requirement for their home university should have a back-up plan, in the event that the course you have chosen will not be offered.

Regular University Courses

Middlebury College undergraduates who have completed third-year Russian are required to take one regular (“mainstream”) university course in their first semester, and two in their second.  Motivated first-semester students from other U.S. universities who demonstrate advanced capability in Russian are also encouraged to pursue mainstream university courses for credit.   Students who have completed the equivalent of Middlebury’s fourth year Russian may choose to pursue additional mainstream courses in either semester, pending approval of the Director.

During the spring semester, all year-long students who demonstrate appropriately advanced capability in Russian are expected to take one mainstream class.  This requirement may in certain cases be waived or modified to include the non-credit auditing of a class (it is possible to audit mainstream classes – though not for credit – in Moscow and Yaroslavl, but not in Irkutsk), but only by petition to the Director.  Should questions arise as to whether a student’s skills qualify as “appropriately advanced,” final approval to enroll in a mainstream will depend on evaluation by the student’s first semester language instructors.

Mainstream university courses are taken in place of one or more School in Russia classes.  All mainstream courses must meet for a minimum of 30 academic hours to qualify for Middlebury credit.  Half credit courses are usually not allowed. Seminars, if a required part of the lecture course for Russian students, are also required for Middlebury students and are not credited as a separate class.

Credits and grades for mainstream courses will be assessed through detailed course forms submitted by students directly to the university instructors. Evaluation of credit transferability and decisions on the fulfillment of degree or major requirements are the responsibility of the student’s home institution.

In general, because the educational systems in Russia and the United States are so different and in some disciplines few courses are directly comparable, students should not expect to automatically fulfill specific major or other requirements by taking mainstream classes.  Interesting courses will be available and will offer excellent, advanced-level practice in Russian, but we cannot promise that any particular course will fulfill a student’s requirements within a particular department at home. Students who nonetheless hope to receive specific major or other credit should arrive in Russia with a detailed description of the course you require (ideally, a copy of the syllabus for the course which you would have otherwise taken at home).  If and when an analogous mainstream course is found in Russia, you should also maintain regular contact with your home adviser to ensure that you are fulfilling all of the requirements necessary to receive credit.

Enrollment in mainstream courses requires significant independence on the part of the student. Students will be responsible for introducing themselves to the instructor, obtaining reading lists and course descriptions, and requesting that the instructor complete our enrollment/grade sheet form.

Finally, students should be aware that, as a general rule, advance information on mainstream course offerings and schedules is, unfortunately, very limited.  As mentioned above, Russian students take classes exclusively within their major departments, following a set curriculum and without “cross-enrolling” in other departments.  Hence there is no perceived need for a university-wide catalog, and the majority of departments determine and post their class schedules only a day or two before the beginning of the term.  School in Russia participants will, however, find appropriate mainstream classes by consulting with their language instructors and Resident Coordinators and by visiting the departments themselves during the first weeks of classes.

More detailed information about mainstream classes can be found on the School in Russia website, as well as our partner institutions:, and Please, keep in mind that HSE academic calendar  is different from other universities. For example, spring semester usually starts in January –

Prior to the start of the semester, there is no set schedule for mainstream classes. Once it is established it is still subject to change, including start and end dates of classes.  Some mainstreams start later in the semester than others. Students who choose mainstream classes must be aware that you are required to attend all class sessions and take their final exams within the official university exam period, never before. Work submitted or exams taken earlier than the first day of the exam period will not be accepted. Final paper deadlines and/or exams for mainstream courses can be rearranged within the exam period with prior approval from the professor and the Director of Middlebury College School in Russia. Each student’s academic schedule will be discussed, reviewed, and approved on an individual basis with the staff of the School in Russia.