About Russia

This immense country is undergoing unprecedented economic and political transformations. Geographically, the Russian Federation stretches nearly halfway around the globe, spanning 11 time zones and many different climates. The population includes over 80 ethnic groups. Southwest Siberia, the huge and environmentally diverse region where Barnaul is located, is a small microcosm of the various ethnicities making up the Russian state. The region is also undergoing rapid transition and is now home to a growing middle class, an emerging tourist industry and outdoor adventure.

Barnaul, where our program is based, was founded in 1730 for its proximity to the mineral-rich Altai Mountains and its location on the Ob river. It is the capital of Altaii Krai. In addition to copper, substantial deposits of silver were discovered and by 1747, the city became the major silver center of Russia. By the 1900s Barnaul had grown into a major center of trade and culture, especially after the construction of the Turkestan-Siberia Railway. Today a city of more than 650,000, Barnaul is extremely diverse ethnically and has a well-educated population who embrace opportunities for economic development and international cooperation. The city boasts six universities and institutions of higher learning, providing many social and cultural opportunities for young people. Visitors to the city find an excellent system of public transportation and a vibrant nightlife with accessible museums, art galleries, theatres and concert halls. Barnaul is the gateway to Western Siberia, surrounded by pine forests, hiking trails, the Altai Mountains, ski lodges and tourist complexes.

The Program

Hobart and William Smith Colleges have a partnership with the Altai State Pedagogical Academy (ASPA) and its “Linguistic Institute.” This is a reciprocal exchange program and both ASPA and HWS students will benefit from the opportunity to meet one another at their home campuses before undertaking the semester abroad. The international curriculum is hosted by the Linguistic Institute, where HWS students will study alongside Russian and other international students. This program emphasizes language skills and an understanding of the rich cultural heritage of Russia and the former Soviet Union. Students will earn 2 HWS credits in Russian language at their appropriate level and may choose two electives taught in English or Russian in disciplines such as anthropology, politics, international relations, economics, environmental studies, English literature and history. Students also have the option of doing a service learning placement.


Students will take a full-semester academic course load with a focus on Russian language, culture and society. All students will take an intensive Russian language class at their appropriate level for which they will earn two HWS course credits. Students will also select a Russian language elective and, if desired, an English language elective. There are opportunities for fieldwork in some areas (such as archaeology and environmental studies) and for service learning, both on a credit and a non-credit basis.

Academic Focus

This program is suited for students with a major or minor in Russian Area Studies or those who desire to improve their Russian language skills. This program can also serve students interested in development, social change, international relations, anthropology and folklore.


This program is open to all juniors and seniors in good academic and social standing with a minimum GPA of 3.0. In addition, applicants must have completed two years of college-level Russian or the equivalent with a GPA of 3.0. Three years of college-level Russian study are recommended for those who are interested in service-learning as part of their Russian experience. Due to the challenging nature of study abroad, student academic and disciplinary records will be carefully screened. (Please note: due to the timing of the academic calendar on the Russia program, seniors participating in the spring semester may not be able to return in time for commencement on the HWS campus.)


Students live with a Russian host family, an experience that will provide unique insight into Russian family life. The homestay will serve to enhance the student’s linguistic skills and to facilitate immersion in the local culture.


All students will participate in a two-day orientation program in Moscow that will include a variety of cultural activities and local tours. Once students arrive in Barnaul, ASPA staff will organize visits to sites of local and regional interest. Excursion destinations may include the Altai Mountains, Novosibirsk, Biysk, Chenal and other sites.

Going Abroad With the CGE

Students will be charged standard HWS tuition and fees, room and board fees, and a $600 administrative fee. This will cover credit for a four-course semester, health insurance, housing, meals, and excursions. Additional expenses not covered include airfare, books, visa and other course-related materials, immunizations and personal expenses (laundry, entertainment, ground transportation and independent travel). We estimate airfare for this program at approximately $1200-$1400 from the East Coast, visa at $500, books and course materials at $200 and immunizations at $100. It is difficult to give an accurate estimate of personal expenses because student spending habits differ considerably. We would suggest a minimum of $1250 above and beyond accommodation and meal expenses. However, students on a tight budget should be able to manage with less. If you are concerned about finances, we strongly encourage you to talk to the CGE staff who can offer information and advice based on your specific situation.



Application Deadline

  • This program is offered every semester.
  • Applications are available at the Center for Global Education.
  • Applications are due at the CGE office on a selected date in October (for Fall programs) and March (for Spring programs). For specific dates contact the CGE.

NOTE: This information is subject to change. Please see the CGE for more information


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