During their first semester at the School in Russia, participants take four courses. For most students, this consists of two core courses and two electives.
One core course, "The Russian Language," includes Russian grammar and Russian oral speech practice. For the grammar component, students are divided into groups according to language levels.
The second core course is "Russian Culture and Civilization through the History and Culture of Moscow."
The electives offered to students vary from semester to semester and are determined based on students' academic disciplines and interests for that specific term. Some examples of electives that have been offered in previous semesters, and may be offered in future semesters include:
History of the USSR
Aspects of History and Civilization
History of Russian Literature
Courses on the literary works of N. Gogol, A. Chechov, M. Bulgakov, V. Shukshin, V. Vysotsky, etc.
Poetry of the Silver Age Period
Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Russian Politics
Language of Mass Media
All courses are taught in Russian and are exclusive to School in Russia participants. Instructors are selected from various departments of the host university. For language courses, students are divided into language level groups based on the results of a language placement test given prior to arrival in Russia, and on the results of interviews and testing on site. Russian Culture & Civilization and спецкурсы are not divided according to language level, but are taught to the group as a whole. Each class meets for two пары (four academic hours) per week and includes written and oral graded exercises.
Students of advanced-level Russian may choose to pursue one or more classes in the regular departments of RGGU, Higher School of Economics (HSE) or the Shchukin Theater Institute in place of any of the standard School in Russia courses.
RGGU and HSE offer a great variety of courses in the Humanities and Social Science, including History and Politics, International Relations, Journalism/Mass media, Literature, Linguistics, Social and Economic Studies, Law, Psychology.
HSE also offers courses in the area of Computer Science, Math, Finances; and RGGU has courses of Archival and Museum Studies.
The Shchukin Theater Institute has a set of professional acting and performing classes, but even those students who are not interested in pursuing a professional career in theater often take Stage Speech and Stage Movement classes.