The information below is for students in our regular program in Moscow, who have completed at least four semesters of college-level Russian. Students interested in the Beginner and Intermediate Tracks can find more information here.

During their first semester, students take four courses. For most, this consists of one core course and three electives. The core course, “The Russian Language,” includes Russian grammar as well as Russian phonetics and/or speech practice (these may vary from semester to semester, depending on students’ levels/needs).

Middlebury Courses

For the spring 2022 semester, the following courses are offered:

Russian Language (compulsory for all students) 

The course consists of Advanced Russian Grammar classes twice a week at RGGU Russian as a Foreign Language Center (RFL) and Oral Speech Workshop at Shchukin Theatre Institute once a week.

Advanced Russian Grammar are intensive classes covering a wide range of grammar nuances. The classes allow students to polish their grammar skills and work on their writing. Classes of different language proficiency are offered for the students.

Requirements: no unexcused absences, all the works submitted in a timely manner, active participation.

Oral Speech Workshop is taught by a leading Professor of Acting and Stage Speech at Shchukin Institute. This unique class is a combination of breathing exercises and techniques on phonetics, accent and pronunciation improvement. This class challenges students to get out of their comfort zone, try out a little bit of acting and exercising that has proved helpful for memorization and learning. Designed specifically for students of our program, it helps to develop fluency and overcome fear of speaking Russian in all kinds of settings.

Requirements: no unexcused absences, fitness attire and training shoes for every class, active participation.  

Russian Foreign Policy

The course is aimed at understanding the logic and major directions of Russian Foreign Policy after the end of the Cold war. It addresses the factors shaping Russian Foreign Policy after the dissolution of the USSR, major schools of foreign policy thought in Russia, perspectives on Russian Foreign Policy through the prism of major theories of IR, instruments of Russian Foreign Policy, as well as its evolution since early 1990s up to early 2020s. Special attention is given to the factors of internal and external nature that shape Russian Foreign policy, its evolution since early 1990s, as well as Russian Foreign Policy towards the major centers of power, key regions and international organizations.

The course will be helpful to understand Russian Foreign Policy logic and substance, provide proper analyses of Russian Foreign Policy as it is today and prognosis of its development in the future, including its relations with the major powers.

Requirements: no unexcused absences, active participation, essay submission. Some knowledge of the history and theory of international relations is desirable.

Post-Soviet Russian History

This course will introduce students to the main historical events in Russia from 1985 to 2020 and will show the causal relationship between these events, on the one hand, and the current state of Russian politics, social and cultural life, on the other. Through lectures and seminars, we will consider different points of view on the collapse of the USSR, discuss the main successes and failures of Russian foreign policy in the post-Soviet period, and analyze in detail the socio-political and cultural transformations of Russian society over the past 30 years. Students will learn where common stereotypes about Russia and Russians come from; they will learn to understand the politics, culture and social life of modern Russia better; they will be able to communicate more easily with people in Russian; and they will learn to better navigate in today’s Russian-speaking information space.

Creative Writing and Journalism

In this class, students learn reporting and writing basics with a hands-on approach. Students will be reporting about their life in Russia, current Moscow events and social events in Russia. With a short introduction to the history of journalism in Russia and characteristics of different journalistic forms, the class will focus on developing writing, speaking and listening skills. The instructor is both a professional instructor of Russian as a foreign language and a professional journalist. The course is thematically divided according to different publication forms and involves learning about each form in detail - structure and features. The class uses various materials -  literary texts, visual and audio materials. The course also has a flexible structure and will therefore be combined with other courses. Within the framework of the course, there will excursions to some of the significant places for Russian journalists (the House of Journalists, Zhurfak at Moscow State University, TASS building, etc.), as well as getting acquainted with other journalists.

Contemporary interpretation of 20th century Russian literature

Turbulent times that Russia saw in the 20th century gave it some outstanding authors who were able to capture the transitions and changes of their time with an impressive acuteness and poignancy. From before the revolution to perestroika, students will study the transformations inside the Russian society through their lenses. In-depth text analysis and discussions will allow students to fully appreciate the language and variety of stylistic techniques of these authors. The reading list includes M. Bulgakov, Ilf and Petrov, Chekhov, Bunin, Aksenov & Solzhenitsyn.

Social Anthropology

Social (or socio-cultural) anthropology, traditionally known in Russia as ethnography or ethnology— is the study of the diversity of world cultures, the patterns of their development, similarities and differences in lifestyles of the peoples and communities in different regions of the globe. The course introduces students to the basic ideas and theoretical concepts of modern anthropology, methods of anthropological research and applied aspects of this science. Due to the specifics of the program, the course is based primarily on the data related to the cultures of Russia and adjacent territories: students will analyze the ethnic and ethno-linguistic diversity of Russia (both indigenous and urban communities), discuss the applicability of key anthropological theories (including postcolonial studies) to Russian and post-Soviet material, as well as cultural transformations of recent decades that are relevant to the cultures and communities in the post-Soviet space. An important part of the course is that students will conduct independent field research, in which they can get to know the specifics of modern Russian society more closely.


Mainstream Courses

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.

Higher School of Economics

The Higher School of Economics (HSE) was established in 1992 on the initiative of renowned economists and leading reformers in the Russian Government. The HSE was awarded university status in 1995, and in cooperation with leading European universities, including Erasmus University Rotterdam, the University Paris I Pantheon-Sorbonne, and the London School of Economics, it has established itself as one of the leading universities in Russia in the fields of economics, social and political sciences.

In 2003 the HSE became a member of the European University Association (EUA) and joined the Institutional Management in Higher Education (IMHE) program of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The university actively participates in EUA and IMHE projects aimed at enhancing the quality of university programs, research and governance.

The university consists of eighteen faculties and schools. Instruction in economics is integral to the curricula of the HSE faculties, as well as a strong commitment to equip future professionals with general analytical competence and an in-depth knowledge of foreign languages.

The cooperation agreement between Middlebury College and HSE was signed in 2011 and has provided our students with the possibility to study economics and political science from the Russian perspective with a wide spectrum of courses to choose from. Courses taken by students at Middlebury School in Russia have included such specific disciplines as the Practice of Social Reforms and Strategies against Corruption.

The Russian State University for the Humanities

The Russian State University for the Humanities  (RSUH or RGGU) was founded in 1991 as the result of the merger of the Moscow Public University (1908) and the Moscow State Institute for History and Archives (1930). Moscow Public University, created through an initiative of Alfons L. Shanyavsky, an eminent Russian patron of arts, was one of the most progressive higher education institutions of the time and played a crucial part in the history of Russian education. Over the years, RSUH has become one of the major research centers in the country. Today RSUH has almost 14,000 students and currently comprises seven institutes, eleven faculties, nineteen scientific and educational centers, and fifty departments. Some of its best degree programs include international relations, political science, art history, museology, tourism, advertising and public relations. RSUH is famous in Russia for its linguistics and psychology departments. Annually, RSUH welcomes international students from 250 colleges and universities from all over the world. 

The Shchukin Theater Institute

Founded in 1913, the Shchukin Theater Institute is now one of the most prestigious and respected drama schools in Russia. It is committed to the exploration and advancement of the performing arts while celebrating Russia’s rich theater tradition.

The School’s dedication to professionalism and teaching can be seen both in its alumni, who teach acting at theater schools throughout Russia, and in its professors, who regularly hold workshops and conferences in Russia and abroad. The Institute’s distinguished faculty, composed exclusively of Institute graduates, has received wide recognition both at home and abroad.

Today the Shchukin Theater Institute maintains its reputation as the school that trains leaders across the performing arts, including film, theater, and television. The institute has recently expanded its programs to provide access to the international community, including students from South Korea, the United States, France, Israel, Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine and Moldova.

One of the courses offered at the institute is Stage Speech, which is likely the most engaging and entertaining method of improving your pronunciation in Russian. The School’s own Uchebny Teatr provides the rare opportunity to study and practice every theater discipline in cultural and linguistic immersion, including sound, light, and make up. Find more information in English on the different departments available.

Other Sample Electives

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:

  • Three epochs of Moscow: From ancient times to modern days
  • Social and political discourse in contemporary Russia
  • Russian History: From 17th to the beginning of the 20th century
  • Heart of a dog by M. Bulgakov. Reading between the lines
  • History of the USSR
  • Aspects of History and Civilization
  • History of Russian Literature
  • Courses on the literary works of N. Gogol, A. Chekhov, M. Bulgakov, V. Shukshin, V. Vysotsky, etc.
  • Poetry of the Silver Age Period
  • Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Russian Politics
  • Language of Mass Media
  • Business Russian

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.