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 2020 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.  

The world of Russian politics

This is an introductory course to Russian politics that will give you a general understanding of the complicated current Russian political scene. The course is a combination of a linguistics and political science course, as this approach allows for an in-depth analysis of how the current political system has shaped, what methods politicians use to achieve their goals and how that affects lives of common people. Students will also acquire the necessary vocabulary and idiomatic expressions to discuss, analyze and express their opinions. You will also learn about social, political and legislative aspects of life in Russia covering a wide-range of topics e.g. Russian political establishment, business and politics, national security.

Requirements: no unexcused absences, active participation, essay submission.

Russian and Modern Society

In this course students will talk about the problems of modern Russian society and compare these problems with what concerns people in the US today. We will try to analyze the language spoken by teenagers, politicians, the language of mass media and internet in Russia and in the US; we will see how Silicon valley slang affects the way people talk in Moscow and Kazan. Watching videos and discussing audio podcasts, going to shows and exhibitions and analyzing contemporary media resources will help students solve the mystery of “Russian soul”, that is, why Russians speak as they do and what that tells us about Russian culture and how it differs from the US, thus achieving the main goal of this class - building a dialogue between Russia and the US.

Requirements: no unexcused absences, active participation, film screenings.

Post-Soviet Russia from 1980’s to Putin Era

This course will introduce students to the complex, fascinating, and sometimes tragic history of post-soviet Russia. In order to form a better understanding of the current political situation, students will start by examining the events of Perestroika and what eventually led to the collapse of the USSR, then gradually move to the 1990s in Russia and Yeltsin.  The second half of the course will be dedicated to 2000’s in Russia and Putin reign. Through lectures and seminars this course addresses all the key issues that form the current state today introducing all the main actors of the post-Soviet times. The class is supplemented by excursions, film screenings and museums tours.

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.


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.