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Programs and Deadlines
About Penn Abroad
American Councils: Advanced Russian Language and Area Studies Program (RLASP) (BRU)
Moscow, Russian Federation; St. Petersburg, Russian Federation; Vladimir, Russian Federation (Fall Spring Academic Year Outgoing Program)
Program Terms: Fall,
Budget Sheets Fall,
Fact Sheet:
Language of Instruction:
Language Prerequisite:
4 Semesters of college level language
Minimum Cumulative GPA: 3.0
Credit Available For:
College, Huntsman
Other Eligibility Requirements: Grades of B or better in Russian
Type of Program:
Application Deadline:
Fall/Year: February 15, Spring: October 1
Program Description:
Photo Credit:  Kateryna Brezitska

Program Snapshot

(click on the links highlighted in blue below to learn more)
The Academic Program
  • Program center in one of three locations: Moscow International University, the Russian State Pedagogical University (Herzen Institute) in St. Petersburg, and the KORA Center for Russian Language in Vladimir
  • Fall Semester: late August - mid-December
  • Spring Semester: mid-January- mid-May
  • GPA requirement: 3.0
  • Language requirement: 4 semesters of college-level Russian or the equivalent; grades of B or better in Russian language courses
  • host family or university dorm
Host Cities
  Special Features
  • Honors program
  • Peer tutors
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Weekly excursions
  • Regional field studies
The Application Process
Financial Matters
Penn Resources

This program requires an advising session with a Program Manager prior to opening an application. To view the schedule for upcoming group advising sessions, or to schedule an individual appointment, select the ‘Schedule an Advising Appointment’ button on the Penn Abroad homepage.  

The Academic Program

American Councils: Advanced Russian Language and Area Studies Program

The Advanced Russian Language and Area Studies Program (RLASP) serves both graduate and undergraduate students as well as working professionals. The programs provides approximately 20 hours per week of in-class instruction in Russian grammar, phonetics, conversation, and cultural studies at Moscow International University, the Russian State Pedagogical University (Herzen Institute) in St. Petersburg, and the KORA Center for Russian Language in Vladimir. Program features include homestays, weekly excursions, travel to other regions of Russia, conversation partners, and a wide range of opportunities to pursue internships, volunteering, hobbies and personal interests in a Russian context.

American Councils conducts an informative (mandatory) pre-departure orientation in Washington, D.C. and an in-country orientation upon arrival. Full-time, expert resident directors are available to assist participants abroad.

RLASP Courses

RLASP maximizes linguistic and cultural immersion into Russian society and features approximately twenty hours per week of in-class instruction; roughly sixteen hours of which are dedicated to Russian-language study. Students are placed according to proficiency level in groups of three-to-five for language classes. Core Russian language classes include Russian Conversation, Phonetics, Russian Grammar, and Lexical Studies. Area studies offerings include (but are not limited to) Studies in Mass Media, Russian Literature, Russian History and Politics, and Contemporary Russian Society; all area studies and literature courses are taught in Russian.


As on all Penn Abroad programs, grades are recorded on the Penn transcript and are calculated in the cumulative grade point average. ACTR reports grades using a standard A to F scale. The pass/fail option can be exercised according to the Penn on-campus policy.

Learn More About RLASP

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Students have the option to live in a university dormitory or with a Russian host family. The majority of American Councils participants choose the host-family option. All host families provide private rooms, telephone access, and keys for their American guests. Host families also provide two meals per day. Living with a host family immerses program participants in everyday Russian life, while offering some of the comforts of home. Host families also expose participants to authentic, contemporary language and culture in informal, social settings. All host families are screened, selected, and monitored by American Councils home-stay coordinators and resident directors. Hear what it's like to live with a Russian host family!

Special Features

  • Honors program

Students with GPAs of 3.3 or higher, advanced language skills, and outstanding recommendations may be nominated by the selection committee to be honors students. As honors students, program participants may substitute regular courses at their Russian host university for the American Councils area studies offerings. The selection committee must nominate all honors students. This feature depends significantly upon university schedules and the readiness of individual faculty to accommodate American students whose schedules require early completion of the class. With guidance from the resident director, it is the responsibility of each individual honors student to locate a viable class and obtain permission from the instructor to attend. All academic year and semester RLASP participants are encouraged to audit regular university classes. In recent years, RLASP participants completed courses at their host universities in Art History, Mathematics, Sociology, Theater Studies, Russian History, Psychology and Literature.

  • Peer tutors

In 2000, American Councils established a peer-tutoring program for all RLASP participants. Students have the chance to meet for two hours per week with tutors recruited from the Department of Russian as a Foreign Language at their host universities (in Vladimir, peer tutors come from the Vladimir State University). In addition to valuable academic support, the peer-tutoring program provides an important opportunity for American students to meet their contemporaries in the increasingly fast-paced, cosmopolitan culture of today's Russia.

  • Volunteer opportunities

Upon arrival in Russia, American Councils staff can arrange internships or community service placements for RLASP participants. Internship placements depend significantly on the participant's Russian-proficiency level and the needs of the Russian organization. Internships are unpaid and non-credit bearing; therefore, American Councils strongly encourages students to pursue internships and community service activities in fields which are of interest to them. Participants consistently rate their internships and community service as substantive and valuable; many former students report that their out-of-classroom experiences gave them unique insights into Russian society and language, as well as a deep sense of personal fulfillment.

  • Weekly excursions

One day a week of the academic program is set aside for travel to local sites of social, cultural and historical significance. All excursions are conducted in Russian and include sites such as museums, churches, schools, research centers, municipal offices, and historical estates.

  • Regional field studies

At approximately mid-semester, resident directors arrange a week-long regional field studies trip outside of the host city. RLASP groups have recently visited Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-na-Danu, Samara, Sochi, Suzdal, Volgograd, and Yaroslavl.

The Application Process

Please review the Getting Started Guide.  The Russia Program Manager will provide specifics regaridng the application process for American Councils.

Financial Matters

Students are charged Penn tuition and student fee (called study abroad fee the semester abroad) for all Penn programs.  Additional expenses will typically include items such as housing, meals, and airfare.  Please see the program budget sheet to determine other costs. 

In most cases, financial aid applies to Penn-approved programs.  Student Financial Services reviews program budget sheets each semester to determine how to appropriately adjust your aid package.

Penn Resources

Students who study abroad are encouraged to take advantage of Penn's many resources for students, even if you haven't used them before going abroad.  There is an extensive list of resources on the Penn Abroad website that can help you to explore issues that might pertain to you and to help you prepare for a term abroad. 

In addition to these resources, we encourage you to reach out to a past program participant or ambassador to learn more about the program from a student perspective.
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