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7 Reasons to Do Your Master’s Degree in Russia

“The world's largest country offers it all, from historic cities and idyllic countryside to artistic riches, epic train rides and vodka-fuelled nightlife,” raves Lonely Planet. It’s also got something else: inimitable higher education opportunities for graduate students. Here’s a closer look at seven reasons to consider doing your master’s degree in Russia.

Dec 18, 2019
7 Reasons to Do Your Master’s Degree in Russia

1. You’ll have many top-notch universities and study programs from which to choose

Education is paramount in Russia. In fact, the country is home to the world’s most educated population: more than half of Russians have university degrees. It follows that Russian higher education institutes are well-positioned in world rankings, ranking 15th in the respected QS Higher Education System Strength Rankings of all countries’ higher education systems, thanks to cutting-edge resources, world-class teaching, and facilities equivalent to those found at Western universities. The Council for Foreign Education in Russia (CFER) says, “All these universities are world-class in every sense of the term -- renowned excellence, independent, coeducational, and of government endowment. Their numerous academic departments, divisions, and award programs, as well as interdisciplinary centers and scientific work programs extend beyond traditional departmental boundaries.”

Russian universities also offer a comprehensive range of programs across a breadth and depth of fields. There are approximately 3,600 education programs, many of which graduate programs, offered by Russian universities, according to Russia’s Ministry of Science and Higher Education.

So whatever you want to study, there’s a program for you in Russia, and you’ll benefit from exceptional academic access every step of the way. CFER adds, “Russia's premier universities bring together the best aspects of a liberal arts college, pure science programs, applied science programs [and] lab work with those of a major research university. This approach provides students in Russia with close access to thousands of professors and faculty members, including full members and corresponding members of the renowned Russian Academy of Sciences, hundreds of doctorates and post-doctorates.”

2. You can study in Russian or English

Russian is spoken by hundreds of millions all over the world -- and millions more are learning. If you’re interested in becoming one of them, there’s no better place than Russia to do so. Want to study in Russia but don’t have time to learn the language, meanwhile? More and more Russian universities offer English-language programs and there are many double-degree programs in Russia with universities all over the world.

3. It’s international student-friendly

Russia has long drawn thousands of international students, and Russian academia has a very global outlook. CFER says of this phenomenon, “Russia's most global universities have been providing an academic home for than 160,000 international graduates from around the world for nearly 60 years and enabling them to flourish as leaders in the private and public sector globally. In addition, these premier Russian universities have close ties with the world's leading educational centers, across Europe, Asia, the Americas, and Africa. They pride themselves on a global focus and them being a home for global students.”

Choosing to get a master’s degree in Russia alongside students from just under 170 other countries means choosing to study in an inherently enriching, diverse environment. In fact, roughly 12 percent of Russia’s student population is international. This also means that international students feel quickly at home there, due in no small part to the pride Russian universities take in their tradition of providing international higher education opportunities.

4. It’s an “adventure lover’s playground”

While master’s work can be intensive, it won’t take all your time. There’s a near-endless assortment of things to see and do while you’re living in Russia. For starters, its vast size means it has significant diversity in terms of both geography and climate, making it a great place for all kinds of outdoor recreation, ranging from skiing and hiking to boating and swimming.

Aktru river and peak Karatash at sunset. Russian federation. West Siberia. Altai. Long exposure

Russians also love sports, and there are many opportunities for international students to be involved in sports thanks to excellent university facilities. Russia’s abundance of museums, libraries, theaters, concert halls, and other attractions are perfect for culture-seeking students, who are eligible for discounted prices.

If city life is more your speed, there's an amazing adventure to be found them too. Russia Beyond enthuses, “In comparison to other European countries, Russia does an urban maximalism that’s quite unlike any other.” While Moscow, Europe’s largest city, is historic and buzzing global city, there are many cities in Russia bustling with people and activities (around a dozen cities in the nation have populations of a million or more).

5. It boasts a culture like no other

Mere mention of Russia brings to mind thoughts of culture, and with good reason: More than 30 Russian cultural sites are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The country’s Ministry of Science and Higher Education says, “Russia has given the world many great writers, poets, philosophers, composers, artists and musicians: Leo Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov, Feodor Dostoyevsky, Nikolai Rerikh, Sergey Rakhmaninov, Boris Pasternak, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Sergey Eisenstein, Mstislav Rostropovich. [...] Literature, ballet, classical music, architecture, painting, theatre and cinema: this is how Russia wins the hearts of people the world over. Russian cities today are centers of cultural life, where exhibitions, festivals, concerts, shows, performances and other cultural and entertainment events take place on a national and international level.” For students, this equates to plenty of opportunities to learn -- both in and out of the classroom.

6. It’s a step off the beaten path

Russia may not be the first country that comes to mind when you think of international studies. However, for students looking to buck convention, Russia is the perfect opportunity to experience a completely different way of life -- and to walk away with a new, authentic and open perspective.

Russia’s people, too, are known for their eccentric, extrovert charms. French student Alice, told Russia Beyond of her interactions while studying there, “In Russia, you’d step out the door and not know what to expect. On my first day, a boy stopped me on the street and wrote me a poem, and later that same day a crazy old man started giving me fashion tips at the bus stop!”

7. It’s extremely affordable with abundant scholarship opportunities!

Russia offers everything you hope to find in a major European nation and then some -- at a surprisingly reasonable price. Not only are food, rent, clothing and cultural activities on par with the European average in terms of cost, but the cost of living in Russia is significantly lower than in places such as the USA, Canada, and the UK. But that’s not all. Maximum tuition fees at most prestigious Russian universities are just a fraction of what you’ll find in other popular international study destinations.

Furthermore, significant scholarship funding is also available for talented international students. Consider Open Doors: Russian Scholarship Project. Organized by the Association of Global Universities -- in collaboration with Russia’s Ministry of Science, and Higher Education, the Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States Affairs, Compatriots Living Abroad, and International Humanitarian Cooperation -- this initiative offers early admission to tuition-free master’s programs at students’ choice of many leading Russian universities. Depending on the course of study, the language of instruction may either be English or Russians. Students from anywhere in the world (except Russia) are eligible for the scholarships as long as they have a bachelor’s or specialist degree.

One student to have taken advantage of the Open Doors scheme is Irina Valle from Ecuador. She has joined Moscow’s international community of scientists and experts, participating in conferences and workshops and preparing herself for a career in communication and international public relations (of which she is a first-year student). She says there is an “international vision” to her studies and “having people from around the world improves your inter-cultural communication skills so that really attracted me. If you want to come to one of the most important cities in the world and learn about communication and sciences with an international vision, MISIS is the place to do so.”

Another Open Doors student from Malaysia, studying aviation maintenance, logistics, and data systems in Samara (at a university with its own airfield!), says, “Samara is cool. The people here have been really nice and they have been trying to help us no matter what. There’s a huge technical community here and students have been really friendly to us. They have been hanging out with us in the city and the professors have also been really helpful, in terms of education and also if we need any tips.”

With so many educational opportunities to be found in Russia, along with so many resources available to help you get there, what are you waiting for?...

Article written in association with the Association of Global Universities.

Joanna Hughes


Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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