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Study in Russia: Top Universities, Admissions, Cost of Study, Scholarships & Scope after Studying in Russia for Indian Students

Bhavya Rawal Bhavya Rawal
Study Abroad Expert

Plan your higher education with the world's largest country sprawling across two continents and nine time zones, Russia. You can choose to study in Russia at 741 universities offering higher education to an overall 278,000+ international students (as recorded in 2019). 

Higher Education in Russia has evolved dramatically for the past decade with an investment of 390 billion rubles (~ 6.7 billion USD) made to improve the facilities and technical infrastructure of Russian universities. Post Bologna Process, many Russian universities aligned their education system with Europe and now offer a choice between a four-year bachelor's and five-year specialist degree.

Table of Contents

1. Why Study
2. Top Universities in Russia
3. How to Get into Russian Universities
4. Rusian Student Visa
5. Tuition Fees
6. Living Costs
7. Scholarships
8. Part-time Work
9. Jobs For International Students

Why Study in Russia?

Comprehensive University Education: Russia is best known for its academic schools offering medicine, natural science, physics, and mathematics. Russia is featured with its 28 universities in QS World Rankings 2021 and 95 universities in QS leading universities in emerging Europe and Central Asia rankings. 

When planning to study in Russia you can choose from more than 400 study fields and 650 subjects in bachelor's, masters specialist, and postgraduate programs such as medical traineeships to study in 82 regions of the country. 

Cost of Study: The cost of studying in Russia not only lies in the optimum ratio as compared to other countries like USA, Canada, UK, etc, but you can also study for free at the expense of the Government budget. 

Getting a degree from some of the most prestigious universities in the capital costs 586,000 rubles (~8371 USD). The minimum tuition fees for UG programs were 83,000 rubles (~1186 USD). Alongside cheaper education offers, the Russian government awards several thousand scholarships (quotas) to its international students. For 2020, 15,000 such quotas were reserved with partnering Russian universities

Note: 1 RUB= 1INR (Exchange rate as per Aug 2020)

Language: Not a barrier. Though many universities offer programs in Russian, there are tremendous amounts of language preparatory courses available for international students planning to study in Russia. Not only will you be offered opportunities to learn the Russian language, but there are plenty of programs being offered in English for your ease. 

Opportunity to Obtain Dual Diploma: The joint programs offered to study in Russia in collaboration with foreign universities will allow you to receive a dual diploma- a Russian Diploma and a diploma from a European university. The advantage of obtaining a Russian diploma is its recognition in over 60 countries, such as India, China, Vietnam, Spain, Cuba, and more.

Top Universities to Study in Russia

Students tend to aim at studying at top universities, specifically when planning to study internationally. Though Russian universities have currently just started entering the world university ranking lists, you can yet choose from 741 universities. 29 of these are national research universities, 10 federal and two special status universities.

Here are some of the top universities to opt from when planning to study in Russia, listed according to their QS rankings:

National Rankings (2020)UniversityWorld Rankings (2021)
#1Lomonosov Moscow State University#74
#2Saint-Petersburg State University (SPbU)#225
#3Novosibirsk State University (NSU)#228
#4Tomsk State University (TSU)#250
#5Moscow Institute of Physics & Technology (MIPT)#281
#6National Research Nuclear University (MEPhi)#314
#7Bauman Moscow State Technical University (BMSTU)#282
#8National Research University Higher School Economics (HSE)#298
#9Tomsk Polytechnic University#401
#10Moscow State Institution of International Relations (MGIMO)#348

Admissions to Study in Russia

With a majority of Russian universities offering education in Russian, as an international student, you might want to brush up your language skills before you apply with any of these universities. In case, you are unable to do so prior to studying in Russia, you can apply for one-year preparatory courses before taking admission to your major. 

Undergraduate international aspirants for Russian Universities must note that there is certainly less number of programs being offered completely in English. However, this does not apply to masters courses as there are relatively more universities that offer a master's degree with the mode of education as English only. 

Steps to Follow while Applying for a Russian University

  • Choose a program/university you wish to study- Access a diverse range of courses from drama, natural sciences, medicine to mathematics, and physics. At 741 universities located at 84 different regions, you will not only get to choose between courses but also your preferred location and climate.
  • Find out financial aids: You can either choose for self fundings, external funding, or Russian government funding to ensure that your study abroad expenses are eased out.
  • Prepare your documents package: You will need to submit your documents twice as you wish to apply with Russian education institutions. Initial application indicating the desired level of education and area of study. Official submission of documents to the university after reaching Russia.
    • Initial Application Package- Copy of document detailing education, copy of identification, completed university application form, and photographs
    • Official Submission to University: Application for admission, visa/passport, education certificate, a statement on the standard medical form, photographs (as specified).
  • Choose how you wish to apply: You can either apply independently to the university of choice or through a Rossotrudnichestvo/Russian Embassy. The latter choice is best suited for candidates who wish to apply for government scholarships and hence, will be participating in competitive selection.
  • Undergo Competitive Selection: There are different ways of competitive selection. These are:
    • Entrance Exam and Introductory Unified State Examination: When enrolling with Russian Universities you will have to submit results from Unified State Examination (EGE) or pass admission tests. EGE is accepted throughout all universities. Admission tests, on the other hand, are conducted by universities and students can choose to take a test in discipline corresponding to their chosen subjects
    • Academic Competitions: Dozens of academic competitions are held every year in Russia and abroad where students can participate and expect enrollment in Russian universities without examination or under preferential conditions.
    • Tests: Tests are conducted individually or jointly by many Russian universities. International students with the best results are selected and can expect preferential terms when enrolling with universities.
  • Receive invitation to apply for student visa: If an applicant has gained a position through standard procedure (non-scholarship student) invitation will be sent by the university. While those who are selected through quota will get their invitation through the Ministry of Foreign affairs.

Russian Student Visa

Where to Apply: You can apply for Russian Study Visa through Russian Consulate or Russian Embassy in your country. In some countries, like India, Canada, USA there are Russian Visa centers where you can apply for your visa. 

Documents Required

When making applications for a student visa to study in Russia, you will need to submit the following documents:

  • Your Passport and a copy of its front page
  • Official invitation to entry to Russia
  • Application form
  • Photographs (3.5*4.5 cm)
  • HIV Negative status certificate
  • If you lie under the age group below 18, a notary certified parental consent to travel is also required. 

Russian Visa Fees: 8246 rubles for multiple entries. 

Duration of Stay: Initially a student visa is issued for 3 months, students can get an extension of a year from the local division of the General Administration for Migration Issues of the Ministry of Russia. 

This whole process may take around two to three weeks. You can also get your visa processed faster for an extra fee.

Cost to Study in Russia

When planning to study abroad, the cost is one of the major decisive factors for students while choosing a university and country to study. The cost of studying in Russia can be broadly considered an overall of tuition fees and cost of living. 

Tuition Fees for Studying Russia

The minimum tuition fees for Russian universities is determined by The Ministry of Science and Higher Education. However, the overall tuition will vary as per the specific curriculum, duration of the program, and the institution. Discussed below is a range of tuition fees as per the level of education you wish to pursue:

Level of EducationDuration of StudyMinimum Tuition Fees (rubles/yr)Maximum Tuition Fees (rubles/yr)
Bachelor’s Degree4 years240,000- 260,000122,000-880,000
Specialist Degree5 years240,000- 260,000122,500-632,580 
Masters Degree2 years260,000-280,000147,000-460,000
Other Postgraduate Programs3 years280,000-300,00079,300-413,000
Preparatory CoursesFew months to a year160,000 averagely
Summer Schools 3-8 weeks450,000 averagely
Medical Degrees (like MBBS in Russia)Varies as per the choice of level145,000-149,500310,000-405,000
Engineering DegreesVaries as per choice of level122,000-137,000200,000- or more

The education in Russia will cost you between RUB 122,500 to 880,000 based on various factors mentioned above.

Cost of Living in Russia

The cost of living will include all your expenses from lodging to food, transportation to the internet, clothing, and more. Here is a brief detail of these expenses that will help you plan your finances in advance.

Type of ExpensesCost (RUB)
University Dorms500-5,000/month
Rental Accommodation*15,000-35,000/month
Medical Insurance4,000-120,000/year
Groceries4,200/month
Lunch in Cafe/Restaurants800-2,000
Transport1970 (60 journey travel card)
405 (underground travel card for students)
Cellular Communication & Internet300-400 (standard services on a sim)
300-500 (internet)
Clothing500 (T-shirt)
1500 (Jeans)
Cultural Pursuits400-2,500 (movie tickets)
200-1,000 (museum tickets)
Wellness1,700-4,00 (fitness centers monthly pass)
300-500 (swimming pool pass)
Cocktails300-500
Weekend Entertainment2,000-5,000

*Depends on the city of residence

Study in Russia with Scholarships

We have already discussed that costs to study in Russia can reach as high as 1-8 Lakhs INR and the cost of living goes up to 20,000 INR a month. To cut down your costs and to encourage international students to participate in programs offered by Russian Universities, the government of Russia offers scholarships covering tuition fees, accommodation, and such expenses. 

There are three major kinds of scholarships being offered to international students studying in Russia. These are Government-funded scholarships, Non-governmental Russian scholarships, and University-specific scholarships.

ScholarshipScholarship-typeAwardEligibility
Government of Russian Federation ScholarshipGovt-fundedFree tuition
Student Accommodation
Maintenance allowance
Participate in selection process comprising of interviews, tests, and exams)
BP in Russia Research ScholarshipsNon-GovtRUB 15,000-30,000 per monthPursuing Energy & Economics degrees at one of the partner Russian university
Open Doors-Russian Scholarship ProjectNon-GovtComplete tuition feesStudying masters in mathematics, physics, economics, or computer science
HSE University Scholarships
(multiple scholarships for all level of studies)
University-specific25-100% of tuition feesAcademically excellent International student
St. Petersburg Polytechnic University Scholarships
(multiple scholarships)
University-specificTuition or cost of accommodation is coveredInternational student pursuing education in programs taught in English
Vladimir Potanin Foundation’s Olympic Scholarships ProgramUniversity-specificCover tuition, accommodation, and monthly stipendInternational students pursuing masters in sports administration at Russian International Olympic University

With a vast range of scholarships covering the major expenses for international students, Russia becomes one of the most ideal countries to pursue your higher education in Europe. The costs are lesser than the UK, educational standards are met with that of other European countries.

In case, you are unable to receive any of the scholarships available to study in Russia, another alternative to lowering down your expenses is a work-study option.

Working in Russia as International Student

To work in Russia while studying, international students need to be of 18+ age and have a work permit. You will not need a work permit if you are employed at university or affiliated organizations even outside class-time and/or during vacation.

Work-Permit: Your work permit will be issued to you within 10 days of making applications. You will require the following documents to make applications for the same:

  • Application
  • Passport
  • Migration card
  • Receipt of fee payment ~RUB 3500
  • Employment Contract
  • Certificate of confirmation of HIV negative status, no drug addictions, or infectious disease.
  • University’s statement on students' full-time enrollment.

If you work without a work permit in Russia, you will be fined a sum of RUB 2,000-7,000.

Job Scope in Russia for International Students

Moscow is Russia’s economic and financial center, foreign internationals can plan to work in Moscow after completion of graduation. Saint Petersburg also is another flourishing city of Russia offering a better average pay scale than Moscow.

Russia is home to multinational companies like Oracle, Pepsico, Goldman Sachs, Intel, Dolby, Google, Honeywell, etc. Among some of the top employers in Russia are:

Top EmployersAnnual Salary (RUB)
HSBC9,231,000
RBS7,923,000
VMware7,000,000
Barclays Bank6,46,000
McKinsey & Co.6,298,000
Allianz6,298,000

The average hourly wage as recorded in 2019, was RUB 600. You must note that the salaries offered in Moscow and St. Petersburg is higher than those offered to employees in suburbs. Some of the other top paying cities are Yekaterinburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Chelyabinsk, etc.

The wage gap between the two genders is of 8%. The overall distribution of average annual national salaries (RUB 1,240,000) is as follows:

  • 25% of employees earn- less than RUB 735,000
  • 50% of employees earn RUB 1,320,00 or less
  • 75% of employees earn RUB 3,650,00 or less
  • 100% employees earn RUB 5,560,000 or less

Apart from global employers, international students can work with Russian companies like Gazprom, Rosneft, Lukoil, VTB bank, Rostec, Magnit, Systema, Rosetti, etc. If you wish to begin your career with a startup, here are some of the promising startups in Russia:

  • Crypterium: Founded in 2017, located in Tallinn (is a Cryptobank)
  • Endel: Founded 2018 (cross-platform audio ecosystem)
  • Humaniq: Founded 2016 (mobile bank)
  • Revolut: Founded in 2015, currently has 23 offices. (specializes in mobile banking, card payments, foreign exchange)
  • Compass pathways: Founded in 2016 is a mental health care company.

All these opportunities, cheaper education in comparison to other European Union countries like the UK, value for money, and education standards at par with European nations has helped Russia climb up the ladder of international education and study abroad destinations for students from across the world. Another factor that contributes to Indian students being attracted to study in Russia is value of Indian currency matching up to the Russian currency.