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RUSSIA - AIFS St. Petersburg

Study art history, history, political science, sociology, Russian language and more during a summer, semester or year abroad with AIFS in St. Petersburg, Russia.  AIFS makes it simple for you to live and study in St. Petersburg and experience all that this “Venice of the North” has to offer.


To be eligible to participate in this program, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Good academic and judicial standing during time of application AND time of participation in program
  • Undergraduates must have completed at least two semesters of study at Lake Forest College AND have second-semester sophomore status or higher before participation. (Transfer students may participate after the first semester on campus)  Junior status or higher is strongly preferred.
  • At least 18 years of age by the program’s departure date. 
  • Be able to stay at the host program for the duration of the semester, including through the exam and travel periods
  • Minimum GPA of 2.5.  

Winston Churchill described Russia as “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”.  The largest country in the world, its vast landscape preserves a unique history and cultural heritage that is still unfamiliar to much of the world.  Spend a summer, semester or academic year studying abroad with AIFS in Russia and see what you can discover about this intriguing nation. 

To learn more about the visa process for this country, please visit the Embassy of Russia. 


The St. Petersburg Polytechnic Institute was founded in 1899 by some of the most prominent Russian scientists of the day, including Dmitri Mendeleev who created the periodic table of elements. It was one of three polytechnic universities founded in the Russian Empire during a time of economic growth and became one of the major universities in Russia and the former Soviet Union. It was raised to the status of state technical university in 1990 in recognition of its importance. The University is home to more than 20,000 students and 2,000 professors, lecturers, and instructors including a Nobel Prize winner.

This program is designed for students wishing to begin or enhance their skills in the Russian language while taking elective courses taught in English in subjects including art history, history, literature, political science, religion, sociology and more. The Russian language course meets for 12 hours per week for 14 weeks for a recommended 9-semester credits. The language course is taught in the target language Russian and is available from beginner through to advanced level. Language level is determined by a placement test on arrival. The results of the test determine the appropriate language level.

Though letter grades will appear on the Lake Forest transcript, they will not factor into a student’s GPA except in calculations of honors or the Dean’s List. 

The AIFS St. Petersburg program uses the US semester credit system, in which 1 credit = 42-45 in-class hours, and 2 hours of out-of-class work per credit hour.

To Earn 4 Lake Forest credits, students must take 15-16 US semester credits.

To Earn 3 Lake Forest credits, students must take 12 US semester credits.

The number of credits listed here is estimated, and GEO will work with you, your advisor, and the registrar to ensure you are earning enough credits to keep you on track for graduation.

More information on courses can be found on the AIFS website.

Academic Environment and Teaching Style

The academic program is organized by the Russian Language Center at the Preparatory Department for Foreign Students, one mile from the main campus. This department trains students from all over the world who wish to enter higher education at Russian universities and is highly regarded for excellent teaching of Russian as a foreign language. 

Grades are based heavily on one end-of-term exam. Class sizes are often much larger and are usually lecture-based, instead of discussion or group work. Professors are often more formal than those in the United States. 

Student Life

In addition to day trips and excursions, a cultural calendar of weekly activities and social events is included in your program fee. These activities will include both typical tourist sites and attractions and lesser-known visits which take advantage of the expert knowledge of our local AIFS staff and give you a more authentic and insightful view of Russian life. Typical activities, tours, and visits include:

  • Guided city tour including Peter and Paul Fortress, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, Smolny Cathedral and Neva Embankment with a view of the Hermitage
  • The Russian, Dostoevsky, Political History and Hermitage Museums
  • Yusupov Palace
  • A classical concert at Philharmonic Hall
  • Ballet at the Mariinsky Theater
  • Opera at the Mikhailovsky Theater
  • Siege of Leningrad tour
  • Ice skating
  • A boat trip along St. Petersburg’s rivers and canals

AIFS students have also joined local sports teams (including American football, basketball, and soccer) during their semester abroad which has helped them to integrate with the local community.

You may be asked to pay a small supplementary fee for some events.

  Experiential Opportunities

AIFS can assist you if you are looking for volunteer opportunities while in St. Petersburg. Past placements have included assisting at the Hermitage Museum, as an English teacher’s assistant, working with horses and helping at an orphanage, all of which students have enjoyed.

There are more opportunities out there, just tell AIFS what you are interested in and they will endeavor to make it happen. Placements are made after arrival.

Housing and Meals

During the first month in St. Petersburg all students live in the student residence hall in order to help you make the adjustment to the Russian way of life. After the first month, you can then choose to stay in the residence hall or to live in a homestay.

Student Residence Hall

The comfortable student residence hall is occupied by both Russian and international students at the University and staying here is a great way to make new friends. You will stay in a two room suite (two students per room, four students per suite) with a kitchenette (hot plate, microwave, and refrigerator) and bathroom in each suite. From here it’s a 10-minute walk to the nearest Metro stop and then a 25-minute ride to the city.


Living in a Russian homestay is a great way to become integrated into the culture of the country and learn Russian. Students are typically placed on their own but a shared room with another AIFS student may be available on request. Homestays are limited and subject to availability and we recommend that you sign up for this option when you apply to stand the best chance of being allocated a homestay.

Meals are not provided in the residence hall or in the homestays. You will be given a meal allowance to subsidize the cost of meals. The allowance is worth approximately $800 which students find a great help when managing their living costs in St. Petersburg. The meal allowance is intended for use in local cafés and the University caféteria or to purchase food to cook meals in the student residence or homestay. 

Financial Information

For all approved programs for guaranteed financial aid transferability, students pay their Lake Forest College tuition plus a program fee.  The program fee for the AIFS St. Petersburg program includes orientation, London pre- and post-program, on-site director, university fees, housing, volunteer placement, conversation partner program, a one-month travel pass, several excursions, and insurance.  A stipend is provided to help cover the cost of some meals.

Here is an estimated budget for the Fall 2018/Spring 2019 programs:

Budget Item


Lake Forest College Tuition


Program fee (estimated)

Note: Spring may have added cost


Total Expected Billed by Lake Forest College




Estimated Airfare


Estimated Personal Expenses (passport, visas, immunizations, textbooks, supplies, personal expenses, additional national insurance if required, travel insurance, additional travel etc.)


Total Expected Out-of-Pocket Expenses




Tuition rates and program fees are subject to change each year, but this information was up-to-date as of March 2019. We will notify applicants, and update this page if the program fee or other estimates change.

You can discuss with Financial Aid your specific aid package and your expected family contribution.

Deposits to other programs, if required, are paid by the student to the host program, and will appear as a credit on your study abroad term bill from the College.

Keep in mind that you may spend more or less in certain areas like personal expenses, travel, meals, or airfare, depending on exchange rates and your own spending habits. Classroom or lab fees are not included in this estimate and will depend on your course registration choices.  

Don’t forget to apply for scholarships! A great listing can be found here.  

  • Contact:

    For Questions About the Initial Application Process:

    Alexandra Olson
    Coordinator of the Global Engagement Office