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AC Language & Area Studies Program

Fast Facts

Sessions Offered:

Fall, Spring, Summer, Academic Year


Moscow, St. Petersburg, or Vladimir, Russia




Summer: Two years of college-level Russian

Application Due:

Summer: 3/15
Fall/Academic Year: 3/15
Spring: 9/27

Program Cost:

Click the Application tab.

The Russian Language and Area Studies Program of the American Councils (AC) is designed to improve students’ oral, listening, reading, and writing proficiency in Russian language and to develop their knowledge of Russian history, politics, culture, and society. The program is offered at one of three locations: St. Petersburg, Moscow, or Vladimir, with the final placement to be determined by AC. UI participants join a group of students from other U.S. colleges and universities. A full-time U.S. resident director provides ongoing logistical support and emergency assistance to participants. The program is open to both graduate and undergraduate students.

Academic Program

For academic guidance, students should consult instructors and advisors in the UI Department of Asian and Slavic Languages and Literatures. Coursework from the Russian Language and Area Studies Program is applied towards specific UI major requirements according to outstanding requirements. UI students earn resident credit on this program.


This is an eight-week, intensive language-immersion program. Excursions to local sights of social, cultural, or historic significance take place weekly and are conducted in Russian. Two years of college-level Russian are required. Students earn 8 s.h. of language credit reported as two intensive courses: conversation and grammar.


The program is offered for the semester or the academic year. The program entails twenty hours per week of in-class instruction in Russian grammar, phonetics, conversation, and cultural studies, with one day per week set aside for local cultural excursions. Peer tutoring, internships, community service, and a broad range of extracurricular activities offer students the opportunity to connect with Russian friends and actively engage in Russian daily life.

Cultural Activities

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, theatres, and historical estates.

Towards the middle of the semester, resident directors arrange a week-long regional field studies trip outside of the host city. For summer participants, these regional field studies take place at the end of their program. RLASP groups in Russia have visited sites such as Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Rostov-na-Donu, Samara, Sochi, Suzdal, Volgograd, and Yaroslavl. RLASP groups in Almaty have visited sites such as Nur-Sultan, Borovoye, and Shymkent..

Program Dates

Note: This program is not running during the 2023 calendar year.

Spring Semester: Late January - Early May

Fall Semester: Late August - Mid-December

Academic Year: Late August - Early May

Summer: Early June - Early August

For more information

Steps to Studying Abroad

  1. Before initiating an application with American Councils, students must complete a Discover Study Abroad session at the University of Iowa. 
  2. After completing the Discover Abroad session, students must call the Study Abroad office at 319-335-0353 to be assigned to the appropriate study abroad advisor.
  3. Once assigned, students must meet with their study abroad advisor to receive program application instructions.

Study Abroad
1111 University Capitol Centre
Iowa City, IA 52242

Phone: 319-335-0353

Moscow International

The Moscow International University serves as the host institution for RLASP participants in Moscow. Founded by G. A. Yagodin, Minister of Education under Mikhail Gorbachev, Moscow International is the first accredited private university in the post-Soviet Russian Federation. It specializes in the teaching of foreign languages, economics, finance, management, ecology, and sociology. American Councils places students in the university's Department of Russian as a Foreign Language.


Moscow, once draped in Soviet symbols, has readily adopted the trappings of capitalism and is now replete with neon billboards and shopping malls. Decidedly the center of political and economic power, the capital now rivals St. Petersburg in culture and the arts.

Russian State Pedagogical University

The Russian State Pedagogical (Gertsen) University serves as the host institution to RLASP participants in St. Petersburg. Located just behind the Kazan Cathedral in downtown St. Petersburg, the Gertsen University is one of the leading educational institutions in all of Russia. American Councils places students in the Department of Russian as a Foreign Language.

St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg, Russia's most western city, is a monument to the country's past imperial grandeur. A work of art in and of itself, St. Petersburg remains the center of Russia's artistic life.

KORA Center for Russian Language Study

The KORA Center for Russian Language Study hosts RLASP participants in Vladimir. Founded in 1991 by faculty from the Vladimir State University, the KORA Center for Russian Language Study has hosted American Councils students since the summer of 2000. All KORA faculty members are specially trained in the instruction of Russian as a foreign language and many have extensive teaching experience in the West.


Though they city lies just 200 kilometers from Moscow, the pace of life in Vladimir is leisurely. Residents of Vladimir have more time to spend with friends and family, and this is reflected in their warm hospitality. Vladimir has a population of 360,000 and is a regional capital, yet it retains its small-town charm; one of Russia's oldest cities, Vladimir is part of the historic "Golden Ring."


Russia is a country that stretches over a vast expanse of eastern Europe and northern Asia. Once the preeminent republic of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.; commonly known as the Soviet Union), Russia became an independent country after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991.

Russia is a land of superlatives. By far the world’s largest country, it covers nearly twice the territory of Canada, the second largest. It extends across the whole of northern Asia and the eastern third of Europe, spanning 11 time zones and incorporating a great range of environments and landforms, from deserts to semiarid steppes to deep forests and Arctic tundra. Russia contains Europe’s longest river, the Volga, and its largest lake, Ladoga. Russia also is home to the world’s deepest lake, Baikal, and the country recorded the world’s lowest temperature outside the North and South poles.

The inhabitants of Russia are quite diverse. Most are ethnic Russians, but there also are more than 120 other ethnic groups present, speaking many languages and following disparate religious and cultural traditions. Most of the Russian population is concentrated in the European portion of the country, especially in the fertile region surrounding Moscow, the capital. Moscow and St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad) are the two most important cultural and financial centers in Russia and are among the most picturesque cities in the world. Russians are also populous in Asia, however; beginning in the 17th century, and particularly pronounced throughout much of the 20th century, a steady flow of ethnic Russians and Russian-speaking people moved eastward into Siberia, where cities such as Vladivostok and Irkutsk now flourish.

US Department of State Country Information

The US Department of State provides safety and security information for every country of the world to help you assess for yourself the risks of travel. Each country information page contains a Travel Advisory, Alerts, and other important details specific to that country that could affect you.

Pay close attention to the entry and exit requirements, local laws and customs, health conditions, and other details to help decide whether traveling to any given country is right for you. Non-US citizen travelers may also wish to seek guidance from the embassy of their country of citizenship. The UI International Travel Policy for Students addresses restrictions on student travel to high-risk locations and engagement in high-risk activities abroad.

Living Arrangements

Program participants may 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 still 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. Students may change their housing arrangements during the program, although these adjustments require some time to be completed.


US Citizens

If you do not have a passport, it is important that you apply for one as soon as possible to ensure you receive it before the program begins. US citizens can find more information about how to apply for a passport on the US Department of State’s website.

Important notice for students without a valid passport or whose passport will expire within the next 12 months:

US citizens can find more information about how to renew a passport on the US Department of State’s website.

Students without a valid passport should apply for a new passport or a passport renewal as early as possible.

Students with a valid passport should check the expiration date. Passports must be valid for at least 6 months AFTER the anticipated return to the US from studying abroad. If your passport is not valid for at least 6 months after your anticipated date of return to the US, you must renew your passport before applying for the visa you will need to enter your host country.

Expedited processing service is available for US passports (although this still takes several weeks and is at an additional cost). UI Study Abroad encourages students to ask the passport agency at the time of application whether expedited service is recommended.

Non-US Citizens

Students who are not US citizens should contact their consulate for more information if they need to get a new passport or renew their passport.

Travel Arrangements

Students will work with their program provider to make travel arrangements to their program site. The cost of travel is not included in the course fee. UI Study Abroad will not arrange a group flight to your study abroad destination.

Do not purchase plane tickets until you have received instructions on how to do so from your program provider.

Local Transportation

Within your host city and around the country, students will utilize public transportation such as buses and trains. Excursions and general travel require a lot of walking, so bring some comfortable shoes!


This program is open to all UI students who are in both good academic and also disciplinary standing. Applicants must also meet the minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5.

Four semesters of college-level Russian.

It is the UI Study Abroad office's policy that all students who study abroad must be in both good academic standing and also good disciplinary standing. Students who, even after being accepted into a program, are put on either academic and/or disciplinary probation for any period of time overlapping with the study abroad program dates are ineligible to study abroad.

In these cases, students must forfeit their acceptance and will NOT be allowed to study abroad. Any student who must forfeit their acceptance and/or attendance on a study abroad program due to a probationary status is wholly responsible for any and all financial expenses incurred.


There is a $50 UI non-refundable application fee. Students will pay the AC program fee, Study Abroad administrative fees, and will be enrolled in Iowa Regents international health insurance.

The program fee includes tuition and fees, housing, and on-site support services as well as pre-departure services. Expected additional costs include but are not limited to: meals, local transportation, airfare, personal expenses, visa fees, and textbooks.

Program Cost Sheet

Cost Sheets (for an estimated cost of attendance)

The UI cost sheet for this program is forthcoming. General cost information can be found on AC’s webpage.

The program cost sheet outlines the total estimated costs associated with participating in this program and can be used for financial aid purposes. Cost sheets include fees charged on students’ U-Bills, as well as out-of-pocket expenses. Actual out-of-pocket expenses will vary from individual to individual. Housing charges may vary, depending on options chosen. Quoted estimates are conservatively high, yet realistic.

The cost sheet includes the Study Abroad Administrative Fee and Mandatory Iowa Regents CISI Travel Insurance. Please see the respective web sites for further details. If the fee is inclusive of UI tuition, it is calculated by Current Tuition. Please contact your study abroad advisor with questions regarding this cost sheet – call 319-335-0353 to schedule an appointment.

Consult with your Study Abroad advisor for any clarification about fees and billing. Note that when you withdraw from a program, any money already paid directly to a program provider and/or a host university will potentially be forfeited. Check with your specific provider/host university for details. Additional penalties for cancellation of airline tickets may also apply. Check with your airline for further details.

Optional fees vary by session, and will be available shortly before the upcoming session.

Personal Travel Costs

Costs for personal travel are not included in the cost estimates provided on the cost sheet. If you plan to travel outside of your host city or country during or after your study abroad program, you will need to budget for additional funds to cover the cost of your personal travel.

The cost of personal travel depends entirely on each student’s individual travel plans and spending habits. Estimates for personal travel costs provided by past students on this program vary significantly from $1,500 to as much as $9,000 or more per session.

More Information about Optional Additional Costs

Costs charged to the U-Bill

  • Application Fee (charged at the time of application, before financial aid/scholarships disburse)
  • Course Fee- Including the program course fee, housing, some excursions, CEA health insurance (charged shortly before departure)
  • Study Abroad Fees (charged shortly before departure)
  • CISI Health Insurance (charged shortly before departure)

Out-of-pocket costs (not charged to U-Bill)

How to Apply

Note: This program is not running during the 2023 calendar year.


  • You will be working with both UI and AC directly. Please follow instructions from both. Following your acceptance, you will receive information and further instructions from AC. Later, your UI Study Abroad advisor will contact you regarding orientation sessions, registration, and other required UI procedures and documentation.
  • You will need to provide scans of the picture page of your passport to both UI and AC. If you do not have a valid passport at the time you apply to study abroad, provide the scans as soon as you receive your passport.
  • You will be billed on your U-Bill for your program fee, administrative fees, and Iowa Regents health insurance.

Application Deadline

Spring: September 27

Fall/Academic Year: March 15

Summer: March 15

Acceptance and Confirmation Materials

Coming soon.

Health & Safety Planning

In addition to submitting their Confirmation of Participation form, students should review the following:

Prepare for Departure

Iowa Regents CISI Health Insurance Information

Students are also encouraged to complete the PDFHealth Preparation Guide for International Travel form with their medical practitioner. This document is intended to help you plan for your medical needs abroad. Please DO NOT turn this form in to UI Study Abroad.

Scholarships & Financial Aid

For more information about receiving financial aid while studying abroad, please review the following:UI Financial Aid Information

You can find more information about options for funding your study abroad experience including scholarships on Undergraduate Scholarships for Study Abroad.

In addition, take a look at American Councils Scholarship website for information about scholarships offered directly through your program provider.


U.S. passport holders should follow the Visa batch process instructions provided by AC. Make sure to submit all required documents by the submission deadline. Otherwise you will have to apply for your student visa independently.

U.S. Citizens will need a student visa if they are going abroad for a semester, or academic year. Typically, they will not need a visa for the summer sessions.

Non-US Citizens- should refer to the Russian Visa website for more information on Russian visa requirements.

UI Study Abroad will hold advising appointments and/or information sessions to provide details on the visa application process. UI Study Abroad staff can provide some assistance on the Russian visa application process, but ultimately the individual traveler (the student) is the person who is responsible for providing correct information on the visa application and securing the visa and all other required documentation prior to travel.

Prior to starting the visa application process check in with AC for more information; they have a preferred timeline that students need to follow.


In order to prepare for your time abroad, you are required by the University of Iowa to complete two orientations. These may be in addition to orientations provided by your on-site provider. See below for more information.

Online Education Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation

You are required to complete the International Programs ICON course "Education Abroad Pre-Departure Orientation" prior to departure. This orientation is mandatory for all students going abroad under the auspices of the University of Iowa. It covers many practical matters about living overseas, such as health and safety, communication, money, goals, and much more. You will be enrolled in this course by International Programs and an email will be sent to you once enrolled. If you have any questions, you can email

Program-Specific Orientation

This orientation will be facilitated by your study abroad advisor and will cover content specific to your program and host country. It could be conducted in a group setting or one-on-one depending on your type of planned activity abroad. Your study abroad advisor will send you more information about this mandatory in-person session.

All AC participants attend a pre-departure orientation in Washington, D.C. at the start of their program. Orientation sessions address health and safety, Russian academic culture, host family life, culture shock, strategies to maximize language gain, and key survival phrases in Russian. Participants have a chance to meet and get to know their resident directors, fellow participants, and AC alumni during the two-day program. Students are housed in three-person rooms in a downtown hotel—a short walk from the American Councils Washington office. Participants depart for Russia from Washington, D.C. at the end of the orientation. Lodging and meals are provided.

Predeparture Resources

AC will provide you with a variety of pre-departure resources to prepare you for your study abroad experience. These will include a packing list, cultural information, housing instructions, etc. Ensure that you thoroughly review any information provided to you by AC and refer back to it if you have any questions.

These materials may be periodically updated to reflect new program information prior to departure. Be sure to check your AC Account often.

There are no photos available for this program yet. Do you have any photos to share with us? If you do, please contact us at:

1111 University Capitol Centre
The University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1802

Phone: (319) 335-0353
Fax: (319) 335-0343