How to Study on Low Tuition in Russia: Application Process, Scholarships and Visa


If your desire is to study in a country where the tuition fees and cost of living is very low compared to other countries, then think Russia. Russian universities are ranked among the best in the world in the fields of Engineering, Medicine and Sciences. Tuition fees in the country is very low and affordable usually in the range of $3000 to $7000 per year.

Sleeping across two continents and occupying an incredible nine time zones (having gone down from 11 in 2010), Russia is the world’s largest country. In its massive boundaries lie some of the world’s most fascinating palaces, extensive plateaus, highest mountains, coldest cities, strongest alcoholic drinks, world class ballet companies, and fantastic pool of stacking dolls. Talking of culture, literature is one of the country’s most renowned and coveted displays; Russian authors such as Tolstoy, Bulgakov, Dostoyevsky and Nabokov are celebrated across the world for crafting some of the greatest works of the 19th and 20th centuries.

On top of that, universities in Russia charge cheap tuition fees for both local and international students.

As one of the fast-growing economies in the world, alongside the other BRICS countries, Russia is really bent on  internationalizing its tertiary offering, and is actively investing in developing its universities and providing support for international applicants.

Russia University Requirements

So majority of programs at Russian universities are taught in Russian. That means if you plan to study in Russia, it’s likely that you’ll have to learn and master the language first, and provide proof of language proficiency as part of the application.

Assuming you are not very confident with your Russian language skills just, it is heartwarming to know that some Russian universities offer one-year preparatory programs for international students, developed to help students to get up to the required standard very quickly. For those who have only a very limited knowledge of Russian, there’s also the option to undertake a program taught in the English language, which are offered at some Russian universities. Although some English-taught options may exist at undergraduate level, English-language master’s programs are much more common.

Depending on the institution and your academic background, Russian university requirements could go on to include an entrance exam and/or an interview. The Russian academic year typically runs from September to June, split into two semesters.

Russian student visas, scholarships and costs

Once you’ve been given admission to study in Russia, the university’s international department will place an application for a Russian student visa on your behalf. This typically takes between three and five weeks and costs roughly US$40. All visas are expected to be registered within seven business days after your arrival in Russia. This visa will cover your stay for three months only, so if you intend to study in Russia for more than 90 days you’ll have to apply for an extension once in the country. For a longer stay you’ll also be asked to provide the results of a medical examination and HIV test.

A set number of state scholarships are available for foreign students each year, covering tuition fees, accommodation and medical insurance. These payments are currently RUB 75,000 (~US$1,200) a month, and do not cover travel or personal expenses, which you will need at least an extra $50 a month for.

Please note that students without scholarships will require anywhere between US$6,000 and US$10,000 per year for fees and living costs, depending on the program and location. Also, tuition fees have increased recently in Russian universities, but are still very low compared to other international study destinations – depending on your course work, they are likely to be around US$3,900-7,700 a year.

Students are also eligible to obtain part-time work, with a valid work permit, either on-campus or elsewhere. Some students may be able to gain exemption from having to apply for a work permit, but this is not automatic.

You should also consider gaining health insurance before arriving in Russia, to ensure you’ll be able to access healthcare while you study on low tuition in this beautiful country.