Russian Area Studies


To truly gain a window into Russian culture, the Russian Area Studies department strongly promotes study abroad in the Russian Federation. We offer two regular opportunities:

  • The Russian Study Tour, a trip during winter break each year. This is an independent program and is publicized each fall to the entire student body.
  • A reciprocal student exchange for the fall semester or academic year with Altai State Pedagogical University in Barnaul, Russia.

HWS Study Abroad in Barnaul, Russia

Barnaul was founded in 1730 for its proximity to the mineral-rich Altai Mountains and its location on the Ob river. It is the capital of Altai Krai. In addition to copper, substantial deposits of silver were discovered and by 1747, the city became the major silver center of Russia. By the 1900s Barnaul had grown into a major center of trade and culture, especially after the construction of the Turkestan-Siberia Railway. Today a city of more than 650,000, Barnaul is extremely diverse ethnically and has a well-educated population who embrace opportunities for economic development and international cooperation. The city boasts six universities and institutions of higher learning, providing many social and cultural opportunities for young people. Visitors to the city will find an excellent system of public transportation and a vibrant nightlife with accessible museums, art galleries, theatres and concert halls. Barnaul is the gateway to Western Siberia, surrounded by pine forests, hiking trails, the Altai Mountains, ski lodges and tourist complexes.

The Program
Hobart and William Smith Colleges have a partnership with the Altai State Pedagogical University (ASPU) and its Linguistic Institute. This is a reciprocal exchange program and both ASPU and HWS students will benefit from the opportunity to meet one another at their home campuses before undertaking the semester abroad. The international curriculum is hosted by the Linguistic Institute, where HWS students will study alongside Russian and other international students. This program emphasizes language skills and an understanding of the rich cultural heritage of Russia and the former Soviet Union. Students will earn two HWS credits in Russian language at their appropriate level and may choose two electives taught in English or Russian in disciplines such as anthropology, politics, international relations, economics, environmental studies, English literature and history. Students also have the option of doing a service learning placement.

Students will take a full-semester academic course load with a focus on Russian language, culture and society. All students will take an intensive Russian language class at their appropriate level for which they will earn two HWS course credits. Students will also select a Russian language elective and, if desired, an English language elective. There are opportunities for fieldwork in some areas (such as archaeology and environmental studies) and for service learning, both on a credit and a non-credit basis.

Academic Focus 
This program is suited for students with a major or minor in Russian Area Studies, those who desire to improve their Russian language skills, and students interested in development, social change, international relations, anthropology and folklore.

This program is open to all juniors and seniors in good academic and social standing with a minimum GPA of 3.0. In addition, applicants must have completed two years of college-level Russian or the equivalent with a GPA of 3.0. Three years of college-level Russian study are recommended for those who are interested in service-learning as part of their Russian experience. Due to the challenging nature of study abroad, student academic and disciplinary records will be carefully screened.

Students live with a Russian host family, an experience that will provide unique insight into Russian life. The homestay will serve to enhance the student’s linguistic skills and to facilitate immersion in the local culture.

All students will participate in a two-day orientation program in Moscow that will include a variety of cultural activities and local tours. Once students arrive in Barnaul, ASPU staff will organize visits to sites of local and regional interest. Excursion destinations may include the Altai Mountains, Novosibirsk, Biysk, Chemal and other sites.



At HWS, students have the freedom to study at any of our Global Education destinations.

The featured abroad programs are recommended by the Russian Area Studies department based on content of the curricula.


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