Sprawling across two continents and spanning an incredible nine time zones (having cut down from 11 in 2010), Russia is the largest country in the world by far. Within its vast boundaries lie some of the planet’s most luxurious palaces, extensive plateaus, highest mountains, coldest cities, strongest spirits, best ballet companies, and largest collections of stacking dolls. In terms of culture, literature is one of the country’s most notable displays; Russian authors such as Tolstoy, Bulgakov, Dostoyevsky and Nabokov are celebrated worldwide for creating some of the greatest works of the 19th and 20th centuries.

One of the fast-growing economies in the world, alongside the other BRICS countries, Russia is keen to internationalize its higher education system, and is investing in developing its universities and extending support for international applicants. Considering whether to study in Russia? Read on for our guide to Russian universities, cities, applications and study costs…

Universities in Russia

There are 24 universities in Russia featured within the QS World University Rankings® 2018, 10 of which are placed among the top 400 universities worldwide. Russia also boasts a substantial presence in the QS EECA University Rankings, a ranking of the 300 leading universities in emerging Europe and central Asia, with a whopping 95 Russian universities currently featured. Over the past decade or so, higher education in Russia has undergone significant change, with 390 billion rubles (~US$6.7 billion) allocated between 2011 and 2015 for upgrading facilities and technical equipment at Russian universities, and improving training for teaching staff.

Additionally, in 2003, Russia signed up to the Bologna Process, pledging to bring its system in line with most other countries across Europe. This means many universities in Russia now offer a choice between a four-year bachelor’s degree and a five-year specialist degree. Russia’s higher education system was ranked 26th in the world, in the first edition of the QS Higher Education System Strength Rankings.

Lomonosov Moscow State University (Lomonosov MSU) is Russia’s highest-ranked institution, topping the table of the QS EECA University Rankings for the third year in a row. Lomonosov Moscow State University has a current enrolment of 47,000 students, of which 7,000 are undergraduates and 4,000 are international. Academic areas at Lomonosov Moscow State University are wide-ranging, with a total of 380 departments, 39 faculties, 15 research institutes, four museums and six branch campuses in Russia and abroad.  The frontrunner among universities in Moscow, Lomonosov Moscow State University offers a campus which is not only close to the rich culture of Russia’s capital city (less than five kilometers from the center) but is also one of the grandest campuses you’ll ever come across, with the main building claiming the title of the tallest educational building in the world.

Novosibirsk State University

The best-performing Russian university under 100 years old, Novosibirsk State University was established in 1959 and is ranked second in the EECA rankings. Famed for its rapid rise in reputation, Novosibirsk State University has a fairly small student community (6,000). It’s located just outside of the city of Novosibirsk, Russia’s third most populous city after Moscow and Saint Petersburg. While less internationally known than these two, Novosibirsk boasts thriving cultural and nightlife scenes, making it another attractive option for prospective students.

Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology State University (MIPT)

Ranked 13th in the 2018 EECA rankings, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology State University (MIPT) was founded in 1946 and has a unique education system in which students commonly conduct their research outside the university. MIPT is ranked highly in the subject ranking for physics and astronomy as well as for the broad subject area of natural sciences. It has a current student enrolment of almost 5,700, and its alumni include many notable scientists, physicists and politicians.