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US Citizens and permanant residents are eligible to participate in the program and receive funding from the Flagship.
Students who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents are eligible to apply for the program, but they are not eligible to receive Flagship funding.
The Russian Flagship Program at IU began in 2018 and, as of fall 2023, there are 54 students enrolled in the program.
Students do not need to major in Russian to participate in the Russian Flagship program. Any student with any major is eligible to join the program, provided they enroll in Russian classes. Unlike the BA in Russian, Flagship students are not required to take literature and culture courses as part of the curriculum—only Russian language. Although most Flagship students do take a minor in Russian, and some also decide to double major in it, this is by no means a requirement.
There are no fees to join or participate in the Russian Flagship Program. Russian language courses for Flagship students cost the same per credit hour as standard IU classes. Additionally, students enjoy a number of free benefits, including weekly tutoring, regular official assessments of their language abilities, social and cultural events, and individualized mentoring and advising.
The Russian Flagship also is able to provide up to a lifetime cap of $20,000 for the study of the Russian language, both domestically and abroad.
For the most part, our students study in Kazakhstan, Armenia, Georgia, and Latvia. Although other destinations are possible, these sites are carefully vetted by American Councils, the organization which manages Flagship study abroad programs, as well as by IU’s Office of Education Abroad.
As a rule, these destinations must be at level 1 or 2 on the Department of State’s Travel Advisory list, or else they cannot be approved as a study abroad location. Kazakhstan, Georgia, and Latvia are at level one: “exercise normal precautions,” and Armenia is at level two: “exercise increased caution.” As a point of reference, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands are currently at level two, as well, meaning a summer in Yerevan is no more dangerous than one in Paris or London, and the State Department considers our other destinations even safer.
Most Russian Flagship students participate in one of the Advanced Russian Language & Area Studies Programs (RLASP) or the Critical Language Scholarship program, both of which are operated by American Councils.
If students want to receive Flagship support for summer study abroad, they must participate in an 8-week RLASP program in Almaty, Kazakhstan; Yerevan, Armenia; or Tbilisi, Georgia or in the UGA program in Riga, Latvia. These programs are run by American Councils and have been carefully vetted by the National Language Flagship in Washington D.C. Moreover, Almaty, Yerevan, and Riga have been approved as co-sponsored programs by Indiana University (full list of co-sponsored programs here). The IU Russian Flagship, the IU Office of Education Abroad, and American Councils place great emphasis on the safety and well-being of study abroad participants and each has established a set of measures to ensure the health and safety of participants.
You can read about the responsibilities of the IU Office of Education Abroad here, and below are the measures put in place by American Councils:
- American Councils enrolls all students in comprehensive overseas health, accident, and evacuation insurance through Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI) for the duration of the program. CISI provides medical coverage of up to $250,000 per accident or illness. Enrollment in the CISI plan also provides full coverage for emergency medical evacuation.
- Participants are registered at the U.S. Consulate through the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
- The American Councils Directors serve as a warden for the U.S. Embassy, in which capacity they receive all urgent communications from the U.S. Embassy. The American Councils Country Director is also a member of the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), through which the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Embassies, overseas businesses, and private security firms share information relevant to the health and safety of U.S. citizens abroad.
- All RLASP program participants must attend a mandatory pre-departure orientation in Washington, D.C. at the start of the program. This orientation will address health and safety, academic culture, host-family life, and culture shock. Students will also have a chance to meet and get to know their Resident Directors and fellow participants before departing.
- To read more about other safety and health measures you can visit American Councils’ Study Abroad.
In 2024, the Advanced Russian Language & Area Studies Program (RLASP) 8-week summer study abroad program cost is $8,750 and includes tuition and fees; academic credit through Bryn Mawr College; a single-entry visa; housing with a local host family (including 2 meals per day - breakfast and dinner); a multiple day pre-departure orientation in D.C.; an in-country orientation session; airport transportation; weekly excursions and cultural activities; health, accident, and evacuation insurance; in-country logistical support; and 24/7 emergency contact. Airfare is not included in the cost of the program.
In 2014, due to the deterioration of relations between the United States and Russia, the Russian Overseas Flagship Program moved from St. Petersburg, Russia to Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan is an appropriate choice given the country’s longstanding political stability and the widespread use of the Russian language (Russian is an official—and widely spoken—language in Kazakhstan along with Kazakh).
Kazakhstan is currently assigned a Level 1 travel advisory, which is the lowest threat level assessment issued by the Department of State. Kazakhstan is one of the region’s most stable countries with a long tradition of hospitality and intercultural tolerance. By way of comparison, the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands are listed at level 2, meaning the State Department considers travel in Kazakhstan safer than travel in parts of Europe.
Spending the Capstone Year in Kazakhstan perfectly demonstrates the wide and diverse applicability of the Russian language and allows students to experience what it’s like to live in a bi-lingual society and diplomatically navigate the political and cultural implications of Russia’s (and Russian’s) relationship with Central Asia.
During their 9-month Capstone Year, students live with Russian-speaking host families, attend intensive Russian language courses, and apply their Russian language skills in a professional internship.
The projected cost for the Capstone Year 2024-2025 is $25,998. This amount includes:
- home stay (room and board: 2 meals a day on weekdays and 3 meals a day on weekends)
- program fees
- administrative fees
- 3-day pre-departure orientation in D.C. (including meals, lodging, and airport transfers)
- an in-country orientation upon arrival to Almaty
- bi-weekly cultural excursions and events
- roundtrip airfare (hometown—D.C.—Almaty—hometown)
- accident and sickness insurance.
American Councils estimates that students should plan to spend up to $2,666 for additional expenses (not to be remitted to American Councils) such as extra checked baggage, books and supplies, local transportation, food/meals, mobile phones, and internet. This makes the estimated total cost of the 2024-2025 Capstone Year $28,664. This is roughly equal to the total cost of attendance for in-state, fulltime, undergraduate students at Indiana University for 2024-2025 (projected to be $28,900).
Most forms of financial aid can be applied to an IU-administered study abroad program. There are some financial aid exceptions for students on co-sponsored and non-IU programs. Students wishing to use financial aid for study abroad program must follow the procedures outlined by the Office of Overseas Studies and IU Financial Aid.
There are a number of scholarships available to help defer the cost of pre-capstone study abroad requirement and the Capstone Year abroad.
Every Flagship student in good standing is eligible for up to $20,000 in Flagship support and we offer exclusive scholarship workshops tailored to Russian Flagship students. Flagship students also have access to funding resources on campus, including free application reviews from National Scholarship advisors, and we regularly make announcements about funding information sessions as well as upcoming deadlines.
Additionally, Flagship staff provide training in writing applications for external grants, maximizing the chances our students have of securing additional funding to study abroad and domestically. This training also serves our students going forward as the skills they acquire can be used writing future grant applications, cover letters for jobs, and statements of purpose.
The summer break at IU typically lasts 15 weeks, which means that students will have time to take an 8-week language course with time leftover to spend with family and friends at home or on vacation.
It is imperative that students reach their language proficiency benchmarks and maintain the integrity of their language skills. Taking three months off from studying Russian could have a serious effect on a student’s language gains, which is why we strongly recommend enrolling in intensive summer language programs—especially at the early stages of language acquisition.
“On time” is a relative term and dependent on a number of individual factors, including the student’s academic plan.
The Russian Flagship program typically takes 4-5 years to complete depending on the student’s Russian language level at the time they enter the program as well as how quickly they reach their language benchmarks. The Capstone Year is the final year and students embark on this program only once they have completed all their domestic coursework for their major(s).
Generally speaking, participating in the Russian Flagship Program will only extend a student’s time as an undergrad to five years, which still remains well within the campus-wide average.
Per the United States government, Russian is a critical language. Critical languages are less commonly taught in U.S. schools but are crucial for national security and economic prosperity as well as essential to America’s positive engagement with the world.
Over 80 federal agencies rely on professionals with high-level competence in foreign languages, but the professional skills students gain while in the program are widely applicable and sought after in both the public and private sectors.
Thanks to the internship portion of the Capstone Year, Russian Flagship students graduate with practical experience using the Russian language in professional settings. Completing such a rigorous language program demonstrates commitment, tenacity, and one’s ability to succeed to future employers. Flagship students also stand out as skilled cultural experts that will develop into strong global leaders.
Some organizations that have hired Flagship graduates include:
- U.S. Department of Defense
- U.S. Department of State
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security
- The Intelligence Communities
- U.S. Department of Commerce
- U.S. Department of Treasury
- U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
- National Institutes of Health
- Dow Jones
- Google Inc.
- Ernst & Young
- Deloitte Consulting
- Goldman Sachs
- Students must complete their Indiana University undergraduate degree.
- Students must complete all Flagship requirements, including the Capstone year and pre-Capstone summer abroad.
- Students must achieve a score of level 3 in speaking and at least a 2+ in listening and reading on the Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) scale at the end of the Capstone year.