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The Russian Flagship Program at IU launched in October 2018. As of July 2022, there are 51 students enrolled in the program.
Students do not need to major in Russian to participate in the Russian Flagship program. The beauty of the program is its flexibility—any student with any major can join the program. Unlike the BA in Russian, Flagship students are not required to take literature and culture courses as part of the program curriculum. However, most Flagship students take a minor in Russian, and some decide to double major in Russian.
There are no fees to join or participate in the IU Russian Flagship program. Russian language courses for Flagship students cost the same amount per credit hour as regular IU classes. Russian Flagship students enjoy a number of free benefits including weekly tutoring, official language assessments, social and cultural events, and individualized mentoring and advising.
Our students study abroad in Kazakhstan, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan. Before our students go abroad, all destinations are carefully vetoed by American Councils, the organization which manages Flagship study abroad programs, and by Indiana University’s Office of Overseas Study. As a general rule, overseas destinations must be ranked a Level 1 or Level 2 by the U.S. State Department in order to be approved by study abroad programs and universities.
Level 2 might sound concerning at first, but what it really means is “Exercise Increased Caution.” Some of the other countries that are currently listed at Level 2 are China, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Now with the eruption of the Ukraine crisis, we can expect more and prolonged restrictions on travel.
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 the 8-week RLASP program in Almaty, Kazakhstan run by American Councils. This program (located at the Al-Farabi Kazakh National University) has been carefully vetted by the National Language Flagship in Washington D.C. and has been approved as a co-sponsored program by Indiana University’s Overseas Study Advisory Council. The IU Russian Flagship, the IU Office of Overseas Study (OVST), 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 Overseas study here, and below are the measures put in place by American Councils:
- American Councils will enroll 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.
- RLASP participants are registered at the U.S. Consulate in Almaty through the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
- The American Councils Kazakhstan Country Director serves 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 for Almaty.
- To read more about other safety and health measures you can visit American Councils’ Study Abroad.
The 2022 Advanced Russian Language & Area Studies Program (RLASP) 8-week summer study abroad program cost was $8,750 and included tuition and fees; academic credit through Bryn Mawr College; 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. Note: Airfare is not included in the program cost.
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 seemed like the most suitable choice given the country’s political stability and the widespread use of the Russian language (Russian is an official language in Kazakhstan along with Kazakh).
Kazakhstan is currently assigned a Level 2 travel advisory issued by the State Department in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and civil unrest that hit the country in the winter of 2022 due to the rising fuel prices. While Level 2 might sound concerning, Kazakhstan remains one of the region’s stable countries with a long tradition of hospitality and intercultural tolerance. By way of comparison, the United Kingdom, Germany, Israel, Spain, the Netherlands are also listed at Level 2.
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 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 2022-2023 is $25,998. This amount includes:
- home stay lodging (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 estimated 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 (the first checked bag is free), books and supplies, local transportation, food/meals, mobile phones, and internet. This makes the estimated total cost of the 2022-2023 Capstone Year $28,664.
The total cost of attendance for the Capstone Year abroad is roughly equal to the total cost of attendance for in-state, fulltime, undergraduate students at Indiana University for 2022-2023; and $26,464 less than the total cost of attendance for nonresident, fulltime, undergraduate students at Indiana University for 2022-2023.
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.
According to the Office of Overseas Study, Indiana University students accessed more than $14 million in loans, grants and scholarships to study abroad in 2020-2021.
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 for 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.Learn more about funding
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 recommend enrolling in intensive summer language programs—especially at the early stages.
When pursuing academic degrees and professional level language proficiency, “on-time” is a relative term and dependent upon a number of individual factors, including whether or not the student is pursuing a double-major or double-minor.
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 of 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 by one year (if “on-time” means a four-year graduation date).
The most recent data collected by Indiana University shows that the 2012 cohort of fulltime IU Bloomington undergraduate students had a four-year graduation rate of 64% and a six-year graduation rate of 78%. This means that Flagship students graduating in five years puts them well within the campus wide average.
A: Russian has been designated one of 15 critical languages by the United States government. 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 will graduate with practical experience using the Russian language in professional settings. Also, 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(s).
- Students must complete all Flagship requirements including the Capstone Year abroad.
- Students must achieve a level 3 in Speaking and at least a level 2+ in Listening and Reading at the end of the Capstone Year program. (The Language Flagship uses the Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) scale to measure proficiency).