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 21 universities in Russia featured within the QS World University Rankings® 2014/15, five of which are placed among the top 400 universities worldwide. Russia also boasts a substantial presence in the QS University Rankings: BRICS 2014, a ranking of the leading universities in the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), with 53 Russian universities making the BRICS top 200.
Over the past decade or so, higher education in Russia has undergone significant change, with 390 billion roubles (~US$6.5 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 the majority of other countries across Europe, and meaning that many universities in Russia now offer a choice between a four-year bachelor’s degree and a five-year specialist degree.
Lomonosov Moscow State University
Lomonosov Moscow State University, or Lomonosov MSU for short, is Russia’s highest ranked institution, placed 114th in the world in the QS World University Rankings® 2014/15. Lomonosov Moscow State University has a current enrollment of 38,200 students, of which just over 22,500 are undergraduates and 3,900 are international students. Faculty 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.
In the QS World University Rankings by Faculty, Lomonosov MSU ranks consistently well across all five areas covered, but is especially notable for its strong performance in natural sciences (34= in the world) and arts and humanities (92= in the world). 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 5km 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.
Saint Petersburg State University
Second in the leaderboard of top Russian universities, Saint Petersburg State University, the oldest and one of the most prestigious universities in the country, is currently ranked at 233rd in the world. Founded by Peter the Great in 1724, Saint Petersburg State University has a student population of just over 32,000, 5,566 of which are studying at graduate level.
Spread throughout the city of Saint Petersburg in over 400 buildings hosting 25 faculties, Saint Petersburg State University provides students with open access to the city’s great array of museums, monuments and arts venues. Vasilievsky Island (in the historic city center) and Peterhof (a southwestern suburb) are where the university’s main two campuses can be found.
Bauman Moscow State Technical University
Second only to Lomonosov MSU in the list of leading universities in Moscow, Bauman Moscow State Technical University is ranked joint 322nd in the world. One of the oldest technical universities in Russia, Bauman Moscow State Technical University focuses on the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) but also offers a number of humanities programs. There are currently over 19,000 students studying at Bauman Moscow State Technical University, at facilities spread across Moscow, in the nearby suburbs and in the nearby city of Kaluga. The university is also experienced in teaching hearing-impaired students.
Novosibirsk State University
The best-performing Russian university under 100 years old, Novosibirsk State University was established in 1958 and is now currently ranked joint 328th in the world. Famed for its rapid rise in reputation, Novosibirsk State University has a relatively small student base (6,500). 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.
Also featured within the top 500 of the QS World University Rankings 2014/15 are: Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO University, 399= in the world) Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT, 411-420) People's Friendship University of Russia (471-480), National Research Nuclear University "MEPhI" (Moscow Engineering Physics Institute, 481-490), St. Petersburg State Polytechnical University (481-490) and Tomsk State University (491-500).
For a full list of all 21 universities in Russia currently featured in the international rankings, visit this page.
See how universities in Russia compare within the BRICS countries >