St. Petersburg, Russia

The St. Petersburg program is unique in allowing our students virtually unlimited access to the Hermitage Museum with its collection of Western art that is rivaled only by such famous sites as the British Museum or the Louvre. Our students are granted equally unrestricted access to the Russian Museum, a treasure-trove of Russian art ranging from medieval icons to Malevich and beyond. Classes are held under the tutelage of Hermitage curators and professors of the city's European University. Conditions for our students are truly exceptional, with classes at the Hermitage taking place when the museum is closed to the general public. Vassar students can also visit the museum's storage facilities and examine parts of its enormous collection that are not exhibited on a regular basis or not exhibited at all. The program offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity both for Russian majors and students interested in art history.

Explore treasures of art and culture in one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. Classes in the Hermitage, Russian Museum, European University No prior knowledge of Russian required

This innovative one-semester-long study abroad program is designed to take advantage of the fabulously rich collections of art held in the museums of St. Petersburg. No previous knowledge of Russian language is required. Though designed primarily for Vassar Office of International Programs students, the program is also open to seniors, undergraduate students from other institutions as well as to graduate and special students. The program will be offered every fall semester.

Each student will register for four courses: two art history courses, a culture survey course, and a Russian language course appropriate to his/her level. Courses on art and culture will be taught in English and offered through the city's European University. Several of the designated faculty are simultaneously curators at the Hermitage Museum.

Program courses run from early September through mid-December. The program's vacation schedule coincides with that at Vassar College.

Art History

175a. The Hermitage Collection Through History – A survey of the major collections of the Hermitage Museum's paintings and prints, presented in the context of the history of their acquisition, exhibition, and appreciation. Given in English. Three hours of lectures per week, plus extensive viewing of art in the Hermitage Museum. Art History majors see 275a.

176a. Icons to Avant-Garde: Russian Art – A historical survey, based on the exhibits of Russian art in several museums of St. Petersburg. Given in English. Three hours of lectures per week, plus extensive viewing of art in the Russian Museum. Art History majors see 276a.

275a. [Option] – (Same lectures as 175) Available to students who have taken Art 105-106 at Vassar College or the equivalent elsewhere, and who wish to undertake an individualized research project in addition to regular coursework. May be counted toward Art History major requirement.

276a. [Option] – (Same lectures as 176) Available to advanced students who wish to undertake an individualized research project in addition to regular coursework. May be counted toward Art History major requirement.

Culture Survey

166a. Facets of Russian Culture 
Selected aspects of Russian culture presented in a historical context. Study of architectural, literary, musical, theatrical, and other notable expressions of Russia's creative spirit. Given in English. Three hours per week, plus excursions.

Russian Language Study

Elementary, Intermediate, or Advanced Russian 
Four to five hours of instruction per week, plus oral practice. All students are required to study Russian language at the appropriate level.

Course Credit

Students participating in the program will earn four Vassar credits, all of which can be counted toward their Russian Studies major. Credit for 200-level courses on art can be counted toward the Art History major.

All students reside in private homes in central St. Petersburg, within easy commuting distance of the European University as well as the two principal museums. Every effort is made to place students with families who can provide comfortable and congenial living arrangements.

The comprehensive program fees for fall 2012  are as follows:

  • Fall semester fees are $27,740

The fee for the St Petersburg program covers tuition, room and partial board (breakfast and dinner), round-trip airfare from New York, a local transportation supplement, and cultural excursions sponsored by the program.

All applicants should contact Susan Correll, the Director of International Programs at Vassar College via the contact form or by phone at (845) 437-5260. Click here for the application form.

The Application Process for non Vassar students: 

A complete application includes:

  1. Application form
  2. 250-word personal statement
  3. Faculty letter of recommendation
  4. An official copy of your transcript
  5. A letter of approval of participation from your dean or study abroad advisor
  6. A $25 application fee

Outside applications will be accepted through the end of March. Vassar students must observe the standard Office of International Programs deadlines and procedures.

Professor Nikolai Firtich
Director Fall 2011
(845) 437-5607