Alfa Fellowship Program

The Alfa Fellowship Program is a distinguished international initiative that each year offers up to 18 accomplished Americans, Britons, and Germans the opportunity to complete a high-level professional development program in Russia. Over the course of the program, fellows complete work placements at leading institutions, attend professional seminars, and receive intensive language training.

The fellowship provides a monthly stipend, accommodation, insurance, all program-related travel costs, language training in Russia, and private pre-departure tutoring.

The Alfa Fellowship Program was founded in 2004 with the aim of fostering a community of emerging leaders who have first-hand experience in the business, public policy, and cultural environments of Russia and the region. Since then, over 200 Americans, Britons, and Germans have been able to experience the workplace, while living and traveling in Russia through this unique professional opportunity.

The goals of the Alfa Fellowship Program are to expand networks of American, British, and German professionals with experience in Russia, to develop greater intercultural understanding, and to advance knowledge of Russia in the West.

The program is funded by Alfa-Bank, and is administered in the U.S., U.K., and Germany by Cultural Vistas and in Moscow by the Fund for International Fellowships and Cultural Dialogue.

OJSC Alfa-Bank is incorporated, focused and based in Russia, and is not affiliated with U.S.-based Alfa Insurance.

About Alfa-Bank

Alfa-Bank is the biggest private universal bank of Russia. It has been a leader in every segment of the banking business for the past 30 years. The bank’s active clientele is comprised of 850,000 corporate customers and 18.7 million retail customers.

Alfa-Bank has a phygital development model, which combines digital innovations and an efficient physical presence network, including 498 offices in Moscow and Russian regions, courier service in 900 cities, and 28,700 of its own and partner ATMs.

According to IFRS financial statements for 2020, the Alfa Banking Group, which comprises ABH Financial, AO «ALFA-BANK» as well as its subsidiary financial companies, had total assets of USD 61.9 billion, gross loans of USD 42.7 billion, and total equity of USD 8.7 billion. Total comprehensive income for 2020, including net profit and other comprehensive income, is USD 1.35 billion.

About Cultural Vistas

Cultural Vistas is the U.S. representative for the Alfa Fellowship Program and has administered the program since its inception in 2004. In 2009, the program was expanded to include professionals from the U.K., which Cultural Vistas administers in consultation with the Alfa Fellowship Program U.K. Representative, Dr. Andrew Monaghan. In 2014, the program grew to include German citizens, which Cultural Vistas administers together with its European office headquartered in Berlin.

About the Fund for International Fellowships and Cultural Dialogue

The Alfa Fellowship Program is administered in Russia by the Fund for International Fellowships and Cultural Dialogue. The Fund was established by the Corporate Charity Projects Department of Alfa-Bank with the goal of ensuring successful day-to-day operations of the Alfa Fellowship Program. The Fund, also known as the “Moscow Office,” is a welcoming place that provides a supportive environment for fellows to help them adjust to life in the Russian capital. Staff in the Moscow office work together with fellows to identify suitable placements at leading institutions in Russia by drawing upon contacts throughout industry, media and foundations. Additionally, the Moscow office staff arrange other important aspects of the program, such as the seminar series, language courses, housing and regional trips, and assist fellows with day-to-day needs.

General program information is available below in both German and Russian.

Participant Profile and Eligibility

Participant Profile

  • Fellows have a demonstrated interest in Russian and European and Eurasian affairs, exceptional academic and professional credentials, proven personal initiative, and clear goals and expectations for their professional assignments.
  • Fellows are early to mid-career professionals with experience in business, economics, journalism, law, public policy, arts/cultural management, human development, or other fields.
  • Fellows possess leadership potential and are active in community and/ or public service.
  • Fellows value being part of an international network of individuals with diverse backgrounds and a common interest in Russia and the region.
  • While Russian language skills vary, most fellows have studied Russian for at least two years at the postsecondary level.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Early to mid-career professional from the United States, United Kingdom, or Germany*
  • Bachelor’s degree and relevant professional experience related to desired field of work placement
  • Demonstrated interest in Russia and the region with clearly defined career trajectory
  • Committed to being an active contributor to an international network
  • Previous study of a second language, preferably Russian

*Russian citizens are ineligible to apply, including individuals who are also citizens of the United States, United Kingdom, or Germany

Desired Qualifications

  • Graduate degree related to desired field of work placement
  • Outstanding professional achievement and academic qualifications
  • Active involvement in community and/ or public service
  • Evidence of leadership potential
  • Russian language experience is preferred, however not required, at the time of application

The Alfa Fellowship Program is a professional-level initiative focused on the fellows’ assignments in Russia. The Alfa Fellowship Program will not sponsor independent or academic research.

Program Benefits

The Alfa Fellowship Program includes the following benefits:

  • Round-trip transportation to New York City or London and accommodation (if needed) for selection interviews
  • Orientation seminar in Washington, D.C., including speakers, activities, travel, and accommodation
  • Program-related transportation between U.S./U.K./Germany and Russia
  • Pre-departure and Russia-based language training
  • Moscow Seminar Program, including briefings and excursions
  • Monthly stipend during the program in Russia
  • All program-related travel within Russia
  • Accommodation in Moscow
  • Limited international health, accident, and liability insurance during the program in Russia

Program Year

Application Deadline:

The deadline to apply for the 2022-2023 program year is December 1, 2021.

Selection Interviews:

Following is information about what the interview process entails when it is held in-person.

Interviews for candidates take place in New York City and London between late January and mid-February. Candidates are invited to the city closest to where they are residing at the time of the interviews.

Please note: candidates are required to attend the interview in person on the day it is scheduled in order to be considered for the fellowship.

Following is the timeline for a typical program year.

U.S./U.K./Germany-Based Language Training
March – June

  • Customized one-on-one Russian language lessons with a qualified tutor in the fellow’s geographical area. This training does not require fellows to relocate and is meant to be completed in conjunction with finishing an academic degree or working.

Washington, D.C., Orientation Seminar
Late April or early May (3 days)

  • Program information and logistics
  • Intercultural training and preparation
  • Current events and contemporary political and economic topics

Russia-Based Language Training
Mid-June – September

  • Small-group classes at a Russian language school in Moscow

Moscow Seminar Program and Lectures
July – September

  • Politics and economics in Russia, including recent developments
  • Russian foreign policy
  • Law and public policy
  • Social and cultural affairs of Russia and Eurasia
  • U.S.-Russian, U.K.-Russian, and German-Russian relations
  • Cultural events and excursions in Moscow and surrounding regions

Regional Trips
July, September, December, April

  • Opportunity to visit three other cities in Russia (July, September, April) and another country in the region (December)
  • Meetings with local officials, businesses, and other organizations
  • Excursions to sites of historical and cultural significance

Please note this schedule is subject to change.

Professional Assignment
October – April

  • Professional experience at a leading organization in business, economics, journalism, law, public policy, arts/cultural management among other fields.

Final Evaluation/Exit Interview
April

  • Final review, including an exit interview, individual research and findings, and evaluation of the Alfa Fellowship Program experience.

Inside the Fellowship Experience

Placements

Since the Alfa Fellowship Program’s inception in 2004, fellows have gained professional experience in a wide variety of placements at over 120 leading companies and organizations in Russia. Together with the Fund for International Fellowships and Cultural Dialogue, fellows play an active role in identifying appropriate placements in organizations that fit their professional backgrounds and goals while on the program.

Fellows’ fields vary from year to year; below is a sample list of where fellows have completed work placements.

Please note, prior to becoming fellows, applicants to the program are expected to demonstrate their knowledge of their respective fields in Russia through their personal statements. Their personal statements should include thoughtful and well-researched proposals for placements and detail how the proposed placements would enhance their professional skills and contribute to the host organizations’ missions.

For more information about the work placement process, visit our FAQs here.

   
Business, Finance, Law, and Energy Media
Ad Marginem The Bell
Alfa-Bank Deutsche Welle
Bank of America Foreign Policy Magazine
bp The Moscow Times
Control Risks The New York Times
Deloitte Zweites Deutches Fernsehen (ZDF)
KB Strelka
Kunlun Red Star (Member of the Kontinental Hockey League [KHL]) Institutes and International Organizations
Mail.ru Creative Writing School Literaturnye Masterskie
NCH Capital European Union National Institutes for Culture, Moscow Cluster
PBN Hill + Knowlton Strategies German-Russian Chamber of Commerce
R.Politik Goethe Institute
Rystad Energies Higher School of Economics
Yandex Nekrasov Library
Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC)
NGOs, Foundations, and Think Tanks World Bank
Civic Assistance Committee
Garage Museum
Hanns-Seidel-Stiftung
Human Rights Watch
Levada Center
Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics
International Memorial
Skolkovo

 

Testimonials

Alfa Alumnus Tom Callahan headshot

 

I overall truly valued the experience of participating on this programme and feel I have received a huge amount from it, both personally and professionally. Not only am I now a confident Russian speaker with a varied C.V. and valuable work experience, but I have also made some lifelong friends, as well as having had the experience to travel around Russia and its surrounding regions, resulting in some truly unforgettable memories.

Kamila Kocialkowska
U.K. Alfa Fellow 2019-2020
Host Company: The Moscow Times
Field: Arts & Culture

Alfa Fellowship Program Alumna Bianca

 

It was an unforgettable experience to be part of the Alfa Fellowship program. The program helped me to increase my Russian skills up to a professional level, facilitated networking and supported me in building up my professional focus. The flexibility of the program in choice of the work placement, contacts available through the Alfa Fellowship Program and the possibility to combine work placements accelerated my professional development.

Bianca Creutz
German Alfa Fellow 2018-2019
Host Company: KB Strelka
Field: Urban Planning

 

Alfa Fellowship Program

The Program has been a singular and unquestionably beneficial experience for me personally, especially with respect to my legal career. I have advanced professionally and deepened my social contacts in Russia while making what I hope to be long-term friends in the form of Fellowship classmates.

Thomas Callahan
U.S. Alfa Fellow 2016-2017
Host Company: Dentons Europe AO

 

Alfa Fellowship Program Alumna Karin Riechenberg

 

The overall experience of the Alfa Fellowship Program is incomparable. The year provided me with a rich insight into Russia on a professional, cultural and personal level. It broadened my perspective, taught me new skills, opened career opportunities and connected me with highly inspirational and accomplished people. Not least, it helped me forge some great friendships that I hope will last well past the program.

Karin Riechenberg
German Alfa Fellow 2015-2016
Host Company: Deloitte

 

Alfa Fellowship Alumni Association (AFAA)

The Alfa Fellowship Alumni Association (AFAA) is a non-profit and non-partisan organization that represents the growing community of Alfa Fellowship Program alumni. The AFAA was established in 2008 and now consists of over 200 members. It contributes its support to the Alfa Fellowship Program and works to ensure program alumni remain connected with one another and with Russian affairs.

The AFAA is governed by a Board of Directors, directly elected by Alfa Fellowship Program alumni.


How to Apply

The deadline to apply for the 2022-2023 program year is December 1, 2021.

You are welcome to submit an application request by clicking on the “Apply Now” button on the right at any time.

Please submit all supporting documents electronically either through the online application (preferred) or email. At this time, we are not accepting hard copies
of documents.

Application Instructions

Please review these instructions before completing and submitting your application:

  • The Alfa Fellowship Program application must be submitted online no later than 11:59 PM EST on December 1 and any supporting documents not submitted through the online application system must also be submitted by this deadline.
  • You may log into, edit, and log out of your application at any time until you have clicked on the “Submit” button. Once an application has been submitted, it is considered final. Please make sure to click “Save” in each section you edit before exiting your application to ensure that all data is saved.
  • Prior to submitting your application, please be sure to review the information you provided very carefully by clicking on the “Print Version” tab.
  • Once you have submitted your application, you will not be permitted to log in, view or make any changes to the information you provided. However, if you submit the application ahead of the deadline, your recommenders will still be able to submit their letters until 11:59 pm EST on December 1.
  • We recommend uploading your resume, personal statement, and writing sample as PDF files in order to avoid formatting issues.

Documents

The following documents are required as part of your Alfa Fellowship Program application:

To be uploaded by the applicant in the “Application Documents” section:

  • Current resume/CV in English (U.S. or European style).

 

  • Personal statement
    Two pages maximum, in English; please make sure to include your name on this document. The personal statement should contain very specific information about your background, experience, career aspirations, and interest in Russia. It should also include anticipated benefits of participation in the Alfa Fellowship Program for you, your proposed host institutions and the fellowship network. It must also include realistic proposals for institutions you believe would be appropriate for your work placement. For a list of past Alfa fellows’ work placements, please visit the Inside the Fellowship Experience section. Please note that while the personal statement must contain proposals for specific organizations, you are not required to include institutions from this list.

 

  • Russian writing sample or Language Statement in English*
    One page maximum on a topic of your choice. Please make sure to include your name on this document. Please note, if you have ever studied Russian, you must submit a writing sample in Russian, regardless of your level. If you have never studied Russian, please submit a statement in English detailing other languages you have studied and when and where you studied them.

*Statements in languages other than English or Russian will not be reviewed.

 

  • Official university transcripts from most recent/in progress degree
    In order to be accepted, all transcripts must include an explanation of the grading system used at the academic institution. Digital copies of the official transcript or high-quality color scans of hard copies can be uploaded to the application online (preferred) or sent to alfa@culturalvistas.org by your university registrar. If that is not possible, you can email it to us directly yourself. Please note, if you email your transcripts, include your last name, first name and the word, “transcript” in the subject line. Please do not submit copies or scans of your diploma verifying your degree. Instead, we require a transcript that contains a list of courses you completed and grades you received. For German applicants, this is a Zeugnis or a diploma supplement. If you have multiple degrees, especially if they are relevant to your area of expertise/desired field of fellowship, please submit an official, electronic transcript from your most recent/in progress degree and unofficial transcripts for all other degrees.

 

  • Two letters of recommendation
    Recommenders should know you in a professional capacity, ideally a current or former supervisor, and should either be submitted by the recommender via the online system (preferred) or emailed to alfa@culturalvistas.org. Please note: regardless of the method of submission, letters of recommendation must be on letterhead and be hand-signed by the recommender. Additionally, please note that all letters of recommendation must be in English and should be addressed to the Alfa Fellowship Program Selection Committee.

The following documents are optional and can be uploaded online by the applicant in the “Documents” section:

  • Additional transcripts
    If you feel it would be in your favor for the Selection Committee to review an additional transcript you have earned, please upload it. Please note, if you do not have a graduate degree, you must submit an official undergraduate transcript following the instructions outlined above.
  • Photo
    If you choose to upload a photo, please be sure that it is a professional-looking image that depicts you alone.

Please do not submit any documents other than those outlined above. Please note that we are unable to return application materials.

Request an Application

 


Informationen auf Deutsch

Das Alfa Fellowship Programm ist eine hochrangige internationale Förderinitiative, die jährlich bis zu 18 deutschen, amerikanischen und britischen Nachwuchsführungskräften Expertenwissen und internationale Berufserfahrung in führenden Organisationen und Unternehmen in Russland vermittelt. Das Programm beinhaltet Russisch-Intensivkurse, einschließlich Privatunterricht in Wohnortnähe vor dem Aufenthalt in Moskau, hochkarätige Seminarreihen mit Schlüsselfiguren des öffentlichen und privaten Sektors zu aktuellen Russlandthemen sowie Hospitanzen bei renommierten Institutionen und Unternehmen. Zusätzlich zu einem monatlichen Stipendium übernimmt das Fellowship alle Reisekosten sowie die Kosten für die Sprachkurse in Russland, Privatunterricht in den Herkunftsländern und Unterkunft in Moskau. Die Ziele des Programms sind die Erweiterung von Netzwerken amerikanischer, britischer und deutscher Berufstätiger, der Erwerb von Expertenwissen, die Vertiefung interkultureller Kompetenzen und ein besseres Verständnis der Beziehungen zu Russland.

Über das Programm

Das Alfa Fellowship Programm wurde 2004 mit dem Ziel ins Leben gerufen, ein Expertennetzwerk engagierter künftiger Führungskräfte mit ausgeprägtem Interesse an Russland sowie Berufserfahrung in den Bereichen Business, Politikgestaltung und Kultur zu fördern. Seit der Gründung des Programmes haben mehr als 200 amerikanische, britische und deutsche Teilnehmende die Möglichkeit wahrgenommen, durch das Alfa Fellowship Programm in Russland zu leben, zu reisen und dabei Praxiskenntnisse und interkulturelle Kompetenzen zu erweitern.

Das Programm wird von der Alfa Bank finanziert. Es wird in Deutschland, Großbritannien und den USA durch Cultural Vistas verwaltet und in Moskau durch den Fund for International Fellowships and Cultural Dialogue.

Teilnehmerprofil

  • Alfa Fellows haben ausgeprägtes Interesse an russischen und europäischen/eurasischen Angelegenheiten. Sie verfügen über ausgezeichnete akademische und professionelle Referenzen, haben persönliches Engagement gezeigt und verfolgen klare Ziele und Erwartungen, was Ihren beruflichen Werdegang angeht
  • Alfa Fellows haben bereits einen akademischen Abschluss erworben und stehen am Beginn oder der Mitte einer beruflichen Laufbahn in Bereichen wie Wirtschaft, Jura, Medien, Politik, Kunst- und Kulturmanagement oder weiteren verwandten Feldern
  • Fellows zeigen Führungsqualitäten und können aktives Engagement, beispielsweise in Ehrenämtern, nachweisen
  • Idealerweise liegen bereits Russischkenntnisse vor. Unbedingt erforderlich sind sehr gute Englischkenntnisse

Teilnahmevoraussetzungen

  • Amerikanische, britische oder deutsche Staatsbürgerschaft*
  • Mindestens Bachelor-Abschluss in Business, Journalismus, Medien, Jura, Kultur, Politik oder ähnlichen Fächern
  • Berufserfahrung in den oben genannten Bereichen
  • Fließende Sprachkenntnisse in Englisch

* Russische Staatsangehörige können, auch bei doppelter Staatsbürgerschaft, nicht berücksichtigt werden.

Erwünschte weitere Qualifikationen

  • Höherer akademischer Abschluss mit Bezug zum Bereich des gewünschten professionellen Einsatzes
  • Hervorragende berufliche und akademische Leistungen
  • Führungspotenzial und aktives Engagement, beispielsweise durch Ehrenämter, gemeinnützige Tätigkeiten oder Mitgliedschaften
  • Russischkenntnisse sind von Vorteil, werden zum Zeitpunkt der Bewerbung jedoch nicht zwingend vorausgesetzt

Das Alfa Fellowship Program ist ein karriereorientiertes Programm, in dessen Mittelpunkt der berufliche und interkulturelle Auftrag in Russland steht. Wissenschaftliche oder individuelle Forschung kann nicht gefördert werden.


Информация на русском языке

Программа международных стажировок Alfa Fellowship предоставляет возможность перспективным специалистам из США, Великобритании и Германии получить практический опыт работы в России. Участники данной ежегодной программы стажируются в ведущих коммерческих и общественных организациях России, участвуют в профессиональных семинарах и проходят интенсивный курс обучения русскому языку. Alfa Fellowship Program обеспечивает стажерам ежемесячную стипендию, медицинскую страховку, покрывает транспортные расходы, организует языковые курсы в Москве и индивидуальные занятия по русскому языку перед отъездом в Россию. Способствует расширению профессиональных связей с Россией, укреплению культурного диалога и дальнейшему развитию отношений между Россией и Западом.

О программе

Программа международных стажировок Alfa Fellowship была основана в 2004 году с целью формирования сообщества новых лидеров, имеющих непосредственный опыт работы в деловой сфере, государственной политике и культурной среде России. С тех пор более 200 специалистов из США, Великобритании и Германии получили возможность стажироваться, жить и путешествовать в России. Основными целями Alfa Fellowship Program являются расширение профессиональных связей с Россией, укрепление культурного диалога и дальнейшее развитие отношений между Россией и Западом.

Деятельность программы Alfa Fellowship осуществляется на средства Альфа-Банка. В США, Великобритании и Германии программу представляет американская некоммерческая организация Cultural Vistas, а в Москве — Фонд поддержки международных экономических стажировок и культурного диалога.

Кто участники

  • Участники программы Alfa Fellowship демонстрируют высокий уровень знаний и интереса к России, странам Европы и Азии, обладают отличной академической подготовкой, опытом работы, личной инициативой и индивидуальностью, ведут общественную работу и четко осознают для себя цели и задачи стажировки
  • Участники — это профессионалы, имеющие опыт работы в сфере бизнеса, экономики, журналистики, права, государственной политики, менеджмента в области искусства/культуры и др.
  • Участники обладают лидерскими качествами и активно участвуют в общественной и профессиональной жизни
  • Знание русского языка является необязательным условием, однако большинство участников программы владеют русским языком на уровне, соответствующем двум годам его изучения в университете

Основные требования к кандидатам

  • Специалисты из США, Великобритании или Германии*
  • Степень бакалавра и профессиональный опыт, связанный с желаемой сферой стажировки
  • Продемонстрированный интерес к России и четко определенная перспектива профессионального роста
  • Готовность вносить активный вклад в деятельность программы

*Граждане России не могут подавать заявки на участие, включая лиц, имеющих двойное гражданство в США, Великобритании или Германии

Дополнительные требования к кандидатам

  • Высшее образование, связанное с желаемой областью стажировки
  • Отличные результаты в учебе и профессиональные достижения
  • Активная общественная работа
  • Лидерские качества
  • Знание русского языка предпочтительно, но не обязательно на момент подачи заявки

Alfa Fellowship – программа профессиональных стажировок, не оказывающая финансовую поддержку независимым или научным исследованиям.


Frequently Asked Questions

What does the Alfa Fellowship Program provide?

The Program provides:

  • private language training prior to the program start in Russian
  • orientation seminar in Washington, D.C. including, speakers, networking opportunities, and excursions
  • Russia-based group language training; Moscow Seminar Program including, meetings and excursions; a monthly stipend during the program in Russia
  • accommodation in Moscow
  • limited international travel medical and liability insurance during the program in Russia
  • all program-related travel expenses during the program

Why is Alfa-Bank sponsoring the Alfa Fellowship Program?

By sponsoring the Alfa Fellowship Program, Alfa-Bank is demonstrating its commitment to improving ties between Russia and American, British, and German professionals. The goals of the Alfa Fellowship Program are to expand networks of American, British, and German professionals with experience in Russia, to develop greater intercultural understanding and to advance knowledge of Russia in the West.

Will the Alfa Fellowship Program sponsor academic research in Russia?

No, the Alfa Fellowship Program is not an academic program. It is designed to benefit participants by providing an opportunity for fellows and host institutions to exchange knowledge, expertise, and best practices.

What are the citizenship requirements for the Alfa Fellowship Program?

Candidates must be U.S., U.K., or German citizens. Permanent residents and citizens of countries other than the United States, United Kingdom, or Germany are not eligible for the Alfa Fellowship Program. Russian citizens are ineligible to apply, including individuals who are also citizens of the United States, United Kingdom, or Germany.

Candidates who are citizens of U.S., U.K., or Germany but do not reside in one of these countries are eligible to apply.

What are the age requirements for the Alfa Fellowship Program?

Applicants should be between the ages of 25 and 35. Candidates one to two years under the minimum or over the maximum age limit will still be considered, but the Alfa Fellowship Program is focused on serving early- to mid-career professionals who will become leaders in their fields. The average age of those selected for the program is approximately 29 years old.

What are the language requirements for the Alfa Fellowship Program?

Russian language experience is preferred, however not required, at the time of application. If an applicant does not speak Russian, he/she will need to demonstrate in the personal statement a professional connection to Russia and how he/she could be successful on the program with limited language skills.

Additionally, the applicant must be proficient in another second language to qualify for the program.* Where the Russian writing sample is required in the application, applicants who do not speak Russian should upload a statement in English detailing other languages in which they are proficient and when and where those language skills were acquired. Statements in languages other than English or Russian will not be reviewed.

*German candidates must be proficient in English to be considered for the program, regardless of their Russian proficiency. Should a German candidate not be proficient in Russian, English suffices as the second language.

Please note: if an applicant has studied Russian for any length of time and at any level, he/she must submit a writing sample in Russian.

What kind of candidates is the Alfa Fellowship Program looking for?

Candidates should have a degree in business, economics, journalism, law, public policy, arts/cultural management or a related field. In addition, candidates should have at least three years of relevant professional experience in their respective fields. Candidates must show outstanding academic and professional credentials, demonstrate genuine professional interest in Russia and the region, and actively participate in their communities. A graduate degree in business, economics, journalism, law, public policy, arts/cultural management or a related field is preferred, though not required.

Candidates are expected to be able to demonstrate how participating on the Alfa Fellowship Program and spending a year in Russia is relevant to their current and future career goals and what skills they would be able to contribute to their host institution.

What constitutes work experience under the 2-to-3 year requirement?

Part-time, temporary, and internship positions all count towards the 2-to-3 year requirement, as well as regular full-time work, as long as they are directly related to the applicant’s professional field and their desired field for the fellowship year.

How competitive is the Alfa Fellowship Program?

The Alfa Fellowship Program is very competitive, similar to being accepted at a top university. The Selection Committee will consider candidates’ full profiles. Unique experiences, specific goals and interests related to Russia, and enthusiasm for new and exciting opportunities are as important as good grades and extensive professional backgrounds. Candidates should, in their application, try to convince the Selection Committee why they should be on the Alfa Fellowship Program, how they expect it to benefit their career growth, and what they have to offer through their participation.

What do I need to submit in order to apply for the Alfa Fellowship Program?

Completed online application, resume, official transcript(s), a personal statement (two pages maximum), two letters of recommendation (at least one from relevant professional experience), and a language statement. For applicants with Russian language knowledge, the language statement should be a Russian writing sample (one page maximum) on a topic of their choice, regardless of their level of Russian. For applicants without prior Russian training, the language statement should be in English and should detail other languages in which they are proficient, as well as when and where those languages were acquired. Language statements in any language besides Russian or English will not be reviewed.

Official graduate transcripts are required for all applications with a graduate degree completed or in progress. Applicants without a graduate degree completed or in progress must upload official undergraduate transcripts. Applicants with a graduate degree completed or in progress may also submit unofficial undergraduate transcripts if they wish for them to be considered by the Selection Committee. Please see the How to apply section for additional instructions regarding transcripts and other required documents.

What should the personal statement include?

Very specific information on the applicant’s background, experience, career aspirations, and interest in/connection to Russia and the region. The personal statement should include anticipated benefits of participation in the Alfa Fellowship Program for both the applicant and host institutions. It must also include specific, realistic proposals for institutions that the applicant believes to be appropriate for his/her professional assignment.

For a list of past fellows’ professional assignments, please see the Inside the Fellowship Experience section. Please note that although the personal statement must contain proposals for specific organizations, it is not required to include institutions from this list.

What should be the length and format of the personal statement?

Personal statements must be in English and no more than two typed pages in length. There are no requirements for font size, margins, or spacing as long as the personal statement includes all the necessary information, as outlined above. We recommend saving the personal statement as a PDF file in order to avoid formatting issues.

Who should write the letters of recommendation?

Anyone who has worked closely with the candidate in the recent past. At least one letter of recommendation should be from someone who can attest to the applicant’s professional qualifications, such as a current or former supervisor. The second letter may be from either a professor or someone else in the applicant’s professional background. Letters of reference should not be character references, from friends, or peer reviews. Please note that letters of recommendation must be in English.

Can my Russian language instructor submit a letter of recommendation for my application?

Because the Alfa Fellowship Program is a professional development opportunity, it is not recommended to request letters of reference from teachers of Russian. Ideally, two professional letters of recommendation are submitted for a candidate’s application. However, for applicants currently in graduate school or those who recently graduated, the second letter of recommendation may be from a professor, ideally in the applicant’s field of expertise.

Is there a recommendation form or specific format for letters of recommendation?

There is no recommendation form or specific format. However, the letter must be hand-signed by the recommender and be on letterhead. We recommend that the letter be addressed to the Alfa Fellowship Program Selection Committee.

Will I need to wait for my letters of recommendation to be uploaded before submitting my application?

No, you are able to submit your application at any time before the deadline. If your recommenders have not yet submitted their letters at that time, they will have until December 1 to upload the documents. Following the deadline, you will receive a notification with the status of your application (complete/incomplete and what is missing).

Can letters of recommendation or transcripts be sent by email?

It is preferred that letters of recommendation be submitted through the online application system. In instances where the recommender is unable to upload a letter to the online application system, it may be emailed to: alfa@culturalvistas.org.

You are able to submit your application at any time before the deadline. If your recommenders have not yet submitted their letters at that time, they will have until December 1 to upload the documents.

Following the deadline, you will receive a notification with the status of your application (complete/incomplete and what is missing).

Can transcripts and/or letters of recommendation be sent by post directly to Cultural Vistas?

No, at this time, we are not accepting hard copies of documents.

Can more than two letters of recommendation be included in an application?

No more than two letters of recommendation will be used for consideration of a candidate’s application.

Does the application form need to be completed even if some of the information is in my resume?

Yes, in order to be considered for the Alfa Fellowship Program all application materials must be completed. Including “please see resume” on the application form does not suffice.

When are the decisions made on finalists for the Alfa Fellowship Program?

A pre-selection is conducted following the December 1 application deadline. Fellows will be notified of their awards as soon as possible following the selection interviews.

Who are the Selection Committee members?

Generally, Americans, Britons, Germans, and Russians in the fields targeted by the Alfa Fellowship Program will be on the Selection Committee. In addition, a language assessment by a Russian language instructor will be conducted during the time of candidate selection interviews.

What are the pre-selection and selection criteria, and how are selections made?

The Selection Committee nominates interviewees and fellows on a competitive basis. Nomination to the selection interviews and fellowship program are made at the discretion of the Selection Committee. All decisions regarding selections are final.

How is the professional assignment arranged?

The professional assignment will be arranged in Russia with assistance from the Fund for International Fellowships and Cultural Dialogue, which has partnered with Cultural Vistas to administer the Alfa Fellowship Program. Candidates are required to propose organizations in their application statement where they feel it would be beneficial to work. These proposals are carefully considered during the placement process; however, the Alfa Fellowship Program cannot guarantee assignments at the candidates’ organizations of choice.

The best possible assignments will be arranged by each fellow on an individual basis considering the fellow’s background, experience and the overall goals of the Alfa Fellowship Program. Fellows play an active role in identifying appropriate institutions together with the Fund for International Fellowships and Cultural Dialogue.

Should I contact potential host companies or reach out to my own contacts in Russia during the application process?

We strongly recommend that applicants not contact companies until after they have been formally accepted to the program. Placements are normally arranged in the summer, after the fellows arrive in Russia.

Does the Alfa Fellowship Program cover health insurance or other types of insurance?

The Alfa Fellowship Program will provide limited international health, accident, and liability insurance for fellows during the program in Russia. Fellows’ spouses or children may be covered by the same insurance provider at the expense of the fellow. Any supplemental insurance is the responsibility of the fellow.

Is my fellowship stipend considered taxable income in my home country?

Fellows may be liable for national, state, and/or local taxes on their stipends depending on their place of permanent residence. It is the responsibility of fellows to familiarize themselves with applicable tax regulations pertaining to the receipt of a stipend while living abroad.

 

Are there any costs associated with applying to the Alfa Fellowship Program?

There are no fees to apply to the Program. Moreover, round-trip transportation and accommodation as needed for the selection interview process are covered by the Program.