Alfa Fellowship Program

The Alfa Fellowship Program was a distinguished international initiative that from 2004 – 2022 offered accomplished Americans, Britons, and Germans the opportunity to complete a high-level professional development program in Russia. Over the course of the program, fellows completed work placements at leading institutions, attended professional seminars, and received intensive language training.

The fellowship provided 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 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. Over 200 Americans, Britons, and Germans were able to experience the workplace, while living and traveling in Russia through this unique professional opportunity.

The goals of the Alfa Fellowship Program were 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 was funded by Alfa-Bank, and 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.

General program information is available below in German.

Participant Profile and Eligibility

Participants on the program were selected based on the following criteria

  • 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 while on the fellowship
  • early to mid-career professionals with experience in business, economics, journalism, law, public policy, arts/cultural management, human development, or other fields
  • leadership potential and active in community and/or public service
  • value being part of an international network of individuals with diverse backgrounds and a common interest in Russia and the region
  • most fellows had studied Russian for at least two years at the postsecondary level, though Russian language skills varied

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 were ineligible to apply, including individuals who were 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 was preferred, however not required, at the time of application

Program Benefits

The Alfa Fellowship Program included 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

Selection Interviews:

Interviews for candidates typically took place in New York City and London between late January and mid-February.

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 did not require fellows to relocate and was 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

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

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

Inside the Fellowship Experience


From 2004 – 2022, participants on the Alfa Fellowship Program 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 played an active role in identifying appropriate placements in organizations that fit their professional backgrounds and goals while on the program.


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 community of Alfa Fellowship Program alumni. The AFAA was established in 2008 and now consists of over 200 members. It 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.

Informationen auf Deutsch

Das Alfa Fellowship Programm ist eine hochrangige internationale Förderinitiative, die jährlich bis zu 18 deutschen, amerikanischen und britischen Teilnehmenden 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.


  • 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 Anfang oder in der Mitte einer beruflichen Laufbahn in Bereichen wie Wirtschaft, Jura, Medien, Politik, Kunst- und Kulturmanagement, oder weitere Feldern
  • Fellows zeigen Führungsqualitäten und können aktives Engagement, beispielsweise in Ehrenämtern, nachweisen
  • Sie wissen um den Wert eines internationalen Netzwerks unterschiedlicher Zusammensetzung mit einem gemeinsamen Interesse an Russland und der Region
  • Fellows hatten in den meisten Fällen bereits mindestens zwei Jahre Russischuntericht, das Sprachlevel kann jedoch variieren.
  • Unbedingt erforderlich sind sehr gute Englischkenntnisse


  • Berufstätige am Anfang oder in der Mitte ihrer beruflichen Laufbahn aus den USA, Großbritannien oder Deutschland*
  • Bachelor-Abschluss und fundierte Berufserfahrung im Zusammenhang mit dem gewünschten Aufgabenbereich
  • Dezidiertes Interesse an Russland und der Region sowie klare Karriereziele
  • Die Bereitschaft an einer aktiven Mitwirkung in einem internationalen Netzwerk
  • Kenntnisse einer zweiten Fremdsprache, idealerweise Russisch
  • Fließende Sprachkenntnisse in Englisch, der gemeinsamen Sprache des Programms

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

Erwünschte weitere Qualifikationen

  • Höherer akademischer Abschluss mit Bezug zum angestrebten Betätigungsfeld
  • Hervorragende berufliche und akademische Leistungen
  • Aktives Engagement, beispielsweise durch Ehrenämter oder gemeinnützige Tätigkeiten
  • Führungspotenzial
  • 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.