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.
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
- 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
- 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
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
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
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
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 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.