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 was December 1, 2021.

Selection Interviews:

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

Interviews for candidates typically 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, the 2022 Selection Interviews will be held in early March in London and in late March in NYC with a virtual and in-person hybrid setup. Finalists will receive information about the interview process upon notification.

Following is the timeline for a typical program year. Please note for the 2022-2023 program year, the timeline will be delayed by approximately two months.

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

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

Inside the Fellowship Experience


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 list of host companies where fellows completed work placements over the past three program years.

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 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
Sputnix Nekrasov Library
Yandex Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC)
World Bank
NGOs, Foundations, and Think Tanks
Civic Assistance Committee
Garage Museum
Human Rights Watch
Levada Center
Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics
International Memorial



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 2023-2024 program year is December 1, 2022.

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 ET 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 send their letters to until the program deadline their letters until 11:59 pm ET on December 1.
  • We recommend uploading your resume, personal statement, and writing sample as PDF files in order to avoid formatting issues.


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

To be uploaded by the applicant in the “Application Documents” section or submitted as instructed:

  • 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 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 must email their letters to Please note, 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 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.

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. Программа 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 for the fellowship must be from the United States, United Kingdom, or Germany.

What are the language requirements for the Alfa Fellowship Program?

Because fellows come into the program with varying levels of Russian, the common language of the program is English. As such, English at a high level of proficiency is required for all fellows.

The program’s language training program is robust. But Russian is a challenging language. Having experience studying another foreign language will help fellows who have not studied the language.

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 another field. Additionally, candidates should have 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 another field is preferred, though not required.

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

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 considers candidates’ full profiles including their unique experiences, specific goals and interests related to Russia, and enthusiasm for new and exciting opportunities through the Program.

In their applications, candidates should convince the Selection Committee why they should be in the Alfa Fellowship Program, how they expect it to benefit their career growth, and what they would hope to contribute to relations with Russia and the fellowship network through their participation.


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

Please visit this section for information on required documents for the application.

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 Program for both the applicant and host institution(s). It must also include specific, realistic proposals for institutions that the applicant believes to be appropriate for their 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?

The letters of recommendation should be from individuals who can attest to the applicant’s professional qualifications, such as a current or former supervisor, and who have worked closely with the candidate in the recent past.

If an applicant is currently a student or a recent graduate, one letter may be from either a professor or a professional contact.

All other applicants must submit two professional letters of recommendation. Please note, the letters of recommendation should not be character references, from friends, or peer reviews. 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 recommendation 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 recently graduated, the second letter of recommendation may be from a professor, ideally from 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 digitally or hand-signed by the recommender and on letterhead. We recommend that the letter be addressed to the Alfa Fellowship Program Selection Committee.

How should letters of recommendation and transcripts be submitted?

Letters of recommendation must be sent directly by your recommenders with your name in the subject line to:

Transcripts should be submitted through the online application system. In instances where transcripts are sent directly from a university registrar, they may be emailed to:

Following the deadline, applicants will receive notification of the status of their application (complete/incomplete and information on 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” or something similar 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. Notifications will be sent to all applicants several weeks later, and finalists will be invited to interview with the Selection Committee at that time.

Who are the Selection Committee members?

The Selection Committee is comprised of the Alfa Fellowship Program management, alumni, and other individuals with regional expertise.

In addition, a Russian language instructor conducts a language assessment for finalists as part of the selection interview process.

How is the professional assignment arranged?

The professional assignment is arranged with assistance from the Fund for International Fellowships and Cultural Dialogue, which administers the Alfa Fellowship Program in Russia.

Candidates are required to propose companies/organizations in their application statement where they feel a work placement would be mutually beneficial to them and their host. These proposals are carefully considered during the placement process. While the Program cannot guarantee assignments at the candidates’ organization(s) of choice, the proposals assist the fellow and the Fund for International Fellowships and Cultural Dialogue in determining potential work placements.

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 Program provides limited travel medical 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.

Why can’t the Alfa Fellowship Program consider candidates from countries other than the United States, United Kingdom, or Germany?

The Alfa Fellowship Program is a private initiative to build relationships between Russia and these countries. It has representatives in the U.S., U.K., and Germany. It can only provide visa support in these three countries.

In addition, the Program maintains relationships with the U.S., U.K., and German embassies in Russia. Russian citizens who are also citizens of any of these three countries are ineligible to apply for the fellowship because they would not receive assistance from these embassies in Russia.

Are Russian language skills required to be eligible for the Program?

While Russian language experience is preferred, it is not required at the time of application.

Applicants who do not speak Russian or have not previously studied the language will need to demonstrate a professional connection to Russia and how they could be successful in the program with limited language skills.

Please note: If an applicant has studied Russian, they must submit a writing sample in Russian.

What constitutes work experience?

Work experience is any professional experience directly related to the applicant’s field and their desired field for the fellowship year, including full-time, part-time, and temporary work, as well as internships.