International Opportunities for ITMO Students: How to Join a Semester Exchange Program

Twice a year, ITMO University students have an opportunity to go abroad for an exchange semester. They can choose from over 200 of ITMO’s partner universities in 30 countries around the world. Curious to learn how you can apply for an exchange program, where to get a grant and what other opportunities are there? Read on to learn all about it. 

Academic mobility and semester exchange 

ITMO University holds an internal competition for academic exchange applicants twice a year: in September and in February. Both Bachelor’s (starting with second year) and Master’s students are eligible to participate in the contest, given that they fit the following criteria: have no academic backlog, have an English proficiency level of at least B2, demonstrate an amazing academic performance (“good” marks are accepted), play an active part in the university’s life (for example, volunteer at university events). It would also be an advantage if you take part in conferences, exhibitions or contests. 

Students can only choose the subjects (and universities) that correspond with their program at ITMO. It’s recommended that students discuss their choices with the head of their program, who then creates the student’s individual learning plan bearing in mind the subjects that can be counted towards the completion of the student’s study program at ITMO. Students can choose up to three universities. 

The start of the academic mobility competition is announced on the Events tab of ITMO University’s intranet system (ISU). You can apply via your personal ISU page.

To take part in the first part of the competition you will need a CV, a letter of motivation (in English) and proof of your English proficiency. You can take an English language test at the Foreign Language Training Center. Second- and third-year Bachelor’s students enrolled in advanced English courses have an opportunity to get a temporary certificate (lasting till the end of the academic year and only confirming a B2 proficiency level) without taking the test. If you need any assistance with your letter of motivation, CV or application, you can ask for help at the Academic Writing Lab.

After the first round, students are invited for an interview, based on the results of which the specialists at the International Educational Programs Office nominate the candidates, whose applications will be sent to a partner university. 

Upon receiving a reply from the host university and an email with instructions from their study coordinator, students apply to the university and await an acceptance letter. Students then have to complete a travel application stating the exact dates of their departure and arrival back at ITMO and an explanatory note with their individual learning plan. Every student must send a scan or a photo of their border-crossing stamps. 

At the host university, students also have to sign their confirmation of arrival (in the beginning of their studies) and confirmation of departure (when they are about to leave) forms. 

It’s important to consider your finances when choosing a university – it can be useful to compare travel fares and the cost of living in different countries. It is crucial to make sure that your credit or debit card works abroad. For instance, you will have to connect your Mir scholarship card to a Visa or MasterCard one. 

The application deadline is February 20. 

Short-term educational events

For those not willing to spend a whole semester at another university, there is an option of short-term courses or internships, as well as summer or winter schools that last around 1-2 weeks. It is a great challenge for you and your English skills as well as an opportunity to see the university you consider studying at.  

Students also have an opportunity to take part in a conference or an international competition. Great news: ITMO University can reimburse up to 70% of your expenses. This opportunity is only available to tuition-free students, and has its own competition (only 5 students can get a reimbursement each semester). One student can take part in competitions for two events each semester. 

Check the Educational Calendar in ISU (ISU - Applications - Calendars - Educational Calendar) to see the available events. 

Study Abroad at Home

You can get all the benefits of international communication and improve your language skills without ever leaving the country (no need to leave the University either!). ITMO has a special Study Abroad at Home program that allows ITMO students to study with international students doing their exchange semester at ITMO for two weeks. You can see the full list of disciplines available at the ITMO Student Exchange VK page. 

Here, the application process is the same: fill in the application form, submit your letter of motivation and take an interview (in English). The application deadline is February 13

One other interesting international exchange opportunity is ITMO’s Buddy System. The project is meant to help international students coming to ITMO. Each international student is assigned a Russian-speaking “buddy”, who meets them at the airport and helps them move into their dorm, become part of the local student community, and adjust to the specifics of life in Russia. 

This program is a chance for students to improve their speaking skills and find friends from all over the world while also earning extra points in the academic exchange competition.  

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