The Alfa Fellowship Program is a distinguished international initiative that each year offers up to 18 accomplished young 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 tutoring in the U.S., U.K., or Germany.
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.
Key goals of the Alfa Fellowship Program are to expand networks of American, British, German, and Russian professionals, develop greater intercultural understanding, and advance knowledge of Russian affairs 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 Cultural Vistas
About the Fund for International Fellowships and Cultural Dialogue
Participant Profile and Eligibility
- 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 between the ages of 25 and 35 with professional experience in business, economics, journalism, law, public policy, arts/cultural management or related fields.
- Fellows possess leadership potential and are active in community or public service.
- While Russian language skills vary, most fellows have studied Russian for at least two years at the postsecondary level.
- U.S., U.K., or German citizen between the ages of 25 and 35 (Russian citizens are ineligible to apply, including individuals who are also citizens of the United States, United Kingdom, or Germany)
- Bachelor’s degree and 2-3 years of relevant professional experience in arts/culture management, business, economics, journalism, law, public policy, or a related field
- Outstanding professional achievement and academic qualifications
- Active involvement in community or public service
- Russian language experience is preferred, however not required, at the time of application. If an applicant does not speak Russian, he or she will need to demonstrate proficiency in another foreign language to qualify for the program
- Graduate degree in business, economics, journalism, law, public policy, international relations, arts/cultural management or a related field
- Evidence of leadership potential
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.
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, assignment planning, and excursions
- A generous 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
The deadline to apply for the 2021-2022 program year is December 1, 2020.
Please note that selection interviews will take place virtually in 2021.
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. For updates to the 2021-22 program year, please check back in late summer 2020.
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 at the Higher School of Economics
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 or a related field
Final Evaluation/Exit Interview
- Final review, including an exit interview, individual research and findings, and evaluation of the Alfa Fellowship Program
Inside the Fellowship Experience
Alfa Fellowship Alumni Association (AFAA)
How to Apply
The deadline to apply for the 2021-2022 program year is December 1, 2020.
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
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.
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 on your background, experience, career aspirations, and interest in Russia. It should also include anticipated benefits of participation in the Alfa Fellowship Program for both you and your proposed host institutions. It must also include realistic proposals for specific institutions that you believe to be appropriate for your assignment. 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
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 in which you are proficient, and when and where you acquired those language skills. 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 firstname.lastname@example.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
At least one from someone who knows you in a professional capacity, ideally a current or former supervisor, either submitted by the recommender via the online system (preferred) or mailed to email@example.com. 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:
- Undergraduate transcripts
If you feel it would be in your favor for the Selection Committee to review your undergraduate transcript, please upload it. Please note: If you do not have a graduate degree, you must submit an official undergraduate transcript following the instructions for graduate transcripts outlined above.
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.