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 180 Americans, Britons, and Germans have been able to work, live, and travel 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.
Founded in 1990, Alfa-Bank is a universal bank performing all main types of banking operations available on the financial services market, including retail and corporate finance, investment banking, leasing, factoring, and trade finance. Alfa-Bank is Russia’s biggest private financial institution in terms of total equity and credit and deposit portfolios.
According to the 2018 IFRS statements, the Alfa Banking Group, comprising ABH Financial, AO “Alfa-Bank” and subsidiary financial institutions, had total assets of $47.2 billion, total credit portfolio of $30.6 billion, total equity of $7.2 billion, and net profit of $1.3 billion.
As of December 31, 2018, Alfa-Bank has served more than 530,000 corporate and 16.1 million retail customers, while the branch network consists of 752 offices in Moscow, across Russia and abroad, including a subsidiary bank in the Netherlands and financial subsidiaries in the United Kingdom and Cyprus.
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 young professionals from the U.K., which Cultural Vistas administers in consultation with Professor Dana Brown, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Enterprise)/Dean, Faculty of Business and Law, Principal of Leicester Castle Business School at De Montfort University. In 2014, the program grew to include German citizens, which Cultural Vistas administers together with its European office headquartered in Berlin. For more information, please visit our website.
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.
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 graduate degrees and professional experience in business, economics, journalism, law, public policy, 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 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, 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 2019-2020 program year is November 15, 2019. For details regarding the application process and to access the online application, please visit the How to Apply section.
Selection Interviews 2020:
Interviews for candidates based in the U.S. take place in late January in NYC, and interviews for candidates based in Europe take place in mid-February in London.
Please note: if selected to interview, you will be required to attend the interview in person on the day it is scheduled in order to be considered for the fellowship.
If you are offered and choose to accept the fellowship, the program begins in March and consists of the following:
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, 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
Following are the organizations where fellows have worked from 2004 – 2019:
Business and Industry
Alfa Capital Partners
American Chamber of Commerce in Russia
Barclays Capital, Moscow
BOA Merrill Lynch
Boston Consulting Group
Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group
Delegation of the European Union to Russia
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
RAO Energy Systems of the East
The EDF Group
German Chamber of Commerce
The Ice Hockey Federation of Russia
International Finance Corporation
KfW Carbon Fund
Kontinental Hockey League
Macquarie Renaissance Infrastructure Fund
Mott MacDonald Ltd.
Nalco (An Ecolab Company)
Otkritie Investment Bank
PBN Hill+Knowlton Strategies
Pace Global Energy Services
Russian Direct Investment Fund
Standard & Poor’s
UBS Investment Bank
Wermuth Asset Management
The World Bank
Law and Advocacy
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld L.L.P.
Baker & McKenzie
Baker Botts L.L.P.
Institute for Law and Public Policy
International Center for Not-for-Profit Law
CTC Media Group
Feature Story News
The Moscow Times
The New York Times
Russia in Global Affairs
Russian Union of Journalists
The Washington Post
Аssociations, Institutes and Think Tanks
British Council Year of Music Programme
Carnegie Moscow Center
Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies
Center for Business Ethics
Center for Political Technologies
Central Universal Science Nekrasov Library
Creative Writing School Literaturnye Masterskie
European Public Policy Advisers
European Union National Institutes for Culture Moscow Cluster
Foundation for Democratic Development
Higher School of Economics
Institute for Economic Analysis
Institute for Urban Economics
International Business Leaders Forum
Moscow Architecture Preservation
New Eurasia Foundation
Russian Academy of Sciences
Civic Assistance Committee
Financial Services Volunteer Corps
FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance
Friedrich Ebert Foundation
Green Cross Russia
Human Rights Watch
International Memorial Society
Russian Microfinance Center
Russian Orphan Opportunity Fund
Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs
Sova Center for Information and Analysis
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.
U.S. Alfa Fellow 2016-2017
Host Company: Dentons Europe AO
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.
German Alfa Fellow 2015-2016
Host Company: Deloitte
Leaving the programme, I can confidently state that I have achieved everything I wished for going into my year in Russia: a new career direction, a new set of skills and expertise which are of relevance to the new digital economy, and a job of considerable responsibility in a company with seemingly strong prospects for growth.
U.K. Alfa Fellow 2013-2014
Host Company: Dream Industries
Professionally I have no doubt that [the program] has propelled me. But for me the Alfa Fellowship Program was as much about a journey to understanding Russia, as it was to coming to know myself and aligning the different parts of my life. For this I am truly grateful for having been given this opportunity.
U.S. Alfa Fellow 2012-2013
Host Company: Statoil
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 180 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 2020-2021 program year will be on November 15, 2019, and the online application will be available in late summer 2019.
Please be sure to review both the instructions below and the frequently asked questions prior to beginning your application.
Please review these instructions before completing and submitting your application:
- The Alfa Fellowship Program application must be submitted online no later than 11:59PM EST on November 15, and any supporting documents not submitted online or via email must arrive in hard copy by the same date.
- 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 November 15.
- 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 “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 the applicant’s background, experience, career aspirations, and interest in Russia. It should also include anticipated benefits of participation in the Alfa Fellowship Program for both the applicant and the host institution. It must also include realistic proposals for specific institutions that the applicant believes to be appropriate for his/her professional 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, it is 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.
To be submitted either in hard copy or electronically:
- Official graduate transcripts from most recent/in progress degree
Official transcripts must be stamped, signed, and dated by your university’s registrar in order to be accepted. Additionally, 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 email@example.com. 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 or mailed in a sealed envelope to the Alfa Fellowship Program. 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 mail any hard copy materials to the following address:
Alfa Fellowship Program
c/o Cultural Vistas
233 Broadway, Suite 2120
New York, NY 10279
Please do not submit any documents other than those outlined above. Please note that we are unable to return application materials.
Informationen auf Deutsch
Das Alfa Fellowship Program ist ein hochrangiger internationaler Austausch, der jedes Jahr bis zu 18 fähigen Amerikanern, Briten und Deutschen berufliche Einblicke in Russland auf höchstem Niveau ermöglicht. Das Programm organisiert für die Fellows Intensivkurse in Russisch, hochkarätige Seminarreihen sowie Hospitanzen bei ausgezeichneten Firmen und führenden Institutionen. Zusätzlich zu einem monatlichen Stipendium übernimmt das Fellowhip alle Reisekosten sowie die Kosten für die Sprachkurse in Russland und Privatunterricht in den Herkunftsländern. Die Hauptziele des Alfa Fellowship Programs sind der Ausbau eines Netzwerkes von amerikanischen, britischen, deutschen und russischen Experten, erweiterte interkulturelle Kompetenzen und eine Förderung der Beziehungen zu Russland.
Über das Programm
Das Alfa Fellowship Programm wurde 2004 mit dem Ziel eine Gemeinde zielstrebiger Führungskräfte mit persönlicher Russlanderfahrung in den Bereichen Business, Politikgestaltung und Kultur zu fördern. Seit der Gründung des Programmes, haben mehr als 180 Amerikaner, Deutsche und Briten die Möglichkeit ergriffen durch das Alfa Fellowship Programm in Russland zu arbeiten, reisen und zu leben.
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 ein 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 sind im Allgemeinen zwischen 25 und 35 Jahren alt, haben einen höheren akademischen Abschluss erworben und verfügen zudem über Berufserfahrung in Bereichen wie Wirtschaftswissenschaften, BWL, VWL, Journalismus, Jura, Politik oder weiteren verwandten Feldern. Fellows zeigen Führungsqualitäten und können Engagement in Ehrenämtern nachweisen. Idealerweise verfügen Sie bereits über Russischkenntnisse.
Amerikanische, britische oder deutsche Staatsbürgerschaft, zwischen 25 und 35 Jahren alt
Mindestens zwei bis drei Jahre Berufserfahrung in wirtschaftlichen, journalistischen, juristischen, politischen oder ähnlichen Bereichen
Fließende Sprachkenntnisse in Englisch
Höherer akademischer Abschluss
Hervorragende berufliche und akademische Leistungen
Aktive Mitwirkung in Ehrenämtern und gemeinnützigen Engagements
Russischkenntnisse sind von Vorteil, werden zum Zeitpunkt der Bewerbung jedoch nicht zwingend vorausgesetzt. Liegen Russichkenntnisse nicht vor ist der Nachweis von Kenntnissen einer anderen Fremdsprache erforderlich.
Beweise Ihrer Führungqualitäten”
Das Alfa Fellowship Program ist ein karriereorientiertes Programm in dessen Mittelpunkt der berufliche Auftrag in Russland steht. Wissenschaftliche oder inidviduelle Forschung kann nicht gefördert werden.
Информация на русском языке
Программа международных стажировок Alfa Fellowship предоставляет возможность молодым перспективным специалистам из США, Великобритании и Германии получить практический опыт работы в России. Стажеры данной ежегодной программы работают в ведущих коммерческих и общественных организациях России, участвуют в профессиональных семинарах и проходят интенсивный курс обучения русскому языку. Программа Alfa Fellowship предоставляет стажерам ежемесячную стипендию, медицинскую страховку, покрывает транспортные расходы, организует языковые курсы в России и индивидуальные занятия по русскому языку в США, Великобритании и Германии. Программа способствует расширению профессиональных связей с Россией, укреплению культурного диалога и дальнейшему развитию отношений между Россией и Западом.
Программа Alfa Fellowship была основана в 2004 году с целью формирования сообщества новых лидеров, которые имеют непосредственный опыт в бизнесе, государственной политике и культурной среде России и региона. С тех пор более 180 американцев, британцев и немцев смогли работать, жить и путешествовать по России благодаря этой уникальной профессиональной возможности.
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.
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. Как правило, это специалисты от 25 до 35 лет со степенью магистра и опытом работы по специальностям: бизнес, экономика, журналистика, коммуникации, право, международные отношения, политология, государственное управление. Знание русского языка не является обязательным условием, однако большинство участников программы владеют русским языком на уровне, соответствующим двум годам его изучения в университете.
Обязательные требования к кандидатам
гражданство: США, Великобритания или Германия
возраст: 25-35 лет
степень бакалавра и 2-3 года oпыта работы в следующих сферах: бизнес, экономика, журналистика, право, международные отношения, политология, государственное управление, общественная политика.”
Желательные требования к кандидатам
отличные результаты в учебе и профессиональные достижения
активная общественная работа
знание русского языка не обязательно, но желательно. Кандидаты, не владеющие русским языком, должны продемонстрировать знание другого иностранного языка (на уровне не ниже среднего)
Alfa Fellowship – программа профессиональных стажировок, не оказывающая финансовую поддержку независимым или научным исследованиям.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does the Alfa Fellowship Program provide?
Program benefits include: selection interviews, including round-trip transportation and accommodation as needed; language training in the U.S., U.K., or Germany prior to the program start in Russia; orientation seminar in Washington, D.C., including speakers, activities, and travel and accommodation as needed; Russia-based language training; Moscow Seminar Program, including meetings, assignment planning, and excursions; a monthly stipend during the program in Russia; free housing in Russia; limited international health, accident, and liability insurance during the program in Russia; and all program-related travel expenses.
Why is Alfa-Bank sponsoring the Alfa Fellowship Program?
The key goals of the Alfa Fellowship Program are expanding networks of American, British, and German professionals in Russia, developing greater intercultural understanding and advancing knowledge of Russia in the West. By sponsoring the Alfa Fellowship Program, Alfa-Bank is demonstrating its commitment to fostering a new generation of American, British, and German leaders with the expertise that is required for greater understanding and the sustainable improvement of important ties between the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and Russia.
Will the Alfa Fellowship Program sponsor academic research in Russia?
No, the Alfa Fellowship Program is designed to benefit participants by giving them hands-on work experience in companies and organizations in Russia. The Alfa Fellowship Program is also meant to benefit the host institutions by bringing in the knowledge, expertise, and best practices of its participants.
What are the citizenship requirements for the Alfa Fellowship Program?
Candidates must be U.S., U.K., or German citizens. Permanent residents and citizens of countries other than the United States, United Kingdom, or Germany are not eligible for the Alfa Fellowship Program. Russian citizens are ineligible to apply, including individuals who are also citizens of the United States, United Kingdom, or Germany.
Candidates who are citizens of U.S., U.K., or Germany but do not reside in one of these countries are eligible to apply.
What are the age requirements for the Alfa Fellowship Program?
Applicants should be between the ages of 25 and 35. Candidates one to two years under the minimum or over the maximum age limit will still be considered, but the Alfa Fellowship Program is focused on serving early- to mid-career professionals who will become leaders in their fields. The average age of those selected for the program is approximately 29 years old.
What are the language requirements for the Alfa Fellowship Program?
Russian language experience is preferred, however not required, at the time of application. If an applicant does not speak Russian, he/she will need to demonstrate in the personal statement a professional connection to Russia and how he/she could be successful on the program with limited language skills.
Additionally, the applicant must be proficient in another second language to qualify for the program.* Where the Russian writing sample is required in the application, applicants who do not speak Russian should upload a statement in English detailing other languages in which they are proficient and when and where those language skills were acquired. Statements in languages other than English or Russian will not be reviewed.
*German candidates must be proficient in English to be considered for the program, regardless of their Russian proficiency. Should a German candidate not be proficient in Russian, English suffices as the second language.
Please note: if an applicant has studied Russian for any length of time and at any level, he/she must submit a writing sample in Russian.
What kind of candidates is the Alfa Fellowship Program looking for?
Candidates should ideally have a graduate degree in business, economics, journalism, law, public policy, or a related field. In addition, candidates should have at least two years of 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.Candidates must show outstanding academic and professional credentials, demonstrate genuine professional interest in Russia and the region, and actively participate in their communities. Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree and at least two-three years of relevant professional experience in their respective fields. A graduate degree in business, economics, journalism, law, public policy, or a related field is preferred, though not required.
Candidates are expected to be able to demonstrate how participating on the Alfa Fellowship Program and spending a year in Russia is relevant to their current and future career goals and what skills they would be able to contribute to their host institution.
What constitutes work experience under the two-year requirement?
Part-time, temporary, and internship positions all count towards the 2-year requirement, as well as regular full-time work, as long as they are directly related to the applicant’s professional field and their desired field for the fellowship year.
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 will consider candidates’ full profiles. Unique experiences, specific goals and interests related to Russia, and enthusiasm for new and exciting opportunities are as important as good grades and extensive professional backgrounds. Candidates should, in their application, try to convince the Selection Committee why they should be on the Alfa Fellowship Program, how they expect it to benefit their career growth, and what they have to offer through their participation.
What do I need to submit in order to apply for the Alfa Fellowship Program?
Completed online application, resume, official transcript(s), a personal statement (two pages maximum), two letters of recommendation (at least one from relevant professional experience), and a language statement. For applicants with Russian language knowledge, the language statement should be a Russian writing sample (one page maximum) on a topic of their choice, regardless of their level of Russian. For applicants without prior Russian training, the language statement should be in English and should detail other languages in which they are proficient, as well as when and where those languages were acquired. Language statements in any language besides Russian or English will not be reviewed.
Official graduate transcripts are required for all applications with a graduate degree completed or in progress. Applicants without a graduate degree completed or in progress must upload official undergraduate transcripts. Applicants with a graduate degree completed or in progress may also submit unofficial undergraduate transcripts if they wish for them to be considered by the Selection Committee. Please see the How to apply section for additional instructions regarding transcripts and other required documents.
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 Alfa Fellowship Program for both the applicant and host institutions. It must also include specific, realistic proposals for institutions that the applicant believes to be appropriate for his/her 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 be 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?
Anyone who has worked closely with the candidate in the recent past. At least one letter of recommendation should be from someone who can attest to the applicant’s professional qualifications, such as a current or former supervisor. The second letter may be from either a professor or someone else in the applicant’s professional background. Letters of reference should not be character references, from friends, or peer reviews. Please note that 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 reference 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 those who recently graduated, the second letter of recommendation may be from a professor, ideally in 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 hand-signed by the recommender and be on letterhead. We recommend that the letter be addressed to the Alfa Fellowship Program Selection Committee.
Will I need to wait for my letters of recommendation to be uploaded before submitting my application?
No, you are able to submit your application at any time before the deadline. If your recommenders have not yet submitted their letters at that time, they will have until November 15 to upload the documents. Following the deadline, you will receive a notification with the status of your application (complete/incomplete and what is missing).
Can letters of recommendation or transcripts be sent by fax or email?
No, recommendations must be submitted either via the online system by the recommender or sent in hard copy, sealed with an original signature. No faxes or emails will be accepted.
High-quality color scans of official transcripts (with the university’s stamp, signature, and date of issuance) or electronic official transcripts can be uploaded to the online application or sent to firstname.lastname@example.org will also be accepted.
Official electronic transcripts sent directly from universities to email@example.com will also be accepted. Emailed transcripts should include a subject line with the applicant’s last name, first name and the word, “transcript.”
Please note: if your degree is from a European university that does not issue official transcripts to third parties, a high-quality color scan of an official version will suffice. If possible, please request for this scan to be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org by your university registrar. If that is not possible, you can email it to us directly yourself.
Can transcripts and/or letters of recommendation be sent directly to Cultural Vistas?
Yes, any transcripts and/or letters of recommendation not already submitted via the online system should be sent directly to Cultural Vistas to the following address:
Attn: Alfa Fellowship Program
233 Broadway, Suite 2120
New York, NY 10279
Any original documents mailed to Cultural Vistas can either be sent directly from the recommenders and/or university, or collected by the applicant in sealed, stamped, or signed envelopes and mailed together as one packet.
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.
Will you mail back any original materials I submit as part of my application?
No, we are unfortunately unable to return application documents.
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” 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 November 15 application deadline. Please check back in early fall 2019 for updated information regarding the timing and location of the 2020 interviews. Fellows will be notified of their awards as soon as possible following the selection interviews.
Who are the Selection Committee members?
Generally, Americans, Britons, Germans, and Russians in the fields targeted by the Alfa Fellowship Program will be on the Selection Committee. In addition, a language assessment by a Russian language instructor will be conducted during the time of candidate selection interviews.
What are the pre-selection and selection criteria, and how are selections made?
The Selection Committee nominates interviewees and fellows on a competitive basis. Nomination to the selection interviews and fellowship program are made at the discretion of the Selection Committee. All decisions regarding selections are final.
How is the professional assignment arranged?
The professional assignment will be arranged in Russia with assistance from the Fund for International Fellowships and Cultural Dialogue, which has partnered with Cultural Vistas to administer the Alfa Fellowship Program. Candidates are required to propose organizations in their application statement where they feel it would be beneficial to work. These proposals are carefully considered during the placement process; however, the Alfa Fellowship Program cannot guarantee assignments at the candidates’ organizations of choice.
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.
May I work at another job during the Alfa Fellowship Program?
Fellows will work full-time at their professional assignments and will not be permitted to take another job in Russia. If fellows are taking a leave of absence from their current job in order to participate on the Alfa Fellowship Program, a limited exception may be made requiring the approval of the Alfa Fellowship Program administration on a case-by-case basis.
May I bring my spouse and/or child? Can my spouse work in Russia while I am on the Alfa Fellowship Program?
Spouses and children may accompany fellows to Russia. Spouses may also accept an offer of employment in Russia. The Alfa Fellowship Program will not sponsor a spouse’s legal work status in Russia, and fellows must inform the program administration of any paid work their spouses are undertaking during the program in Russia.
Does the Alfa Fellowship Program cover health insurance or other types of insurance?
The Alfa Fellowship Program will provide limited international health, accident, 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.
Is my fellowship stipend considered taxable income?
Fellows will not be liable for taxes in Russia. U.S. fellows may, however, be liable for U.S. income and other state and local taxes on their stipends depending on their place of permanent residence. It is the responsibility of fellows to be familiar with all applicable U.S. federal and state income tax laws that apply to foreign earned income.
U.K. and German fellows should also take responsibility for both familiarizing themselves and complying with British and German tax law. Fellows should contact the U.K. or German Tax Office for assistance.