Where to study in Russia

A guide to the top local universities 

There are almost a thousand higher education institutions in Russia, located in over one hundred cities and spanning the widest ranges of academic agendas. We have consulted with the major global rankings assembled by Quacquarelli Symonds and the Times Higher Education magazine to compile a definitive list of the seven universities which enjoy the most local and international acclaim.

Lomonosov Moscow State University

Moscow State University (MSU) is widely considered the highest-ranked university in Russia, consistently making it into the global top 150 of the QS World University Rankings. It was also famously the first university to be established in Russia, founded by the Empress Elizabeth on the initiative of its namesake, the notable scientist Mikhail Lomonosov. It comprises 41 departments and 377 chairs all across the board, but commands especially high acclaim in the natural sciences and mathematics. It comprises over 47,000 students, 32% of whom are international.

Saint Petersburg University

St Petersburg University (SPbU) boasts a rich history dating back to 1724. Over the years, the University has had a strong focus on fundamental research in science, engineering and the humanities. It currently offers 106 undergraduate programmes and 263 doctoral programmes, spread across 24 departments. SPbU is ranked as #2 in the country in the QS Graduate Employability Ranking and the best in Russia for employer-student connections.

Novosibirsk State University

Novosibirsk is colloquially known as ‘Siberia’s capital,’ and NSU is a pillar of the city’s culture. The scope of the University’s instruction and research covers a wide range of major fields including particle physics, photonics and quantum optics, Arctic research, biomedicine, chemical engineering, low-dimensional hybrid materials, omic technologies, archaeology and ethnography. The town of Akademgorodok which houses the University is a research hub, with 70 research labs and almost 50 research institutes. 80 percent of NSU faculty members are scientists from the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Tomsk State University

Tomsk State University (TSU) is the largest classical university in the Asian part of Russia. It hosts over 15,000 students across 23 different schools and faculties. TSU’s areas of expertise include medical technology, semiconductor materials and fundamental physics, as well as climate studies. In the latest QS ranking, the university notably showed growth in terms of its international student ratio (+18 points), becoming the 95th in the world, and in academic reputation (+23 points), which is an indicator that accounts for 40% of the total university score awarded by the British analytics company.

Bauman Moscow State Technical University

Bauman Moscow State Technical University is the citadel of Russian engineering training. Its scientific schools have contributed to fields like space engineering, heating engineering, biophysics, aerodynamics, radio physics, radio electronics, optics, laser technology and more. The university notably runs a state-of-the-art training centre for disabled and hard-of-hearing students. It numbers over 19,000 students; international students comprise 59% of the graduate population and 41% of undergraduates.

HSE University


Saint Petersburg 
Nizhny Novgorod  


QS World University Ranking


EECA University Rankings

Since its establishment just a quarter of a century ago, the Higher School of Economics (HSE) has become one of the top-ranked and highest-renowned national research universities in Russia. HSE operates more than 100 research institutes, as well as more than 20 international laboratories. It is best known for its expertise in political science, the social sciences and economics. HSE’s main campus is located in Moscow, but there are also three branches in other parts of the country. This year, the university also presented its ‘fifth campus’ in Minecraft: it serves as a full-fledged venue for virtual open houses, parties and concerts, as well as for lectures and seminars.

Kazan Federal University

Kazan Federal University (KFU) is one of the oldest Russian universities and lists people like Vladimir Lenin and Leo Tolstoy among its alumni. It is headquartered in Kazan and has two secondary campuses in two other cities of the rapidly developing Tatarstan region. More than 50,000 students, a fifth of whom are international, are enrolled in over 600 degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The university is arguably best known as the birthplace of organic chemistry but is currently charting globally in subject rankings for linguistics, modern languages and education.


Naberezhnye Chelny


QS World University Ranking


EECA University Rankings

Sources: All of this information was gathered form the universities main websites and latest annual reports.

Photos: 1 – Pavel Losevsky/Shutterstock, 2 – Andrey_Lavrov/Getty Images, 3 – Pavel Losevsky/Shutterstock; 4 – IgorDymov/Getty Images, 5 – Maykova Galina/Shutterstock, 6 – Novosibirsk State University/Facebook, 7 – Serg Zastavkin/Shutterstock, 8 – HANK50/Shutterstock, 9 – Pavel Losevsky/Shutterstock, 10 – Aleksei Golovanov/Shutterstock, 11 – Gorshkov Igor/Shutterstock, 12 – Kazan Federal University/Facebook.