About the Program
Cultural program
Student life
Program cost and deadlines
Visa and passport information
Funding sources

Summer School in Russian and Eurasian Studies (SSRES) at Nazarbayev University in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan is an intensive academic program that offers students the chance to immerse themselves in the Russian or Kazakh languages and to experience Kazakh and post-Soviet culture in the heart of Eurasia.

In 2020, SSRES will offer an 8-week program, with 20 contact hours per week.


8-week program (equivalent to 1 academic year of study): May 23 – July 22 
Saturday, May 23        Students arrive, Proficiency testing, Course placement
Sunday, May 24          Orientation, Cultural program starts
Monday, May 25 Classes start
Thursday, July 2 - Monday, July 6 Mid-Summer Break
Friday, July 17 Last day of classes
Sunday, July 19 - Tuesday, July 21 Final Exams and Exit proficiency testing
Wednesday, July 22 Students leave


Program Overview

SSRES students can choose an intensive course in either Russian or Kazakh and be placed according to their level of proficiency: beginner, intermediate, advanced, or advanced/superior.  Students of Kazakh should make themselves available for proficiency testing prior to their arrival in Nur-Sultan.

In addition to their intensive language courses, a weekly practical course in Kazakh Language and Culture is included in the cost of the program.

SSRES students have the option of enrolling in one elective course in English, for an additional fee. Eurasian Studies courses are offered as a part of Nazarbayev University’s Summer Term curriculum and open to local and international students.

Nazarbayev University is a Western-style university located in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, where English is the language of instruction. This is the first university in Kazakhstan that is committed to working according to international academic standards, guided by the principles of autonomy and academic freedom.


Nazarbayev University is a world research leader in Eurasian studies. The School of  Sciences and Humanities at Nazarbayev University offers an MA in Eurasian Studies, a two-year interdisciplinary area studies program taught in English. It is the first of its kind to be offered in Kazakhstan, and one of only a handful across the Eurasian region.


SSRES students live on Nazarbayev University's comfortable, modern campus in Kazakhstan’s new capital, Nur-Sultan.

The program is open to international students from undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as to working professionals.

The main component of SSRES 2020 will be intensive courses in Russian or Kazakh, offering the equivalent of a full academic year (8-weeks) of in-class instruction in all aspects of the language. Language courses at SSRES are taught using the communicative method of instruction through linguistic and cultural immersion. Students are placed into appropriate groups, according to their levels of proficiency (as defined in ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines). Courses are taught by professionals, trained in current methodologies and experienced in teaching international students. Classes follow standard US curricula and textbooks, which means that students can seamlessly return to language programs at their home institutions.     Student Tutors: In addition to attending regular office hours held by instructors, bilingual student tutors provide additional support and conversational practice in Russian and Kazakh.     SSRES 2020 will offer optional elective courses in Eurasian Studies taught in English.
  • Past electives included:
  • Politics and Governance of Eurasia
  • History of Central Asia
  • History of Kazakhstan
  • Survey of Contemporary Russian Literature and Culture
  • Introduction to Translation
  For students of Russian SSRES 2020 offers a free, non-credit-bearing, course “Practical Cultural Kazakh.”     Eurasian Studies Lecture Series Nazarbayev University is a world research leader in Eurasian studies. The School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Nazarbayev University offers both an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Eurasian Studies, taught in English. It is the first of its kind to be offered in Kazakhstan, and one of only a handful across the Eurasian region. Designed to be broad in focus and accessible to general audiences, lectures on topics related to the culture, history, politics and literature of Kazakhstan are given by the Nazarbayev University professors who introduce students to the most current research in their fields. The Lecture Series is open to the SSRES 2020 participants, as well as to the NU community, including students and faculty.     Eurasian Studies Lecture Series for SSRES 2019 included the following presentations:
  • Hélène Thibault “Gender Issues in Central Asia”
  • Daniel Beben “History of Islam in Kazakhstan”
  • Alexei Trochev “Dealing with Victims of Stalin’s Terror in Kazakhstan”
  • Zohra Ismail Beben “Environmental Problems in Central Asia”
  • Uli Schamiloglu “The New Kazakh Latin Alphabet: Perspectives and Problems”
  • Halit Akarca “Eurasia between Turkey and Russia”
  • Andrey Filchenko “The Linguistic Composition of Central Eurasia”
  • Nikolay Tsyrempilov "Visualizing Sacred Geography of Kazakhstan"
  • Eva-Marie Dubuisson “Expressive Culture in Central Asia”
  • Clare Griffin “Killing Ivan: Reconstructing the Medical Life and Death of Ivan the Terrible”
  • Ulan Bigozhin “Beket Ata: ‘Tribes’ and the Cult of Saints in Post-Soviet Kazakhstan”

During their stay in Kazakhstan, students will be able to participate in weekly excursions in and around the city of Nur-Sultan, including the Burabay National Park, the KARLAG (Karaganda Corrective Labor Camp) – one of the largest labor camps in the GULAG system, and the Korgalzhyn Nature Reserve – the northernmost habitat of pink flamingos.  
Nur-Sultan City Tour - the tour includes trips to Independence Square, Khazret Sultan Mosque, Water-Green boulevard complex, Astana-Bayterek monument, the Round Square, and the Khan Shatyr shopping and entertainment center.
Traditional Nomadic Hunting with Eagles - Students will learn the history of the Berkutchi eagle hunters, as well as some basic hunting techniques.
Weekend Trip to Karaganda and KARLAG Tour – A guided tour of Dolinka village includes a visit to the Memorial Museum of the Victims of Political Repressions. The exhibit includes prisoners’ everyday items, including a diary that describes the events of the 1930s - 1960s, photos and documents, and personal effects of the prisoners.
Nur-Sultan Day Festivities - Nur-Sultan celebrates its anniversary as Kazakhstan’s capital on July 6. Nur-Sultan Day is a national holiday in Kazakhstan. Every year this popular event draws large crowds of visitors and residents. Weeklong festivities include performances and cultural events to celebrate Kazakh traditions and the cultures of Kazakhstan’s multi-ethnic society.
ALZHIR Memorial Museum - Students will take a short day trip to ALZHIR, an acronym which stands for “Akmola Camp for the Wives of the Traitors to the Motherland.” This museum serves as a memorial for the wives and children of “enemies of the people” who suffered in a labor camp here in the Kazakh steppe, not far from the city of Nur-Sultan.  
Korgalzhyn Nature Reserve - Birdwatchers will not want to miss this trip to the unique wetlands within the Kazakh steppe, which are home to unusual birds, such as flamingos and pelicans.
Horseback Riding -  An experienced instructor will give horse riding lessons at the track where training and competitions are held and race horses are boarded.
Weekend Trip to Burabay National Park - Students will enjoy a break from city life at Burabay National Park and Nature Preserve, an oasis of lakes, mountains, and wildlife in Northern Kazakhstan. During nature excursions, they will have the opportunity to hike and boat, as well as to breathe the fresh mountain air. The trip includes meals and a one night hotel stay.
  Theatrical Performance - SSRES students attend several performances at the Astana Ballet Theater and the Astana Opera, which boast world class performances in gorgeous new structures.   

Explore Kazakhstan: Optional Trip to Almaty

For a long weekend in the middle of the program, students can take an optional trip to Almaty, the former capital of Kazakhstan and the country’s biggest city. Students will travel with Nazarbayev University students. The trip will include a tour of Almaty’s historical sites, as well as an introduction to the city’s dining, shopping, and cultural life.

Our program is unique in that it minimizes culture shock by fostering close contact with local NU students. The tutoring program, housing arrangements, and cultural programming all enable SSRES students to feel at home in Nur-Sultan and forge lasting international friendships, from the time when they are met at the airport their departure at the end of the program.

In the past, SSRES students have participated in a wide range of activities organized by NU students, including:


  • Dombra lessons
  • Nur-Sultan city scavenger hunt
  • Ultimate Frisbee competition
  • Game nights
  • Talent shows
  • SSRES choir
  • Karaoke


International students live on campus where they share dormitory rooms with NU students, who speak both Russian and Kazakh. A typical room has two beds, two study desks, closets, and a bathroom. Students living in the dormitory also have access to fully-equipped kitchens.


Our modern and well-maintained campus contains everything students need, including a pharmacy, laundry facilities, cafeteria, hair salon, study rooms, cafes, restaurants, and more. The buildings are fully guarded and secured with 24/7 resident assistance.


The meal plan includes two meals a day from Monday to Friday. In addition, there are several restaurants and cafes on campus, as well as a grocery store on the first floor of the student dormitory, which sells groceries and prepared meals.

Program Dates for SSRES 2020


8 weeks:  May 23 - July 22



Program Fee Optional Fees
$5000 $1000
8-week Intensive Russian (equivalent to one academic year) Elective Course in Eurasian Studies (in English)
Practical Course in Kazakh Language and Culture



Program Fee Optional Fees
$4000 $1000
8-week Intensive Kazakh (equivalent to one academic year) Elective Course in Eurasian Studies (in English)
Practical Course in Kazakh Language and Culture

* The program fee includes: dormitory housing in a shared 2-person room, meal plan, local health insurance, airport pick up and drop off, cultural program, excursions, tutoring, books (on loan), gym pass, and official Visa Invitation Letter.



Russian Program Fee Kazakh Program Fee
$2000 $1500
8-week Intensive Russian (equivalent to one academic year) 8-week Intensive Kazakh (equivalent to one academic year)

** The fee for Astana-based academics and professionals includes only classes, books (on loan), tutoring, and learning materials.


Estimated additional expenses*** Total:
Airfare (from the USA) $1600
Visa $200
Health insurance costs vary
Local transportation $30
Personal expenses $125
Sub-total (non-billable) $1955

*** These are estimated expenses to help you plan and prepare for the program. These amounts are subject to change depending on international economic factors and past participant reports. Student expenditures in the country depend greatly on personal spending habits, post-or during-program travel, and available funds.

NOTES: The meal plan include lunch and dinner only (Monday – Friday)




Students must have passports that are valid for at least six months beyond their intended period of stay. Kazakh nationals living abroad need passports, which are valid at least six months beyond the date of entry.


International students need visas to come to Kazakhstan. Nazarbayev University’s (NU) Department of International Cooperation will provide assistance to students applying for visas, including letters of invitation and detailed instructions on how to apply for a visa.

For a user-friendly flowchart on applying for visas to Kazakhstan, see the following instructions:

Below is a brief overview of the process.

Nazarbayev University will provide Visa Invitation Letters, which will be issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This process will take approximately 10 to 15 days.

In order to prepare the Visa Invitation Letter, we will need the following information:

  1. A photocopy of your passport.
  2. Your home address.
  3. Your major and home institution.
  4. The location of the Embassy or Consulate of Kazakhstan where you will be applying for the visa.
  5. A copy of your university ID card.

After the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issues your Visa Invitation Letter, the NU Office of International Cooperation will scan this invitation letter and send it to you.  The scanned Visa Invitation Letter should be printed and sent along with your visa application materials to the Embassy or Consulate of Kazakhstan that you have selected or via a visa processing agency:

The visa application package should include:

  1. Valid passport (Original Document).
  2. Visa Invitation Letter.
  3. Visa Application.You must complete a separate visa application form. All fields must be filled in. You will be sent detailed visa application instructions when the time comes.
  4. One passport-sized (3.5 x 4.5 cm) photo, which should be stapled to the marked space in the upper right hand corner of the application form.
  5. Letter of Request.You must write a brief letter, addressed to the Consular Section of the Embassy of Kazakhstan, requesting that they issue a visa. The letter must include your name, the purpose of your trip, your contact in Kazakhstan, the dates of your planned trip, and the places to be visited.
  6. Letter from university/college/school.Please provide the letter confirming your enrollment.
  7. Consular fee.The consulate accepts only money orders for the visa processing fee. Please attach a photocopy of your money order. Cash, and business or personal checks will not be accepted. Visa fees will depend on your country of citizenship.

For more information please visit:

After receiving your visa and before departing for Kazakhstan, we advise you to check the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website (, as immigration regulations are subject to change.

Registration Regulations

Upon arriving to Kazakhstan, you will receive a local immigration card from the customs guards at the airport. You must keep this card in your passport for the duration of your stay; you will need it to leave the country. When you first arrive, SSRES program staff will collect your passport for registration with the local Immigration police. Your passport will be returned to you once your registration is complete. All visa-related questions should be addressed to Ainur Shakirova ( and Maulen Yergaziyev (

Possible Funding Sources for SSRES Students:


Please consult your university’s offices of financial aid and study abroad to see what funding sources
may be available to you. This should be your first step.


Also, consider several possible ways of funding your summer study:



Large Scholarships:

Boren Awards: Include a Summer Scholarship for STEM majors and an ROTC Scholarship.Up to full scholarship.
FLAS (Foreign Language and Area Studies) Fellowship: For students of participating US institutions, funds the intensive study of particular languages.Up to full scholarship.
Gilman International Scholarship Program: Open to undergraduates at US institutions who are receiving Federal Pell Grant funding.Up to $5000.



Organizations with a Variety of Awards (large and small):

American Association of University Women Awards: For women in graduate programs.
Fulbright Awards in Kazakhstan: Various awards
Fund for Education Abroad (FEA): Offers a variety of different scholarships for US undergraduate students who have been accepted for study abroad. Some awards are quite generous and serve underrepresented groups and areas.
Golden Key Scholarship Awards: Various scholarships for members of the Golden Key Honor Society
Social Science Research Council: Supports several different fellowships



Small Scholarships:

There are many small scholarships for $500 to $2500 that can add up when you are looking to fund summer study. This list is only a sampling: Essay contest about financial responsibility.$2000 for first place, $1000 for second place
Corinne Jeannine Schillings Foundation Scholarship: For undergraduate students who were Girl Scouts and earned the Silver or Gold Award.Award of $1000
Hosteling International Explore the World Travel Scholarship: For US citizens ages 18-30.Award of $2000 (to over 100 applicants)
Phi Kappa Phi Study Abroad Grants: For students of institutions with a branch of Phi Kappa Phi.Award of $1000
Rotary Foundation & Club Scholarships: For all students
The Study Abroad Journal Scholarship: For students of study abroad programs.Award of $500
Tortuga Backpacks Study Abroad Scholarship: For US undergraduate students who have been accepted for study abroad.Award of $1000
Zip Conferencing Scholarship: Essay contest for students of communications, marketing, or business.Up to $2500.



Other Ideas for Funding:

There are a number of search sites and crowdfunding platforms, as well as websites with lists of scholarships. This list is not exhaustive.

Diversity Abroad Scholarships: Scholarship search site
FastWeb: Scholarship search site
Foundation Center: Funding Information Network: Search site for suitable funding organizations
FundMyTravel: Crowdfunding platform for travel
Scholarship Portal: Scholarship search site