Study abroad opportunities for ITMO students

International Mobility

International Academic Exchange for ITMO Students

ITMO University holds its internal competition for international academic exchange applicants twice a year: in September (for exchanges in the following spring semester) and in February (for exchanges in the following fall semester).

Students who have completed at least one year of Bachelor’s studies are eligible to participate. 

SELECTION CRITERIA

The selection of academic exchange participants is carried out on the basis of the following criteria:

  • Academic performance
  • English language level (minimum B2)
  • Motivation to study abroad
  • Proactive attitude
  • Willingness to return to ITMO University and share the experience obtained (general and academic)

Step-by-step Guide for Contest Applicants

GET THE PRELIMINARY APPROVAL OF THE HEAD OF YOUR EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM

Before you can start your academic exchange journey:

  • talk to the head of your program and make sure that the trip won’t interfere with your studies
  • inform yourself of the potential costs involved with your trip, such as visa, insurance, accommodation and transport
  • if you’re in the final year of your studies (Bachelor’s, Specialist or Master’s), we strongly encourage you to discuss thesis defense dates with the head of your educational program. We recommend that you return to ITMO University no later than May 15.

CHOOSE YOUR HOST UNIVERSITY

You can choose from one to three universities that offer disciplines as part of your educational program. 

Here is a list of ITMO's partner universities.

SUBMIT YOUR APPLICATION

Follow the Events tab on ITMO University's intranet system (ISU) and the official ITMO Outgoing Exchange VK page for the latest information on when the call for applications starts, what is the deadline, and other contest-related announcements. Applications submitted after the deadline will not be accepted.

You can apply via your personal ISU page. Please submit the following documents as part of your application:

  1. CV
  2. Motivation letter
  3. Video-CV in English. Introduce yourself and share your scientific achievements. Tell us about your university of choice, what motivates you to study abroad, and how this experience will help you in your future career and life.
  4. Proof of your English* language proficiency (minimum level is B2). Bring a valid TOEFL/IELTS/FCE certificate or prove your English language proficiency by taking an English language test at ITMO University’s Foreign Language Training Center

*IMPORTANT: If studies at your host university of choice are conducted in a language other than English (such as German, French, Italian etc), you will need to present a proof of your proficiency in that language.

TAKE PART IN AN INTERVIEW

Following the end of the competition’s first round, candidates are invited for an interview, based on the results of which they will get a notification from a specialist of the International Educational Programs Office regarding their chances to be nominated for an exchange at their university of choice. The nomination does not proceed without a student’s confirmation of their readiness to go on an academic exchange at their host university of choice and the head of their educational program’s official approval of the list of subjects to be studied by the student during their exchange.

GET THE NOMINATION FOR ACADEMIC EXCHANGE AND APPLY TO THE HOST UNIVERSITY

A specialist of the International Educational Programs Office nominates a successful candidate (i.e. sends their data to their host university of choice). Nominated students will then receive an email from their host university’s study coordinator with detailed instructions on how to apply for an exchange there. 

NOTE: If the application template is in open access on the host university’s website, don’t rush to complete it as you have to coordinate your actions with the staff of the International Educational Programs Office.

In most cases, applications are submitted online. However, some universities might ask for your original documents to be sent to them by post. Make sure to follow all application deadlines and relevant information on your host university’s website. 

After receiving all your documents, your host university will send you an invitation letter indicating the exact dates of your exchange period (Acceptance Letter/Letter of Admission/Invitation Letter).

CHOOSE THE SUBJECTS YOU’LL STUDY AT YOUR HOST UNIVERSITY

When selecting courses at the host university, please make sure that they are available for academic exchange students. It is recommended that you consult the head of your ITMO University educational program when selecting the study courses. You will need to choose the maximum number of subjects available for your study program at your host university that can then be counted towards the completion of your study program at ITMO University. Please note that you’ll have to earn 30 ECTS (study credits) per semester. A minimum of 9 ECTS (for BSc) and 12 ECTS (for MSc) must correspond to the core subjects studied at ITMO as part of your major.

Selecting your subjects, make sure to consult the head of your educational program at ITMO University as it is they who approve and sign your Learning Agreement – your individual learning plan that acts as an official agreement to count the subjects you’ll study as part of your exchange towards the completion of your study program at ITMO University).

COMPLETE THE APPLICATION FORM AND THE EXPLANATORY NOTE FOR YOUR INDIVIDUAL LEARNING PLAN TO STUDY ABROAD FOR YOUR SEMESTER EXCHANGE

After receiving the invitation from your host university, you’ll need to do the following: complete the application for exchange at your host university via a request in ISU. After it is approved by the head of your educational program, you’ll need to download, print out and sign your application.

NOTE: Your invitation letter indicates your maximum period of stay at the host university. Your application has to indicate the actual date you plan to start your studies at your host university on. You’ll also have to indicate the specific dates for your departure and return – don’t forget to take into consideration your exams period at your host university, as well as the time needed for your travels and checking in and out of your accommodation (additional 3-5 days). 

Then, you’ll have to email a request to upop.ifmo@mail.ru to get your individual learning plan. In your email, indicate your full name and the number of your study group. You’ll get a response email containing a pdf document you’ll need to print out, sign, and bring (together with the signed application) to the International Educational Programs Office (Lomonosova St. 9, room 2139k).

NOTE: Don’t forget to email a scan copy or a high-definition photo of your border crossing stamps (both ways) to outgoing@itmo.ru. You’ll also have to sign a Confirmation of Arrival (at the beginning of your studies) and Confirmation of Departure (following the end of your studies) at the international department of your host university and email their scan copies to outgoing@itmo.ru.

LEARN ABOUT THE OPPORTUNITIES FOR FUNDING YOUR EXCHANGE

Contact the staff of the International Educational Programs Office (outgoing@itmo.ru) to learn about the available funding options for your academic exchange. If are offered a scholarship by your host university, make sure to inform the International Educational Programs Office about it via their email outgoing@itmo.ru.

RETURNING TO ITMO UNIVERSITY AFTER A SEMESTER EXCHANGE

  1. Following the end of your studies, visit the international department of your host university and ask the coordinator to sign the Confirmation of Departure. Send a scan copy to outgoing@itmo.ru
  2. Following your return from your exchange studies, you will need to file a return application via a request in ISU, then download, print out and sign it. Having done that, bring it to the International Educational Programs Office (Lomonosova St. 9, room 2139k). Email a scan or a high-definition photo of the border crossing stamp to outgoing@itmo.ru or bring your international passport with you so that the staff of the International Educational Programs Office could make a scan copy of the stamp of your border crossing to Russia. 
  3. When the coordinators of your host university send you your complete Transcript of Records, send it to outgoing@itmo.ru so that it could be translated. You’ll need the original document and the translation for your exchange subjects to be counted towards the completion of your study program at ITMO University.
  4. We will send a certified translation of your academic transcript to your email (@niuitmo.ru) and a copy of the certificate – to ITMO Student Services Office, the Office for Educational and Methodological Support of the Educational Process, and the head of your educational program who will share it with the staff of the dean’s office so that the data can be added to ISU.

Still got questions?

International Academic Exchange for ITMO Students

Lomonosova St. 9, office 2139k, St. Petersburg, Russia, 191002
International Educational Programs Office
TATEVIK GYNOSYAN
outgoing@itmo.ru

+7 (812) 607-02-58

Academic Exchange: General

Who do I contact if I can’t find up-to-date information on the partner university’s website?

You can reach out to us via outgoing@itmo.ru and we will send you the most up-to-date information. You can also contact exchange coordinators at partner universities and put us (outgoing@itmo.ru) on copy.

A partner university’s website mentions fees for incoming students. Do I have to pay those?

Yes, you will have to pay fees to go to some European universities. This will allow you to get a student ID that will provide student discounts and (sometimes) free access to public transport.

How can I calculate the approximate amount of money I’ll need on an exchange?

Make sure to check the costs of your student visa, insurance, and flights. It can also be useful to see the average rent and transport fees, as well as calculate your monthly expenses on food – you can do this by checking the prices in major shops online. In this case, your expenses will depend on your habits and daily must-haves.

I am currently on an exchange program in another country and I want to stay at the partner university for one more semester. Why do I have to come back to Russia in September and spend money on the tickets? The extension of my stay was already approved by the partner university, now I only need a letter of nomination from ITMO University.

Generally, it’s not enough for the partner university to be able to admit you – you also need to have approval from ITMO. The likelihood of your repeat nomination depends on 1) the number of students who can be nominated for a particular university and the number of places available there; 2) your curriculum at ITMO, the completion of which allows you to receive a state-standard diploma at the end of your studies. Your head of program has to approve all further changes to your curriculum, which means you also have to get their approval on the subjects you are going to take at the partner university to make sure they will be counted towards your diploma.

Academic Exchange: Сhoosing a Partner University and Courses

How do I choose a university? What should I keep in mind?

The university you choose has to offer majors and courses corresponding to the ones you are taking at ITMO. We understand that the courses offered by partner universities and your program at ITMO cannot be identical, so it’s best to consider your own interests and abilities, as well as the advice of the head of your program.

Can I still go on an exchange program if none of the subjects I choose correspond to my curriculum at ITMO?

Unfortunately, no, because you can’t spend a semester away from ITMO and come back with no relevant skills or grades that could be counted towards the completion of your program.

What’s the limit of students per partner university? Should I worry I won’t get a place if my grades are not perfect?

It depends on ITMO’s contract with the university. On average, two or three students visit each partner university per semester, though sometimes only one student can go. But you definitely shouldn’t worry: in 99% of cases, you can easily find a great alternative to your first-choice university.

Can I get into trouble if the schedule at partner university doesn’t correspond to the one at ITMO? For instance, in Germany summer semesters last till October.

True, there are certain differences in the academic timetables of different countries. However, we and our colleagues from the Academic Affairs Office try to find solutions for students who find themselves in such situations – and usually, we succeed.

When do I have to come back to ITMO from the spring exchange semester if it’s my final year of studies?

If you are graduating in this academic year, we don’t recommend opting for universities with shifted semesters. Remember that you will have to return to ITMO no later than May 20! Make sure to ask your dean’s office or head of the program for a more specific date.

Academic Exchange: ECTS and the Learning Agreement

What are ECTS? How much do I need to get – and why?

ECTS stands for the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System. These credits make it easier for students from different countries to go on academic exchange programs. With ECTS, we can easily compare the workloads of two different universities. Over a semester, each student has to earn 30 ECTS, which means that one academic year equals 60 ECTS – about 1,500-1,800 academic hours. In an exchange semester, students have to earn at least 20 ECTS at a partner university, of which at least 9 ECTS (for Bachelor’s students) and 12 ECTS (for Master’s students) have to correspond to core subjects of their specialization at ITMO. A good strategy is to choose courses that will earn you over 25 ECTS in case of unexpected changes in the curriculum. The ECTS you earned will be reflected in your academic transcript. 

 

How can I calculate my ECTS?

First of all, check the website of your partner university of choice. The number of ECTS is calculated based on the number of hours it takes students to master the course. In the majority of European universities, 1 ECTS equals 25-30 hours. At ITMO, 1 ECTS equals 36 academic hours. 

Any differences in academic transcripts between the courses you take abroad and the ones featured in your program will have to be eliminated upon your return to ITMO. You can also talk to your head of program in advance and arrange to study some courses online and take exams in other courses when you come back to ITMO.

 

What is a Learning Agreement and how do I get one?

A Learning Agreement is an official contract between a student, a partner university, and ITMO that lists the subjects taken by the student at the partner university. The Learning Agreement is compiled by students with guidance from the head or coordinator of their program. 

Before filling in your Learning Agreement, make sure that the list of subjects you are going to take abroad corresponds to those in your program at ITMO and is approved by the head of your program. The Learning Agreement has to contain information about the courses you will be taking and their respective ECTS. You will have to fill in the document in English. You can find a template for the Learning Agreement here

The corresponding courses should be placed side by side in the table so that the credits you earn would later be counted towards the completion of your degree. 

If some courses at the receiving university don’t correspond to ones offered at ITMO, you should describe them on a separate line of the Learning Agreement.

 

Who signs the Learning Agreement?

The Learning Agreement is signed by the student and head of their program. In special cases, such as when the accepting university provides its own Learning Agreement template, coordinators from the International Office will also have to sign it, but first and foremost comes the approval and signature of the head of the program.

The head of my program approved my Learning Agreement. What next?

Make sure that you have: 

  1. Confirmed your nomination to the partner university in ISU by listing the courses you will be studying in the Комментарии (Comments) section of the Номинация (Nomination) tab. 
  2. Received the approval of your head of program in ISU and the status of your application has changed to Заполнение заявления (Filling in the application form). You don’t have to fill in the Заявление (Application) section in ISU at this stage. 
  3. Studied the website of the partner university and learned about the application process, requirements, and deadlines.

If you’ve successfully covered these three steps, you can fill in your Learning Agreement.

You will have to fill in the Learning Agreement (LA) in English and then have it signed by the head of your program. Their signature goes in the fields Departmental Coordinator’s signature or Responsible Person. Next, you will have to get your LA signed by a specialist from the International Educational Programs Office (in the field Institutional Coordinator's signature). We cannot sign an LA that doesn’t have the signature of the head of your program. 

In case the partner university has their own Learning Agreement template, you will have to fill in and sign both this template and the one issued by ITMO University. 

 

When do I send my application to the partner university? The deadline has passed/is approaching!

First of all, make sure that you’ve received the approval of the head of your program and then take a careful look at the website of your chosen partner university. If you’ve discovered that the deadlines specified there aren’t the same as those on int.itmo.ru and have either already passed or are coming close (less than two weeks to the deadline) and you still don’t have all the information you need on the application process, you can email us to outgoing@itmo.ru. In your message, describe the situation and provide links to the website of the partner university.

 

Academic Exchange: Certificates, Visas, and Accomodation

How can I get a student visa and what kind of documents do I need for it?

In order to get any kind of visa, you will have to contact a consulate/embassy of the country you are going to or a visa center that provides visas for that country. You can find all the necessary information about visas on the websites of consulates and embassies; you can also ask fellow students who have already been on an exchange for advice on the matter.

Do I have to get a student visa? I think I can enter Europe on a regular Schengen visa and simply not disclose that I am entering as a student. Student visas are costly and take a long time to be processed.

It is forbidden to study in the EU (or other countries) without a student visa. The accepting university will simply not take upon itself such responsibility and will not formalize your arrival. In this case, you could be deported at any time, while the relations between ITMO University and the accepting university, as well as ITMO’s reputation, will be damaged. You should apply for a student visa right after receiving your invitation because such visas take longer to make than tourist ones.

How do I find a place to stay abroad?

If accommodation isn’t provided by the accepting university, you will have to find it on your own. One source of advice in this case are those students who have already been to this country or city on an exchange program. Most universities have Facebook pages for incoming exchange students where you can find other students to rent a flat with. Often, universities also provide useful resources for those looking to rent an apartment or room, such as websites, agencies, and online communities.

Academic Exchange: Nomination

When will I be notified about the results of the competition?

A notification will be sent to the email address associated with your ISU account. You can change notification settings on your personal page.

Don’t forget to allow no-reply emails and check your spam folder.

IMPORTANT: Letters from partner universities are sent to your @niuitmo.ru email address, as that is the one we’ll be using for the nomination.

 

I am ready to be nominated for a partner university, what next?

First of all, make sure that you have: 

  1. Confirmed your nomination for a partner university in ISU stating the approximate duration of your exchange and a preliminary list of subjects in the Номинация (Nomination) section. 
  2. Received approval from your head of program in ISU and the status of your application has changed to Даты семестра (Semester dates). You don’t need to fill this section at this stage.

Studied the website of the partner university and learned about the application process, requirements, and deadlines. If you’ve successfully covered these three steps, you can fill in your Learning Agreement.

Where can I find the courses available at the partner university?

On their official website. If the university hasn’t yet provided an updated list of courses, you can use the ones from past years. You can also reach out to the coordinator at the accepting university and request the list of relevant courses.

Academic Exchange: Competition and Application

Where can I find the application form?

On your personal page in ISU.

Where is the Отправить заявку (Send application) button in ISU?

This button will appear as soon as you have filled in ALL the necessary fields in your application and agreed to the processing of your personal data. After that, the status of your application should change from В работе (In progress) to Заявка (Application). It is only in this case that the application is considered submitted!

P.S. Your application will only be submitted if you use an email in the @niuitmo.ru domain.

 

Who should I discuss my choice of universities with?

You should address the head or coordinator of your program. You can find their name and contact details on the page of your program in ISU.

I haven’t had the chance to discuss my choice with the head of my program, can I still apply for the competition?

Yes, you can submit your application. However, it is key that you have discussed your choice with the head of your program before the interview.

Where and how can I get an English level certificate? Can I send it in after I complete my application?

You can get your certificate at ITMO’s Foreign Language Training Center and sign up for a test via this link.

You need to submit the results of the testing or your English proficiency certificate before the deadline of the outgoing exchange competition. If you don’t obtain your certificate before the deadline, you’ll need to bring it to the interview. You won’t be allowed to take the interview without a certificate. 

 

What should I do if the university I am interested in hasn't published their list of available courses yet? Which courses should I include in the application?

You can look at the lists from previous years to get an idea of the kind of courses you will be able to choose from in each semester.

What do I do if the university doesn’t provide any list of courses at all?

Send us an email to outgoing@itmo.ru with the name of your program of choice at the partner university and a link to it. We will reach out to the university and request the list of programs and courses available for exchange students.

Do I have to include three partner universities in my application?

A choice of three universities allows us to give you more opportunities to go on an exchange program. Oftentimes, the competition for positions at first-priority universities is very high and it’s not possible to nominate everyone wishing to go there. In such cases, we consider students’ second and third priorities.

I am a Master’s student applying for an exchange program. What should I indicate as my GPA – the one from my Bachelor’s diploma or the one from my latest exams?

Whichever you prefer.

Who should I list as my emergency contacts?

Your parents (or nearest relatives).

 

What should I include in the video CV?

A video CV should be about 2-3 minutes long. Tell us about yourself, your scientific and personal achievements, and the university you want to study at as an exchange student. Explain why you want to go there specifically and the impact this experience will have on your life and career. There are no strict guidelines or requirements, just be yourself and don’t panic!

If you experience problems uploading your video to ISU, you can put it on SharePoint and send us a link to it.

 

What should I include in my CV and letter of motivation?

There is no ideal formula for a letter of motivation. Avoid irrelevant information or lengthy descriptions. Tell us about yourself, your education, and your hobbies and extracurricular activities. You can also list any work experience that you might have: it doesn’t matter if you were employed at a lab or a coffee shop! Maybe you also engage in volunteering or have participated in international academic programs or conferences, or published scientific papers? Don’t forget to mention this in your CV. As for the template, you can find one online.

 

I have to list three universities in my application, but what about the letter of motivation? Should I write three letters – one for each university, describe only my first choice, or elaborate on all three of them in one letter?

You will only need to write and upload one letter of motivation and you are free to choose which universities to describe in it. After you’ve passed the internal competition, you will likely have to edit this letter to apply for a specific university in any case.

My passport has expired and I haven’t yet got a new one. Can I apply without indicating the number of my passport?

Yes, you can simply type a space in the corresponding fields of your application. However, keep in mind that it might take about three months for you to get a passport. This might affect the process of obtaining a visa. Moreover, the accepting university might ask for the number of your passport when issuing the Acceptance Letter.