Academic Fellowships in Russia Program (AFR)

Provided by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York, the American Councils Academic Fellowships in Russia (AFR) Program supports U.S. graduate students, faculty, and independent scholars as they conduct field research for periods of three to nine consecutive months on topics within the social science disciplines in Russia.

About The Program

AFR is designed to expand the accessibility of Russia-based research while increasing U.S. knowledge and expertise on Russia. Fellowships last three to nine consecutive months and include round-trip international travel; housing and living stipends; visa support; overseas health, accident, and evacuation insurance; archive access; and logistical support. Following the completion of the research term, AFR fellows will return to the U.S. and share their findings through presentations, articles, and lectures in order to strengthen and broaden current scholarship in the social sciences related to Russia and U.S.-Russia relations.

Award Components

The total value of each fellowship, administered by American Councils, ranges from $10,000 to $45,000, with actual levels of support depending on the duration of the overseas research period and the academic rank of the awardee. Typical awards include: 

  • International airfare from the scholar's home city to their host city overseas 

  • Academic affiliation fees at a leading local university or educational institution 

  • Visa(s) arranged by American Councils in direct collaboration with academic host institutions in order to facilitate archive access and guarantee timely visa registration 

  • A housing stipend 

  • A monthly living stipend 

  • Health insurance of up to $100,000 per accident or illness 

  • Logistical support from American Councils staff 

Please note that, due to visa regulations, scholars traveling to Russia may be required to participate in Russian language tutorials and/or academic consultations with a faculty advisor at their host university. If this is the case, arrangements will be made by American Councils. 

Locations and Host Institutions

Applicants should indicate their proposed research location(s) in Russia in the application. Scholars are expected to provide a list of universities and/or academic institutions in their proposed destination(s) in Russia, where they have established institutional affiliation or professional contacts with local colleagues and scholars. In some cases, American Councils can coordinate academic affiliations with host institutions throughout Russia. 

Reporting and Outreach Requirements for Fellows

AFR Fellows will be expected to submit regular "check-in" reports to American Councils with updates on research progress, as well as information on any obstacles encountered or significant changes undertaken in the original research plan. These brief reports will be submitted at the end of each month in-country. Following the completion of the overseas work, fellows will submit a final report, summarizing their in-country work, relevant findings, and any significant collaborative activities (e.g., publications, presentations at conferences, joint projects) undertaken. All fellows will also complete pre- and post-program surveys. 

Research conducted on AFR is intended to strengthen and broaden current scholarship in the social sciences related to Russia and U.S.-Russia relations. AFR fellows will be expected to share their research findings through established channels of scholarly communication, outreach activities briefings with policy making communities or think tanks, as appropriate. 

 Application Requirements

U.S. graduate students, faculty, and independent scholars are eligible to apply. All funded research must strengthen and broaden current scholarship in the social sciences related to Russia and U.S.-Russia relations. Applicants must submit: 

  • A completed online application form 

  • Research proposal (3 to 5 pages) and bibliography 

  • Proposed program timeline (including monthly research goals) 

  • Research synopsis in Russian (700 words) 

  • Proposal to disseminate research (1-2 pages) 

  • Archive list and/or sample of survey instrument for those proposing survey activity 

  • Updated curriculum vitae or resume 

  • Photocopy of the inside page of current U.S. passport, clearly showing photograph, passport number, and expiration date 

  • Two letters of recommendation 

  • Official transcripts (of all college- and university-level coursework from the past five years, including all summer programs)* 

*For graduate students only. 

Recommenders should use their letters to comment on the relevance and feasibility of the proposed in-country research and the candidate’s qualifications for undertaking the proposed research in Russia at this time. At least one letter of recommendation should address the applicant’s language skills and ability to conduct research in the host country. 

The competition for funding is open and merit-based. Participants must have the necessary academic background for conducting advanced, independent in-country research. In order to receive funding, applicants must be U.S. citizens. All applications will receive consideration without regard to any factor such as race, color, religion, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, national origin, marital status, family responsibilities, veteran status, political affiliation, or disability. 

Selection Process and Notification

All applications are reviewed by outside readers with expertise in the applicant's specific research field and region. Written comments from these evaluators, along with all application materials, are then reviewed by a final, independent selection committee of leading U.S. scholars. Criteria used to evaluate applications include (but are not limited to): 

  • Potential of proposed research to benefit the social sciences and contribute to the U.S. understanding of Russia 

  • Project focus and degree to which timelines for completion of research are realistic 

  • Sufficiency of applicant's training and background, including knowledge of existing literature 

  • Degree of scholarly need for access to resources overseas 

  • Sufficiency of applicant's language skills to carry out the proposed work (as demonstrated by the applicant's research synopsis and at least one letter of reference) 

Fellowship awards are announced roughly eight weeks after the application deadline. Alternate awards are finalized approximately two weeks after initial fellowships have been announced; however, some alternate awards may take significantly longer to be finalized. 

Important Dates and Program Timeline

Passports: For Russia, your passport must be valid for 21 months after the program start date. If you do not have a current passport, if it does not have two consecutive blank visa/stamp pages, or if it is not valid for the lengths of time mentioned above, then you should apply for a passport immediately. It can take as long as two months to receive a new passport. American Councils is not responsible for travel delays stemming from the late submission of valid passports or other travel documents. 

Program Dates: All programs are three to nine consecutive months in duration. All AFR programs must take place between June 1, 2021 and August 31, 2022. 

Reporting: AFR fellows must submit final reports within thirty days of completing their program. 

 Support Services

American Councils is dedicated to helping scholars maximize their research time in-country by providing effective logistical support to fellows both before they leave the U.S. and while they are abroad. Before their departure, AFR fellows receive comprehensive pre-departure materials providing detailed information on such topics as health and safety, travel, and communications. American Councils’ Washington D.C. staff consult regularly with scholars to plan convenient travel, obtain appropriate visas, coordinate academic affiliations, finalize housing, and provide stipend payments. 

Fellows are enrolled in comprehensive overseas health, accident, and evacuation insurance through Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI) for the duration of the program. CISI provides medical coverage of up to $250,000 per accident or illness. Enrollment in the CISI plan also provides full coverage for emergency medical evacuation. 

All fellows are provided with a single-entry visa to the host-country for the duration of the program. It is the fellow's responsibility to obtain any other visas required by individual itineraries. Visa application information and forms are provided upon acceptance to the program. 

Program Snapshot

Program Dates

All AFR programs must take place between June 1, 2021 and August 31, 2022.


  • Applicants must be U.S. citizens

  • Graduate students, Ph.D. candidates, faculty, and post-doctoral scholars 

  • Applicants must be at least 18 years old by the application deadline

  • Scholars in the humanities conducting research that is demonstrably relevant to the social sciences are encouraged to apply

Please note that scholars who hold AFR awards from the 2020-21 cycle are not eligible to apply for the current AFR 2021-22 competition. 

What’s included in the Fellowship?

  • Round-trip international travel 

  • Housing and living stipends 

  • Visa support 

  • Overseas health, accident, and evacuation insurance 

  • Archive access 

  • Pre-departure informational materials 

  • In-country logistical support 

  • 24/7 emergency contact 

Applications Deadlines

February 15, 2021