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SPbU at a glance

Saint-Petersburg State University (SPbU) – the oldest higher education institution in Russia – was founded in 1724 by Peter the Great’s decree.

Situated in the heart of St. Petersburg, the capital of pre-Soviet Russia and the third largest city in Europe, SPbU is fully integrated into its unique cultural environment that includes more than four thousand architectural monuments, word famous museums, theatres and contemporary art projects. Natural Sciences Faculties are located in close proximity to Peterhof palaces and parks that are along with the city center are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Nowadays, Peterhof has a rapidly developing high-tech cluster that includes a variety of industries that manufacture light-emitting diode, radio electronics, biotechnology and nanotehnology products.

SPbU was founded by Peter the Great’s decree as the first in Russia secular higher education institution that adhered to the classical tradition of European universities. Being a part of the Academy of Sciences, Saint-Petersburg University has focused on fundamental research from the very beginning, at the same preparing professionals capable of contributing to the Russia’s economic development and political reforms.

In autumn 2009, SPbU, along with Moscow State University, was granted a special and unique status that entitles it to establish its own educational standards. SPbU is the first university in Russia that awards its own diplomas. It the nearest future, it will start conferring its own academic degrees.
SPbU is the first Russian university that has started to issue a degree certificate (diploma) of its own format and design. In the near future, the university will start awarding its own academic degrees. Many universities and institutions across Russia use educational standards, academic programs and technologies developed by SPbU as a model of excellence.
Since the 18th century, SPbU has adhered to the principle of universality in education. All basic formal and empirical sciences are taught and studied here. The SPbU preserves a tradition of collaboration between faculties and schools within the university that establishes a vital opportunity for teamwork of experts in different fields. Striving to move away from rigidness and conservatism, SPbU encourages interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research and teaching in the following areas: neurosciences, high technologies in medicine, mathematical theories in management, etc.
SPbU has a long tradition of integrating research into learning. Distinguished experts shared their knowledge with students, and consequently formed university research centers, which are now more than two hundred years old. University faculty became founding fathers of the following research centers back in the 19th century: Pafnuty Chebyshev (Mathematics); Emil Lenz (Physics); Dmitry Mendeleev and Aleksander Butlerov (Chemistry); Andrey Beketov (Botany); Ilya Mechnikov and Aleksander Kovalevsky (Embryology); Ivan Sechenov (Physiology); Vasily Dokuchaev (Soil Science), etc. The university research centres’ sustained work resulted in a range of the following cutting-edge discoveries, inventions, and scientific theories:

  • Radiotelegraph was invented by Aleksander Popov in 1896;
  • Biogeochemistry and the theory of the Biosphere and the Noosphere, developed by Vladimir I. Vernadsky, foretold the advent of an information society;
  • Application of mathematical methods in natural science made by Vladimir Steklov;
  • Dmitry Rozhdestvensky’s works on microscopy and atomic spectroscopy;
  • Nikolay Menshutkin's works that laid the groundwork for chemical kinetics;
  • Sergey Glazenap's research into the motions of Jupiter's moons, etc.

The crystallography research center that was formed almost one hundred years ago by Yevgraf Fedorov, a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, has been still working today – Professor Sergey Krivovichev developed the fundamentals of a new science – crystal chemistry. Also, he discovered 34 new minerals and more than 200 new substances and materials.
Orientalists at SPbU make use of the vast knowledge of oriental languages that has been accumulated through research over the last two hundred years. They not only translate ancient texts, but also compile dictionaries of dead languages. More than 100 languages are taught at the Faculty of Asian and African Studies. This is a world record.
Ludwig Faddeev, being a son of Dmitry Faddeev, who founded the centre for the study of Algebra at SPbU, established his own world famous university school of Mathematical Physics.
The SPbU Psycholinguistic Centre, founded in 2000 by Professor Tatyana Chernigovskaya, has become a strong leader in Neuroscience and the theory of the mind not only in St. Petersburg, but also throughout Russia.
The following SPbU alumni and researchers won the Nobel Prize:

  • Ivan Pavlov (1904 – for research in physiology of digestion);
  • Ilya Mechnikov (1908 – in recognition of his work on immunity).
  • Nikolay Semenov (1956 – for his work on the mechanism of chemical transformation).
  • Lev Landau (1962 – for his pioneering research on the theory of superfluidity and especially on the properties of liquid helium).
  • Alexander Prokhorov (1964 – for his fundamental work in the field of quantum electronics, which led to the creation of radiators and amplifiers based on the laser-maser principle).
  • assily Leontief (1973 – for developing the methodology of "input-output" analysis and its application to important economic problems).
  • Leonid Kantorovich (1975 – for his contribution to the theory of the optimal allocation of resources).
  • Fields Medals were awarded to:
  • Grigory Perelman (2006 – ) for solving the Poincare conjecture;
  • Stanislav Smirnov (2010 – ) for the proof of conformal invariance of percolation and the planar Ising Model in statistical physics).

The Abel Prize was awarded in 2009 to Mikhail Gromov for his revolutionary contributions to geometry.

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Today there are over 30,000 students, 13,000 employees and almost 6,000 teachers (including 4,500 holders of doctoral degrees and over 40 academicians of state academies) representing more than 300 academic departments at St. Petersburg University.

Now SPbU consists of the following 24 faculties:

Faculty of Biology and Soil Science
• Faculty of Asian and African Studies
• Graduate School of Management
• Faculty of Geography and Geoecology
• Faculty of Geology
• Faculty of Journalism
• Faculty of Arts
• Faculty of History
• Faculty of Mathematics and Mechanics
• Faculty of Medicine
• Faculty of International Relations
• Faculty of Political Science
• Faculty of Applied Mathematics and Control Processes
• Faculty of Applied Communications
• Faculty of Psychology
• Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences
• Faculty of Sociology
• Faculty of Dental Medicine and Medical Technologies
• Faculty of Physics
• Faculty of Philology
• Faculty of Philosophy
• Faculty of Chemistry
• Faculty of Economics
• Faculty of Law

At present, the University is housed in more than 400 buildings located in St. Petersburg, Leningrad Oblast and other regions of Russia. The main building is the famous Twelve Collegia in the Vasilyevsky Island.

SPbU ranks third in the city for its library collection of books and is one of the largest in-house publishers of both academic works and fiction.

University provides places in the halls of residence to students from other cities and towns. The Halls of Residence comprise 20 buildings located at the Petrodvorets Training and Research Complex (PTRC) and the Vasilyevsky Island Training and Research Complex (VITRC).

All of that proves that SPbU is widely regarded as a most prominent Russian centre of research and education. It is also rightfully called one of the best higher education institutions in Europe.

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