What is Smolny?

The Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences of St. Petersburg State University (Smolny College) is Russia's first liberal arts institution, and it is the only college in Russia to offer visiting North American students a broad range of courses along with a unique, nine-credit Russian as a Second Langauge program (RSL). The Bard-Smolny program is not a traditional study abroad program; it is an opportunity for visiting students to directly enroll in a college with a rich curriculum.

About the Bard-Smolny Program

About the Bard-Smolny Program
Designed to meet the demands of those who have completed two years of college-level Russian or more (including heritage speakers), the Bard-Smolny Program in St. Petersburg offers a rich academic environment for students from North American colleges and universities who wish to study in Russia for a semester or full academic year.

The Bard-Smolny program enables students to advance their language skills through a comprehensive Russian as a Second Language (RSL) program and through direct enrollment in Smolny's academic courses, the majority of which are taught in Russian. Bard-Smolny students have the unique opportunity to sit alongside Russian students in academic courses that meet requirements for their B.A. degree. 

The long-standing partnership between St. Petersburg State University and Bard College offers students innumerable opportunities for meaningful cross-cultural exchange. Beyond coursework, students from North American institutions join Russian students in the College's clubs and organizations and engage with the local St. Petersburg community through volunteer and internship opportunities. Students are challenged academically, linguistically, and culturally in our rigorous and rewarding program.

About Smolny College

About Smolny College

Located in St. Petersburg, Russia, the new Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences of St. Petersburg State University (Smolny College) is the leading liberal education program in Russia.  Founded in 1997, it is a young program created by two institutions that have long and venerable histories.

Smolny has a multidisciplinary curriculum and a diverse, highly trained faculty that serve a student body of approximately 450. Most classes are small seminars, affording students individualized instruction and the opportunity to work closely with professors.

Russian students enrolled at Smolny College belong to a diverse and motivated group.  More than 65% of Smolny students are from outside of the St. Petersburg region. There is also a large presence of students from formerly Soviet republics and countries such as Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

Smolny College is unique in offering young Russians - as well as exchange students from around the world - an opportunity to construct their own curriculum. Students are encouraged to develop their minds freely, to think critically, and to love the arts. Courses are offered in 12 major and six minor programs encompassing a wide variety of disciplines in the arts and humanities. Students are expected to develop broad knowledge along with specific skills in research and expression.

For more detailed information about Smolny College, visit http://artesliberales.spbu.ru/about-en.

About Smolny's Campus and Bobrinsky Palace

About Smolny

The Smolny College Campus

Smolny's classrooms and offices are housed in Bobrinsky Palace, located within the city's historic center and near St. Petersburg State University's main campus. Smolny's central location and proximity to major cultural sites (such as the State Hermitage museum) make campus a convienent base for students as they explore St. Petersburg.

The Bobrinsky Palace


As Smolny's academic and administrative building, Bobrinsky Palace beautifully combines an intricate dichotemy of modern, 21st century classrooms and classical, 18th century surroundings.  

The Palace is located on Galyernaya Street, in one of the city's oldest districts. In 1790, senator Petr Vasilievich Myatlev purchased the building and contracted Italian architect Luigi Rusca, a relative novice who later became a central figure of Neoclassicism in St. Petersburg, for its reconstruction. In 1796, Rusca joined the palace's two buildings, numbers 58 and 60, and created the Bobrinsky Palace as we now know it.

In 1798, Empress Maria Fedorovna, wife of Emperor Paul I, gifted the Palace to Paul's half-brother, Aleksei Grigorievich Bobrinsky (son of Catherine the Great and G.G. Orlov). Throughout the 19th century, the palace was celebrated as a center of society and culture. In their salon, the Bobrinskys received diplomats, literary figures, and the Emperors Aleksandr I and Nikolai I. The last Bobrinskiy to hold the estate was Count Aleksei Aleksandrovich Bobrinsky. During the First World War, parts of the Palace were used as a military hospital.

On December 13, 2001, the Federal Commission for the Administration of Government Property presented the Bobrinskiy Palace to Saint Petersburg State University for use as the campus of Smolny College (now the Department of Liberal Arts and Sciences).

In the fall of 2011, restoration work was completed which enabled the palace to modernize while preserving the building’s facades, roof configuration, first floor arched ceiling, entry room trim, and brick and metal fence. For more information on the Bobrinsky palace, visit http://artesliberales.spbu.ru/about-en/bobrinsky-palace.

About Saint Petersburg State University

About Saint Petersburg State University
Founded by Peter the Great in 1724, Saint Petersburg State University (also referred to as SPbGU) is one of Russia’s oldest universities. It boasts an impressive history, having been led throughout by eminent scholars of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including Mikhail Lomonosov and Dmitri Mendeleev. After a number of significant transformations more recent times, the university is one of the leading institutions of higher education in Russia today. With 24 faculties and research institutes, over 25,000 students from countries all over the world, and nearly 5,000 professors, lecturers, and researchers, Saint Petersburg State University is a major Russian centre of science, education, and culture. A number of important universities in Europe, America, and Asia have maintained an academic exchange with St. Petersburg State University. Eight graduates of the University went on to become Nobel Prize laureates, among them Ivan Pavlov and the poet Joseph Brodsky.

Since 1838, the University has been renowned for its landmark location, the “Twelve Colleges” building on Vasilievsky Island, which was once the longest continuous façade in Europe. The building, designed by the Italian architect Trezzini, remains an emblem of the University.