Smolny's academic Philosophy is based upon the following principles:

  • Students should be free to determine their own courses and majors;
  • The college should provide a wide breadth of knowledge, as well as in-depth training in an area of concentration;
  • The study of theoretical disciplines should be paired with the acquisition of practical life skills;
  • Classes should be small, with primary attention paid to independent reading and critical discussion of texts.
Smolny has 12 academic programs (majors) and eight areas of concentration (minors), and there are over 130 courses offered each semester. Course lists for upcoming semesters are usually posted by Smolny mid-way through the preceding semester.

Sample Course Descriptions

Cognitive Science

  • Literature and Theory of Mind: Construction of the Consciousness of the Narrator in the Narrative

Fine Arts and Architecture

  • Konigsberg in the History of Art and Culture
  • Printmaking Class II
  • Photography I
  • Photography II
  • Problems of Topical Art
  • The Russian Avant-Garde
  • History and Theory of Art, the Russian World of Art; Between East and West
  • Architecture
  • Drawing and Painting
  • Late Soviet Unofficial Art
  • Photography in Russia. The 20th Century
  • Russian Artists in the West


Foreign Languages (Arabic, English, French, German, and Italian)

History of Civilizations

  • Life Under Communism
  • Classics of Liberal Political Theory
  • Russia Through Western Eyes, the West Through Russian Eyes: XVIIth-XIXth Centuries
  • Russian History in Film
  • Why Do I Hate You? Nationalism in Central and Eastern Europe
  • Contemporary Foreign Policy of Russia
  • History of the Russian Empire: Problems of Studying Russia's Past


  • Poetics of Joseph Brodsky
  • Linguistics and Intertextual Poetics
  • Theater: Shakespeare
  • Daily Life and Culture of St. Petersburg in the Second Half of the XIXth Century and Early XXth Century
  • The Classical Russian Novel
  • St. Petersburg's Museums of Literature
  • Franz Kafka and French Philosophy of the XXth Century


  • Vocal Music Class
  • Music Culture of St. Petersburg: 18th-20th Century
  • Music and the Performer

Performing Arts (Theater, Film)

  • A Formula for Fear: Thrillers and Horror Movies of the World


  • Religious Tolerance and Intolerance in the History of European Culture
  • Philosophy and Culture in Germany in the XIXth and XXth Centuries

International Relations, Political Science, and Human Rights

  • Current Human Rights Issues and the Human Rights Advocacy Movement in Russia
  • Globalization, Terrorism and War
  • Globalization, Multiculturalism and Human Rights
  • History of the Legal Rights Advocacy Movement in the USSR (1950s-1980s)
  • Terrorism 1960s-2004: Theories, Programs, Goals
  • Fascism and Extremism in Politics
  • The Nuclear Factor in Modern World Politics

Sociology and Anthropology

  • Gender Theories in Sociology
  • Democratic Transitions
  • City Mythology and Totalitarianism: St. Petersburg, Rome, And Nuremberg
  • 'Homo Sovieticus' Project
  • Religion, Ritual and Resistance

Areas of Concentration (Minors)

American Culture and Civilization

Computer Science

Eastern Culture and Civilization

French Culture and Civilization

Gender Studies

Human Rights

Religious Studies

Russian Culture and Civilization

Sample Course Plans

Here are actual semester course plans of North American students who have recently studied at Smolny. All classes are in Russian unless otherwise indicated. Visiting North American students are each assigned an academic advisor who will help devise the most efficient course load for each individual.
  • Sample Course Plan Example 1
  • Sample Course Plan Example 2
  • Sample Course Plan Example 3