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Q: I am not currently a student, but I will be when the SURF program starts. Am I eligible to apply for the program?

A: Yes. Delegates are typically expected to be students enrolled in a full-time undergraduate, graduate or professional programs during the SURF year. If you are currently taking a gap year or are in between academic programs for some reason, please explain your circumstances in the application. 

Q: I am graduating at the end of this year. Can I still apply?

A: While participants are typically expected to be undergraduate, graduate or professional school students enrolled in a full-time program, some exceptions can be made on a case by case basis. Examples of exceptions are those doing a graduate fellowship or going into an industry related to their research interests. Applicants must also be able to demonstrate that they can devote sufficient time to the program and attend both conferences.

Q: How much of the program costs are covered by SURF?

A: The Stanford U.S.-Russia Forum will cover most conference costs, including housing, food, and local transportation. Delegates are responsible for travel to the Moscow and Stanford conferences. However, in practice, the majority of students are able to obtain travel grants from their universities. There is no application or registration fee for the program.

Q: The application says that all students must provide transcripts. What does this mean for Russian applicants?

A: A transcript is a record of the classes you have taken at your university, and it also shows the grades you earned for each class. While English translations are preferred, this is not a requirement. Unofficial copies of transcripts are accepted. Transcripts will only be requested from candidates who have been invited to the second application round. 

Q: What does the application process look like? How many rounds are there?

A: There are three rounds in the application process. The first round is a general application and is your opportunity to introduce us to your academic background and interests. You will also submit your resume. The second round is an essay response on the topic you are interested in researching. The third round is a 20-minute interview, either in person in Moscow or at Stanford or by Skype. Beyond the first round, applications are by invitation only.

Q:  I have a Bachelor’s degree and I am currently enrolled in a master’s, Ph.D. or professional school program. Do I also need to upload my previous transcripts or only records from my current degree program?

A: If you are enrolled in a graduate program, please upload the transcripts from your bachelor or specialist degree program, along with any other university-level coursework.

Q: I study at a university outside the U.S. that uses a different grading system (e.g. a 5-grade system). How do I find out my current GPA?

A: If your university doesn’t calculate your GPA automatically, then you can use the average of your exam grades to calculate it on your own. Add all of your exam scores together and divide this figure by the number of exams taken; the resulting number will be your GPA.

Q: I am not a citizen of Russia or the U.S., and I do not study in either of these countries. Can I still apply?

A: We look for the brightest minds interested in working on issues of mutual interest to the U.S. and Russia. SURF understands that these people will not always live in Russia or the U.S., and accepts qualified candidates regardless of citizenship or country of residence.

Q: Is there a minimum TOEFL score or other required minimum knowledge of English? What if I have never taken the TOEFL or IELTS? Can I still apply?

A: There is no formal requirement for taking English exams for this program. However, delegates are expected to use English to communicate with their partners, write research papers and present their work before an audience. We accept qualified candidates who we feel are able to meet this minimum. 

Q: How should I format and write my resume? 

A: Resumes can include work, internship, research experience, and publications, but does not need to include pictures, marital status, or other personal details. Examples of resumes can be found at Stanford’s Career Development Center.  

Q: I have several low grades but a high grade point average. Can I apply for the program?

A: Grades are only one of the metrics used by SURF to determine an applicant’s fit for the program. Having low grades in a few classes is unlikely to make a substantial impact on your application. We take all aspects of your application into consideration when making evaluations.  

Q: I have published articles. Can I upload them with my application?

A: Articles are not reviewed by the admissions committee, and should not be uploaded.

Q: How are the delegates selected? When will I know the results of the selection process?

A: SURF’s admissions committee reviews applications on a rolling basis as they are received. Notifications will begin in mid-May to June. All applicants will be notified with a decision on whether or not they will be invited to the second round of applications. If you are invited to continue your application, you will be notified regarding dates for final decisions. Selected delegates should be ready to begin work with their teams during the first week after notifications.


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