Harvard Summer Program in Tbilisi, Georgia

NOTE: 2016 program information is currently displayed. This program is expected to run in 2017 and updated information will be published in mid-October.

June 11, 2016 to August 15, 2016
Apply by: 
January 28, 2016

The Harvard Summer Program in Tbilisi offers you the hands-on experience of living and studying in the capital of the Republic of Georgia along with a full course in intermediate Russian language meeting daily. Russian and Georgian culture, history, literature, film, and urban studies will be covered in topic modules meeting two to three times each week. These modules will provide a larger context for Georgia and Russia and will make use of Tbilisi as a laboratory, including meetings with writers, politicians, and NGOs. All modules and topics will be accompanied by excursions and trips within Tbilisi and throughout Georgia. 

A pre-departure introduction to Georgian language will be available for participants and additional Georgian language study may be arranged as part of the program in Tbilisi for those desiring to study Georgian.


RUSS S-BG Study Abroad in Tbilisi, Georgia: Intermediate Russian ( 33489)

Oksana Willis
Stephen Francis Jones
Justin M. Weir
Julie A. Buckler

8 credits
UN, GR Limited enrollment.

The Harvard Summer Program in Tbilisi, Georgia, provides students with a full course in intermediate-level Russian language instruction along with opportunities to explore Russian and Georgian culture, history, literature, film, and urban studies. Language study tracks the content of the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences Russian B-level courses (equivalent to Russian Ba-Bb, Bta-Btb, or Bab), preparing students to continue in Advanced Russian/Third-Year (Russian 101-103); the program includes 140 hours of language instruction. Modules include Georgian history and politics, architechture and urban morphology, Georgian film, and Russian fictions of the Caucasus.

Modules include:

Georgian History and Politics

Stephen Jones will present a two-week module on the historical and cultural background of Tbilisi and Georgia, including a seminar and speaker series with guests from among Georgian politicians, historians, and artists. Excursions around Tbilisi and environs include visits to the parliament, the Viceroy's Palace, and the Wine Museum, in addition to visits to the cities of Gori and Bolnisi. Topics include the significance of food and feasting in Georgian culture and visits to churches and monasteries.

Architecture and Urban Morphology

Julie Buckler will present a three-week module on Tbilisi as a city, providing an on-the-ground approach to the city of Tbilisi including its history, and culture, Georgia's role in the Russian empire and the Soviet Union, as well as post-Soviet changes leading to individual urban humanities mapping projects covering various periods (ancient/medieval, Russian Empire, Republics of Georgia; pre-Soviet, Soviet, post-Soviet). Students look at the architectural and other physical markers left by each period, exploring the multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, and multi-confessional history of Tbilisi and the various foreign influences on its development.

Georgian Film

Stephanie Sandler leads a two-week module introducing Georgian film with lectures, screenings, and excursions.

Russian Fictions of the Caucasus

Justin Weir concludes the program with a three-week module on the romantic vision of an orientalized Caucasus including readings in English and Russian (integrated with the language program) from the works of Pushkin, Lermontov, and Tolstoy.

Course credit


The application deadline has passed.

Before applying, review the Admission and Policies and FAQs pages.

You must be at least 18 years old and have completed at least one year of college or be a first-year student in good academic standing to apply.

The application materials, outlined below, are due January 28, 2016:

  • A completed online application (available in early December) that includes:
    • A $50 nonrefundable application fee
    • A detailed statement of interest in the program, including information on relevant coursework and level of Russian language study, as well as travel experience abroad (though previous travel is not a prerequisite)
    • Transcripts (Harvard students may submit an unofficial transcript accessed from my.harvard.edu.)

Program directors may request letters of recommendations and interviews. 

You will be notified of admission decisions by mid- to late-February.


There is a nonrefundable $50 application fee. The program cost includes the following:

  • Tuition
  • Room, breakfast, and some dinners
  • Field trips and excursions

In addition to the program fee, you are responsible for:

  • A health insurance fee (waived if you have US insurance that provides coverage outside the United States)
  • Transportation to and from Tbilisi, Georgia 
  • Independent excursions
  • The cost of passports and visas (if the latter is needed)
  • Any immunizations

Suggested budget

See a sample budget for estimated expenses.

How to pay and funding options

See Payment and Funding for payment deadlines, deposit amounts, and more information, including funding options for Harvard College students.


Program participants will stay in double rooms at the Iliani Hotel near both the Tbilisi State University campus and the International School of Economics, where classes will be held. The hotel is also a short walk from the historical center of Tbilisi, as well as the museum and arts district, and features numerous shopping and restaurant opportunities nearby. All hotel rooms and the classrooms feature air conditioning. Wifi will be available at both the hotel and the university.

Daily breakfast and lunch will be provided at the hotel’s cafe. Participants will be responsible for evening meals except for weekly dinners with faculty and other special program events. Georgian cuisine is a high point for this program, and participants will have ample opportunity to explore Tbilisi’s restaurants and cafes which feature truly amazing food at very reasonable prices.

Additional information

Students with disabilities

Contact the Accessibility Services Office as soon as possible. See Students in Need of Accommodations for more information.


  • Julie A. Buckler, PhD, Samuel Hazzard Cross Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures and of Comparative Literatures, Harvard University
  • Stephen Francis Jones, PhD, Professor of Russian and Eurasian Studies, Mount Holyoke College
  • Justin M. Weir, PhD, Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures and of Comparative Literature, Harvard University
  • Oksana Willis, PhD, Preceptor in Slavic Languages and Literatures, Harvard University