Institute of Education

Research & Expertise to Make a Difference in Education & Beyond

‘When there’s a good opportunity for a research internship abroad, just don’t miss out’

IOE doctoral student Irina Shcheglova has recently completed her internship with the Center for Studies in Higher Education at the University of California Berkeley (the USA). Immediately after she returned to Moscow, Irina was thrilled to finally share with IOE fellows about the academic experiences she gained and her overall impressions of this trip.


Founded in 1868, the UC Berkeley is the oldest HEI within the California University system. It is one of the most celebrated U.S. academic establishments that has been alma mater to 72 Nobel Prize laureates, 22 Turing awardees, nine Wolf Prize winners, and 13 Fields medalists. In 2016, the UC Berkeley ranked the third best university in the world and also topped the global ranking for natural sciences.              

Study & research abroad programs are a generous source of scholarly value-added as they invariably require that one calls upon the best of their motivation and capacity in seeking to make the very utmost of every option that an academic trip can afford within a relatively condensed timespan.

In one way or another, taking a research internship overseas is a great way to learn about new academic concepts and perspectives through firsthand immersion in theoretical and practical R&D agendas at the host institution, while also securing more comprehensive, higher-yield engagement in the global professional community.

A bright young scholar of diverse interests and far-reaching aspirations, IOE doctoral hopeful Irina Shcheglova has recently completed her internship with the Center for Studies in Higher Education at the University of California Berkeley, the USA. Immediately after she returned to Moscow, Irina was thrilled to share with IOE fellows about the academic experiences she gained and her overall impressions of the research trip.

The IOE Graduate School of Education has in recent years distinguished itself as Russia’s foremost doctoral center for training highly skilled multifaceted academics and practitioners that are best prepared to drive meaningful transformations across educational fields and domains, both domestically and worldwide.  

Thanks to its highly innovative and engaging graduate curricula, developed with accomplished Russian and international education professionals, IOE affords doctoral enrollees diverse opportunities for gaining advanced skills and cutting-edge academic insights by getting immersed into a vibrant mix of complementary research and practical activities. Academic internships with IOE’s world-distinguished partner centers, such as Stanford University, the University of Oslo, University College London, the Singapore National Institute of Education, etc., are an indispensable ingredient in this unique doctoral offering.

This was already the fourth time when Irina set off on an academic travel abroad. During her three previous occasions doing a research internship overseas, Irina had acquired a host of invigorating scholarly insights and experiences all of which have proved of relevance and aid to both her doctoral pursuits and the academic career on the whole. But despite this rich experience, Irina was nevertheless more than excited when looking forward to starting her term with the UC Berkeley: “Study and research abroad can be whatever but too much of a good thing or useless pastime – but of course only if you’ve made sure to get every aspect of your upcoming trip thoughtfully planned out in ongoing consultations with your academic lead,” Irina notes.          

I was staying as a Visiting Scholar at the UC Berkeley for three months, and I must say this trip has become a truly one-of-a-kind experience that has way exceed what I was originally expecting of this opportunity. So, if you are still hesitating if an overseas internship is in fact a worthy endeavor and whether it will actually work any benefit for your competency and help reinforce your professional future, just shake off all these doubts! You never know what’s around the corner – and you never will unless you give it a go. So, it may well be this very chance that will end up as your best academic experience ever! Just go ahead!   

Irina’s visiting at the UC Berkeley’s Center for Studies in Higher Education (CSHE) has become truly prolific in terms of both practical learning and research outputs, and it has also brought a string of vibrant cross-cultural exposures and opportunities for expanding her professional network.   

With much of her scholarly pursuit centered upon data science methods in socio-educational studies, Irina has been part of a large-scale UC Berkeley-based SERU project that explores undergraduate experiences and stance regarding multiple facets of academic life based on comprehensive data from the University of California system. During her stay with CSHE, Irina was able to refine and finalize her SERU-related contributions, and she ended up releasing a paper titled, Fostering Global Competence through Internationalization at American Research Universities, co-authored with Gregg Thomson and Martha​ ​C.​ ​Merrill.

In seeking to best harness what the UC Berkeley’s learning offering affords, Irina decided to enroll in a series of workshops on data methods in social sciences delivered by the university’s D-Lab. The training and expert guidance that D-Lab provides to social scholars enables staying on the cutting edge of methods and techniques in data-intensive social research. This unique knowledge makes up important groundwork for more accurate and effective research design and experimentation, which ultimately benefits various educational stakeholders and strategists through deeper answers and more convincing evidence about the most complex research questions.

While a great number of doctoral students in Russia would in fact like to pursue academic opportunities abroad, many tend to hold back on making their final decision or end up just dropping this idea at all, as they often run into various financial constraints and administrative hurdles or simply because they lack information. That’s why it is so important that you don’t stay reticent on this topic just hoping for yet a more fitting moment to come about one day. Rather, you should speak openly about your research abroad aspirations when meeting with your supervisor, since what does matter is that you get down to planning well beforehand and secure the best of support and encouragement on the part of academic seniors. Once armed with the confidence to succeed and shrewd advice from your more experienced peers, you’ll be sure to locate the best suiting option among an abundance of visiting scholar opportunities at such top-tier R&D centers as, for example, Boston College (Center for International Higher Education), Indiana University (School of Education), University of Cambridge (Faculty of Education), etc. Also, screening thoroughly through what kind of scholarships are available from DAAD, Fulbright, etc. will certainly come in handy once you go about sorting things out with the trip finance.        

As her academic stay with the UC Berkeley was drawing to its close, Irina contributed her important stake to organizing the conference, New Nationalism and Universities, which celebrated CSHE’s 60th Anniversary. With broad participation by the Center’s alumni, affiliated researchers and distinguished professionals from across the globe, the event has become a premier international venue for multi-perspective networking and debate about politics and policy in higher education. Upon invitation by the Conference’s Organizing Committee, a team of experts with the HSE Institute of Education was also visiting the UC Berkeley Campus to take part in the event. Vibrant sessions on how various aspects of nationalism have been influencing university systems at both reginal and international levels were attended by Isak Froumin, Igor Chirikov, and Alexander Sidorkin.

As part of her visit, Irina also actively presented about Russian education and volunteered in a Russian Language and Cultural Heritage Program.    

Learn more about the Center for Studies in Higher Education, UC Berkeley