Master's program 2020 / 2022 Experimental Higher Education

Master of Arts in Experimental Higher Education (X-HE) will prepare professionals who will design and implement novel education models.

Possible careers:

(01) vice rectors/vice presidents for education, teaching and learning, student affairs;

(02) advisors to rectors and vice-rectors in educational matters, change management project leaders;

(03) deans, department chairs, heads of programs.


In order to solve old and emerging problems in Higher Education, we need a laboratory for new practices and experimenters who will develop them. We believe SAS should become such a lab. And we also believe that experimenters can and should be trained. We have developed a Master’s program to do just that.

The curriculum of Master of Arts in Experimental Higher Education (X-HE) is experiment-driven. Within the program, you will:

  • Conduct your own experiments: come up with a new teaching method, design and deliver your own course, affect the whole curriculum;
  • Develop your personal vision for the future of Higher Education;
  • Obtain strategic and tactical skills to turn your experiments into lasting innovations.

The program is cohort-based. By the end of the program, you will build a professional community of X-HE graduates to rely upon during your whole career.

X-HE is academically grounded. You will study instructional design, organizational change, and applied philosophy of Higher Education. An ongoing professional seminar integrates your coursework and reflections on experimenting.

You will spend Year 1 at SAS, Tyumen. SAS offers a unique fusion of a liberal arts education and interdisciplinary research. You will interact with international faculty of SAS on a daily basis and experiment on its educational model. At the end of Year 1, you will present an original idea of an innovation to the board of national influencers.

In Year 2 you will be placed at another institution to implement a larger experimental project. You will continue your studies online and visit SAS for a week-long module each quarter. You will learn diplomacy, team management, and scaling innovations. At the end of Year 2, you will present your experiment to the international board to increase your global visibility.

Upon completing X-HE, you will have developed a portfolio of experiments and a statement of your personal educational philosophy.


Academic Courses

01. Applied Philosophy:

  • Philosophy of Knowledge
  • Applied philosophy: Classroom Experiments
  • Applied philosophy: Institutional Experiments

02. University as an Organization:

  • The Modern University
  • Organizational Analysis
  • Organizational Change
  • Economics of Education
  • Governance
    of Educational Innovations
  • Diplomacy and Negotiations
    in Education
  • Higher Education Policy
  • Reforms in Higher Education
  • Comparative Higher Education

03. Teaching and Learning:

  • Fundamentals of Learning
  • Instructional Design
  • Service Design
  • Curricular Evaluation


  • Microteaching at SAS
  • Course Design and Delivery at SAS
  • Designing Your Own Education Project for SAS
  • Implementing Long-term Project in HE Institution

Professional Seminar

  • Reflection Track
  • Research
  • Best Practices


An experiment is based on a hypothesis, grounded in theory and evidence. Educational experiments must affect teaching and learning. They break the rules to address problems in a nonconventional way. They also require responsible execution: if things are not working out as you expected, you must know when to stop.

What kinds of experiments will you do in this program?

  • on teaching methods
  • on teaching formats
  • on program design
  • on evaluation
  • on curriculum structure
  • on learning environment
  • on educational technologies
  • on the institutional educational policy


The program length is two years.

Year 1 is residential: students will (01) design and implement teaching and learning experiments at SAS; (02) take academic courses; (03) attend a professional seminars.

HE Situation: Fields & Landscapes and Higher Learning (Semester 1)

  • The Modern University
  • Fundamentals of Learning
  • Philosophy of Knowledge
  • Instructional Design
  • Applied Philosophy: Classroom Experiments
  • Organisational Analysis
  • Professional Seminar (Defining experiments, Typology of Educational Innovations, Basic Experiment Protocol, Research Methods)
  • SAS Internship: Microteaching and Course Design at SAS

Experimental Teaching and Experimental Designs (Semester 2)

  • Applied Philosophy: Institutional Experiments
  • Organisational Change
  • Curricular Evaluation
  • Governance of Educational Innovations
  • Service Design
  • Economics of Education
  • Professional Seminar (Public Speaking in Education, Project Management)
  • Course Design and Delivery at SAS and Designing Your Own Education Project for SAS

Year 2 — an external placement: featuring also (04) implementation of projects at external organisations; (05) 4 one-week modules at SAS and Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO; (06) online tutorials, coursework, and consultations.

Experimenting (Module 1)

  • Diplomacy and Negotiations in Education
  • University Education Hackathon 

New Directions and Reimagining / Learning (Module 2)

  • Higher Education Policy
  • Resistance to Change Simulation

Ups and Downs of Implementation
(Module 3, Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO)

  • Reforms in Higher Education
  • Communication with Stakeholders

Master of Arts: Integration and Internationalisation (Module 4) 

  • Comparative Higher Education
  • Portfolio Defence 


Daniel Kontowski

Head of Education of the School of Advanced Studies. Daniel has recently defended his doctoral dissertation on the European liberal arts education at the University of Winchester (UK).
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Dara Melnyk

Head of the Research Group at SKOLKOVO Education Development Centre. She has a BA from The National University of Ostroh Academy (Ukraine), and an MA from St. Petersburg State University (Russia). Dara’s professional and research interests fall under the umbrellas of university transformation and experimental higher education.
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Andrey Shcherbenok

Director of the School of Advanced Studies. Candidate of Sciences (Philology), St. Petersburg State University, Russian literature; PhD (University of California, Berkeley, critical theory with an emphasis on Film Studies); 2006-2009 — a postdoctoral fellow, a teacher and a member of the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at Columbia University; 2009-2011 — Newton international research fellow of the British Academy; since 2011 — associate professor at Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO.
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X-HE is aimed at young and mid-career professionals who see learning as an engine of changes in university education. An ideal candidate will have at least two years of experience of both working in university administration and teaching at the university level.

General expectations:

  • A Bachelor’s degree
  • Demonstrated interest in transforming higher education;
  • B2 level of English proven by a relevant test or courses passed
  • Experience in teaching in higher education, managing, or doing research on higher education.

For 2020–2022, there are 15 government-subsidized places (+ full-fee places).

(01) Portfolio Competition

The candidate must submit:

  • one-page CV,
  • a list of presentations or publications or description of practical experience,
  • full transcripts of studies and a certificate of English,
  • 1-2 page expression of interest OR a self-recorded video of no longer than 3 minutes.

All documents must use at least Times New Roman 12 or equivalent.

Criteria for evaluation: genuine interest and motivation, relevant work experience, English competency.

(02) Essay

Components: a 15-minute panel interview about the submitted essay, higher education innovations, and the candidate’s motivation.

Criteria for evaluation: originality of the work submitted, satisfactory answers to the panel’s questions; motivation; social skills; a good command of spoken English.

(03) Interview

Components: a 15-minute panel interview about the submitted essay, higher education innovations, and the candidate’s motivation.

Criteria for evaluation: satisfactory answers to the questions about higher education and submitted proposal; motivation; social skills; a good command of spoken English.