Foreign Scholarship – TS Clearance?

I’ve accepted a scholarship to attend a joint public policy master’s program at Moscow State University (МГУ) and the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (МГИМО). The program involves prominent Western scholars, but it’s not officially connected to a Western institution. My motivations are to develop regional expertise and linguistic fluency.

Will my acceptance of this scholarship disqualify me—rather than simply delay me—from earning a Top Secret clearance later in my career?

I ask because I’m currently participating in the master’s program virtually, in the USA, while my cohort experiences pandemic-related visa delays. The above concerns are making me anxious about this endeavor, even after serious initial deliberation and numerous encouraging conversations with officials in the USG. If my acceptance of the scholarship and involvement in the program present insurmountable security concerns, then I’d at least like to excuse myself from the program before I make plans to begin my studies in person—i.e., in Moscow.

Context: U.S. citizen, former Senate staffer, aspiring analyst, clean personal record

No, it won’t disqualify you. Frankly, I don’t know of anything that is a straight up disqualification other than like the “I knowingly meet with enemy spies often” kind of stuff.

But you are correct in that it will make it more of a challenge for you to fill out the clearance processing forms and will undoubtedly make your clearance processing take longer than if you hadn’t spent so long in Russia/interacted with so many foreign people. I would still say it is worth it, that sounds like an exciting opportunity.

For reference, I knew a guy who spent 2 years in China during college and received a TS about 3 years after coming back. His processing took well over 18 months and I think he had difficulty with the polygraph portion too.

Definitely make it slower. But don’t let that stop you from taking advantage of this opportunity.

You will probably attract a lot of attention from their side as well :slight_smile:

I’ve heard of people going to MGU but did not know they had foreign students at MGIMO

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Hey, folks. Thanks for your reassuring responses and thoughtful advice. I appreciate them.


Don’t underestimate downplay your acceptance of a large financial gift from a foreign adversarial government and how that might look to an adjudicator. I believe his will delay things much longer than you anticipate but it definitely could give you valuable experience for future government service.