Energy in Central Asia Program (ECAP)

ECAP provides participants the unique opportunity to study the business culture and energy industry of Central Asia and to network with global energy companies in Almaty and Astana.


Central Asia's abundant natural resources, highly educated workforce, vast geography, and promising markets have captured the attention of investors and companies around the world. Specially designed for students interested in business, economics, and development, this program examines Central Asia’s energy industry, the politics of oil and gas, and the potential environmental impact of the industry’s rapid growth. It concludes with a weeklong series of meetings and practica with industry executives, analysts, activists, and policy-makers in the energy field.

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Classes are provided by the Kazakhstan Institute of Management, Economics, and Strategic Research (KIMEP) University in Almaty. Participants receive 20 academic hours per week during the first three weeks of the program. Classroom topics include:

  • energy commodities,
  • the global energy market,
  • Kazakhstan's oil and gas industry, and
  • Russian or Kazakh language (for all levels).


The academic program incorporates the following two courses taught in English:

Gas and Oil in Central Asia

An interdisciplinary course examining the oil and gas industries from financial, marketing and political perspectives. The course covers basics and specifics of energy commodities as well as their value and ownership on international and national markets. The course also provides an overview of the oil and gas industry's global and geopolitical implications for the energy sector and the environment. The course pays special attention to the role of oil and gas in domestic politics and the ways in which government policies affect economic growth and social institutions.
(4 undergraduate or 5 graduate credits)

Language of Business and Culture

Study of Central Asian business culture and basic Kazakh or Russian grammar and vocabulary. Fundamental skills in speaking, reading, writing and oral comprehension are developed. Special emphasis on conversation skills necessary for successful communication in the business sector. (For students with no prior Kazakh or Russian language study the primary medium in the classroom is English. Intermediate and advanced level students have separate sections taught in Kazakh or Russian.)
(2 undergraduate or 2.5 graduate credits)

Program participants attend the Gas and Oil in Central Asia course together with other KIMEP and international students. The Language and Business of Culture course is designed to address specifically the needs of U.S. students and therefore, attended only by ECAP participants.

Academic Credit

Academic Credit

American Councils participants receive academic credit through Bryn Mawr College, an institutional member of American Councils. Upon successful completion of the Energy in Central Asia Program, Bryn Mawr College awards 6 undergraduate or 7 graduate hours of credit as follows:

Undergraduate Students
EURA 300 Special Topics: Gas and Oil in Central Asia (1.0 Unit*)
EURA 101** Language of Business and Culture (0.5 Units*)

*One Bryn Mawr College undergraduate academic unit is equivalent to four undergraduate semester credit hours.
** Please note that this course is designed for students who have no prior Russian language study. Academic credit for students at the intermediate and advanced levels will be assigned on an individual basis.

Graduate Students
EURA 500 Special Topics: Gas and Oil in Central Asia (1.0 Unit*)
EURA 501 Language of Business and Culture (0.5 Units*)

*One Bryn Mawr College graduate academic unit is equivalent to five graduate semester credit hours.

Course titles are tentative and may vary depending on instructor availability.



Extracurricular Activities

As part of the program in Kazakhstan, participants engage in a number of excursions and cultural activities. Activities outside the classroom are designed to give participants a deeper of understanding of life, culture, and history in Kazakhstan. While excursions and activities vary from year to year, past participants have enjoyed the following activities:

  • Welcome Party: During their first day of the program, participants are invited to join an informal welcome party at KIMEP University. The gathering provides an opportunity to meet fellow students from around the world who will be attending the International Summer School.

  • City Tour of Almaty: Almaty is situated in the center of the Eurasian continent and surrounded by mountains. The city tour takes students to Astana Square, the biggest open public space in the city; the Central Mosque; the famous Green bazaar; and the President's Park. Program participants also have a chance to see other major sites such as the Opera and Ballet Theater, the State Art Museum, the Central Stadium and the modern Almaty Towers. The tour concludes with a visit to the picturesque Medeu Valley in the south-eastern outskirts of Almaty, where the highest outdoor skating rink was built by Soviet engineers.

  • Excursion to Charyn Canyon: The Charyn Canyon is located in the Charyn National Park approximately 3 hours east of Almaty. It is often described as the Grand Canyon's little brother. Over millions of years the nature elements have created a dramatic and impressive landscape, which offers visitors today unforgettable and inspiring vistas. A part of the Canyon, called the Valley of Castles, consists of unusual rock formations with pillars and tall structures resembling castles.

  • Excursion to Tamgaly Tas: Tamgaly Tas ("hand-written rocks") is a historical site north of Almaty in the cliffs overlooking the bank of Ili river. The cliffs have preserved ancient petroglyphs of mysterious deities, Turkic runic script and late Buddhist inscriptions whose meaning has yet to be unraveled. There are about a thousand different rocks drawings ranging from deer-hunters to Sanskrit texts. The site is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site and under the special protection of the Kazakh government.

  • Excursion to Issyk Lake: Issyk Lake, or the Blue Lake, is fed by the beautiful Yesik River and subterranean springs, which not only warm the lake but also give it its particular milky-blue color. After traveling for about 2 hours southeast of Almaty and visiting an Ostrich Farm, participants enjoy a relaxing picnic at the lake side. On the way back, they stop the Sak Kurgan burial mound, where the Golden Man (or Golden Warrior) statue was discovered. After the country's independence, the Golden Man was adopted as one of the symbols of modern Kazakhstan. A huge statue of the Golden Man stands on top of the Independence Monument on the central square in Almaty.

  • City Tour of Astana: The capital of Kazakhstan since 1997, Astana is the country's second largest city after Almaty. Astana is located in central Kazakhstan on the Ishim River in a very-flat semi-arid steppe region which makes up most of the country's landscape. Astana's older neighborhoods lie on the northern banks of the Ishim River while the newer areas are located on the river's southern side. In many ways Astana represents the high ambitions of the Kazakh nation after independence and participants will have the chance to witness this transformation first hand. Some of the city's sights that participants will visit include the government quarter, Ishim River waterfront, National Mosque, Islamic Center, Market hall, and the Bayterek Tower.

  • Farewell Party: At this social event on the last day of the academic the program, participants have a chance to mingle one last time with their fellow students from around the world and congratulate themselves with the successful completion of the academic program.

Program Administration and Partners

Program Administration and Partners

KIMEP University

American Councils has partnered with the Kazakhstan Institute of Management, Economics, and Strategic Planning (KIMEP) University over the last 10 years on a variety of immersion overseas programs. One of the premiere universities in the region, KIMEP is a private, non-profit university that provides western-style instruction to its students. Founded in 1992 with the mission to educate today’s global citizens, KIMEP University attracts faculty from the U.S. and Europe and currently offers 15 degree programs, including undergraduate and graduate programs in Business Administration, Economics and International Relations. KIMEP has approximately 4,000 students who come from 25 countries, including Russia, China, and the United States.


Housing for ECAP participants is provided by KIMEP University. Participants live on campus in a double-occupancy dormitory room. Cafeterias on campus are available to partipicants for purchasing meals. Other campus amenities include: communal kitchen access, laundry facilities, computer labs, and designated study areas.



Application Deadline

Applications for Summer 2016 are due by March 1st.

Program Dates

July 15- August 14, 2016 (four weeks)

Students are expected to arrive in Almaty on Friday, July 15. There will be a in-country orientation in Almaty over the weekend with classes starting Monday, July 18. After the program ends, students are expected to leave Astana by Saturday, August 14.



2015 Summer Program Cost

$4,000 (excludes international airfare)

What's included in the ECAP program cost?

  • tuition and fees at KIMEP University
  • academic credit through Bryn Mawr College
  • single-entry Kazakh visa
  • housing in the university dormitory (double occupancy)
  • trip to Astana
  • pre-departure orientation
  • in-country orientation
  • airport transportation
  • cultural activities
  • health insurance
  • in-country logistical support
  • 24/7 emergency contact

*International airfare is not included in the program cost.
Support Services

Support Services


Before leaving the U.S., program participants attend a mandatory pre-departure orientation. Orientation sessions address topics such as health and safety, Kazakh academic culture, dormitory housing, culture shock, and strategies to maximize a student's experience abroad. Students also have a chance to meet and get to know fellow participants. Lodging and meals for the orientation are provided. Upon arrival in Kazakhstan, the American Councils Almaty office provides an informative in-country orientation.

Support Staff

The American Councils Almaty office, employing both expatriates and host-country nationals, arranges the academic program, business practica, housing, in-country orientation, and medical care. American Councils regional staff also provide ongoing logistical support, including an emergency contact person who is available at all times for participants. During the pre-departure orientation, participants receive a wallet-sized card listing field office contact information as well as other important phone numbers.

During the program, the Outbound Office in Washington, D.C. stays in close contact via email and telephone with all regional offices hosting study abroad participants. Outbound staff also perform regular site visits to meet with American Councils program participants in the field.


In addition, participants are enrolled in international health insurance provided by Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI). The CISI health insurance plan provides medical coverage of up to $250,000 per accident or illness as well as full coverage for emergency medical evacuation. American Councils overseas staff are available at all times to assist participants in receiving the best medical care available.


All participants are provided with a single-entry visa to Kazakhstan for the duration of the academic program. It is the student's responsibility to obtain any other visas required by their individual itineraries.

Visa application information and forms are provided upon acceptance to the program.