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Master of Arts Program

Important Graduate Contacts
Graduate Program Adviser: Lani Phillips
2019-20 Acting Graduate Program Coordinator: Gordana Crnković
The Graduate School Office: Main Desk, (206) 543-5900


Please see the “Graduate Admissions” section of this site.

General Description

The Graduate School of the University of Washington requires three quarters of full-time residence (36 credits, at least 18 in 500-600 courses, with a minimum of 10 credits per quarter for full-time status). All grades must be 3.0 or above, and all courses must be approved for graduate credit (numbered 400 or above). Although the Graduate School’s minimum is 36 credits, the Slavic M.A. Program requires that a student complete 45 credits as outlined below.


The 45 credits involve thirty-five credits of required coursework and ten elective credits. Many of the elective courses, and some of the required courses, are not taught every year. As you put together your program, please consult with your adviser about the planning of your program.

Required Slavic Core courses, 9-10 credits:

  • RUSS 501 – Russian Language for Graduate Students (2 credits)
  • RUSS 502 – Russian Translation (3 credits)
  • SLAVIC 501 – Using Slavic Resources (2 credits)
  • SLAVIC 518 – Foreign Language Teaching Methodology (2 credits) OR
    SLAVIC 519 – Slavic Language Pedagogy (3 credits)

Required Slavic Linguistics courses, choose 10 credits from the following:

  • SLAVIC 550 – Synchronic Slavic Linguistics
  • SLAVIC 551 – History of the Slavic Languages
  • SLAVIC 570 – Seminar in Slavic Linguistics

Required Slavic Literature courses, 10 credits:

  • RUSS 542 – Seminar in Contemporary Russian Poetry
  • RUSS 543 – Seminar in Contemporary Russian Prose

NOTE: M.A. students whose focus is Polish linguistics or BCMS literature, film, or culture should arrange with their advisers to take 10 units in courses or independent study related to their field of study.

Second Slavic Language, one of the following:

  • BCMS 403 – 3rd Quarter Bosnian/Croatian/Montenegrin/Serbian (implies 401 and 402)
  • BULGR 403 – 3rd Quarter Bulgarian (implies 401 and 402)  
  • CZECH 403 – 3rd Quarter Czech (implies 401 and 402)   
  • POLSH 403 – 3rd Quarter Polish (implies 401 and 402)
  • UKR 403 - 3rd Quarter Ukrainian (implies 401 and 402)

NOTE: A student may also fulfill this requirement by successfully testing out of 403 in any of the offered languages

At least two elective courses; choose 10 credits from those not previously chosen above or from the following:

  • BCMS 420 – Literature, Film, and Culture of the Former Yugoslavia and the Yugoslav Successor States
  • CZECH 420 – Modern Czech Literature in Translation  
  • POLSH 420 – Modern Polish Literature in Translation
  • RUSS 420 – Topics in Russian Literary and Cultural Scene
  • RUSS 421 – Post-Soviet Literary and Cultural Scene
  • RUSS 422 – Russian Literature in Emigration and Exile
  • RUSS 423 – Russian Film
  • RUSS 424 – Topics in Ethnicity and Cultural Identity
  • RUSS 425 – Russian Drama
  • RUSS 426 – Russian Art and Architecture
  • RUSS 430 – Major Authors
  • RUSS 512 – Russian Literary Criticism
  • RUSS 520 – Topics in Russian Literature and Culture
  • RUSS 521 – Russian Literature to 1800
  • RUSS 522 – Russian Literature of the Nineteenth Century
  • RUSS 523 – Russian Literature of the Twentieth Century
  • RUSS 526 – Modern Russian Literary, Cultural, and Film Studies
  • RUSS 542 – Seminar in Russian Poetry
  • RUSS 543 – Seminar in Contemporary Russian Prose
  • RUSS 570 – Research Seminar in Russian Literature
  • RUSS 577 – Russian Folk Literature
  • SLAVIC 423 – East European Film
  • SLAVIC 425 – Ways of Meaning: Universal and Culture Specific Aspects of Language
  • SLAVIC 426 – Ways of Feeling: Expressions of Emotion Across Languages and Cultures
  • SLAVIC 470 – Special Topics in Slavic Linguistics
  • SLAVIC 490 – Studies in Slavic Literatures
  • SLAVIC 520 – New Trends in Literary Theory
  • SLAVIC 561 – History of the East Slavic Languages
  • SLAVIC 562 – History of the West Slavic Languages
  • SLAVIC 563 – History of the South Slavic Languages
  • SLAVIC 565 – Old Church Slavic
  • SLAVIC 566 – Readings in Old Church Slavic
  • SLAVIC 570 – Special Topics in Slavic Linguistics
  • UKR 420 – Literature, Film, and Culture of the Ukraine  



The Slavic Department’s graduate program is a small one, which ensures that faculty are generally well aware of the progress that individual students are making towards their degree.

When students first enter the department, the Graduate Program Coordinator is by default their advisor of record and the person they should contact with any questions about coursework. The Graduate Program Coordinator and Graduate Program Advisor schedule a meeting with incoming students to review their current schedule and to discuss further coursework for the academic year. The Graduate Program Coordinator is also the individual who reviews students’ academic records at the end of each quarter.

During their second quarter of residence, students are required to choose an advisor or advisors whom they will consult for the remainder of their time as students or until such time as they select another advisor. The student and advisor(s) sign a form indicating that they have agreed to work together; this form is submitted to the Graduate Program Advisor, who places it in the student’s file. Students may opt to change advisors at any time and should not feel constrained to stay with their original advisor. In such an instance, a new form should be signed and placed in the student’s file.  

At the beginning of each new quarter, the Graduate Program Advisor provides the student and advisor(s) with an updated copy of the student’s requirements worksheet, showing what courses the student has completed and allowing both student and advisor to see what requirements remain. This is intended to ensure that any potential problems (e.g. with scheduling) can be dealt with in a timely manner and averted. Students are expected to meet with their advisor at least once a quarter to review their progress and discuss the next quarter’s projected work.

Twice yearly the department as a whole reviews all the graduate students at a faculty meeting and then communicates back to the students immediately. We make sure that we are aware of incompletes or a missed research language exam and that we communicate with the students on a range of issues. If the progress is deemed satisfactory, then the advisor of that student continues working with the student, communicating to the student his/her assessment of how the student is doing as well as the overall faculty assessment.

Advisors are also to be consulted when MA students first consider the areas in which they will be taking their comprehensive exams. Of necessity, the relationship between the post-MA student and advisor is even closer, as the advisor helps the student focus on areas of study pertinent to the eventual dissertation topic.

Scheduling and Program Deadlines

Please be aware of the scheduling and program deadlines for the Russian (or other Slavic language) language exam, the M.A. comprehensive exams, and the Ph.D. exams. Detailed information on these may be found in the next section.


1) Russian Language

Scheduling: This exam may be taken at any point during your study, but must be taken prior to scheduling your M.A. Comprehensive Exams. This exam may be taken no more than two times.  If a student does not pass the MA Language Exam, s/he is required to take RUSS 501 before retaking the exam. If a student fails the exam a second time, graduate status will be terminated.

The purpose of the Russian Language Qualifying Exam is to test the student’s oral and written command of the language on graduation from the Master’s program.  Conducted by two examiners, it is based on a set of unedited reading materials that are varied in content and register, which the student is given 24 hours to prepare with as much dictionary use as needed.  On the day of the exam, the student is given three-and-a-half hours without access to dictionaries to

  • Write a 1-2 page essay in Russian on a topic based on the readings;
  • Translate into English a short excerpt from each of the reading passages, totalling about three quarters of a page of Russian;
  • Have a 20-30 minute discussion with the two examiners based on the content of the reading materials.

This format makes the exam also a test of the student’s ability to study the language – to fully understand more challenging passages, and to use vocabulary, constructions and phrases learned from the reading materials in oral and written production based on their content.  Students are encouraged in their preparation to use Russian-Russian as as well as Russian-English dictionaries, and to use specialized dictionaries where necessary. The translation part of the exam  is a test of written comprehension rather  than of translation skill in its own right.

Grading: The exam is graded High Pass, Pass and Fail. Students failing the exam must repeat Russian 501 and/or 502 before taking the exam again. A High Pass is normally required for admission to the Doctoral Program.

Prerequisites: Russian 501 and Russian 502.

1A) Other Slavic Languages

Students whose program is centered around a Slavic language other than Russian must make special arrangements with the Graduate Program Advisor for further study and eventual testing in their target language.

2) Second Slavic Language

Students are required to fulfill this requirement by taking one year of a second Slavic language (see under “Required Coursework”) or by successfully testing out of the 403 course in that language.

3) M.A. Comprehensive Exams

The M.A. Examinations are normally in three fields and taken within a period of two weeks. They are four hours long taken in situ. With the permission of the Committee Chair and the examiner, students may elect three-day take-home essays (usually from Friday morning to Monday morning).  Examples of past exams are available in the Graduate Program Advisor’s office.

Russian literature graduate students should refer to the M.A. Exam Reading List. They should discuss and, if needed, modify this list in consultation with their adviser and M.A. committee members at least two months prior to the beginning of their M.A. Comprehensive Exams.

In order to take your M.A. examinations, you and your Committee Chair must get the approval of the Graduate Program Advisor in the quarter prior to your expected graduation. The Graduate Program Advisor will verify completion (or pending completion) of the requirements and scheduling of the proposed examinations and examiners via the MA Comprehensive Exams Scheduling Form, available from the Graduate Program Advisor .  You must have successfully completed the Russian Language Qualifying Exam (or the Qualifying Exam in another language appropriate for your research) in order to schedule your M.A. examinations.  Please note that students who choose to take their exams during spring quarter must complete all exams no later than the sixth week of the quarter.


You must:

1.   Consult with your Committee Chair and the Graduate Program Advisor (GPA)  about the fulfillment (or pending fulfillment) of your M.A. course  requirements in the quarter before you take the exams in the three fields;
2.   Schedule the exams with the prospective examiners (and notify GPA);
3.   Register for a minimum 2 credits in the quarter that you take the exams and expect to graduate. You must also apply for the degree on the web (;
4.   Print out a copy of the form and give to the Graduate Program Advisor  to be placed in your file.
5.   Allow time for the Committee to read the exams and sign the warrant before the last day of the quarter, otherwise registration for the following quarter will be necessary.  In the event that a student does not pass one of the exams, s/he will be asked to retake the exam in a subsequent quarter, which will require registering for a minimum of 2 credits.

Continuation or Termination of Student Status in the Slavic Department

In regard to the definition of “progress toward the M.A. degree,” the student will be reviewed every quarter in three main areas: 1. maintenance of a minimum 3.0 GPA in courses taken toward the degree; 2. language proficiency in the student’s major language; 3. progress toward the degree in terms of completion of the requirements in a two-year span.

  1. The Department will follow Graduate School Memorandum No. 16 recommending warning, probation, and final probation for failure to maintain a GPA of 3.0. One quarter will result in a warning, a second quarter in probation, and a third quarter in final probation and the student’s being dropped from the program.
  2. Language proficiency will be determined by an examination given by the department. A student is put on warning upon failure of this examination. A second failure will result in the student’s being dropped from the program.
  3. Satisfactory and timely progress toward the degree will be determined by evaluating the student’s record autumn and spring quarters by the Graduate Faculty. The overall performance (fulfilling program requirements, productive participation in coursework, demonstration of research capability) of the student is taken into consideration. Although the Graduate School allows students up to six years to complete all degree requirements, the Slavic Department recommends that students, in consultation with their Committee Chair, schedule examinations for no later than the eighth academic quarter.


A student may appeal change of status, as explained above, directly to the Chair of the Slavic Languages and Literatures Department. Appeals beyond this point will follow the process outlined in Graduate School Memorandum No. 33, Academic Grievance Procedure.