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Master of Arts Program

Program Requirements

The M.A. Program in Slavic Languages & Literatures requires completion of 44 - 55 credits and includes three components: coursework, a language proficiency exam in your primary language of focus, and a cumulative project. Students in the program designate a primary and secondary language of focus, and may choose between three options for their cumulative project.  This flexibility allows students to tailor the program to meet their individual personal and professional goals, while ensuring they gain in-depth knowledge of the diverse and rich civilizations of Eastern and Central Europe, Russia, Caucasus, and Central Asia.  

1.  Coursework

While there are some required courses, much of the coursework allows you to choose classes that align with your areas of interest.  The coursework requirements are as follows:

Core Coursework (9-10 credits, all required)

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

Slavic Linguistics (5 credits)

Choose one course from the following: 

            • SLAVIC 425 – Ways of Meaning: Universal and Culture Specific Aspects of Language (5)
            • SLAVIC 426 – Ways of Feeling: Expressions of Emotions Across Languages and Cultures (5)
            • SLAVIC 481 – East European Language in Eastern Europe (1-5)
            • SLAVIC 550 – Synchronic Slavic Linguistics (5)
            • SLAVIC 551 – Introduction to the History of Slavic Languages (5)
            • SLAVIC 561 – History of the East Slavic Languages (5)
            • SLAVIC 562 – History of the West Slavic Languages (5)
            • SLAVIC 563 – History of the South Slavic Languages (5)
            • SLAVIC 570 – Special Topics in Slavic Linguistics (3-5)

Slavic Literature (5 credits)

Choose one course from the following: 

            • RUSS 520 – Topics in Russian Literature and Culture (5)
            • RUSS 521 – Russian Literature to 1800 (5)
            • RUSS 522 – Russian Literature of the 19th Century (5)
            • RUSS 523 – Russian Literature of the 20th Century (5)
            • RUSS 526 – Modern Russian Literary, Cultural, and Film Studies (5)
            • RUSS 542 – Seminar in Russian Poetry (5)
            • RUSS 543 – Seminar in Contemporary Russian Prose (5)
            • RUSS 570 – Research Seminar in Russian Literature (5)
            • RUSS 577 – Russian Folk Literature (5)

Second Slavic Language (15 credits)

Choose one language series from the following: 

            • BCMS 401, 402, and 403
            • BULGR 401, 402, and 403 
            • CZECH 401, 402, and 403
            • POLSH 401, 402, and 403
            • UKR 401, 402, and 403

PLEASE NOTE: Students already proficient through the first year of a second Slavic language may fulfill this requirement by taking a placement exam and testing into the second year.  Students who test out of 401, 402, and/or 403 (or 404 in the case of Slovene) may be required to take additional elective credits to fulfill the minimum number of credits for the degree.

Electives (10 credits)

Two additional courses, chosen from the classes offered by the Slavic Department.

PLEASE NOTE: M.A. students whose focus is Polish or BCMS should speak with their faculty adviser to find appropriate courses to replace RUSS 501 and 502.

2.  Language Proficiency Exam

M.A. students are required to pass a proficiency exam in their primary Slavic language of study, in order to demonstrate their oral and written command of the language.  The exam is graded as High Pass, Pass, or Fail, and may not be taken more than twice.  Students who fail the exam twice will have their graduate status terminated.  

While the exam may be taken at any point during your course of study, you must successfully complete this requirement before beginning work on the cumulative project.  


The Russian proficiency exam is conducted by two examiners, and is based on a set of unedited reading materials that vary in content and register.  Students are given 24 hours to prepare, and are encouraged to use Russian-Russian, Russian-English, and specialized dictionaries during this period. On the day of the exam, students have 3.5 hours, without using a dictionary, to

            • Write a 1-2 page essay in Russian on a topic based on the readings;
            • Translate a short excerpt from each of the reading passages into English (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.

PLEASE NOTE: Students who do not pass the exam the first time will be required to retake RUSS 501 before attempting the exam a second time.

Other Slavic Languages

Students whose primary language of study is not Russian should speak with their faculty adviser about the proficiency exam in their target language. 

3.  Cumulative Project

M.A. candidates must complete a cumulative project, chosen from the following options:

Option A: Thesis

Students pursuing this option will complete an M.A. thesis, under the direction of a 
graduate faculty member. In addition to the required 44 - 45 coursework credits,
students will be required to take 10 credits of SLAVIC 700 (M.A. Thesis).

Option B: Comprehensive Exams

Students electing this option will take two comprehensive M.A. examinations, and should consult with their faculty adviser to determine the fields and to schedule the exam.

Option C: Project

Students choosing this option will complete an M.A. project that emphasizes research and creativity. In addition to the required 44 - 45 coursework credits, students will be required to take 10 credits of  SLAVIC 600 (Independent Project). Project possibilities include:

Teaching Portfolio: This project is suitable for students who wish to teach Russian or another Slavic language as a foreign language. It involves preparation of substantial original materials to teach the student's language of specialization. Materials are to be presented in a portfolio containing:

                • A description of the materials, the student population for whom they are intended, and how they are to be used;
                • The materials themselves.

Digital Project: The project will be devised in consultation with a chosen faculty director. Upon completion, the student will defend the project before a faculty panel of two professors: the director and a second member.


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 adviser of record and the person they should contact with any questions about coursework. The Graduate Program Coordinator and Graduate Program Adviser will 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 adviser with whom they will consult for the remainder of their time as students, or until such time as they select another adviser.  At the beginning of each new quarter, students should meet with their adviser to review their progress and discuss the next quarter’s projected work.

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.