Master of Arts Program

Program Requirements

The M.A. Program in Slavic Languages & Literatures requires completion of 54 - 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 427 – Russian Jewish Experience (5)
            • 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
            • SLVN 401, 402, and 404
            • 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 an 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 Supervisory Committee. In addition to the required 44 - 45 coursework credits, students will be required to take 10 credits of SLAVIC 700 (M.A. Thesis) and must follow all Graduate School guidelines for the 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.  In addition to the required 44 - 45 coursework credits, students will be required to take 10 credits of  SLAVIC 600 (Independent Study).

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.

PLEASE NOTE: Students interested in Russian literature should refer to the Reading List for M.A. Students of Russian Literature established by departmental faculty when completing their cumulative project.