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Slavic Languages and Literatures

Administrative Unit:Slavic Languages and Literatures
College/School: College of Letters & Science
Admitting Plans:Ph.D.
Degrees Offered:M.A., Ph.D.
Minors and Certificates:Doctoral Minors in Russian, and in Slavic Languages and Literatures

Faculty: Professors Bethea, Danaher, Dolinin, Evans-Romaine, Filipowicz, Longinovic; Associate Professors Reynolds, Shevelenko


The Department of Slavic Languages and Literature at the University of Wisconsin–Madison is one of the nation’s leading doctoral programs in the field, and welcomes students with a B.A./B.S. or M.A. who are interested in all areas of Russian and comparative Slavic prose, poetry, drama, and philosophy. The curriculum offers breadth and depth in a variety of areas of Slavic philology, literature, and culture, and is known for offering a balanced approach to training in teaching, writing, and research.

The program is fortunate to count among its faculty, specialists in Czech, Polish, Russian, and Serbo-Croatian languages, literature, and culture, award-winning authors and teachers, and members of editorial boards of leading journals and publication series. Faculty biographical sketches provide more information on faculty and instructional academic staff. In addition to their excellence in teaching and research, professors are unparalleled mentors to graduate students. Students work closely with faculty members on writing, teaching, and publishing. Graduate students are expected to produce publishable articles during their graduate careers, and are provided the guidance and feedback to do so.

The department places high expectations on graduate students to achieve and maintain professional-level proficiency in the Russian language in all four modalities: speaking, writing, listening, and reading. All students who are not native speakers of Russian will be tested in those modalities—plus Russian grammar—when they enter the program, and periodically throughout their tenure. Appropriate competency must be demonstrated before receiving a teaching assistantship and before passing from M.A. to Ph.D. candidacy.

Graduate students in the program receive exceptional training in teaching both language and literature. The department has a thriving undergraduate program in Slavic languages with strong enrollments in language, literature and culture, providing many opportunities for teaching experience, working closely with master teachers among the faculty and academic staff. In addition to teaching assignments in first- through fourth-semester Russian language (and occasionally in other Slavic languages), as well as in the two-semester undergraduate survey of Russian literature course, the department has also instituted an apprenticeship program for adequately prepared graduate students in the teaching of advanced literature and language classes. The program's graduate teaching assistants regularly win prestigious campus awards for their excellence in the classroom.

The Ph.D. program typically requires three years of coursework, including an introduction to literary theory and a methods course in the teaching of Slavic languages, as well as linguistics courses and the full range of Russian literary and cultural history. An M.A. is conferred after three or four semesters, when all master's requirements are fulfilled. Students accepted to the Ph.D. program with an M.A. in Russian literature earned at another institution may choose to fulfill master’s requirements through the passing of a special qualifying examination. All Ph.D. students are also expected to choose a secondary area (minor) in addition to the major in Russian literature. Many choose to minor in a non-Russian Slavic language and literature (Polish or Serbo-Croatian). Other popular minors include English, history, communication arts, second language acquisition, comparative literature, linguistics, philosophy, folklore, and religious studies. The department also requires evidence of reading knowledge of a non-Russian Slavic language (Czech, Polish, or Serbo-Croatian) as well as of French or German before attaining dissertator status.

Students complete all requirements for dissertator status by the end of their seventh semester. The graduate program was recently revised, including the dissertation process, to allow for graduation with the Ph.D. in six to seven years from the BA. Students who choose to take a leave of absence for language study may require a longer tenure.

Financial Aid 

Most students receive funding for multiple years in the form of fellowships, teaching assistantships or project assistantships. These positions include a stipend as well as tuition remission and a generous health plan. Additional hourly employment is also often available. See the Graduate School's Funding Information page for more information.


For admission to the graduate program, the Slavic department requires the equivalent of a B.A. degree in Russian and a GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Students who have carried out graduate work at another institution must have a graduate GPA of 3.25. Official GRE and TOEFL (where applicable) scores are required.

Experience has shown that students who have spent at least a semester studying in Russia are best prepared to carry on graduate-level study in Russian. Students who are admitted with deficiencies, especially in Russian, are required to make up such deficiencies.

Note that we do not ordinarily admit students seeking a terminal M.A. Prospective students who are interested in a terminal master’s degree are encouraged to consider the interdisciplinary master’s degree in Russian, East European, and Central Asian Studies (REECAS) through the Center for Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia (CREECA).

Applications for admission to the graduate program in Russian literature are accepted at any time, but only complete applications received by January 2 will be considered for fellowships and other forms of funding for the following fall semester.

For more information: Senior Student Status Examiner, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, 1434 Van Hise Hall, 1220 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706; 608-262-3498; fax 608-265-2814; slavic@slavic.wisc.edu; slavic.lss.wisc.edu/.