Slavic languages and literature at the University of Wisconsin–Madison is a national leader of 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. Information regarding faculty biographical sketches are available on the program website. 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.  More information regarding coursework may be found on the program website.

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 B.A. Students who choose to take a leave of absence for language study may require a longer tenure.

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 program website and the Graduate School's funding information page for more information.

Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress

To make progress toward a graduate degree, students must meet the Graduate School Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress in addition to the requirements of the program.

Master’s Degrees

M.A.

Minimum Graduate Degree Credit Requirement

30 credits

Minimum Graduate Residence Credit Requirement

30 credits

Minimum Graduate Coursework (66%) Requirement

66% of degree coursework (20 credits out of 30 total credits) must be in graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide.

Prior Coursework Requirements: Graduate Work from Other Institutions

Students are not allowed to count graduate coursework from other institution to fulfill degree requirements.

Prior Coursework Requirements: UW–Madison Undergraduate

With program approval, up to 7 credits numbered 700 and above taken in the Slavic department while pursuing a UW–Madison undergraduate degree are allowed to count toward the degree. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Prior Coursework Requirements: UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison special student. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Credits per Term Allowed

15 credits

Program-Specific Courses Required

SLAVIC 800 Proseminar-Slavic Literature and Culture1
Select at least two of the following:
Slavic Critical Theory and Practice
The Structure of Russian
Introduction to Old Church Slavonic and the History of Russian Literary Language
Two SLAVIC 900 3-credit courses (topics seminars)

Overall Graduate GPA Requirement

3.6 GPA required.

Other Grade Requirements

Students must earn a B or above in all core curriculum coursework.

Probation Policy

A semester GPA below 3.25 will result in the student being placed on academic probation. If a semester GPA of 3.25 is not attained during the subsequent semester of full time enrollment (or 12 credits of enrollment if enrolled part-time) the student may be dismissed from the program or allowed to continue for 1 additional semester based on advisor appeal to the Graduate School.

Advisor / Committee

All students meet with graduate advisor once a semester (in November and April) to discuss their progress and to plan their coursework for the subsequent semester.

Assessments and Examinations

Passing grades (no lower than AB) on three of the program’s six written Foundation examinations in the history of Russian literature (linked to courses SLAVIC 701 Survey of Old Russian Literature, SLAVIC 702 Eighteenth-Century Russian Literature, SLAVIC 703 Foundations in Russian Romanticism, SLAVIC 707 Foundations in Russian Realism (~1840-1890s), SLAVIC 708 Foundation in Russian Modernism (~1890s-1930s), SLAVIC 709 Foundation in Soviet, Emigre, and Post-Soviet Literature (~1930-present)); exams may be taken irrespective of enrollment in the courses.

Passing at least three out of five Russian language proficiency examinations in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and grammar. Passing level for the first four exams: Advanced Low on ACTFL scale; passing score for grammar test: 80%.

A Gateway exercise: the full faculty review of student’s progress to date and assessment of potential to succeed in the Ph.D. track is conducted upon the award of the M.A. At least one senior faculty member must express willingness ultimately to serve as dissertation advisor. Students who do not pass Gateway exercise may not continue for Ph.D.

Time Constraints

Master’s degree students who have been absent for five or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Individual programs may count the coursework students completed prior to their absence for meeting program requirements; that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.

Language Requirements

For Russian language proficiency requirements see "Assessments and Examinations."

This master’s program is offered for work leading to the Ph.D. Students may not apply directly for the master’s, and should instead see the admissions information for the Ph.D.

Knowledge and Skills

  • Critical Thinking and Writing Skills: Students will demonstrate: analytic, interpretive, and critical thinking skills; knowledge of research protocols; and understanding of the specificity of the literary object as well as its historical and cultural context.
  • Students will develop broad knowledge of Russian literary history, the major writers and movements, from the origins to the present day. Students will demonstrate this knowledge in relation to periods and movements, courses in which are offered during their time in the program. These include: Old Russian Literature; 18th-Century Russian Literature; Romanticism (ca. 1790s to 1840s); Realism (ca. 1840s to 1890s); Modernism (ca. 1890s to 1920s); Soviet, Emigre, and Post-Soviet Periods (ca. 1930s to the present).
  • Language proficiency: Students will demonstrate Advanced Russian language proficiency on the ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) scale across three modalities (speaking, listening, reading, or writing). Students will also demonstrate advanced knowledge of the structure of contemporary Russian.

Professional Conduct

  • Students will recognize and apply principles of ethical and professional conduct in the context of Slavic studies.

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