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.

Doctoral Degrees

Ph.D.

Minimum Graduate Degree Credit Requirement

51 credit (including Master’s credits, but excluding dissertator credits)

Minimum Graduate Residence Credit Requirement

51 credit (including master’s credits, but excluding dissertator credits)

For students who completed their M.A. degree at another institution and who confirmed their M.A. degree in the department by passing a qualifying examination during their first semester of study: 36 credits (excluding dissertator credits).

Minimum Graduate Coursework (66%) Requirement

66% of degree coursework (34 credits out of 51 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 generally not allowed to count graduate coursework from other institution to fulfill degree requirements. Exceptions are students who are admitted to pursue a Ph.D. degree after completing their M.A. degree at another institution, and who confirmed their M.A. degree in the department by passing a qualifying examination. For such students, up to 15 credits of M.A. coursework counts toward Ph.D. degree requirements. Coursework earned ten or more years prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy 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 ten or more years prior to admission to a doctoral 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 ten or more years prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Credits per Term Allowed

15 credits

Program-Specific Courses Required

In addition to courses taken toward the M.A.:

SLAVIC 803 Introduction to Old Church Slavonic and the History of Russian Literary Language2
Select one of the following (see M.A. requirements):
Slavic Critical Theory and Practice
The Structure of Russian
Methods of Teaching Slavic Languages
Select one SLAVIC 900 3-credit course (topics seminar)

Students admitted with M.A. degree from another institution take three Slavic 900 3-credit topics seminars; SLAVIC 800 Proseminar-Slavic Literature and Culture and SLAVIC 804 Methods of Teaching Slavic Languages; and SLAVIC 801 Slavic Critical Theory and Practice, SLAVIC 802 The Structure of Russian, SLAVIC 803 Introduction to Old Church Slavonic and the History of Russian Literary Language—unless they can test out by demonstrating competence in respective areas based on passed graduate coursework.

Doctoral Minor/Breadth Requirements

All doctoral students are required to complete a minor.

Overall Graduate GPA Requirement

3.6 GPA required

Other Grade Requirements

Students should maintain a 3.6 GPA in all core curriculum courses and may not have any more than two Incompletes on their record at any one time.

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

Prior to being admitted to candidacy, 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.

No later than by the end of their sixth semester students choose their dissertation advisor.

After being admitted to candidacy, all students are required to submit brief written yearly progress reports to their thesis committee by the end of January.

Assessments and Examinations

Passing grades (no lower than AB) on all six written Foundation examinations in the history of Russian literature by the end of the sixth semester of coursework, counting from the start of M.A. program (see M.A. requirements for details). For students admitted with M.A. degree same requirements need to be fulfilled by the end of their fourth semester.

Passing all five Russian language proficiency examinations (see M.A. requirements for details) by the end of the sixth semester (end of the fourth semester for students admitted with M.A. degree).

Review of a capstone dossier (all six Foundation examinations and two major seminar papers) by the graduate faculty in the beginning of the seventh semester in the program (fifth semester for students admitted with M.A. degree).

Passing oral examination (defense of a dissertation proposal) by the end of the seventh semester in the program (fifth semester for students admitted with M.A. degree).

Defense of Ph.D. dissertation.

Time Constraints

Students must fulfill all coursework requirements and pass oral examination by the end of the seventh semester in the program (fifth semester for students admitted with M.A. degree).

A candidate for a doctoral degree who fails to take the final oral examination and deposit the dissertation within five years after passing the preliminary examination may by require to take another preliminary examination and to be admitted to candidacy a second time.

Doctoral degree students who have been absent for ten 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."

Reading knowledge of French or German must be demonstrated through examination.

Reading knowledge of a second Slavic language (Polish, Czech, or Serbo-Croatian) must be demonstrated through coursework (a minimum of two semesters of intensive instruction in Polish, Czech, or Serbo-Croatian) or examination.

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.  More information regarding graduate program admission may be found on the program website.

Knowledge and Skills

  • Critical Thinking and Writing Skills. Students will demonstrate: analytic, interpretative, 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.
  • Literature. Students will develop comprehensive 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 the following periods and movements: 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 all modalities (speaking, listening, reading, writing). Students will also demonstrate advanced knowledge of the structure of contemporary Russian. Students will also develop, at minimum, reading proficiency in languages essential for research in the field, including a second Slavic language and either French or German.
  • Ph.D. Minor: Students will demonstrate intellectual breadth and the ability to synthesize cross-cultural and interdisciplinary perspectives through the completion of a doctoral minor.
  • Ph.D. Dissertation; A successful Ph.D. candidate will have written a dissertation that synthesizes knowledge of relevant disciplines and develops it to create an original contribution to scholarship. The candidate will be able to present the results of her or his research both to experts in the field as well as to a wider public.
  • Teacher-Trainer: Students will demonstrate, both in theory and through instructional practice, foundational knowledge of second-language teaching, including the concepts of proficiency-oriented instruction and communicative language teaching; principles behind the design, integration, and delivery of classroom instruction and appropriate assessment instruments for all four modalities (speaking, listening, reading, writing), structure, and culture.

Professional Conduct

  • Students will recognize, apply, and foster 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