Elementary courses in Russian and Polish are designed to meet the needs of students who begin to study the language in college as well as those who began to study the language in high school. One unit (year) of high school coursework is roughly equivalent to one semester of college work; all incoming students, however, who want to continue their study of Russian or Polish are assigned to courses on the basis of placement tests. These tests may admit a student to a more advanced course, but give no credit toward graduation. Students should speak with their instructor regarding retroactive credits during the first week of class.

To declare a major in Polish, students should make an appointment with the undergraduate advisor, or call 608-262-3498.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

College of Letters & Science Breadth and Degree Requirements: Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)

Students pursuing a bachelor of arts degree in the College of Letters & Science must complete all of the requirements below. The College of Letters & Science allows this major to be paired with either a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science curriculum. View a comparison of the degree requirements here.

Bachelor of Arts degree requirements

Mathematics Fulfilled with completion of University General Education requirements Quantitative Reasoning a (QR A) and Quantitative Reasoning b (QR B) coursework. Please note that some majors may require students to complete additional math coursework beyond the B.A. mathematics requirement.
Foreign Language
  • Complete the fourth unit of a foreign language; OR
  • Complete the third unit of a foreign language and the second unit of an additional foreign language

Note: A unit is one year of high school work or one semester/term of college work.
L&S Breadth
  • Humanities, 12 credits: 6 of the 12 credits must be in literature
  • Social Sciences, 12 credits
  • Natural Sciences, 12 credits: must include one 3+ credit course in the biological sciences; must include one 3+ credit course in the physical sciences
Liberal Arts and Science Coursework 108 credits
Depth of Intermediate/Advanced work 60 intermediate or advanced credits
Major Declare and complete at least one (1) major
Total Credits 120 credits
UW-Madison Experience 30 credits in residence, overall
30 credits in residence after the 90th credit
Minimum GPAs 2.000 in all coursework at UW–Madison
2.000 in intermediate/advanced coursework at UW–Madison

Non–L&S students pursuing an L&S major

Non–L&S students who have permission from their school/college to pursue an additional major within L&S only need to fulfill the major requirements and do not need to complete the L&S breadth and degree requirements above.

Requirements for the Major 

1. The Polish major requires 9 credits in Polish-language courses above Fourth Semester Polish (SLAVIC 208) taken from:9
Third Year Polish I
Third Year Polish II
Fourth Year Polish I
Fourth Year Polish II
2. 6 credits in Polish literature in translation:6
Polish Literature in Translation: 14th to the Mid-19th Century
Polish Literature (in Translation) since 1863
3. 9 credits in literature in the original language and culture and area studies: 19
Zarys historii literatury polskiej 2
Topics in Slavic Literatures 3
Eastern Europe: An Interdisciplinary Survey
Polish Culture and Area Studies on Study Abroad
Representation of the Jew in Eastern European Cultures
Literatures and Cultures of Eastern Europe
Topics in Slavic Literatures in Translation 3
History of Poland and the Baltic Area
Total Credits24

Other courses related to Poland may count, with the approval of the advisor, including courses taken abroad on Polish history, society, politics, economy and so forth.


SLAVIC 302 Zarys historii literatury polskiej is taught in Polish.


SLAVIC 245 Topics in Slavic Literatures and LITTRANS 247 Topics in Slavic Literatures in Translation are topics courses and the topic must be approved by the advisor for the Polish major for credit toward the major.

L&S Residence and quality of work

2.000 GPA in all courses counting in the major

2.000 GPA on 15 upper-level major credits taken in residence4

15 credits in the major taken on the UW–Madison campus

4 Upper-Level Courses

SLAVIC 277 Third Year Polish I3
SLAVIC 278 Third Year Polish II3
SLAVIC 302 Zarys historii literatury polskiej3
SLAVIC 307 Study Abroad in Poland1-4
SLAVIC 308 Polish Culture and Area Studies on Study Abroad1-4
SLAVIC 331 Fourth Year Polish I3
SLAVIC 332 Fourth Year Polish II3
SLAVIC/​FOLKLORE  444 Slavic and East European Folklore3
SLAVIC 470 Historia literatury polskiej do roku 18633
SLAVIC 472 Historia literatury polskiej po roku 18633
HISTORY 425 History of Poland and the Baltic Area3-4
LITTRANS 215 Polish Literature in Translation: 14th to the Mid-19th Century3
LITTRANS 471 Polish Literature (in Translation), Middle Ages to 18633
LITTRANS 473 Polish Literature (in Translation) since 18633

The following courses count as upper level in the major:  SLAVIC 277, SLAVIC 278, SLAVIC 302, SLAVIC 307, SLAVIC 308, SLAVIC 331, SLAVIC 332, SLAVIC 423, SLAVIC 444, SLAVIC 470, SLAVIC 472, HISTORY 425, LITTRANS 215, LITTRANS 471, LITTRANS 216, LITTRANS 473

Distinction in the Major in Polish

With the permission of the Polish honors advisor, students who are not in any of the honors programs may work toward Distinction in the Major in Polish. Distinction in the Major may be granted for any student who has a 3.500 grade point average in the major, and who has submitted an acceptable senior thesis.

Honors in the Major

Students may declare Honors in the Polish Major in consultation with the Polish Honors Advisor (

Honors in the Polish Major Requirements

To earn a B.A. or B.S. with Honors in the Major in Polish students must satisfy both the requirements for the major (above) and the following additional requirements:

  • Earn a 3.300 overall university GPA
  • Complete 15 credits in SLAVIC, taken for Honors, with individual course grades of B or better, to include:
  • 9 credits above SLAVIC 208 Fourth Semester Polish, chosen from the following list1:
SLAVIC 277 Third Year Polish I3
SLAVIC 278 Third Year Polish II3
SLAVIC 301 Introduction to Intensive Polish3
SLAVIC 302 Zarys historii literatury polskiej3
SLAVIC 331 Fourth Year Polish I3
SLAVIC 332 Fourth Year Polish II3
SLAVIC 470 Historia literatury polskiej do roku 18633
SLAVIC 472 Historia literatury polskiej po roku 18633
  • A two-semester Senior Honors Thesis in SLAVIC 681 Senior Honors Thesis and SLAVIC 682 Senior Honors Thesis, for a total of 6 credits.

 This requirement may be waived for students who take some of these courses while studying abroad in Poland.

University Degree Requirements 

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.
  1. Polish language proficiency: Students will develop speaking, listening, writing, and reading skills and integrate these skills to communicate in Polish in a variety of social situations.
  2. Students will develop and apply writing skills and oral communication skills appropriate to liberal arts education in the context of Slavic studies.
  3. Students will develop and apply critical thinking skills inherent in the liberal arts tradition in the context of Slavic studies.
  4. Students will be able to analyze and interpret works of literature in themselves and in the context of specific historical and cultural conditions.
  5. Students will demonstrate insight into Polish culture and civilization and apply this knowledge across disciplines such as history, political science, the arts, geography, business, economics, sociology, the sciences, gender studies, philosophy, law, folklore.

Advising and Careers

For advising in Russian or Polish contact our Russian and Polish undergraduate advisor Anna Tumarkin.

For placement in Russian contact Anna Tumarkin.

For placement in Polish contact Ewa Miernowska.

For information on the Russian Flagship Program contact Laura Weigel or visit their program page.

For other undergraduate concerns, please contact our Undergraduate Coordinator:

Bridget Sutton, Undergraduate Coordinator
1306 Van Hise

For additional career advising please contact:

Michael Kruse
International Directions Advisor
Language Institute

Letters & Science Career Initiative & Career Services
1305 Linden Drive, Suite 205
Madison, WI 53706

Professors David Danaher, Alexander Dolinin, Karen Evans-Romaine, Halina Filipowicz, Tomislav Longinovic, Irina Shevelenko, Manon van de Water

Associate Professor Andrew Reynolds

Assistant Professor Marina Zilbergerts

Faculty Associates Jennifer Tishler, Anna Tumarkin

Senior Lecturers Galina Lapina, Ewa Miernowska

Lecturer Alexandra Walter