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.

Please note that the Slavic department does not typically award a terminal M.A. degree. Rather, the M.A. is earned as part of studies toward the Ph.D. Students who are admitted already holding an M.A. in Slavic from another institution are required to complete a qualifying exam no later than the first semester in residence, or to fulfill all UW–Madison M.A. requirements as well.

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.

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

Program Resources

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.

Students are typically admitted with four- to five-year funding guarantees contingent on satisfactory progress and ability to perform assigned responsibilities well. Funding packages combine fellowships, teaching assistantships and project assistantships at the level of at least 33.3%. All such positions include a stipend as well as tuition remission and a generous health plan. Funding beyond the initial guarantee period is often available for one or two years.

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

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements


Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions

Accelerated: Accelerated programs are offered at a fast pace that condenses the time to completion. Students typically take enough credits aimed at completing the program in a year or two.

Evening/Weekend: ​Courses meet on the UW–Madison campus only in evenings and/or on weekends to accommodate typical business schedules.  Students have the advantages of face-to-face courses with the flexibility to keep work and other life commitments.

Face-to-Face: Courses typically meet during weekdays on the UW-Madison Campus.

Hybrid: These programs combine face-to-face and online learning formats.  Contact the program for more specific information.

Online: These programs are offered 100% online.  Some programs may require an on-campus orientation or residency experience, but the courses will be facilitated in an online format.


Minimum Credit Requirement 30 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 30 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement 20 credits must be graduate-level coursework. Details can be found in the Graduate School’s Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) policy (https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1244).
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.6 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements n/a
Assessments and Examinations Passing grades (no lower than B) 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 the Gateway exercise may not continue for Ph.D.
Language Requirements For Russian language proficiency requirements see "Assessments and Examinations."

Required COURSES

SLAVIC 800 Proseminar-Slavic Literature and Culture1
Select at least two of the following:4-5
Slavic Critical Theory and Practice
The Structure of Russian
Methods of Teaching Slavic Languages
Seminar requirement
SLAVIC 900 Seminar: Slavic Literature and Culture3
SLAVIC 900 Seminar: Slavic Literature and Culture3
Additional credits to reach 30 taken in consultation with advisor. Additional enrollments in SLAVIC 900 above the 6-credit requirement may count toward electives.
Total Credits30

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

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

UW–Madison Undergraduate

With program approval, up to 7 credits numbered 700 and above taken in the Slavic program 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.

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.


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 the student may be dismissed from the program.


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.


15 credits

Time Limits

This program follows the Graduate School's Time Limits policy.

grievances and appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

Students should contact the department chair or program director with questions about grievances. They may also contact the L&S Academic Divisional Associate Deans, the L&S Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning Administration, or the L&S Director of Human Resources.



Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

  1. (Critical Thinking and Writing Skills) 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.
  2. Develop broad knowledge of Russian literary history, the major writers and movements, from the origins to the present day. 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).
  3. (Language proficiency) 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). Demonstrate advanced knowledge of the structure of contemporary Russian.
  4. Recognize and apply principles of ethical and professional conduct in the context of Slavic studies.

Faculty: Professors Danaher, Evans-Romaine, Shevelenko, and van de Water; Associate Professor Reynolds; Assistant Professors Hanukai, Ospovat, Wodzynski, and Zilbergerts; Faculty Associates Tishler and Tumarkin