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 consult the table below for key information about this degree program’s admissions requirements. The program may have more detailed admissions requirements, which can be found below the table or on the program’s website.

Graduate admissions is a two-step process between academic programs and the Graduate School. Applicants must meet the minimum requirements of the Graduate School as well as the program(s). Once you have researched the graduate program(s) you are interested in, apply online.

Fall Deadline January 2
Spring Deadline January 2*
Summer Deadline The program does not admit in the summer.
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Not required but may be considered if available.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements (https://grad.wisc.edu/apply/requirements/#english-proficiency).
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

Spring start admissions is only open for re-admission of continuing students. New applicants should only apply for the Fall semester start.

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 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 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.

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 51 credit (including Master’s credits, but excluding dissertator credits)
Minimum 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 Requirement 34 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 all six written Foundation examinations in the history of Russian literature by the end of the sixth semester of coursework (including those passed as an M.A. student). 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 (including those passed as an M.A. student) 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.
Language Requirements For Russian language proficiency requirements see "Assessments and Examinations."

Knowledge equivalent to two years of college-level study of either 1) French or German OR 2) a second Slavic language. Must be demonstrated through coursework or placement test/examination.

In well-grounded cases, when a different language is necessary for student’s research, it may be counted towards fulfillment of language requirement. A student will submit a respective petition to DGS, which will be discussed and decided upon by all Slavic graduate faculty.
Breadth Requirement All doctoral students are required to complete a doctoral minor or a Graduate/Professional certificate.

Required COURSES

Students entering without a master's must complete the courses required for the M.A. Students entering with a master's may have some course requirements waived; please consult the program.

MA Required Courses30
PhD Coursework:
SLAVIC 803 Introduction to Old Church Slavonic and the History of Russian Literary Language2
Select one of the following not taken toward the M.A.:2-3
Slavic Critical Theory and Practice
The Structure of Russian
Methods of Teaching Slavic Languages
Seminar requirement
SLAVIC 900 Seminar: Slavic Literature and Culture3
Doctoral Minor or Graduate/Professional CertificateMinimum of 9 credits
Electives as needed to reach 51 credits5-6
Total Credits51

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 generally not allowed to count graduate coursework from other institutions 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. Up to 9 credits of prior graduate coursework may be counted toward the Doctoral Minor requirement (Option B -- Distributed Minor). Coursework earned ten or more years prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy 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.

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.


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.


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.


15 credits

Time Limits

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 be required 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.

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, 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.
  2. (Literature) Develop comprehensive knowledge of Russian literary history, the major writers and movements, from the origins to the present day. 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).
  3. (Language proficiency) Demonstrate Advanced Russian language proficiency on the ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) scale across all modalities (speaking, listening, reading, writing). Demonstrate advanced knowledge of the structure of contemporary Russian. Develop, at minimum, reading proficiency in languages essential for research in the field, including a second Slavic language and either French or German.
  4. (Ph.D. Minor) Demonstrate intellectual breadth and the ability to synthesize cross-cultural and interdisciplinary perspectives through the completion of a doctoral minor.
  5. (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.
  6. (Teacher-Trainer) 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.
  7. Recognize, apply, and foster principles of ethical and professional conduct in the context of Slavic studies.

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