Polish is the most commonly spoken Slavic language of the European Union and the second largest Slavic language in the world, with over 50 million users across the globe. Polish culture has a remarkably rich tradition, shaped by a millennium of artistic and intellectual innovation as well as struggles for political, social, and cultural independence. Poland survived the two world wars and half a century of communist rule to emerge as a regional leader in East-Central Europe, the fastest-growing economy in the EU, and home to one of the most vibrant cultural scenes in the world. Polish diaspora counts among the largest in the world with major concentrations in the US, Canada, the UK, Germany, and France. 

The Polish major offers courses in the Polish language, literature, culture, politics, and one of the most intricate, fascinating histories in Europe, providing the knowledge and skills for successful careers in business, politics, diplomacy, arts, translation, international law, environmental science, journalism, national security, tourism, and cultural services.  

To declare a major in Polish, students should make an appointment with or email the undergraduate advisor.  

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 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.

Bachelor of Arts degree requirements

Mathematics Complete the University General Education Requirements for Quantitative Reasoning A (QR-A) and Quantitative Reasoning B (QR-B) coursework.
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.
L&S Breadth
  • 12 credits of Humanities, which must include 6 credits of literature; and
  • 12 credits of Social Science; and
  • 12 credits of Natural Science, which must include one 3+ credit Biological Science course and one 3+ credit Physical Science course.
Liberal Arts and Science Coursework Complete at least 108 credits.
Depth of Intermediate/Advanced work Complete at least 60 credits at the intermediate or advanced level.
Major Declare and complete at least one major.
Total Credits Complete at least 120 credits.
UW-Madison Experience
  • 30 credits in residence, overall; and
  • 30 credits in residence after the 86th credit.
Quality of Work
  • 2.000 in all coursework at UW–Madison
  • 2.000 in Intermediate/Advanced level 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. They do not need to complete the L&S Degree Requirements above.

Requirements for the Major

The Polish major requires study of the Polish language, Polish literature in translation, Polish literature in the original language, as well as culture and area studies, as detailed below:

Polish Language (complete two courses):6
Third Year Polish I
Third Year Polish II
Polish Literature and Culture (complete both):
LITTRANS 215 Polish Literature in Translation: 14th to the Mid-19th Century3
SLAVIC/​LITTRANS  361 Living at the End of Times: Contemporary Polish Literature and Culture3
Additional Course in Polish Language or Literature/Culture (complete one):3
Fourth Year Polish I
Fourth Year Polish II
History and Ethics on Film: Polish Cinema 1
Polish Literature and Culture Area Studies from:6
History and Ethics on Film: Polish Cinema 1
Literatures and Cultures of Eastern Europe
Topics in Slavic Literatures
Eastern Europe: An Interdisciplinary Survey
Slavic Culture in Context: An Honors Course
Directed Study
Study Abroad in Poland
Polish Culture and Area Studies on Study Abroad
Intermediate Special Topics in Slavic Languages and Literatures
Slavic and East European Folklore
Advanced Special Topics in Slavic Languages and Literatures
History of Polish Literature until 1863
History of Polish Literature after 1863
Eastern Europe since 1900
History of Poland and the Baltic Area
Slavic Science Fiction through Literature and Film
Polish Literature in Translation: Late 19th and 20th Centuries
Representation of the Jew in Eastern European Cultures
Literatures and Cultures of Eastern Europe
Topics in Slavic Literatures in Translation
Intermediate Special Topics in Slavic Languages and Literatures
Advanced Special Topics in Slavic Languages and Literatures
Polish Literature (in Translation), Middle Ages to 1863
Polish Literature (in Translation) since 1863
The European Union: Politics and Political Economy
Politics and Society: Contemporary Eastern Europe
Total Credits21

Residence and Quality of Work

  • 2.000 GPA in all major courses
  • 2.000 GPA on at least 15 credits of upper-level work in the major, in residence
  • 15 credits in the major taken on the UW–Madison campus

Upper-Level Courses in the Major:

SLAVIC 277 Third Year Polish I3
SLAVIC 278 Third Year Polish II3
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/​LITTRANS  357 Intermediate Special Topics in Slavic Languages and Literatures3
SLAVIC/​LITTRANS  361 Living at the End of Times: Contemporary Polish Literature and Culture3
SLAVIC/​FOLKLORE  444 Slavic and East European Folklore3
SLAVIC/​LITTRANS  467 Advanced Special Topics in Slavic Languages and Literatures3
HISTORY 425 History of Poland and the Baltic Area3-4
POLI SCI 340 The European Union: Politics and Political Economy3-4
POLI SCI 659 Politics and Society: Contemporary Eastern Europe3-4

Honors in the Major

To earn Honors in the Major, students must satisfy both the requirements for the major (above) and the following additional requirements:

  • Earn a 3.300 University GPA
  • Earn a 3.300 GPA for all SLAVIC courses and all courses counting in the major
  • Complete a two-semester Senior Honors Thesis in SLAVIC 681 and SLAVIC 682, for a total of 6 credits
  • 9 credits from the following list:
SLAVIC 277 Third Year Polish I3
SLAVIC 278 Third Year Polish II3
SLAVIC 331 Fourth Year Polish I3
SLAVIC 332 Fourth Year Polish II3
SLAVIC/​LITTRANS  361 Living at the End of Times: Contemporary Polish Literature and Culture3
SLAVIC/​LITTRANS  357 Intermediate Special Topics in Slavic Languages and Literatures3
SLAVIC/​LITTRANS  467 Advanced Special Topics in Slavic Languages and Literatures3



SLAVIC 231 may only count within one requirement for the major.

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) Develop speaking, listening, writing, and reading skills and integrate these skills to communicate in Polish in a variety of social situations.
  2. Develop and apply writing skills and oral communication skills appropriate to liberal arts education in the context of Slavic studies.
  3. Develop and apply critical thinking skills inherent in the liberal arts tradition in the context of Slavic studies.
  4. Analyze and interpret works of literature in themselves and in the context of specific historical and cultural conditions.
  5. 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.

Sample Four-Year Plan

This Sample Four-Year Plan is a tool to assist students and their advisor(s). Students should use it—along with their DARS report, the Degree Planner, and Course Search & Enroll tools—to make their own four-year plan based on their placement scores, credit for transferred courses and approved examinations, and individual interests. As students become involved in athletics, honors, research, student organizations, study abroad, volunteer experiences, and/or work, they might adjust the order of their courses to accommodate these experiences. Students will likely revise their own four-year plan several times during college.

First Year
Communication A3GERMAN 2673-4
Quantitative Reasoning A3-4Social Science Breadth4
Social Science Breadth4Biological Science Breadth3
 14 14
Second Year
Physical Science Breadth3INTER-LS 2101
Quantitative Reasoning B3Social Science Breadth4
 16 16
Third Year
Science Breadth3Polish Area Studies Course3
Electives6Science Breadth3
 15 15
Fourth Year
Polish Area Studies course3Polish Area Studies course3
 15 15
Total Credits 120

Advising and Careers

Elementary courses in 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 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. However, retroactive credits can be granted in recognition of previous language study.  L&S Retro Credit Policy.

The Placement Advisor for Polish is Łukasz Wodzyński. Please contact the undergraduate advisor to request placement.

For other undergraduate concerns or to declare the major, please contact our undergraduate coordinator:

Joanna Schuth, Undergraduate Advisor
836 Van Hise Hall
Make an appointment through Starfish

For additional career advising, please contact:

SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science
711 State Street, Suite 300
Madison, WI 53703

L&S career resources

Every L&S major opens a world of possibilities.  SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science helps students turn the academic skills learned in their major, certificates, and other coursework into fulfilling lives after graduation, whether that means jobs, public service, graduate school or other career pursuits.

In addition to providing basic support like resume reviews and interview practice, SuccessWorks offers ways to explore interests and build career skills from their very first semester/term at UW all the way through graduation and beyond.

Students can explore careers in one-on-one advising, try out different career paths, complete internships, prepare for the job search and/or graduate school applications, and connect with supportive alumni and even employers in the fields that inspire them.


Assistant Professor

Łukasz Wodzyński

Senior Lecturer

Ewa Miernowska


Krzysztof Borowski

Professor Emerit

Halina Filipowicz



David Danaher*

*unit head