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 Russian, students should make an appointment with the Russian 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.  Please note that the following special degree programs are not considered majors so are not available to non–L&S degree-seeking candidates:  

  • Applied Mathematics, Engineering and Physics (Bachelor of Science–Applied Mathematics, Engineering and Physics)
  • Journalism (Bachelor of Arts–Journalism; Bachelor of Science–Journalism)
  • Music (Bachelor of Music)
  • Social Work (Bachelor of Social Work)

Requirements for the Major

The Russian major requires 35 credits and completion of one of three program tracks.

core Language & CULTURE

Third Year Russian I
and Third Year Russian II 1
or SLAVIC 279 Intensive Third Year Russian
Russian Language and Culture I
and Russian Language and Culture II
Fourth Year Russian I
and Fourth Year Russian II
Culture through Literature3-4
Russian Life and Culture Through Literature and Art (to 1917)
Soviet Life and Culture Through Literature and Art (from 1917)
Total Credits23-24


Language & Literature

Note: Students majoring in Russian–Language and Literature are eligible to declare the certificate in Russian, East European, and Central Asian studies.

Literature in translation (2 courses)8
Survey of 19th and 20th Century Russian Literature in Translation I
and Survey of 19th and 20th Century Russian Literature in Translation II
Literature in Russian (1 course)4
Women in Russian Literature
Soviet Literature
Total Credits12

Language & Civilization

Note: Students majoring in Russian–Language and Civilization are not eligible to declare the certificate in Russian, East European, and Central Asian studies.

Civilization (1 course)4
Russia: An Interdisciplinary Survey
Area Studies9
Russian Life and Culture Through Literature and Art (to 1917) (if not used for the Culture requirement)
Soviet Life and Culture Through Literature and Art (from 1917)
Russian and Soviet Film
Contemporary Economic Issues (only when the topic focuses on Russia) 2
Russia and the NIS-Topical Analysis
History of Russia
History of Soviet Russia
Russian Social and Intellectual History
Latino History and Politics
Advanced Seminar in History 2
Selected Topics in Political Science 2
Socialism and Transitions to the Market
Russian Politics
History of Russian Culture 3
Contemporary Russian Culture 3
History of Russian Theatre
Total Credits13

Native Speaker

Note: Students majoring in Russian–Language and Literature are eligible to declare the certificate in Russian, East European, and Central Asian studies.  
Students whose Russian language placement exempts them from taking any of the Core Language courses must take additional electives to meet the minimum credits for the major. 

Literature in Translation (2 courses)8
Survey of 19th and 20th Century Russian Literature in Translation I
and Survey of 19th and 20th Century Russian Literature in Translation II
Literature in Russian4
Women in Russian Literature
Soviet Literature
Total Credits12

Residence and quality of work

  • 2.000 GPA in all major courses
  • 2.000 GPA on 15 upper-level credits for the major, taken in residence4
  • 15 credits in the major, taken on campus

4Upper-Level Courses in the Major

Gogol in Translation
Dostoevsky in Translation
Third Year Russian I
Third Year Russian II
Russian Area Studies on Study Abroad
Topics in Russian: Study Abroad
Russian Language and Culture I
Russian Language and Culture II
Fourth Year Russian I
Fourth Year Russian II
Women in Russian Literature
Soviet Literature
History of Russian Theatre
Senior Honors Thesis
Senior Honors Thesis
Directed Study

Distinction in the Major

Students who are not pursuing Honors in the Russian major and who distinguish themselves in the quality of their work may request that Distinction in the Major be noted on their transcript. The major advisor will determine eligibility—at a minimum, a 3.500 major GPA and an acceptable Senior Thesis are required.

Honors in the Major in Russian

Students may declare Honors in the Russian Major in consultation with the Russian Honors advisor

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

  • Minimum 3.300 University GPA
  • Minimum 3.500 GPA in SLAVIC 205 through SLAVIC 699 and courses in the major
  • 20 credits in the major taken for Honors, in Residence, not through Study Abroad, with grades of B or better in these courses:

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. (Russian language proficiency) Develop speaking, listening, writing, and reading skills and integrate these skills to communicate in Russian 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. (Language & Literature Track and Native Speaker Track) Analyze and interpret works of literature in themselves and in the context of specific historical and cultural conditions.

5. (Language & Civilization Track) Demonstrate insight into Russian 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 the program page.

For other undergraduate concerns, please contact our undergraduate coordinator:

Bridget Sutton, Undergraduate Coordinator
1306 Van Hise

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

SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science helps students leverage the academic skills learned in their major, certificates, and liberal arts degree; explore and try out different career paths; participate in internships; prepare for the job search and/or graduate school applications; and network with professionals in the field (alumni and employers).

SuccessWorks can also assist students in career advising, résumé and cover letter writing, networking opportunities, and interview skills, as well as course offerings for undergraduates to begin their career exploration early in their undergraduate career. 

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