Slavic Languages, MA

Program Category: MA Programs
Chair: Liza Knapp
Director of Graduate Studies: Liza Knapp
Degree Programs: Full-Time/Part-Time: Free-Standing MA in Slavic Languages; Free-Standing MA in Slavic Cultures; Free-Standing MA in Russian Translation

Columbia University's Department of Slavic Languages, one of the oldest in the US, aims to educate new generations of scholars dedicated to advancing the field of Slavic studies. It strongly emphasizes the rigorous study of literary texts, discourses, and cultural history. It also encourages its students to pursue original and innovative projects that further the development of the field.

In recent years, the area of Slavic studies has undergone major changes, challenging scholars in the field to reach out and build many interdisciplinary ties. We encourage our students to link literary study with innovations in other disciplines—intellectual and social history, film and performance studies, musicology, art history, sociology, anthropology, religious studies, and others—which already share some of literature's investment in narrativity, structure, communication, and interpretation. The department welcomes theoretical, reflective work that draws on contemporary theories and approaches, but simultaneously stresses the historicity of such discourses and of the cultural phenomena they set out to investigate.

The Department of Slavic Languages offers degrees in Russian, Czech, Polish, South Slavic, and Ukrainian literature. For the MA degree, students work in their primary literature. Qualified applicants who do not intend to continue beyond the MA degree may apply for admission as candidates for the free-standing MA degree in Slavic Languages. 

In addition to the free-standing MA degree in Slavic Languages, the department offers free-standing MA degrees in Russian Translation and in Slavic Cultures. Note that, along with the free-standing MA in Slavic Languages, these programs of study do not lead to a doctorate.

Research Institutes

The Columbia University Slavic Department enjoys close cooperation with many of Columbia's other programs, departments, and institutes in the humanities, social sciences, and fine arts, including the Linguistics program, the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality, the East Central European Center, and the W. Averell Harriman Institute. Students may pursue the institute's Harriman Certificate and are encouraged to do so. Courses in the Harriman program provide broader historical, political, and cultural contexts for literature. They offer opportunities for practical alternatives to an academic career.

In addition, the institute provides access to a rich array of visiting speakers and scholars, assistance for travel, access to film and directly received television, and contact with students and several dozen faculty members in related departments. To supplement Columbia’s vast array of educational opportunities, students regularly take advantage of the resources New York City has to offer, including museums, libraries, theaters, businesses, and embassies.

Special Admissions Requirements

For admission to the respective programs in Slavic languages, the department requires four years of college-level instruction (or the equivalent) in Russian or three years (or the equivalent) in Czech, Polish, Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian, or Ukrainian. An undergraduate major in the appropriate Slavic language and literature is desirable but not required. The department will also consider applicants with solid backgrounds in other literatures, history, philosophy, religion, or other disciplines in the humanities. For admission to the free-standing MA program in Russian Translation, the department requires four years of college-level instruction (or the equivalent) in Russian. For admission to the free-standing MA program in Slavic Cultures, knowledge of a Slavic language is recommended but not required.

All applicants to the program in Slavic Languages should indicate their choice of subfield (Russian, Czech, Polish, South Slavic, or Ukrainian).

In addition to the requirements listed below, all students must submit one transcript showing courses and grades for each school attended, a statement of academic purpose, a writing sample (a course paper, term paper, etc.), a personal statement, and three letters of recommendation from academic sources.

All international students whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate degree is from an institution in a country whose official language is not English must submit scores of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or IELTS.

For more information, refer to our Admissions Information and Frequently Asked Questions pages.

*GSAS will accept up to four recommendations, regardless of the number required by your program of interest. However, to be eligible for admission at GSAS, at least TWO letters must be submitted by academic recommenders.