Slavic Languages, PhD

Program Category: PhD Programs
Chair: Liza Knapp
Director of Graduate Studies: Liza Knapp
Degree Programs: MA, MPhil, PhD in Slavic Languages

The Department of Slavic Languages offers sequential degrees (MA/MPhil/PhD) in Russian, Czech, Polish, South Slavic, and Ukrainian literature. For the MA degree, students work in their primary literature. For the MPhil degree, students do more advanced work in their major field. Students earning a PhD also complete a minor field or the Certificate in Comparative Literature and Society.

The doctoral programs are rigorous, requiring extensive study of the literature from the middle ages to the present, with some fundamental grounding in the region's history, linguistics, and culture. At the same time, the department provides training to equip students with sophistication in literary theory and literary analysis. PhD candidates in the department complete their program prepared to conduct serious scholarship in the field and to teach both language and literature at all levels. The training in the minor field or for the Certificate in Comparative Literature and Society broadens the candidate's range to include other literary traditions, other modes of cultural expression, and/or other disciplines.

The Institute for Comparative Literature and Society (ICLS) at Columbia acts as an interdisciplinary institute bringing together faculty and students from different departments, but it is not itself a department and it does not have independent degree programs. Students with expertise in multiple languages who wish to work comparatively in several national or regional cultures or to draw upon other disciplinary methodologies should review the program descriptions on the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society website. To study Comparative Literature with a focus on Russian, Czech, Polish, South Slavic, or Ukrainian literature, students must apply directly to the program in Slavic Languages, clearly indicating their interest in the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society by checking the relevant box on the application. Successful applicants complete the MA in a Slavic literature and then earn a Certificate in Comparative Literature and Society as part of their studies at the MPhil level. For more details, see the ICLS website.

The Harriman Institute is a center for Russian, Eurasian, and East European studies at Columbia that draws together faculty and students from different divisions and schools. Students in the Slavic graduate programs who are interested in area studies may want to pursue a Harriman Certificate. This certificate is open to graduate students in the sequential PhD programs and the free-standing MA programs.

Qualified applicants who do not intend to continue beyond the MA degree may apply for admission as candidates for the free-standing MA program 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.

Fellowships are awarded in recognition of academic achievement and in expectation of scholarly success. Because teaching is considered an important aspect of graduate student training, all graduate fellowships include a teaching apprenticeship.

Certificate in Comparative Literature and Society

The Institute for Comparative Literature and Society (ICLS) awards a certificate in Comparative Literature and Society. For more information, see the ICLS website.

Special Admissions Requirements 

In addition to the requirements listed below, all students must submit one transcript showing courses and grades per school attended, a statement of academic purpose, a personal statement, and three letters of evaluation from academic sources.

Application Requirements

*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.