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A&S—Slavic Languages and Literatures

The Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures offers the degrees of Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy with an area of concentration in Russian literature and culture, including cinema. Students may combine work for the MA and PhD degrees with a program of regional specialization leading to a certificate in Russian and East European Studies; Cultural Studies; Film Studies; Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies; Jewish Studies; and others.

Eligible Slavic PhD students may apply, before taking the Slavic PhD comprehensive examinations, to transfer to Pitt’s Interdisciplinary Film Studies PhD (with a concentration in Slavic), thereby working towards a single PhD in two disciplines. For information on the Interdisciplinary Film Studies PhD, see


Contact Information

Department Chair: David J. Birnbaum
Main Office: 1417 Cathedral of Learning
Fax: 412-624-9714

Additional information concerning the department’s graduate program may be obtained from the University of Pittsburgh, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, Graduate Administrator, 1417 Cathedral of Learning, Pittsburgh, PA 15260. Phone: 412-624-5227. Fax: 412-624-9714.


Applicants for admission must submit transcripts of all college-level work, three letters of recommendation, a career statement, an academic writing sample, and scores on the verbal, quantitative, and writing assessment-analytical sections of the Graduate Record Examination. International applicants whose first language is not English are required to submit either the TOEFL administered by the Educational Testing or the IELTS administered by the University of Cambridge, Local Examinations Syndicate. Applications will be accepted for fall term admission until April 15. For awards consideration, applications must be completed by January 15. The department admits students only for the fall term.

Financial Assistance

Graduate students who have been admitted with a teaching or non-teaching fellowship for their first year of study will have their support renewed for at least an additional four years as long as 1) their teaching performance is satisfactory and 2) they are making regular progress in their graduate studies.

Requirements for the MA

For the MA, students must earn 36 hours of graduate credit with a B average or better in courses numbered 1000 or above. At least half of these credits must be in courses numbered 2000 or above. All MA students are required to complete Introduction to Literary Theory and Culture (RUSS 2110), Structure of Russian (RUSS  2210), and Russian Historical Linguistics (RUSS 2230). Courses are chosen in consultation between the student and DGS and are subject to approval by the latter. The remainder of student coursework is used to develop competence in Russian literature and culture or in an approved second area (see below). MA candidates must also demonstrate a reading knowledge of either French or German before taking the MA comprehensive exam.

The MA comprehensive exam covers material from a reading list. For examination procedures see

Requirements for the PhD

Credit Requirement: 72 graduate credits (36 beyond the MA), of which 12 may be dissertation credits; at least 60 credits must be completed by the end of the semester in which the examination is to be taken.

Approved Second Area: Nine–15 credits outside the department (but in the 72-credit total) in an approved second area (e.g., Russian and East European Studies, Cultural Studies, Film Studies, Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality, Jewish Studies, European literature, etc.).

Research Languages: A reading knowledge of both French and German is required before taking the PhD comprehensive exam.

PhD Qualifying Examinations: The MA comprehensive exam also serves as the PhD qualifying exam for those students who wish to pursue graduate work at the PhD level.

Supervised Teaching Experience: Supervised teaching experience is an integral part of the doctoral program. All PhD candidates have the opportunity to teach courses in language, literature, and culture, initially by assisting other instructors, and, at a more advanced stage, in stand-alone courses.

Comprehensive Examination: Students take a PhD comprehensive examination after approximately two years of coursework beyond the MA. For examination procedures visit

Dissertation Overview: Following successful completion of the comprehensive examination, the student files an application for admission to candidacy for the Doctor of Philosophy. At this stage the student presents a proposed topic for doctoral research and a research design for its execution to be reviewed by the dissertation committee.

Dissertation Defense: The final oral examination in defense of the doctoral dissertation is conducted by the doctoral committee and is open to the University community.

Course Listing


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