Who we are

Welcome to the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Columbia! The Department offers undergraduate and graduate programs in Russian, Ukrainian, Czech, Polish, and Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian languages, literatures, and cultures. You can use the navigation links on the left hand side of the page to find out more about the aspects of the Department you are interested in.

The Department is closely linked to a number of other programs and centers in the wider Columbia community. These relationships greatly expand the range and richness of what we have to offer, but can also seem confusing at first. Here is a quick overview of the relationship between the Columbia Slavic Department and other entities at Columbia.

Columbia and Barnard

The Columbia and Barnard Slavic Departments function as a single unit for academic purposes. This means that both Columbia and Barnard faculty teach courses in our undergraduate and graduate programs, advise undergraduate and graduate theses, and make decisions about the structure of our degree programs. Whether you attend Barnard or Columbia, it's likely that you will take classes from both Barnard and Columbia faculty, and your thesis or dissertation adviser may be from either school.

However, if you are a Barnard undergraduate, your academic adviser (the person who approves your program each semester) will always be a Barnard faculty member. If you are a Columbia undergraduate (CC or GS) majoring in Russian, your academic adviser will be the Columbia Director of Undergraduate Studies.

The Columbia Slavic Department is centered in 708 Hamilton Hall (see map), with faculty offices dotted up and down the 7th floor hallway, and the Barnard Slavic Department is centered in 226 Milbank Hall (see map), with faculty offices opening off the main department office. During business hours, office staff are available in both department offices to help you find what you need.

The Slavic Department and the Harriman Institute

The Harriman Institute, located on the 12th floor of the International Affairs Building (see map), is a center for Russian, Eurasian, and East European Studies that brings together faculty and students from across the divisions of the University. It has its own endowment, budget, and administrative staff, but its faculty are drawn from the various schools and departments of the Arts and Sciences construct, such as Slavic, History, Economics, Political Science, and so on. All members of the Columbia and Barnard Slavic faculty are also Harriman Institute faculty. In practice, this means that Slavic faculty serve on Harriman committees and participate in Harriman programming, and that students pursuing the Harriman Certificate in Russian, Eurasian, or East European Studies can take courses with any Slavic faculty member to fulfil their Certificate requirements. The Director of the Harriman Institute is always a tenured member of the Columbia faculty.

For both undergraduate and graduate students in the Slavic Department, the Harriman Institute fulfils two main roles: it sponsors events of interest to our students, and it serves as a source of fellowship funding. Any undergraduate student pursuing research on Russia, Eurasia, or Eastern Europe is eligible to apply for the Harriman Undergraduate Fellowship, which supports research undertaken over the summer or winter break preceding graduation. Graduate students may apply for several different kinds of funding from Harriman, including full-year fellowship funding for predoctoral study, summer funding for research or language study, and postdoctoral fellowships. See the Harriman's graduate fellowship page for details.

Note that graduate students who wish to be considered for Harriman predoctoral fellowships must be Harriman Certificate Candidates. For this reason, we strongly recommend that all applicants to the Slavic Department doctoral programs also indicate their interest in the Harriman Institute in the "Regional Institute" space on the online application form. The Harriman Certificate can be pursued concurrently with any graduate degree in the Slavic Department, and Slavic Department coursework counts toward the Certificate as well. For more details, see the Harriman website.

The Slavic Department and the Programs in Comparative Literature
Institute for Comparative Literature and Society


The Institute for Comparative Literature and Society (ICLS) acts as an interdisciplinary institute bringing together faculty and students from different departments (a bit like the Harriman Institute), but it is not itself a department.

Undergraduate students at Columbia and Barnard may major in Comparative Literature using a Slavic language and literature to fulfill the course requirements in "a language other than English." (Note that Barnard and Columbia have different requirements for the Comparative Literature major, even though Columbia Comp. Lit. majors can take Barnard courses to fulfill their requirements and vice versa. Barnard students should check the major requirements listed at the Barnard Comparative Literature Department. Columbia undergraduates should check the major requirements listed at the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society.)

Graduate students studying Comparative Literature are housed in and affiliated with individual language departments. If you want to study Comp. Lit. with a focus in a Slavic literature at the graduate level, you should apply directly to the Slavic Department, clearly indicating your interest in ICLS on the Application. If accepted, you will complete an M.A. in the Slavic Department, then incorporate a concentration in Comparative Literature and Society into your program at the M.Phil. level. For more details, see the website of the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society (ICLS).

Other Programs of Interest

Depending on focus, students in the Slavic Department may also be interested in the work of the following academic programs and centers at Columbia:

The Program in Linguistics
The East Central European Center
The Institute For Research on Women and Gender

Slavic, Eurasian, and East European Libraries

The Slavic Department houses a small Reading Room containing essential materials on Russian literature and culture in 713 Hamilton Hall. All faculty and graduate students are provided with keys to this room; materials are for use in the Reading Room only, and may be removed only briefly for photocopying. Students and faculty of the Slavic Department also have access to the outstanding Slavic holdings at Columbia and other New-York-area libraries. Taken together, the collections of Columbia and the New York Public Library offer the single largest concentration of Russian-language materials in the country.

The Russian, Eurasian & East European collections at Columbia University Libraries contain, very roughly, about 750,000 volumes. This includes material in all fields of knowledge from and about the region of the former Soviet Union and its one-time communist satellites in Eastern Europe. In addition, the Libraries provide access to a large number of electronic resources -- texts, databases, bibliographies -- for the study of Russia, Eurasia and Eastern Europe. Slavists at Columbia are fortunate to have on hand a specialist librarian, Robert Davis, who is available to assist both students and faculty in navigating the wealth of resources related to Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies that are available both in the physical Columbia Libraries and in the online databases and indices.

Depending on focus, Slavic specialists may also be interested in the holdings of the Union Theological Seminary and Jewish Theological Seminary libraries.

For more information, see:

The Slavic, East European and Eurasian division of the Columbia Libraries
The Bakhmeteff Archive
The Slavic and Baltic Division of the New York Public Library
Slavic Studies at the Bobst Library (NYU)