The M.A. in Slavic Languages (track in Russian Literature)

This is a freestanding Master's program.  It does not lead to a doctorate (though students may subsequently apply for admission to Ph.D. programs at Columbia and elsewhere). Full-time students normally complete this program in two or three semesters. Part-time students must complete the program within four years. Note that two Residence Units (RU) are required for the M.A. degree.

Educational goals

Students will

  • expand their knowledge of the Russian literary tradition;
  • become conversant in twentieth and twenty-first-century critical and cultural theory and learn how to negotiate the fundamental idioms and axioms of our academic practices;
  • achieve a high level of proficiency in Russian language;
  • learn the skills associated with independent research and academic writing.



30 points at the graduate level (4000 and higher), including:

  • three courses in Russian literature;
  • the Proseminar in Literary Studies (SLLT GR8001)--an introduction to critical theory and methods, to be taken during the first semester of graduate study;
  • four points of Directed Research for the completion of the Master’s essay, to be taken with the M.A. essay adviser during either the second or third semester;
  • EITHER one graduate-level Russian language course, such as Practical Stylistics (RUSS GU4434), a course from the Chteniia po russkoi literature or Chteniia po russkoi kul'ture series, or any other Russian language course at the 4000 level or above; 
  • two additional elective courses. 

All courses required for the M.A. are to be selected in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS). One of the literature and one of the elective courses may be taken for R (registration) credit; all other courses should be taken for a letter grade.  Courses taken P/F (pass/fail) normally do not count toward the degree.


Additional Russian language study at Columbia, or in summer programs elsewhere, if the Department's placement or progress examination indicates such a need.  A second Slavic language is encouraged but not required.   

M.A. Essay

An independent research project (30 pages) completed under the guidance of an adviser and submitted before the end of the third semester of study. For further information, see M.A. essay guidelines.



The Director of Graduate Studies meets with all M.A. students in advance of each semester to discuss course selection and degree requirements, as well as intermittently throughout the academic year.  At the end of their first semester, M.A. students consult with the Proseminar instructor and the DGS to choose an adviser for the Master's Essay. Once the project is underway, a second reader is chosen.

Good Standing

To be in good academic standing in the freestanding M.A. program, students must make demonstrable progress toward the degree, hold no more than one mark of Incomplete at any given time, and maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above.