Russian Language Program

Language placement (general information)

The Department offers the Russian placement test on Wednesday (written part) and Thursday (oral part) the week before the first day of classes in the fall to register for fall classes. Please make your traveling plans accordingly. Students who wish to take a Russian placement test at any other time in the fall to register for spring semester, who need a reading proficiency exam, or who have particular questions about placing into/out of Russian language courses including heritage courses, should contact Alla Smyslova Subject line: Placement Test.

Please make your travel plans accordingly.

Questions? Contact Alla Smyslova [email protected]

Russian Placement Test – December 2021- CLOSED Next Russian Placement test in August 2022

The Russian placement test consists of two parts – written (grammar and essay—about two hours) and oral (a 20-minute long interview). The written part will be administered remotely on Monday, December 6 at 4:00-6:00 EST. Follow-up oral interviews will be held on Tuesday, December 7. You need to sign-up for the interview. You can choose either remote or in-person mode for your interview. See links below for both meetings and the sign-up sheet.

Questions? Contact Alla Smyslova [email protected]

Zoom meeting link for both parts of the test:

Meeting ID 549 802 7826

Complete the cover page and email it as an attachment to Alla Smyslova  [email protected]  at least one day before the test date.

Written part: click here for instructions and structure (you can open it only with CU UNI)

Sign-up sheet for oral interviews is available here (you can open it only with CU UNI)   


A score of 5 on the AP/NEWL Russian exam satisfies the foreign language requirement. Upon successful completion of a 3-point 3000-level (or higher) course at Columbia, the Department of Slavic Languages will award 3 points of AP credit, provided the grade in the course is a B or better. Courses taught in English may not be used to earn AP credit.  No credit or placement is given for the SAT II Subject Test. If you wish to continue with Russian at Columbia, you should take the departmental placement test and speak with the Russian program director prior to registration to ensure proper placement.

Heritage learners of Russian are students who are born to Russian-speaking parents (or might have one Russian-speaking parent) and get their education in a different language, in case of the U.S. it is English.

The two-semester course dedicated to Russian heritage speakers is designed for heritage speakers who were either born in or arrived at the USA at a pre-school age, and have not yet learned to read or write or have limited reading and writing skills in Russian. For more effective instruction, the course is based on utilizing heritage speaker strength—well-developed aural skills—to develop their much weaker—literacy--skills in a fast and effective way.

In 2017, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, in its report Investing in Language Education for the 21st Century, identified the course Russian for Heritage Speakers at Columbia University as a pedagogical model that can be adopted elsewhere in the US and applied to the teaching of other heritage languages.

UN3430-3431 Russian for Heritage Speakers course meets a two-year foreign language requirement.

"Summer 2015: Exploring Brighton Neighborhood"
"Advanced Russian Group, July 2017"
"Students and instructors, summer 2019"

ACTR Post-Secondary Russian Scholar Award 

Jiashi Yang 2021
Perry Young  2020
Stephanie Borgani   2019
Maria Matilde Morales  2018
Rebecca Mahany  2017
Max Lawton   2016
Cole Hickman   2015
James Reyes  2014
Jessica Tyler  2013
Philip Crandall  2012
Michael Mirochnik  2011
Thomas M. Davis  2010
Sasha Lauren de Vogel  2009
John Tilden King  2008
Paul Sonne  2007