Russian: Major Requirements and Policies

The Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures offers courses that count towards the Russian major in the fall and spring semesters. Russian language courses are also taught in the Summer Language Institute (SLI) at Pitt. Offered in June, July, and the first part of August, the SLI provides intensive courses that cover an entire year of study at the first- through fourth-year levels of Russian language. There is also a study abroad courses available at the SLI in which students spend half of the program in Pittsburgh, and half in Moscow, Russia. For prospective majors, the SLI affords the opportunity to rapidly increase language proficiency in order to qualify for advanced courses, study abroad programs, or research opportunities.

Prospective majors in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures include: students who are primarily interested in language or literature, students who wish to enhance their career opportunities in a unique way, students who have an interest in the politics and culture of Russia and Eastern Europe, and students with a desire to explore their ethnic heritage. For students interested in interdisciplinary area studies, the Russian and East European Studies (REES) certificate, offered through UCIS, is an attractive complement to a major or minor in the Slavic department.

Many Russian majors continue their studies in graduate school or go on to careers in law, engineering, business, and government. Students of Slavic languages find their training valuable when working for local western Pennsylvania institutions and in politics, business, health-related professions, and the media, because of the large population in this region which traces its roots to the various Slavic peoples of Eastern Europe. Students interested in a major or minor in the department should begin language study early to ensure attainment of advanced language proficiency.



Courses Offered

The following courses, which are offered each year, constitute the core undergraduate program:  

Language Prerequisites*
Year Fall Semester Spring Semester
First Year 0010 Elementary Russian I

0020 Elementary Russian II

Second Year 0030 Intermediate Russian I

0040 Intermediate Russian II

*These courses do not count towards the major. Russian majors who have prior experience with the Russian language (whether from previous study, from growing up in a home where relatives speak Russian, from travel, etc.) are required to consult with the Language Program Coordinator Dr. Edie Furniss to determine proper placement.

Language Requirements
Year Fall Semester Spring Semester
Third Year

0400 Advanced Russian I

0410 Advanced Russian II
Fourth Year 1420 Fourth-Year Russian I

1430 Fourth-Year Russian II



Core Survey Courses
Year Fall Semester Spring Semester
Any Year

0850 Early Russian Culture

0860 Modern Russian Culture




Choose three courses from the three lists below with no more than one course from the Survey course list and no more than one course from the Comparative course list.

Survey Courses (1 course limit)
Russ 0090 Russian Fairy Tales
Russ 0325 The Short Story
Russ 0590 Formative Masterpieces: Russia 19th Century
Russ 0800 Masterpieces of 19th Century Russian Literature
Russ 0870 History of Russian Film 1

Comparative Courses (1 course limit)
Russ 1066 Forbidden Love on Page and Screen
Russ 1210 Man/Superman: Representations of Superior Individuals in Literature, Film, Philosophy, Drama, and Music
Slav 0660 Sci-Fi: East and West
Slav 1225 Cross-Cultural Representations of Prisons in the 20th Century

Topics Courses (no limit)

Russ 0810 Masterpieces of 20th Century Russian Literature
Russ 0811 Madness & Madmen in Russian Culture
Russ 0871 History of Russian Film 2
Russ 1300-level capstone-approved course
Russ 1400 Morphology and Structure of Russian
Russ 1410 Syntax of Russian
Russ 1420 or 1430 (additional topics course beyond the fourth-year language requirement)
Russ 1780 Stalinist Culture of the 1930’s

One 1000-level course over and above those fulfilling the above requirements, chosen from the list below. Students must complete three years of Russian language study or its equivalent to enroll for the course designated for their capstone work. Capstone courses require additional work, typically a research paper written in Russian or consultation with Russian-language sources, that displays their ability to engage with the subject matter in the target language.

RUSS 1066 Forbidden Love on Page and Screen*
RUSS 1210 Man/Superman: Representations of Superior Individuals in Literature, Film Philosophy, Drama, and Music*
RUSS 1300-level course in Russian literature, culture or film
RUSS 1400 Morphology of Modern Russian
RUSS 1410 Advanced Russian Syntax
RUSS 1420 or 1430 (additional topics course beyond the fourth-year language requirement)
RUSS 1780 Stalinist Culture in the 1930s*
SLAV 1050 Computational Methods in the Humanities*
SLAV 1225 Behind Bars: Cross-Cultural Perspectives of Prison 20th C*

*Enrollment in these courses requires permission from both the instructor and the advisor.