Academics: Programs

The Institute organizes a wide range of activities during the academic year, including an informal lunchtime brown-bag lecture series; evening lectures by distinguished policy makers and visiting dignitaries; and ad hoc panel discussions in response to current critical issues. For more information, please consult the Events Calendar.

MIA Regional Concentration in East Central Europe
Harriman Institute / East Central European Center Certificates
MA in Regional Studies—Russia, Eurasia and Eastern Europe (MARS-REERS)

Program for a Regional Concentration in East Central Europe for MIA Degree Candidates

A regional specialization in East Central Europe is designed to provide a sound foundation in the modern history, politics, culture, and society of the region. This is normally done by focusing on the region as a whole, the region in relationship to its setting between Western Europe and Russia, or closer study of one or more individual countries.

School of International and Public Affairs students who elect a regional concentration must take at least three courses (9 points) in East Central European affairs, selected in consultation with the Executive Director.

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Harriman Institute / East Central European Center Certificates

The Harriman Institute sponsors a certificate program that students pursue in conjunction with graduate-degree programs in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the School of International and Public Affairs, the School of Law, the Journalism School, the Business School, the School of Public Health, or other professional schools at Columbia University. Admission to the Institute's certificate program is contingent upon the candidate's acceptance into a graduate-degree program in the University.


Prospective students should submit a completed application form to the appropriate Columbia professional school or graduate department and indicate on that form their desire to join the Institute. The application form and supporting documentation will be used in the admissions procedures for both the University school or department and the Harriman Institute. Application forms and school catalogues may be obtained from offices listed at the end of this publication. Continuing students may apply at any time of the academic year.


The Institute welcomes and encourages students from all disciplines—and not just Russian, Soviet, or East European studies—to apply. In light of the high demands placed on students by graduate study and the Institute's certificate program, the Institute requires that students have completed a minimum of two years of formal training (or its equivalent) in any language relevant to the former USSR or East Central Europe before starting their first term at the Institute. Students without such a background are strongly encouraged to participate in an intensive summer language program before beginning the Certificate Program.


Students receive the certificate upon completing the Institute's course requirements, establishing proficiency in two languages, and depositing a certificate essay.


A total of seven courses (3 courses in any department, 2 courses in another department, 1 course in a third department, plus the Core Colloquium) at the graduate level, approved by a Harriman advisor. All students must take the interdisciplinary Core Colloquium, G8445x Legacies of Empire and the Soviet Union, a requirement as well for fellowship support. Students specializing in East Central Europe may substitute the interdisciplinary Colloquium, U8480y Politics and Societies in Post-Revolutionary East Central Europe.

Please note the following provisos:

  1. At least two courses must be colloquia or seminars.
  2. Language courses do not count toward course requirements.
  3. An average grade of B+ or better is required in all courses.
  4. All courses may satisfy both Institute and departmental or school requirements.
  5. Two-point courses at the School of Law are considered equivalent to three-point SIPA courses.
  6. All courses on the Harriman Institute course list, which is available at the Institute at the beginning of each semester, automatically qualify for the certificate.
  7. Any graduate-level course in any department or school of the University can also qualify with the written approval of the student's advisor and one of the Institute's associate directors. In such courses, students must, under the supervision of their advisor or a member of the Harriman faculty, produce an acceptable research paper of direct relevance to the Russian empire, the USSR, East Central Europe, or the postcommunist states.
  8. Any number of independent research courses at the School of International and Public Affairs may also qualify for the certificate if the requisite permission is obtained and an appropriate research paper is produced.
  9. A maximum of one internship may be counted toward the certificate; no other course work, such as an examination, field work, or hands-on experience qualifies.

Click for a list of accepted courses.


Two relevant languages are required of all students. A primary language must meet Institute proficiency requirements—earning a B or better in an advanced language course or passing a test administered by a Columbia University language instructor. Reading proficiency must also be demonstrated in a relevant second language.


All students must submit a certificate essay acceptable to their advisors and the Institute's associate directors. Each essay, generally resulting from research undertaken for a seminar or colloquium, must be sponsored by an Institute faculty member and be an original piece of research, interpretation, or analysis based, at least in part, on primary source materials. Essays generally must be 35–55 pages long, fully footnoted, and include bibliographies.


Certificates are awarded three times a year: October, February, and May.

Students who have completed the requirements toward the Harriman certificate must see Barbara Singleton, (1215A IAB) to fill out an application for the certificate, complete the Harriman Institute requirement worksheet, and have it signed by their Institute advisor. Certificates will not be awarded if this procedure is not followed.

Deadlines for completing certificate applications are August 1 for October graduation; December 1 for February graduation; February 1 for May graduation.


Only three transfer credits (or 1 course) in a field other than a language may be accepted for the certificate program. In order to acquire transfer credits, students must provide the Institute's associate directors with a formal request, a copy of their transcript, and, if possible, copies of the relevant syllabus and course work.


Students in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences must complete the certificate within five years after joining the Institute. Students in the School of International and Public Affairs or in other professional schools must complete the certificate within three years. Students in joint programs have five years to complete.

Completion of the Core Colloquium and regular, measurable progress toward the certificate is a prerequisite for fellowship consideration. Students must take an average of at least two courses per year to maintain active participation in the program and eligibility for fellowships.

Because of the specific requirements of the economics department, economics students will, for the purposes of the fellowship eligibility requirement, be considered to have entered the Institute as of their second year in the department.

Students in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences qualify for fellowship support for five years after admission into the program, even if they complete all certificate requirements in fewer than five years. Students in the School of International and Public Affairs or in other professional schools qualify for fellowship support for three years.

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MA in Regional Studies—Russia, Eurasia and Eastern Europe (MARS-REERS)

The Harriman Institute administers the Master of Arts in Regional Studies—Russia, Eurasia and Eastern Europe (MARS-REERS) through the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences for those wishing to focus on a multidisciplinary approach to the study of contemporary Russia, Eurasia, and Eastern Europe (the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and the Balkans). The program provides intensive exposure to the politics, international relations, modern history, and cultural and social formations of the region, with both a country-specific and trans-regional focus. Applicants should have some prior language training and must complete at least three years of an East European or Eurasian language.

In addition to the language requirements, the program requires completion of two residence units and 30 points of credit, including a master's thesis and nine regional courses from a wide range of offerings in anthropology, art history, business, economics, history, international affairs, literature, law, political science, and sociology. All students are required to take one of the two Harriman core interdisciplinary colloquia.

The program is tailored to meet the needs of persons entering professional careers, mid-career professionals, as well as students preparing for entry into doctoral programs, and those with a professional degree, such as the JD or MBA, who want to gain regional expertise.

Application to the MARS-REERS program is through the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS). The application deadline is May 1. A GRE score is required; TOEFL is required for nonnative speakers. Applications may be downloaded from the GSAS site, or you may apply online.

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