Information in this handbook is addressed to current students; for the most
part, it does not repeat the GSAS Bulletin or the Slavic Department web page.
For programs of study, requirements, and courses of instruction, see the
GSAS Bulletin and the Department’s web page at http://www.columbia.edu/cu/slavic/.
Students should be sure that they comply with GSAS rules and regulations
governing progress to the degree, academic standing and fellowships, as set forth
on the GSAS website, in its bulletin, and in memos sent to graduate
students by GSAS.
For professional biographies and contact information for faculty and
students, for a Departmental directory, and for Slavic resources at Columbia and beyond, see
the Department’s Web page.
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1. Financial Aid
A. Fellowships (tuition and stipend)
A limited number of full five-year GSAS fellowships is offered to incoming
students in programs leading to the Ph.D. degree. The fellowships are awarded
on the basis of the applicants’ statement of purpose and record (grades, GREs,
letters of recommendation, and, in particular, a writing sample). Full
fellowships are subject to yearly review. Beginning with their second year of
study, recipients are normally required to teach. They receive full tuition and
a stipend equal to the amount offered that year’s incoming students. Students
who come in on four-year fellowships are offered support from the second
through the fifth year of study, subject to yearly review.
Fellowship recipients are subject to the regulations established by
GSAS. See: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/gsas/sub/finaid/main/welcome/index.html
To be paid promptly in the fall, all fellowship recipients and
teaching fellows must submit all required paperwork no later than May 15 of
that year. Students should contact the Departmental Administrator for
All graduate students who expect to teach in a particular academic
year must fill out a Slavic Department planning questionnaire and sign up for
an interview the preceding spring. (This
planning questionnaire is not the same as the GSAS progress report.) The interviews are conducted by the
Department Chair, the Director of Graduate Studies, and the Language
Students in their second, third, fourth, or fifth years of study may apply
for appointments to serve as instructors in the Undergraduate Writing Program.
After obtaining their M.Phil. degree, students are also eligible to teach in
Columbia College Core programs (Literature Humanities and Contemporary
Civilization). Students can apply in November of the school year in which they
anticipate completing the M.Phil. requirements. Applications are not accepted
from students beyond the sixth year of continuous registration. The number of
positions is limited, and the application process is competitive. Successful
applicants are expected to teach for two years.
B. Other types of financial aid
a. Departmental: These sources of funding have been
established by long-time teachers in the Department, and are intended to enrich
students’ opportunities. The Rose Raskin Fund is awarded at
the Department’s discretion for study either here or abroad. The Elena
T. Mogilat-John P. Mihaly Fellowship is awarded annually for summer
travel to Russia
(see the GSAS bulletin for special provisions). Departmental funding
opportunities are normally announced—along with submission guidelines—by
departmental email. Certain sources of funding, such as the Department's named
fellowships, may not be available every year; some funding may be available on
an ad hoc basis for travel to conferences, etc. For information on the current
status of these funds, please consult the Chair.
b. University: every year, the GSAS provides funds for
the Department to make several summer awards, usually $3,000 (these awards are
competitive; students should apply in writing to the Department Chair). The
Core Curriculum Office awards summer stipends to students teaching the Core
courses. FLAS awards are available for students planning to
study languages pertinent to their field of research.
For FLAS and other available fellowships and their
application deadlines, see the GSAS bulletin and the Web page at http://www.columbia.edu/cu/gsas/sub/finaid/main/welcome/index.html.
Take note of The Whiting Fellowships in the Humanities:
awarded annually to outstanding candidates for the Ph.D. degree in humanities
departments and in the Department of History; recipients must be in their final
year of writing dissertations. As with other fellowships in GSAS, students may
not hold a Whiting Fellowship beyond their seventh year of study.
c. Harriman: see the Institute’s Web page at http://www.harrimaninstitute.org/courses/graduate_student_support.html
for funding for summer language study. Harriman certificate candidates are
eligible for Harriman Junior Fellowships and Pepsico grants.
d. Work-study: work-study positions may be available to
graduate students through GSAS, the Harriman Institute, and the Slavic
Department. For information and eligibility, consult GSAS or the Department.
e. Outside Funding: See the Department’s web page,
under “Slavic Resources: Funding and Summer study opportunities.” GSAS requires its fellowship recipients to
make at least one bona fide attempt at securing outside funding. See: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/gsas/sub/finaid/cstudents/regs/index.html
The Slavic Department strongly advises students to spend at least
one year in Russia
or another Slavic country under the auspices of IREX, ACTR, Fulbright, or other
C. Emergency Loans
Emergency loans are available to students who, for one reason or another, do
not receive paychecks or fellowship stipends on time. A loan must be repaid
(either in a lump sum or in installments) during the semester in which it was
received. Note that the loan process must be initiated either with the
Chair or the Director of Graduate Studies.
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2. Timetable for coursework and degrees
Students should be aware
that the failure to comply with GSAS rules about “time to degree” will
jeopardize their fellowships.
A. No more than three semesters of full-time study from the time a student
begins graduate study will be allowed for the completion of the M.A. in any of
the Slavic Language programs offered by the Department.
B. The M.A. in Russian translation is usually a two- or three-semester
program. The M.A. in Slavic Cultures is usually a three-semester program. These are “free-standing M.A. programs” which do not lead toward the Ph.D. degree.
C. The Slavic Department expects students to complete all requirements for
the M.Phil. degree by the midpoint of their fourth year (seventh semester of
the program) and no later than the end of the eighth semester. Students must complete all requirements for
the M.Phil. degree and file the degree application before the end of their
eighth semester of study in order to receive their full funding from GSAS for
the following year. (This is a GSAS
policy.) See the GSAS website for
Students should plan their studies with this timetable in mind, bearing in
mind the language requirements, the coursework for the minor, as well as the
requirements for the major and preparation for the comprehensive exams.
Whenever possible, required coursework should be completed in the first
three years. Completion of required
coursework does not, however, mean that students should stop taking
classes: the Department considers these
classes to be an integral part of the ongoing intellectual development of its
advanced students and encourages them to take courses (whether for E credit or
R credit) throughout their graduate studies.
Students should take their comprehensive exams at the start of their fourth
year of graduate study. Comprehensive Examinations
are usually offered twice a year, at the beginning of each semester. Students intending to take the exam should
notify the exam coordinator and/or DGS ahead of time.
Students should take their minor oral in their fourth year, preferably in
the first semester.
The language proficiency exams may be taken at any point before the eighth semester.
D. After the M.Phil.: Students should defend their dissertation
brief within six months of completing their M.Phil. and before the end of their
ninth semester. Upon defending a
dissertation brief, a student should file a GSAS Dissertation Proposal
Committee Report. See: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/gsas/sub/dissertation/rules/progress/index.html
GSAS requires students in their fifth year and beyond to fill out a Report
on Candidacy in the Doctoral Program. Information
about the progress report can be found here:
E. The Dissertation Defense: Students should follow GSAS timetables,
rules, and procedures as outlined on the GSAS website: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/gsas/sub/dissertation/main/welcome/index.html
GSAS requires students to finish all requirements for the Ph.D. within seven years.
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3. Registration: Definition of terms
A. Residence Unit (RU): one residence unit is granted for one semester of
full-time study (a minimum of 12 points). Two RUs are required for the M.A.
degree, and an additional four for the M.Phil.
B. Extended Residence (ER): required of all students who have completed 6
RUs but (a) hold a GSAS fellowship or University appointment or (b) are
completing a degree requirement such as coursework or language and qualifying
examinations. The cost of one unit of ER is half that of an RU. Students may
continue to take the usual number of courses while on ER.
C. Matriculation and Facilities (M&F): students who have fulfilled all
degree requirements except for the dissertation and who do not hold a GSAS
fellowship or University appointment may maintain their status as graduate
students by registering for M&F, which entails a reduced fee (see the GSAS
Bulletin under Tuition). The semester in which the
dissertation is distributed for defense is the last semester in which a student
is required to register. The student should register at least for M&F. Please
note that the crucial date is that of the distribution, not the defense.
Continuous registration until all requirements are satisfied is
obligatory for each degree. Students are exempted from the requirement to
register continuously only when granted a leave of absence.
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4. Leave Of Absence
A student who must interrupt studies for a compelling reason, such as ill
health, may be granted a leave of absence, usually not to extend beyond one
year. The period of a leave of absence is not counted as part of the time
toward the completion of the degree. For further important details see the GSAS
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A student who leaves the University without
obtaining a leave of absence, or who fails to pay the Matriculation and
Facilities fee, is usually not readmitted. The special approval of the Dean,
contingent upon the merits of the student’s request and the recommendation of
the Department, is required for readmission. Please note that the GSAS
rules require that any student readmitted under these circumstances pay
retroactively M&F fees for all intervening semesters.
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The Department uses both E credit (examination credit, "letter credit") and R credit ("registered for the course" credit) in grading the students’ work.
E credit is given to a student who has completed the
required work for the course, including the final exam and/or paper. It is
expressed on a student’s record by the grades A, B, C, D, or F. Plus and minus
grades are also used. Please note that GSAS considers the grade of B to
be minimally passing, but not indicative of adequate progress toward the
R credit may be given in place of a qualitative grade.
The Department’s policy is that R credit does not merely require passive auditing;
it presupposes attending class regularly, doing all the assigned work, and
participating actively in class discussion. This grade exempts the student only
from required papers and examinations. Students with poor attendance may be
dropped from the course at the instructor’s discretion.
Students in the Graduate School do not register
specifically for R credit. If they wish to be given R credit for a course, they
must register for the course and request an R credit from the instructor early
in the term. Once awarded, this grade is not subject to change, nor may a
course that has been taken for R credit be repeated later for E credit. Please
note that the number of R credit courses taken to satisfy the degree
requirements is limited: two for the M.A. and three more for the M.Phil.
Language courses, including French and German, may not be taken for R credit.
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7. Language Requirements
A. Foreign language requirements
see the Department’s Web
page, under Programs of Study.
B. Target Language Maintenance
Most graduate students who receive the Ph.D. degree and look for teaching positions find them in small
language and literature programs, and are primarily language instructors early
in their careers. In today’s job market there is no place for candidates who do
not have native or near-native proficiency in the language of their specialty.
Language learning is a continuous process. At this stage, the best language
learning often occurs outside the classroom. Graduate students should try to
spend as much time as possible in the country of their target language, and,
while on campus, they should make every effort to speak that language with
faculty members and fellow graduate students who are native speakers. Students
wanting to work on their Russian may want to take the Reading Practicum
(Russian G4431y) . Students in the M.A. and M.Phil. programs take yearly
written examinations in the language of their specialty to assess their
progress. They are expected to be able to translate prose (expository and
literary) and poetry into English; they are also required to translate a text
on everyday topics from English into their target language. Students in MAO
programs are exempt.
If necessary, students can work on their language skills
in summer programs. The Department recommends the Russian Practicum at Columbia
University, the Russian School at Middlebury College, the Slavic Workshop at
Indiana University, ACTR Summer Programs, and the CIEE Summer Russian Program.
Funding is available from ACTR, CIEE, FLAS, and the Harriman Institute.
C. Non-Russian Slavic Languages.
The Department offers
course work in Czech, Polish, Serbian/Croatian, and Ukrainian. Knowledge of a
second Slavic language and literature is not a requirement for the Ph.D.
degree, but students are encouraged to develop fluency in at least one of these
languages as well, since in the current job market graduates with a command of
two Slavic languages have a definite advantage.
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8. Summer Study At Columbia
Students can take language courses as well as other
courses toward their degree during the Summer Session. See the Bulletin of the
Summer Session for the list of offerings. See the GSAS Bulletin under Summer
Session for details on tuition. Tuition for
summer courses at Columbia is covered by Fall term registration of that
calendar year. Tuition waivers must be
obtained in 107 Low Library.
The Russian Practicum
offers courses in Russian
language and literature (some of which are conducted in Russian). It also
offers specially designed courses on working in Russian archives and on library
and online resources for research and teaching. For details, consult the
website for Columbia's Summer Session: http://www.ce.columbia.edu/summer
Please note that any 3000-level course must be approved by the Department for
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9. Study Outside Columbia
A. Exchange Scholar Program
After earning the M.A. degree, students may study in one
of the participating schools for a limited period of time in order to take
advantage of particular educational opportunities not available at Columbia.
For the list of institutions and eligibility, see the GSAS Bulletin under
Exchange Scholar Program. Please note that students who study elsewhere during
a semester when they would otherwise be teaching are expected to make up their
B. New York Consortium of Doctoral Degree
Columbia University participates in the New York
Consortium of Doctoral Degree Granting Programs, allowing Columbia graduate
students to take graduate courses for credit at no additional charge at The
City University of New York, Fordham University, The New School for Social
Research, and New York University. To learn what courses are available in any
particular term, students should contact the relevant department directly or
look at this Department’s Web page under "Courses of Instruction."
Students should consult with the Registrar's office for the current procedures
for enrolling in courses through the Consortium and with the Director of
Graduate Studies in the Slavic Department to confirm that degree credit can be
granted for the particular course. Further information is available in the GSAS Bulletin at http://www.columbia.edu/cu/gsas/pages/cstudents/std-ser/consortium/.
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10. Office Support
A. Department Staff
a. The Department Administrator (DA):
The DA is in charge
of the Departmental Office. He or she is responsible primarily for managing the
Departmental budget and payroll, supervising and training support staff, and
scheduling classes. He or she can also help graduate students with special
registration problems, changing grades, applying for degrees, scheduling
dissertation defenses, and other paper work.
b. The Administrative Aide (AA): The AA provides support
for the Chair and the department. The AA’s responsibilities include assisting
the Department Administrator with financial affairs, supervising the work-study
students, greeting visitors, handling telephone inquiries, assisting
instructors with course packets and the like. All academic related inquiries
should be directed to the AA via email.
Please note that the best way to submit requests is by
email, so that the DA and AA can keep track of them.
B. Department Office Equipment
a. Photocopier: Every member of the Department, whether
faculty or student, is assigned (usually by the Administrative Aide) a photocopy
code that enables him or her to use the photocopy machine. There are two kinds
of accounts: (1) for personal materials; (2) for teaching materials. The
personal accounts are charged at the rate of 8 cents a page. This includes the
cost of paper, toner, and developer, all of which are becoming increasingly
expensive. There is no charge for copying teaching materials. Everyone should
maintain a distinction between these two kinds of accounts. Note that the
Department employs work-study students who can assist you with photocopying
teaching materials. Please contact the AA ahead of time with your request.
First-time users should ask the AA for orientation on using the machine. No
user of the machine should attempt any repairs. The Department has a service contract,
which provides speedy and efficient service.
b. Computer Equipment: Computers and printers are available free of charge for
graduate student use in the Slavic Reading Room. Please report any problems
immediately to the AA. Do not attempt any repairs of any equipment.
If you wish to make local calls outside the University
system, you should contact the Office of Telecommunications (854-2498) to
obtain a Personal Security Code (PSE) that will enable you to do so, and for
which you will be billed personally. Brief local calls may be made from the
Department at no charge. Incoming callers can leave messages for graduate
students at the main office (212) 854-3941.
Faculty and students are allowed to fax academic
materials from the office for a fee, and to receive academic faxes at no cost.
The office fax number is 212 854-5009. The cost of sending a personal fax
within NYC is 0.50/page; outside NYC $1.00/page; international $2.00/page.
E. Department Mail Distribution
The official address of the Slavic Department is:
Department of Slavic Languages
1130 Amsterdam Avenue
Mail code 2839
New York, NY 10027
Please instruct those who are sending you mail to use
this address if you wish the mail to be collected by the Slavic Department.
Each student has a mail slot in 708 Hamilton Hall, and mail is sorted by the
Slavic Department staff. Personal mailboxes (located on the first floor of
Hamilton Hall and accessible 24 hour a day) are available on request from the
F. E-mail Accounts and Listservs
a. Please set up your Columbia e-mail account as soon as
possible by going to http://www.columbia.edu/acis/accounts/create/current.html.
For help see the AA. Please note that without a Columbia e-mail account you may
miss important University, Graduate School, and Department communications.
b. The following listservs are important sources of
information: "Slavstud" <email@example.com> (Slavic Department faculty, staff, and
graduate students); "Ulbandus" (Slavic Department graduate students);
"Harriman-news" and "Harriman-events"; and "Othereurope." To be added to the slavstud list, so that you can send and receive department-appropriate announcements, see the AA; to be added
to the Ulbandus list, so that you can communicate with the department graduate student body, see the Department Webmaster; to subscribe to Harriman-news or Harriman-events, see
the Harriman Institute web site; to be added to Othereurope, see the web site of the East
Central European Center. Many students also choose to subscribe to SEELANGS, an unaffiliated listserv for discussion of Slavic and East European languages and
literature that often distributes useful information such as job opening announcements.
G. Reading Room
The Department has a Reading Room located in 713 Hamilton
Hall. Each graduate student is entitled to a Reading Room key. Please see the
AA. Books in the Reading Room are non-circulating. Re-shelve the books after
use. Please keep in mind that the Reading Room is a common workspace and should
be kept clean and quiet. For assistance with the Reading Room see current
Slavic Reading Room Librarian.
H. Library Carrels
The Department is currently assigned a limited number of
library carrels to provide advanced students with space to work on their
dissertations. A formal request must be made to the Department by submitting an
application, which can be obtained from the Department. Graduate students can
occupy that space until their dissertations are deposited or they have exceeded
seven years of registration, whichever comes first, after which, the carrel
must be vacated and the keys returned to the Department. Please keep in mind
that we have limited carrel space, and that there is a waiting list for use of
I. Student-Faculty Curriculum Committee
The Student-Faculty Curriculum Committee serves as the
main formal channel of communication between students and faculty, raising
issues such as the shape of the curriculum, advising, and student life. The
Committee consists of three graduate students (one nominated by the faculty and
two nominated by the students) and three faculty members (one nominated by the
students and two nominated by the faculty). The Department Chair participates
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11. Faculty Advising
Any student should feel free to ask any faculty member for
advice. However, certain problems are more easily addressed by consulting the
appropriate person. Furthermore, at specific stages of their graduate careers,
students work closely with specific faculty members, such as the Proseminar
instructor, the first reader of the M.A. essay, the mentor, and the
A. Department Chair
The Chair is the chief academic and financial officer of
the Department. He or she is elected by the full-time faculty for a term of
three years, and may be re-elected to a second term (but rarely beyond that).
The Chair oversees the Department's teaching responsibilities at the graduate
and undergraduate level, periodically reviews the program and proposes changes,
and presides over searches for new faculty members. In consultation with
faculty colleagues, he or she oversees the awarding of grants to graduate
students, and makes nominations to part-time teaching positions in the
Department and the Core Curriculum of the College. The Chair transmits the
Department's needs and wishes to the central administration, negotiates details
of the annual budget with the Vice President of Arts and Sciences, and draws up
plans that will shape the Department's profile in the years to come. In turn,
he or she serves as the channel through which the administration communicates
with the Department as a whole. The Chair is also responsible for presenting an
accurate image of the activities of the Department to other Slavic Departments
throughout the world, to the academic community at large, and to non-academic
interests such as the media.
B. The Director of Graduate Studies (DGS)
The DGS is appointed by the Chair from among the
full-time members of the Columbia and Barnard Departments holding a
professorial rank to serve for an unspecified term. She or he is responsible
for advising graduate students on requirements and courses. The DGS is well
placed to represent each student to the faculty when it comes to matters like
fellowship aid, teaching, advanced standing, exemption from certain
requirements, and leaves of absence. A meeting with the DGS is required of all
students in the M.A. and M.Phil. programs at the beginning of each semester,
before students register for classes.
C. Proseminar instructor
The faculty member who teaches the Proseminar is an
important resource for students in the first year of graduate studies. He or
she helps students to choose their M.A. topics and assigns the First Reader for
the M.A. essay.
D. M.A. essay readers
While writing his or her M.A. essay, each student works with a
faculty member (First Reader); after the First Reader approves the final draft,
another faculty member (Second Reader), chosen by the student in consultation
with the First Reader, must read and approve the work. The two readers confer
on the grade for the essay.
Students in M.Phil. programs (between conferral of the M.A. degree and defense of the dissertation brief) work with a faculty mentor
assigned to them by the Chair and the DGS. Mentors are available to help plan a
student’s individual course of study and examinations, advise on conference
papers and publications, and attend students’ classes to assess their teaching.
F. Written Comprehensive Examination Coordinator
The DGS or another member of the faculty will serve as
coordinator for all written exams. The exam coordinator will: a) advise
students preparing for the exam (in addition to the more specific advising
provided each student by his or her mentor); b) ask faculty members to provide
questions, read answers, and comment (in 1-2 sentences) on the student's
performance in each section; c) discuss the results with the student. The task
of preparing and reading the exam will always be divided among several faculty
members, so that there will be at least two comments provided for each section.
For a description of the Written Comprehensive Examination, see the GSAS
Bulletin under Slavic Languages or the Department’s Web page. It is the
student’s responsibility to notify the DA of the time of the exam, so that the
necessary paperwork can be prepared.
G. Adviser in the minor field
A student’s principal adviser on the Minor Oral
Examination should be a specialist in this field. He or she helps a student
plan the examination and select the committee members. He or she determines
when the student is ready to take the exam and serves as one of the members of
the examination committee. When this principal adviser is not a member of the
Slavic Department faculty, the student should ask one of the other members of
the committee who is a member of the Slavic Department and familiar with Slavic
Department procedures to serve as coordinator.
(This be responsible for administrative details. The students are advised to distribute the
drafts of the materials to every committee member ahead of time for feedback.
For a description of the Minor Oral Examination, see the GSAS Bulletin under
Slavic Languages or the Department’s Web page. It is the student’s
responsibility to notify both the DA and DGS of the time of the exam, so that
the necessary paperwork can be prepared.
H. Dissertation advisers
Post-M.Phil. students choose a faculty member, who
normally becomes the Dissertation Adviser (First Reader), to help them prepare
their dissertation briefs. For instructions on writing a dissertation brief,
see the GSAS Bulletin under Slavic Languages or the Department’s Web page. The
students, in consultation with the First Reader, choose their Second and Third
Readers, both of whom will normally be members of the Slavic Department.
When the First Reader deems it appropriate, the
dissertation is passed to the Second Reader for comment. From then on, the
First and Second Readers work together to help the student prepare a complete
version of the dissertation that is nearly ready for defense. At that point it
is passed to the Third Reader for final comment. Once all corrections and
revisions have been made, the three Departmental readers approve the
dissertation as being ready for the defense. About a month before the scheduled
defense, the student distributes the dissertation. At this point, the three
departmental readers, plus the Fourth and Fifth (or Outside) Readers receive
the final copies, on which they will comment at the defense itself. Outside
Readers must come from outside the Department and be Columbia faculty members.
Only if an appropriate Outside Reader cannot be found at Columbia or Barnard,
specialists from other institutions can be brought in. The First Reader helps
the student choose Outside Readers. For the University rules and policies on
writing and defending dissertations, see the GSAS Bulletin under Doctor of
I. Graduate Career Advisor (GCA)
The GCA is appointed by the Chair from among the
full-time members of the Columbia and Barnard Departments holding a
professorial rank (preferably tenured). He or she works with the graduate
students who are currently applying for jobs or are planning to do so in the
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12. Professional Development
A. Local Resources
In addition to the Columbia and Barnard Slavic
collections, New York City and the Metropolitan area offer many other
opportunities for research. The Baltic and Slavic Division at the New York
Public Library is an invaluable resource. Students can obtain access to the
collections of peer universities (New York University, Princeton, and Yale are
within reach). For those interested in medieval or religious studies, the
libraries of Union Theological Seminary and St. Vladimir’s Seminary (in
Crestwood, NY) are indispensable.
B. Membership in Professional Associations
Students are strongly urged to join, as soon as possible,
the three main professional organizations in our field: AAASS (American
Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies), AATSEEL (American
Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages), and MLA (Modern
Language Association). All three offer special student rates. Membership
includes subscriptions to the journals published by these organizations.
Furthermore, membership ensures that students will be listed in the
organizations' directories and will be eligible to attend conferences and
publish articles in the journals of these organizations. Membership is an
essential part of professional preparation and development.
C. Professional Conferences
Students should make every effort to take an active part
in professional conferences and seminars, including those held at Columbia and
peer institutions. Each of the three professional organizations mentioned under
Membership in professional associations has local chapters, and their meetings,
which are held annually in addition to the national conferences, are a good
place to begin acquiring experience in the art of presenting a paper. The costs
of travel to conferences can often be at least partly defrayed by the
Department and the Graduate School, or even wholly covered if the conference is not too
distant from New York. For advice on writing a paper within the time limits of
a conference-panel (usually fifteen to twenty minutes), and locating a panel
that is likely to accept you, consult your faculty adviser (M.A. or Ph.D. first
readers, faculty mentors, or any other member of the faculty).
It is essential that students begin scholarly publishing
as soon as possible. The best way to begin is with a good course paper or a
chapter from your M.A. essay. For advice, consult your faculty adviser (M.A. or
Ph.D. first readers, faculty mentors, or any other member of the faculty).
E. The Graduate Student Forum
The Graduate Student Forum convenes three or four times
per semester to critique a presentation by a current student. Presentations
typically include articles being prepared for publication, chapters from
dissertations in progress, or conference papers. The Forum is entirely
student-run, and a new student is chosen by his or her peers to chair it each
Ulbandus is a graduate student-run, peer-reviewed Slavic journal with
international distribution. Graduate students are invited to contribute to and
participate in the production of this publication.
G. The Graduate Student Teaching Competition.
Every year, the Department offers graduate students an
opportunity to teach one undergraduate literature or culture course. To be
considered, students submit a syllabus for the faculty’s consideration. The
faculty selects one proposal that shows the strongest academic promise and best
fits the current needs of the Department. Those not selected still benefit from
the exercise of putting the proposal together; such sample syllabi are both an asset on the job market and good practice for regular academic employment. The competition is held each spring,
and the selected course is usually taught in the spring of the next year.
Eligibility: all applicants must have either an M.Phil. or 2 years of language
teaching experience completed before the semester when the course will be
offered. The GSAS does not allow students to teach after their seventh year.
Course parameters: the course should be an undergraduate (1000 level) author or
topic course. It can be designed either for a broader undergraduate audience
(in which case all texts should be offered in translation), or for an audience
of Russian heritage speakers. A comparative literature angle might be a plus.
H. The Pushkin Poetry Prize
The Pushkin Poetry Prize is awarded annually for
the best translation of a Russian poem into English. Submissions (originals
included) should be addressed to the Chair, who appoints the committee and
announces winners at the end of each academic year. The size of the prize
depends on the current amount of money in the fund bequeathed by Dr. John Paul
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13. Job Search
The Graduate Placement Advisor is there to help you with
every stage of the job search process. You can also consult any member of the
department. UC Berkeley has a famously helpful set of pages with advice and sample documents for the academic job search: see
A. Where to look for information
New positions, both part-and full-time, are announced in
the MLA's Job Information List
(JIL), which is published four times a year (October, December,
March and June; the Department has a subscription. To check the JIL online
, obtain the Department's ID and password from the DA or the Graduate Placement Officer); and in the newsletters of
(available to members of those organizations). MLA and AATSEEL
also post jobs on their web sites. The Department’s web page provides links to
those sites. Students are also encouraged to subscribe to the SEELANGS
, where job announcements in the field frequently appear.
There is also a less formal exchange of information among
Department Chairs, so you should be sure to check the Department bulletin boards
B. When to apply
Many of these positions require a Ph.D. in hand, or one
close to completion. But there is much to be said for trying to secure
interviews even if you do not feel fully qualified on paper. The interview
experience is useful as a way of learning how to conduct yourself in a
challenging academic situation, and as a way of bringing yourself to the
attention of other departments, who may well remember you favorably when you are
better qualified. (In addition, such "dry runs" have been known to result in a job offer!) However, students should keep in mind that being on the job
market is time-consuming and may slow down progress on the dissertation. Weigh your options carefully and, if in doubt, seek advice from a faculty member.
C. Where to apply
It is essential that you consider all opportunities and
make your search as broad as possible, both geographically and institutionally.
As soon as you begin giving serious thought to going onto the job market, you should establish a dossier with Interfolio (http://www.interfolio.com/). Follow their instructions. Interfolio will mail your dossier to potential employers at your request. For prices, see their web page.. This dossier will contain letters of recommendation,
usually from members of the Slavic faculty. You should request letters from people who know your work well and can
speak candidly about it.
Recently, many institutions use https://academicjobsonline.org or their own web sites to manage applications, including letters of recommendation. Make sure your recommenders know where to send/upload their recommendations.
Columbia's Center for Career Services offers information and counseling on academic and non-academic jobs for Ph.D. degree holders. Contact the Center for more information. The Center is located on East Campus, Lower Level; their telephone number is (212) 854-3561.
E. Application letter
Most job announcements in the last three or four years
have yielded a hundred or more applications. Of those, perhaps one-fifth make
it to the interview stage. Consequently, it is vital that in the cover letter
accompanying your application you present yourself as clearly, specifically,
and accurately as possible. This letter should not exceed two pages (remember
that your C.V. will be attached). Though most of the letter’s contents will be
repeated in each of the letters you send out, you should try to speak to the
stated needs and requirements of the department to which you are applying: the
selection committee should not feel that it is reading a form letter with the
blanks filled in. You should show why you think you are qualified for the job
that is being advertised, why you are interested in University X, and why
College Y should take an interest in you. Finally, you should briefly address
the matter of the direction your future professional development is likely to
The Graduate Placement Advisor will be happy to help you with the letter, as will any other faculty member.
F. Curriculum Vitae
An up-to-date C.V. should be included with your
application letter. It should concisely and accurately present your educational
and employment history in reverse chronological order. In addition, it should
include all pertinent information on your professional development: awards,
publications, conference talks, internships, and the like.
It is strongly advised that you include with your
application syllabi of any courses you have taught or would like to teach. Well
constructed course syllabi will recommend you professionally to the selection
committee. Furthermore, working on syllabi will prepare you for the questions
about your teaching plans that are always asked during job interviews.
H. The Job Interview
There are typically two interviews. The initial interview
is usually conducted during the AATSEEL Convention in December. This interview
is discussed in detail below. Of the candidates interviewed there, a few will
be invited to a second interview, usually on campus. There are no general rules
covering the second interview, but candidates so chosen are welcome to seek
advice and direction from the Graduate Placement Advisor and members of the
Any job interview is by definition is stressful. However, careful
preparation can help you handle the stress and even make it work for you
positively. Each interview committee will of course have its needs and
priorities in mind, but there are certain constants.
Present yourself as a professional, and try to regard the
interview as an intellectual exchange with your peers. It will help if you can
formulate, well ahead of time, an image of yourself as a professional and be
prepared to talk about yourself in broad terms, with the assurance and
confidence born of familiarity. Are you mainly a theorist? A close reader of
texts? A literary or cultural historian? Do you find such distinctions useful
or arbitrary? What do you see yourself doing professionally five and ten years
from now? Now that you have completed your dissertation, how do you plan to
make a book of it? What is your second book going to be? You should also have
reflected on your experiences as a teacher at Columbia, and be prepared to
answer questions about your teaching in the future. How would you go about
designing a new major for undergraduates? How would you attract more students
into Russian or Polish or Czech language courses? Which books would you include
in an English-language survey course in twentieth-century Russian literature?
If you were asked to teach a general humanities course, what would you do on
the first day of class, when your students have done none of the required
Be aware that some interviewers may play devil's
advocate, pretending ignorance of a field or an author. "So you've written
your dissertation on Staniukovich? Who's that? Why is he--or is it a she--worth
a whole dissertation?" Or: “Hasn't everything been said about Pushkin
that's worth being said?" Do not assume that such questions betray genuine
ignorance: you may unwittingly show condescension or contempt.
Do not make any demands of interviewers at this stage.
For example, it is usually fatal to insist that you will not teach certain
authors or periods, or are uninterested in teaching language. You should not,
at this stage, ask about salary and benefits or course loads; those are
questions that will be raised in a second, usually on-campus, interview.
The interviewers will probably press to determine how
broad and deep your knowledge is. Of course you cannot be an expert in
everything, but as a well-trained graduate student you should be able to speak
intelligently, if not profoundly, on any area of our field, without having to bluff
or admit total ignorance.
Try to schedule your interview early in the day.
Interviewers are usually very tired after 3 p.m., and may have to go on well
into the evening. However, it is unwise to demand a particular time-slot as the
price of the interview.
Do not mention other schools that may be interested in
you. It is considered bad form on the part of interviewers to ask you, but some
may; if so, try to be vague.
Part of the interview will probably be conducted in
Russian. If your spoken Russian is rusty, you should begin practicing it
several months before interview time, concentrating on professional vocabulary
and idiom. Make sure you can describe in Russian the kind of scholarly work you
are doing now, and plan to do in the future. Furthermore, be prepared to answer
a question on whether you can teach a course in Russian, particularly to a
mixture of non-native, native, and heritage speakers. The problem of native and
heritage speakers and their integration into a language program currently seems
to be one of the most urgent in the field.
At your request, the Department will be happy to set
up a mock interview for you shortly before you encounter the real thing. The
Center for Career Services
usually offers mock interviews (separately from the Department) in early December.
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