The M.A. in Russian Literature
This degree is a prerequisite for the M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees in Russian Literature. Full-time students normally complete this portion of the program in two or three semesters. Part-time in the Free-Standing M.A. program must complete the program within four years. Notice that two Residence Units are required for the M.A. degree.
expand their knowledge of the Russian literary tradition;
become conversant in twentieth-century critical and cultural theory and learn how to interrogate the fundamental idioms and axioms of our academic practices;
achieve a high level of language proficiency in Russian language;
learn the skills associated with independent research and academic writing.
Coursework: 30 points at the graduate level (4000 and higher), including:
- four courses in Russian literature;
- the Proseminar in Literary Studies (SLLT G8001) - an introduction to critical theory and methods, to be completed during the first semester of graduate study;
- one Directed Research course for the completion of the Master’s essay; to be taken with the M.A. essay adviser in the second or third semester;
- two graduate-level Russian language and linguistics courses; which may include Practical Stylistics (RUSS W4434), Introduction to Old Church Slavonic (SLLN G4005), History of the Russian Literary Language (RUSS G6225), Structure of Modern Standard Russian (RUSS G06021), courses from the Chteniia po russkoi literature and Chteniia po russkoi kul'ture series, Reading Practicum (RUSS W4431), or Fourth-year Russian (RUSS W4333 and W4334);
- two additional elective courses. Note that doctoral students who plan to pursue the concentration in Comparative Literature and Society should take CPLS G4900 in the first year of study and may count it as one of these elective courses.
All courses required for the M.A. are to be selected in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies. Two 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.
2) Languages: Additional Russian language study at Columbia, or in summer programs elsewhere, if the Department's annual placement and progress examinations indicate such a need. A second Slavic language is encouraged but not required.
3) M.A. Essay: An independent research project completed under the guidance of an adviser. The subject for the essay should be chosen early and should ideally draw on work done in a course. Students may opt for either a longer thesis (50 - 80 pages) or a shorter article-length essay written with the ultimate goal of producing a scholarly publication on the subject. Students begin the M.A. essay during the second semester of study and submit it in final form no later than the end of the second year. For further information, see M.A. essay guidelines.
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The M.Phil. in Russian Literature
Prerequisites for this degree are the M.A. degree in Russian Literature and formal approval by the department.
Students are expected to complete the M.Phil program before the end of
their eighth semester of graduate study. For the duration of the
program, each student works closely with a faculty mentor who, as a
rule, is distinct from the student's M.A. adviser.
Note that four Residence Units beyond the M.A. (for a total of six) are required for the M.Phil degree.
- demonstrate advanced-level knowledge of the Russian literary tradition and the Slavic Academic field;
- develop expertise in a minor field of specialization; Note: This minor field can be either another (Slavic or non-Slavic) language and literature, or another discipline
(history, linguistics, philosophy, religious studies, sociology, or
music, among others). As an alternative, students can pursue a concentration in Comparative Literature and Society;
- acquire pedagogical skills in a variety of classroom experiences by
teaching both Russian Language and Russian Literature under guided
- achieve near-native proficiency in Russian;
- demonstrate excellent reading proficiency in two additional languages that are central to their individual research program;
- continue to hone their skills in academic discourse, research, and
writing though coursework, academic publications and conference
participation, and through involvement in the vibrant academic life of
the Department and Harriman Institute.
1) Coursework: Students complete a combined total of at least 30 points of coursework in their major field of Russian literature and their minor field or concentration in Comparative Literature and Society, distribution as follows:
- four courses in Russian literature;
- Practical Stylistics (RUSS W4434) and Introduction to Old Church Slavonic (SLLN G4005), if not taken at the M.A. level;
- either the History of the Russian Literary Language (RUSS G6225) or
the Structure of Modern Standard Russian (RUSS G6021), if neither was
taken at the M.A. level;
- three or more courses toward the minor field;
- two additional elective courses in the major; the minor or another related field.
All courses should be chosen in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies
and should be taken for a letter grade. The two elective courses can be
taken for R credit unless used for certificates (ICLS or Harriman) that
require a letter grade.
Second Slavic literature (Czech, Polish, Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian, or Ukrainian):
provides general knowledge of the history of the chosen literature and a
firm grasp of one selected period, genre, or theme. Two of the required
courses toward this minor may be in language above the elementary
Non-Slavic literature: candidates are
expected to demonstrate a general knowledge of the history of the chosen
literature and a firm grasp of one selected period, genre, or theme
that links that literature to Russian Literature;
Russian history and culture: candidates are expected to
take graduate-level courses in Russian history, art history, music,
philosophy, religion, or another relevant field, and to demonstrate a
general knowledge of Russian intellectual history with a focus either on
a specific period or a particular discipline, as is applies to Russian
Slavic Linguistics: candidates are expected to take
CLSV G6100 (Comparative Grammar of Slavic Languages) and other
graduate-level courses in Slavic linguistics and Slavic medieval
studies, as well as courses in general linguistics; one of those courses
may be an advanced course in a Slavic 9non-Russian) language;
Interdisciplinary minor: developed in consultation with the Director Graduate Studies, and with the approval of the department.
Concentration in Comparative Literature and Society may
be chosen instead of a minor field. Students are expected to develop
two fields of study in addition to their primary field of Russian
literature. For a full description of the concentration and the
expectations regarding minor fields within the concentration, please see
the web pages of the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society.
The concentration requires a total of 24 points (six or seven courses)
at the graduate level (4000 and higher) and must include the following:
- Introduction to Comparative Literature and Society (CPLS G4900),
which is preferably taken during the first year of graduate study;
- two doctoral seminars in comparative topics;
- two courses in a language other than Russian, reading texts in their
original language (even in courses where class discussion is held in
- additional courses in the minor fields as needed to prepare for the required graduate seminars.
Students completing the concentration should work closely with the
Director of Graduate Studies of both Slavic and Comparative Literature
ans Society in developing their fields of study within the
concentration, in choosing courses, and determining which courses taken
to fulfill the requirements for the major in Russian literature
(outlined above) may also count toward the requirements for the
2) Languages: A reading knowledge of (1) French and
German; or (2) either French or German and one other language of
demonstrable importance to the students research. Proficiency is
established by the departmental examination. Both research languages
should be chosen in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies.
Students completing the Concentration in ICLS will need to fulfill the
language requirements stipulated by ICLS.
3) Teaching requirement: Three years of participation
in the Slavic Department's instructional activities. As a rule, in the
second, third, and fourth years of study, students gain exposure to
teaching through participation in the Department's language and
4) M.Phil. examination: Students are expected to take
the comprehensive examination for the M.Phil. degree during their fourth
year of graduate study, preferably at the beginning of the seventh
semester. Students are examined in five areas: 1) Old Russian
Literature; 2)Literature of the Russian Baroque and Eighteenth Century;
3) Nineteenth-Century Russian Literature; 4)Twentieth-Century Russian
Literature; 5) Criticism, Genre, and Literary Institutions. Students
take the exam on two consecutive days, writing for three hours on each
day. Approximately one week after the written examination, the student
meets with a three-member faculty committee for an oral exam, which
lasts up to two hours. The written portion of the examination serves as
the point of departure for a discussion ranging over the whole field.
Students who do the concentration in Comparative Literature and Society
take modified written and oral portions of the exam, in which they
answer questions about Russian literature and both of their minor
fields. A reading list for this comprehensive exam is available online.
5) Minor Colloquium: This is the student's opportunity
to exhibit the work completed in the minor field(s) (the "portfolio")
and to reflect on its relationship to the major field and its role in
the student's intellectual development. Three faculty members take part
in the discussion with the student. (For a full description, please
see the Guide to the Minor Colloquium
on the Slavic Department website.) Students should schedule the
colloquium before the end of their eight semester of graduate study.
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The Ph.D. in Russian Literature
Prerequisites this degree are an M.Phil. degree in Russian Literature and formal approval by the Department.
Students are expected to complete the Ph.D. program
before the end of their seventh year of graduate study. For the duration
of the program, each student works closely with a faculty adviser and two other faculty members who serve as a second and third readers on the student's dissertation committee.
- develop an independent research project for a doctoral dissertation;
- produce an original work that substantially contributes to the field of Russian/Slavic studies.
1) Dissertation brief: in consultation with
the faculty adviser, the candidate prepares a dissertation brief
(approximately 12 pages), consisting of the following parts: a
presentation of the thesis and the rationale for the dissertation; an
outline of the argument; an expanded table of contents; a bibliography.
The candidate then defends this brief before a committee consisting of
the adviser and two other faculty members whose expertise is relevant to
the dissertation topic. Upon receiving their approval, the candidate
proceeds with the dissertation. Students defend the brief before the end
of the fourth year of graduate studies.
2) Dissertation research seminar: A
required semester-long seminar aimed to facilitate preparation for brief
defense and the transition to dissertation research and writing. All
students should enroll in it for R credit, preferably in their fourth
3) Dissertation: Students should complete, defend, and deposit their dissertation in accordance with the regulations of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, normally by the end of the seventh year of graduate study.
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