Graduate Requirements

In response to the disruptions caused by the global pandemic, graduate programs in the Humanities and Social Sciences in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh are pausing admissions for fall 2021. This one-year intermission will enable us to devote our resources and attention to our continuing students. Graduate training and research are central to the mission of the Dietrich School and the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures.  While we do not pause admissions lightly, in these uncertain times we are committed to optimally supporting our current students’ success and wellbeing.

If you seek to begin your graduate studies in the fall of 2021, we thank you for your understanding and wish you all the best in your endeavors. If you consider applying to our program for fall 2022 (for which the deadline is 15 January 2022), or have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Professor Nancy Condee


Application for Admission to the Graduate Program

The application for our programs are made on line through the ApplyYourself Application Network.  Applications for Fall admission are due January 15. Find general information about applications for graduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh.

We require the following:

  • Completed application form
  • Personal Statement
  • Transcript copies UPLOADED online. Undergraduate transcripts are required.
  • Three letters of recommendation (online submissions)
  • Writing Sample (in English); a Russian sample can also be submitted (optional)
  • Non-US Citizens:  TOEFL or IELTS scores
  • International Applicants: Upon learning of your decision to our offer, we will forward your information to the Office of International Services (OIS). At that point, you will be contacted by OIS directly on how to submit your financial documentation. More information to become familiar with OIS's financial requirements can be found HERE. Becoming familiar with this document will expedite the process for visa documents, once admitted.
  • Application fee of $75 USD

If you have questions about the application process, write to

View a copy of the Slavic Languages and Literatures Graduate Student Handbook.

Mailing address for transcripts and any other materials not included in the electronic application:

Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures
Graduate Program
1228 Cathedral of Learning
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
phone: 412-624-5906 

Foreign Language Requirement for Literature MA or Literature PhD

Recognizing that several categories of language knowledge outside the principal area of study are important for a professional Slavistic education, and that there is not room in a modern graduate degree program for all of them, graduate students are required to have completed at least one of the following four options to receive the MA degree and at least two to receive the PhD degree:

  1. Reading knowledge of French for academic research purposes, to be demonstrated by a test administered by the Department or by completing the equivalent of a second-year college-level course in the language.
  2. Reading knowledge of German for academic research purposes, to be demonstrated by a test administered by the Department or by completing the equivalent of a second-year college-level course in the language.
  3. Reading knowledge of another language required for research, to be demonstrated by a test administered by the Department or by completing the equivalent of a second-year college-level course in the language. This option is available only if the reading knowledge of this language is approved by the responsible faculty member as significantly connected to the student's research.
  4. Completion of the equivalent of two years of study of a Slavic, Eastern European, or Central Asian language at the college level. This option is modeled on the traditional "second Slavic language" requirement (although it is broader than just Slavic), and it does not require an explicit connection to the student's research agenda.
  5. Satisfaction of options 3 and 4 with languages or courses not taught at the University of Pittsburgh may be approved upon presentation of acceptable documentation to the Director of Graduate Studies.   

Literature MA

  • 36 graduate credits, including Proseminar I and II.
  • One course in Slavic historical linguistics or one course in descriptive Russian linguistics.
  • The Comprehensive Examination

Literature PhD

  • 72 graduate credits (36 beyond the M.A.), of which 12 may be dissertation credits; at least 60 credits must be completed by the end of the semester in which the examination is to be taken.
  • One course in Slavic historical linguistics and one course in descriptive Russian Linguistics.
  • 9-15 graduate credits (but in the 72-credit total) in an approved second area (e.g. Cultural Studies, Women's Studies, European Literature, Area Studies, a second Slavic language/literature/culture).
  • The Qualifying Examination

PhD in Film Studies with a Concentration in Slavic (as the Associated Department): 

The PhD in Film Studies at the University of Pittsburgh is an interdisciplinary and interdepartmental degree that stresses the history, theory, and aesthetics of international cinema, video, television, and new media. While the student will earn a PhD in Film Studies (granted by the Film Studies Program), he or she will also be a full member of the Slavic Department, fulfilling its requirements (many of which will overlap with those in Film Studies). The name of the Associated Department will appear as an Area of Concentration on the student’s transcript. Thus, we do not anticipate that there will be any significant delay in time-to-degree.  The name of the Associated Department will appear as an Area of Concentration on the student's transcript.  Thus, the student graduating with a PhD in Film Studies will be doubly qualified: in film studies as well as in a secondary area. See the Film Studies Web site for more information about the PhD in Film Studies with a Concentration in Slavic. Applicants interested in this program should apply through Film Studies.

Film Studies Student Funding:  Funding (for fellowships and /or TA-shps) will come in the form of that department's existing funding. 

The comprehensive exam for the Film PhD student consists of examinations in three areas chosen by the advisor and the faculty:

  • Film Genre(s) or medium/media
  • Film Author(s) or producer(s)
  • Historical Period(s)

Film PhD students who concentrates in Slavic should take the Department's four graduate offerings in Film Studies:

  • RUSS 2648 Lumiere to Lenin
  • RUSS 2639 Stalin at the Movies
  • RUSS 2640 Cinema of Thaw and Stagnation
  • RUSS 2642 Perestroika and Beyond

Graduate Certificates

Most graduate students earn Certificates in Cultural Studies, Russian and East European Studies, and Film Studies in addition to their degrees.

General Information

Recent literature seminars have included the following topics:

  • Russian Journals
  • Folklore
  • Silver Age
  • Symbolist Prose
  • Formalism and Structuralism
  • 20th Century Drama
  • Literature and Society in the 19th Century
  • Autobiography and Memoirs
  • Russian Women's Culture
  • Solzhenitsyn
  • Pushkin
  • Russian Narrative Poem
  • Bakhtin and the Novel

The M.A. degree may be awarded only after one of the required research language requirements has been satisfied and the Ph.D. degree may be awarded only after both requirements have been satisfied. Entering students should be prepared to a) pass a reading examination in French or German; or b) enroll in a French or German language class until the research language requirement has been satisfied in one of the following three ways:

  • A grade of at least B+ in the final (fourth) semester of study of the language;
  • The regular research-competence exam;
  • A graduate level course in the chosen language including a) foreign-language research for a paper and b) a letter from the instructor (3-4 sentences maximum) to the effect that the student is competent to conduct research in the language.

Students may apply to replace the French and/or German examinations with examinations in other languages. Any such application must be submitted in writing to the student's advisor, and must be based on an argument that the proposed substitute language is more important for the student's research than the language it would replace. Applications will then be evaluated by the advisor and two other members of the faculty to be selected by the advisor.