Graduate Requirements

Application for Admission to the Graduate Program

The applications for the doctoral programs in (1) Slavic Languages and Literatures and (2) Film Studies with a Concentration in Slavic (as the Associated Department) are available online.

We invite all applicants to become familiar with general information regarding graduate studies at the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences. International applicants may find it useful to review additional information about graduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh.

We require the following (all submitted online) by 15 January, 2023 at the following link:

  • Completed application form.
  • Statement of Purpose. Approximately 2 pages, double-spaced, this statement describes the applicant’s academic training and research interests.
  • Personal statement (including a statement about diversity). Approximately 2 pages, double-spaced. In this statement about the applicant’s path to and motivation for graduate studies, please, tell us how your academic, professional, and life experiences could contribute to a more diverse and inclusive atmosphere in the Department, the University, and society. 
  • Transcript copies uploaded onlineAll undergraduate and graduate transcripts are required.
  • Three letters of recommendation. Typically, letters come from faculty or other persons who are able to speak about the applicant’s capacity for graduate work in the discipline.
  • Writing sample in English. This should be the applicant’s most mature work of scholarship to date. Typical length: approximately 20-25 pages, double-spaced. An optional (second) writing sample in Russian may also be submitted.
  • For international applicants
    • TOEFL or IELTS scores
    • Note.  Upon learning of your decision regarding our offer of admission, we will forward your information to the Office of International Services (OIS). You will be contacted by OIS directly with instructions for submitting your financial documentation. More information to become familiar with OIS’s financial requirements can be found here. Your familiarity with this document will expedite the process for visa documents, once admitted.
  • In an effort to reduce financial barriers to attending graduate school, the Kenneth P. Dietrich Graduate School of Arts and Sciences offers application fee waivers. Please note that fee waivers are approved on a case-by-case basis and not all fee waiver requests will be granted.  All requests received will be reviewed and responded to within 48 hours during normal business hours: Monday - Friday 8:30a.m. to 5:00p.m. EST.  To be considered for a fee waiver, Please complete the following fee waiver survey for review:

If you have questions about the application process, you are welcome to write to Professor Nancy Condee, Director of Graduate Studies ( or Professor Bella Grigoryan, Chair (

For more information, see our Slavic Languages and Literatures Graduate Student Handbook.


Foreign Language Requirement for Literature MA or Literature PhD

The Department requires that all students demonstrate reading competence in a research language other than Russian or English. Recognizing that several categories of language knowledge outside the principal area of study are important for a professional Slavistic education, and that there is no room in a modern graduate degree program for all of them, graduate students are required to have completed all of the following steps in order to receive the PhD degree:

  1. Before the end of the student’s first year in the program, submit to the graduate faculty a one-page rationale, explaining the relevance of the proposed research language to the student’s scholarship. The research language must be approved by the graduate faculty before the next two steps may be undertaken.
  2. Achieve reading knowledge of the proposed research language, to be demonstrated by a test administered or arranged by the Department or by completing the equivalent of a second-year college-level course in the language.
  3. Include in the PhD Qualifying Bibliography examination at minimum five annotated entries to demonstrate ongoing engagement with scholarship in the research language.  

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.