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Graduate Program

The Ph.D. program in Slavic Languages and Literatures at Northwestern ranks among the very best in the country. It combines rigorous training with individual attention and the opportunity to pursue a personalized program by way of coursework taken outside the department.  All students specialize in Russian literature, although our faculty also includes specialists in Polish, Czech and South Slavic literatures and cultures.  

Our greatest strengths are in Russian prose and poetry, literary theory, and in the social and intellectual context of literary works. We emphasize interdisciplinary work in both teaching and research. We also provide excellent training in language pedagogy and key linguistic training. Our full-time faculty consists of six tenure-line professors and two full-time lecturers. Our departmental affiliates include NU faculty specializing in Russian and Eastern European history, art history, Jewish studies, theater, music, and political science. 

We believe strongly in crafting a plan of studies for each student that makes the most of his or her special abilities. For example, we offer independent study opportunities, in which students either develop a paper from a prior course or pursue a new project of their own design and turn it into a publishable paper or a presentation to be given at a professional conference.   As a result, the students acquire the skills necessary for creative thinking, original research, and professional development. We also encourage students to take advantage of the university's excellent resources in adjacent fields, such as film, theater, philosophy, comparative literature, history, and English.  See our Course descriptions.

Our students regularly receive university and external honors and fellowships for teaching, scholarship, and administration, including the inaugural Northwestern University Press Graduate Internship, the inaugural Graduate School Doctoral Internship, the Beiling Wu Prize in Writing for outstanding essay by a first-year graduate student in Humanities, the Weinberg College Outstanding Graduate Student Teacher Prize, the Mellon Dissertation Completion Fellowship, Midwest Graduate Student Teaching Award, and the Northwestern Presidential Fellowship. 

Northwestern's Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching offers workshops and other opportunities for graduate students to improve their teaching skills.  Slavic graduate students Polina Maksimovich and Christopher Pike are shown here leading the New TA Conference, held every fall.

For general information about program requirements and opportunities, see our Graduate Student Handbook (revised fall 2020).

Those who have completed a Ph.D. in our Department now hold tenure-line (or equivalent) positions at top public and private institutions, including Harvard, Brown, Ohio State, UC Davis, University of British Columbia, Middlebury, Bristol (UK), Cambridge (UK), Lawrence University, and others.  See our Alumni page.