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First-Year Focus

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What is Slavic and Why Study It?

Slavic majors and minors study the language, literature, culture, art, and history of one or comparative areas including Russia, Poland, and the Czech Republic.  Our Department offers a broad range of topics with special strengths in literature, poetry, art, philosophy, the novel, intellectual history, translation, film, and language and linguistics. 

Hear from other students about why they decided to study Polish or Russian at Northwestern!

Slavic at Northwestern comprises a lively group of multidisciplinary scholars with broad interests who are engaged in a variety of research and teaching projects in many areas of Central and Eastern Europe.  We pride ourselves on working individually with our students to tailor plans of study for our students’ specific goals and interests.  Excellent training in Russian and Polish is a cornerstone of the program.  Students in Slavic enjoy small classes, strong guidance by faculty, and support for research and extra-curricular activities.  Slavic is an intellectually ambitious and distinctive course of study that stresses the development of important intellectual sensibilities:  Close reading, analytical clarity, thorough research, evaluation of evidence, logical analysis, effective writing, appreciation of nuance and subtleties, historical and philosophical variability, and a deep understanding of cultural differences.  All are skills that will serve you in whatever field you choose. 

What Can I Do With a Slavic Major?

Our students are well prepared to succeed after college.  Recent majors and minors have gone on to Fulbrights, to graduate schools (Harvard, Yale, Berkeley, Georgetown), law school, medical school and to employment in fields as varied as business, economics, health, earth science, neuroscience, journalism, education, museums, translation—or Slavic studies.

Where Do I Begin?

Whether you have never studied any Slavic literature or language or already know Russian or Polish (and even if you do not plan to study a Slavic language), we offer different major and minor pathways that provide options for many preferences. 

You can find descriptions of our major and minor requirements here:

Please contact our Director of Undergraduate Studies Martina Kerlova who will be happy to explore our major and minor options with you. 

For course descriptions, see our courses page or the Undergraduate Catalog from the Registrar.

Introductory Survey Courses (Gateway Courses)

Our department offers many survey courses covering a range of literature, poetry, film, and drama courses.

Such courses include the SLAVIC 210 cycle, which addresses the major prose writers of nineteenth-century Russia, the SLAVIC 211 sequence, which addresses twentieth-century Russian literature, and SLAVIC 261, which is dedicated to Polish twentieth-century literature, culture, and history. 

Take a Language Class

The Slavic Department remains committed to providing students with rigorous language training and reading, and understanding of other cultures in their local terms.  Start your language study early, as a freshman, so that you can take a full advantage of becoming proficient, especially if you consider including Study Abroad in your study and career plans.  Our department offers a language program in three Slavic languages, all of which can be combined with Study Abroad programs. (Note: If you have prior knowledge of the languages listed above, you need to take a placement test before enrolling).

Students May Soon Be Ready for 300-Level Courses

Study Abroad

Slavic majors and minors may take advantage of some extraordinary opportunities for study abroad in Russia, Kazakhstan, Poland, and the Czech Republic. Many of our students spend a summer, a semester, or even a full-year on study abroad (and, yes, you can still graduate in four years with a full year abroad). For students studying Russian, our affiliated programs are American Councils in Almaty, Moscow, St. Petersburg, or Vladimir and the Moscow Art Theatre Semester. In Prague, our affiliated program offers many options with foci on film, journalism, and Central European Studies. The film focus provides professional, practical training for students in film production, documentary, and acting for film. Poland, several of our students have successfully petitioned to study at Jagiellonian University.  For advice and questions about study abroad please contact the Slavic Study Abroad Advisor, Elisabeth Elliott, or Northwestern’s Study Abroad Office.