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Russian Studies, B.A.

Saint Louis University has taught Russian studies for more than 50 years and is the only institution in the St. Louis region that provides a major in Russian studies.

Russian is often in the news from political scandals and international hacking incidents to interference in regional and global conflicts and sanctions by the international community. Yet Russia remains a leading player on the world stage, since it covers about one-eighth of the world's surface with lands that are rich in oil and natural resources. Bordering more than a dozen nations in Europe and Asia (many of which were once part of its empire), it has a strong military force with nuclear capabilities. Still, students who visit the nation find that its residents share the same economic, environmental and security issues that face the rest of the globe.

Additional program highlights include:

  • Advanced Russian studies students work on independent projects with full-time faculty members to focus on their interests while using the language.
  • Faculty members actively encourage and coordinate co-curricular activities.
  • Russian studies majors may also qualify for the Dr. Nelly Grosswasser Scholarship in Russian at Saint Louis University as part of their current SLU merit scholarship administered by Student Financial Services.

Curriculum Overview

Requiring 33 credits of coursework, SLU's Russian studies major emphasizes a communicative learner-centered approach. Students immerse themselves in Russian language, literature, film and culture by analyzing a wide range of issues, attending cultural events and conducting research for independent projects.

The study of Russian remains popular, particularly due to its prominent contribution to the arts and sciences. Students will learn about such writers as Fedor Dostoevsky, Lev Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Victor Pelevin; talented artists such as Mikhail Baryshnikov and Marc Chagall; and famous directors, including Sergei Eisenstein, Andrei Tarkovsky and Nikita Mikhalkov. The Russian studies program has cross-listed courses in film studies and theological studies, and additionally supports courses for the major in international studies and the minor in Catholic studies.

Fieldwork and Research Opportunities

Russian studies students at SLU have the opportunity to integrate their study of Russian with a variety of fields to prepare for future careers in intelligence, the non-profit sector, journalism, law and medicine. The interdisciplinary major collaborates with the departments of philosophy, political science and theological studies to provide courses with Russian-related content.


There is a demand for Russian speakers in several expanding and in-demand fields, including intelligence, law, political science, computer science and cybersecurity, and various opportunities for graduates of the Russian studies program to receive federal grants to study the language further.

Current and former SLU students have earned prominent scholarships (Fulbright-Hays, Fulbright, STARTALK and Critical Languages) and have advanced to professional and graduate programs in Russian and East European studies, diplomacy, social work, law, medicine and political science at leading institutions across the country.

Our graduates work in various sectors and professions, including the armed services, business, health care, intelligence, federal services and NGOs.

Admission Requirements

Begin Your Application

Saint Louis University also accepts the Common Application.


All applications are thoroughly reviewed with the highest degree of individual care and consideration to all credentials that are submitted. Solid academic performance in college preparatory coursework is a primary concern in reviewing a freshman applicant’s file.

To be considered for admission to any Saint Louis University undergraduate program, applicants must be graduating from an accredited high school, have an acceptable HiSET exam score or take the General Education Development (GED) test. 


Applicants must be a graduate of an accredited high school or have an acceptable score on the GED.

Students who have attempted fewer than 24 semester credits (or 30 quarter credits) of college credit must follow the above freshmen admission requirements. Students who have completed 24 or more semester credits (or 30 quarter credits) of college credit must submit transcripts from all previously attended college(s).

In reviewing a transfer applicant’s file, the Office of Admission holistically examines the student’s academic performance in college-level coursework as an indicator of the student’s ability to meet the academic rigors of Saint Louis University. Where applicable, transfer students will be evaluated on any courses outlined in the continuation standards of their preferred major.

International Applicants

All admission policies and requirements for domestic students apply to international students along with the following:

  • Demonstrate English Language Proficiency
  • Proof of financial support must include:
    • A letter of financial support from the person(s) or sponsoring agency funding the time at Saint Louis University
    • A letter from the sponsor's bank verifying that the funds are available and will be so for the duration of study at the University
  • Academic records, in English translation, of students who have undertaken postsecondary studies outside the United States must include the courses taken and/or lectures attended, practical laboratory work, the maximum and minimum grades attainable, the grades earned or the results of all end-of-term examinations, and any honors or degrees received. WES and ECE transcripts are accepted.

Scholarships and Financial Aid

There are two principal ways to help finance a Saint Louis University education:

  • Scholarships: Scholarships are awarded based on academic achievement, service, leadership and financial need.
  • Financial Aid: Financial aid is provided in the form of grants and loans, some of which require repayment.

For priority consideration for merit-based scholarships, apply for admission by Dec. 1 and complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by March 1.

For information on other scholarships and financial aid, visit

1. Graduating majors in our program will feel comfortable in actively participating in conversations in Russian at a minimum Intermediate-Mid level (ACTFL) on familiar and prepared topics.  They will be able to navigate confidently social interactions in everyday situations by asking and answering a variety of questions in a culturally appropriate manner.

2. Graduating majors will be able to present personal information about themselves in Russian in connected sentences with a logical progression and with attention to temporal frameworks.  They will also be able with a minimum Intermediate-Mid level of Russian to write for a page or more, present for at least fifteen minutes, and discuss a variety of prepared and/or researched topics.  Such presentations and discussions would be understood by native speakers of Russian.

3. Graduates will critically engage Russian studies in the areas of literature, political science, and religion philosophy in order to examine Russian culture in a comparative manner with their native culture's attitudes, traditions, beliefs, and patterns of behavior.  Therefore, they will be able to interact with respect and cultural sensitivity in a variety of formal and informal situations.

4. Graduates will be able to compare how different disciplines approach language, form, genre, and media as they investigate the representation of abilities, class, creed, ethnicity, race, and gender in Russian artistic, literary, historical, and religious or philosophical works.  These examinations will be informed by established research methods and innovative analysis learned and refined by means of oral presentations, substantial writing assignments, and other creative media.

The Russian Studies, B.A. balances a study of Russian language with literature and culture in their historical development. No single course may fulfill more than one Russian Studies, B.A. requirement, and coursework (33 credits) is distributed as follows:

University Undergraduate Core32-35
Required Courses
RUSS 3010Communicating in Russian: The Arts3
RUSS 3020Communicating in Russian: History and Politics3
RUSS 3250Russia From Peter to Putin: Imperial, Soviet, and Post-Soviet Culture3
RUSS 4010Fluency in Russian3
Area Studies Requirements
POLS 2530Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics3
or POLS 4500 Russian Political Culture
HIST 3280Russia to 19053
or HIST 3290 Russia Since 1905
PHIL 4740Philosophy of Karl Marx3
or RUSS 4510 The Russian Orthodox
Literature Requirement
Literature from the Medieval Period to 1890
Select one course from the following options:3
RUSS 3320
Dostoevsky Through the Centuries
RUSS 3340
Serfdom and Liberation: Challenging the Legacies of Forced Labor
RUSS 3360
In Prisons Dark: Confinement Literature in the Russian and Soviet Empires
Literature from the Silver Age to the Present
Select one course from the following options:3
RUSS 3350
Chekhov as Dramatist: Performance, Adaptations, and Intermedial Transpositions
RUSS 3360
In Prisons Dark: Confinement Literature in the Russian and Soviet Empires
RUSS 3370
World Soul in the Silver Age: Literature in a Revolutionary Era
Film & Digital Studies
Select one course from the following options:3
RUSS 3270
Soviet and Russian Cinema: Traditions and Innovations
RUSS 3440
Art, Media, & Power in Post-Soviet Russia
These courses include any of the above courses that have not been used to fulfill another requirement for the major or one of the following:3
RUSS 4910
Internship (with pre-approval by the Russian program coordinator)
RUSS 4980
Advanced Independent Study (with pre-approval by the Russian program coordinator)
General Electives52-55
Total Credits120

Up to nine credits may be transferred for the major, but this must not include RUSS 4010, which must be taken on the SLU campus.

Continuation Standards

All Russian studies courses for the major must be completed with a grade of C or higher to count for the major. If a student earns a grade of C- or lower in a course, the student may retake the course or take an additional course in the major in which the grade earned is a C or higher.

Graduation Requirements

  • Complete a minimum of 120 credits (excluding pre-college level courses numbered below 1000).
  • Complete the University Undergraduate Core curriculum requirements.
  • Complete major requirements: minimum 30 credits required.
  • Complete remaining credits with a second major, minor, certificate and/or electives to reach the minimum of 120 credits required for graduation.
  • Achieve at least a 2.00 cumulative grade point average, a 2.00 grade point average in the major(s) and a 2.00 grade point average in the minor/certificate, or related elective credits.
  • Complete department-/program-specific academic and performance requirements.
  • Complete at least 50% of the coursework for the major and 75% for the minor/certificate through Saint Louis University or an approved study abroad program.
  • Complete 30 of the final 36 credits through Saint Louis University or an approved study abroad program.
  • Complete an online degree application by the required University deadline.

Roadmaps are recommended semester-by-semester plans of study for programs and assume full-time enrollment unless otherwise noted.  

Courses and milestones designated as critical (marked with !) must be completed in the semester listed to ensure a timely graduation. Transfer credit may change the roadmap.

This roadmap should not be used in the place of regular academic advising appointments. All students are encouraged to meet with their advisor/mentor each semester.  Requirements, course availability and sequencing are subject to change.

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
RUSS 1010Russian from the Beginning I 3
CORE 1000 Ignite First Year Seminar 3
CORE 1900 Eloquentia Perfecta 1: Written and Visual Communication 3
CORE 1500 Cura Personalis 1: Self in Community 1
General Electives 5
RUSS 1020Russian from the Beginning II 3
POLS 2530 Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics 3
CORE 1600 Ultimate Questions: Theology 3
CORE 3200 Ways of Thinking: Quantitative Reasoning 3
General Electives 3
Year Two
RUSS 2010 Intermediate Russian: Language and Culture 3
RUSS 3250 Russia From Peter to Putin: Imperial, Soviet, and Post-Soviet Culture 3
CORE 1200 Eloquentia Perfecta 2: Oral and Visual Communication 3
CORE 1700 Ultimate Questions: Philosophy 3
General Electives 3
CORE 2500 Cura Personalis 2: Self in Contemplation 0
RUSS 3440 Art, Media, & Power in Post-Soviet Russia 3
RUSS 3360 In Prisons Dark: Confinement Literature in the Russian and Soviet Empires 3
CORE 3800 Ways of Thinking: Natural and Applied Sciences 3
General Electives 3
Year Three
RUSS 3010 Communicating in Russian: The Arts 3
CORE 2800 Eloquentia Perfecta 3: Creative Expression 3
HIST 3290 Russia Since 1905 3
General Electives 6
RUSS 3020 Communicating in Russian: History and Politics 3
RUSS 4510 The Russian Orthodox 3
CORE 3600 Ways of Thinking: Social and Behavioral Sciences 3
General Electives 6
Year Four
CORE 3500 Cura Personalis 3: Self in the World 1
RUSS 3340 Serfdom and Liberation: Challenging the Legacies of Forced Labor 3
RUSS 4980 Advanced Independent Study 3
CORE 4000 Collaborative Inquiry 3
General Electives 5
RUSS 4010 Fluency in Russian 3
CORE 3400 Ways of Thinking: Aesthetics, History, and Culture 3
General Electives 9
 Total Credits117

Program Notes

This roadmap is designed for undergraduates coming in with no knowledge of the Russian language. Those undergraduates with transfer credits in Russian, those who identify as heritage learners, or those with previous study of Russian can take a placement exam to enter into more advanced courses in the Russian language (through the 2000-level) before fulfilling the language requirements for the major or minor. Students interested in taking the placement exam should contact the coordinator of the program in Russian Studies, Elizabeth Blake, Ph.D. (

  • RUSS 3250 Russia From Peter to Putin: Imperial, Soviet, and Post-Soviet Culture (3 cr) is designed to offer a survey of the 18th-21st centuries, and students are advised to take this early in their studies, if they know that they will be majors/minors.
  • The three area studies requirements of Theology (RUSS 4510 The Russian Orthodox (3 cr))/Philosophy (PHIL 4740 Philosophy of Karl Marx (3 cr)), History (HIST 3280 Russia to 1905 (3 cr)/HIST 3290 Russia Since 1905 (3 cr)), and Political Science (POLS 2530 Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics (3 cr) or POLS 4500 Russian Political Culture (3 cr)) have multiple options for fulfilling the requirements.