The Russian program at Dickinson is designed to provide a well-balanced and highly intensive training in language, culture and literature. Classes are small, allowing faculty to pay close attention to students’ individual learning styles and help foster within the student a personal commitment to their studies. In the first three semesters of language courses (RUSS 101, 102 and 201), students cover fundamentals of Russian grammar, learn to communicate on a variety of topics, and are introduced to elements of Russian culture. RUSS 100, “Russia and the West,” a course taught in English, examines Russia as a civilization that has, at many points in history, defied categorization as either “East” or “West.” The course introduces students to Russian history, religions, philosophies, literature, art, and music, as well as contemporary politics and business practices. The 200-level courses, which may be taught in either Russian or English, represent advanced language study and/or systematic approaches to Russian culture and literature.

After three or four semesters of language study, students of Russian typically join the Dickinson in Moscow program. In Moscow, students attend classes at the Russian State University for the Humanities, live with Russian host families, travel extensively throughout Russia, explore Moscow's museums and historical sites, and attend theater productions. This semester or year-long immersion significantly improves students’ linguistic and cultural competency and prepares them for more advanced studies such as research projects. Courses of the 300-level are always taught in Russian and deal with specific aspects of Russian culture and civilization, including Russian popular culture and a translation course. Special topics courses are also offered on a regular basis.

Students may major or minor in Russian. Minors are available in Russian language and Russian Studies. Russian combines well with a variety of other disciplines, including History, International Studies, International Business & Management, Political Science, as well as English or other foreign languages.

Courses appropriate for prospective majors

RUSS 101 and RUSS 201 are offered in the fall semester, RUSS 102 is available in the spring. RUSS 100 is taught in English and is offered every spring.

If you have studied Russian in high school or if you are a heritage speaker of Russian (you speak Russian at home), you should plan to meet with a representative of the Russian department either upon arrival on campus or via phone during the summer. A faculty member will interview you to determine which level of Russian is the most appropriate for you; temporarily, you should select RUSS 101. Before the summer advising period you should contact the department chairperson, Alyssa DeBlasio, in order to set up a language interview.

Students considering a Russian major or minor or who may be planning to choose Russia as the focus for majors as International Studies or International Business & Management, may also want to take a course taught in English about Russian literature, film, or culture (RUSS 100; RUSS 223-270). Russian History courses serve as elective courses for the Russian major and minor, and are also appropriate for First-Year students. 

To begin studying Russian, register for RUSS 101, offered every fall semester.

Transfer Credits
Students should consult with the department chairperson to determine course equivalencies and the number of course credits (maximum 5) you can receive toward the major.

For course descriptions and requirements for the major, refer to the Academic Bulletin: Russian.

Courses that fulfill distribution requirements

Language Requirement:
Successful completion of RUSS 201, Intermediate Russian, or a higher-level course.

Any Russian literature course taught in English (including RUSS 260, Topics in Russian Studies) will satisfy the college requirement in literature.

Any course in Russian film (including RUSS 243 and certain iterations of RUSS 260 and RUSS 335)

Social Sciences:
Any course in Russian history, Russian politics, or RUSS 270, Philosophy and Literature

RUSS 248, Russian Culture and the Environment

Global Diversity:
RUSS 100, Russia and the West

Suggested curricular flow through the major

The Russian major was designed with the hope that all of our students would spend time abroad on the Dickinson in Moscow program. As a result, we developed the curriculum so that a student who did study abroad could complete all the requirements for the major, as long as they followed a few guidelines. The Russian major is also designed to accomodate students with double majors.

Rather than specify the courses that you “must” have in a given semester, the following are general guidelines regarding courses that we suggest you take during each year. You should think of these guidelines as giving you a fast track into the major – providing maximum flexibility in your junior and senior year.

First Year
RUSS 101 (fall semester); RUSS 102 (spring semester)
RUSS 100, Russia and the West (spring semester) 

Sophomore Year
RUSS 201 (fall semester); RUSS 202 (spring semester)
Russian literature or culture course in English (200-level course)
RUSS electives, for example, a Russian history course

Junior Year
The majority of Russian majors study in Moscow during their Junior Year; In Moscow you will take 4-9 courses (refer to the Courses section in the Academic Bulletin: Russian)

If you do not go abroad, take:
RUSS 231 (fall semester); RUSS 232 (spring semester)
Russian literature or culture course in English (200-level course)
RUSS elective, for example, a Russian history course

Senior Year
300-level RUSS course (fall semester); 300-level RUSS course (spring semester)
Finish your requirements for Russian literature/culture and your electives

For information regarding the suggested guidelines, please feel free to contact a Russian faculty member. Consult your advisor regarding writing an honors thesis in Russian.


A student who wishes to be considered for honors in the major must have an overall grade point average of 3.33 or higher. Each candidate for honors must write a thesis of exceptional merit; the thesis should be in Russian and approximately 25 pages in length. The Honors Thesis will usually be developed from work written during the senior year in a course numbered 300 or above, and it should be supervised by a member of the faculty. An oral examination will be conducted by members of the Russian department on those papers judged to be of honors quality.

Independent study and independent research

Independent study projects are an option open to motivated students who wish to pursue a topic in Russian or Slavic literatures and cultures not offered as part of the regular curriculum. Interested students must be willing to initiate their own study project and meet with their director on a weekly basis. All faculty members are willing to assist. Most projects are taken for half or full course credit. Qualified seniors may wish to write an Honors Thesis.

Co-curricular activities/programs

The college has an active Russian Club, a Russian House, and a Russian Meal Table, held weekly for students who want to speak or listen to Russian in an informal setting. Russian films and cultural events are featured regularly. The Russian Department is a member of Dobro Slovo, the National Slavic Honor Society. Students are nominated for membership on the basis of their academic standing.

Opportunities for off-campus study

Junior Year All students majoring or minoring in Russian are encouraged to spend one or two semesters in Russia during the junior year. The Dickinson program in Moscow is based at Language Link and is affiliated with the Russian State University for the Humanities. The program offers a wide range of courses in Russian language and culture.

Summer Immersion Program The Russian Department offers a five-week student immersion program in Moscow or Moscow/St. Petersburg. See the course description for RUSS 215, Moscow Summer Immersion Program.

Additional Remarks

Careers: Recent graduates are involved in a number of diverse activities, which include graduate study in business, law, Russian literature, linguistics, journalism, political science, and medicine. Russian majors find career opportunities in government, business, non-profit organizations, law firms, teaching, publishing, scientific institutions and universities, museums, and other areas. We have a large alumni base of students living and working in Washington DC.

Further information: Information on the major and minor, as well as on the particular courses being offered each semester, is available from the Russian Department Chairperson, Professor, Alyssa DeBlasio.