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Russian Program

Why Study Russian Language and Culture?

Russia's geopolitical situation in the world has somehow always guaranteed its place as the bearer and protector of a unique truth. For example, until the Bolshevik revolution in 1917 Russia followed a calendar that was 13 days behind the calendar used in Western Europe. Russia is different – and rigorous study of Russia's language and culture challenges our own perceptions of right and wrong, good and evil, love and death. Russia's intellectuals have debated universal questions about the nature of space and time, justice and truth, to create some of the most entertaining and sophisticated literature, ballet, art, and film the world has known. Our program empowers students to explore Russia's great writers and the language they employed, to analyze the images in art and film that iconically represent Russia to itself and others, to contemplate the layers of belief, ritual, and representation that emerge from Russia's blended European and Asian cultural history. Whether you were born in Russia or have no concept of it beyond its infamous tyrants, structured examination of Russian culture will not leave you unmoved or unchanged.

Major and Minor in Russian Studies

The Russian Studies program offers a broad range of instruction that combines language training with courses (taught in English) that provide exposure to Russian literature and culture. Language instruction extends from the beginning through the advanced level. Instruction stresses the basic skills—comprehension, speaking, reading and writing—and aims primarily to develop practical competency in two semesters. For heritage speakers of Russian, the course sequence Russian for Russians makes it possible to gain basic reading and writing competency. Russia’s literature and culture are introduced in a permanent sequence of lower- and upper-level courses.

Interested students can pursue a major or a minor in Russian Studies.

To declare a major or minor in Russian Studies, simply click here. (Note that you must be logged in to your Binghamton University email for the form to be visible.)

Details of the Russian Studies Major


Credits: • 40 credits

• Minimum of 20 upper-division credits • Minimum of 24 credits at BU • Minimum grade of C for a course to count towards the major • Maximum of 4 credits of independent study or RUSS 491/492 will count towards major requirements • Maximum of 16 language study credits for non-heritage speakers; credit towards the major is given for language courses above the 100- level • Maximum of 8 language study credits for heritage speakers • Language Placement: All students entering the program with advanced language proficiency will take a placement exam. 


The B.A. in Russian Studies is available in two tracks.

Track 1: Cultural Studies
  • Linguistic proficiency to the level of RUSS 306, or the equivalent, for non-heritage learners; or to the level of RUSS 312, or the equivalent, for heritage learners
  • RUSS 110 and RUSS 210 • Additional courses selected from current course offerings

Courses recently offered at Binghamton include: ■ RUSS 215 Slavic Folklore ■ RUSS 261 Russian Popular Culture ■ RUSS 321 19th Century Russian Literature ■ RUSS 325 Demons, Fools, and Madmen ■ RUSS 331 Moscow and St. Petersburg■ RUSS 339 Seagull’s Flight: Russian Drama ■ RUSS 341 20th Century Russian Literature ■ RUSS 351 Women in Russian Literature ■ RUSS 371 Russia and the World ■ RUSS 380 Literature and Revolution ■ RUSS 380 Germans and Russians in New York ■ RUSS 380 Russian Cinema ■ RUSS 380 Stalingrad ■ RUSS 380 Theater as Language ■ RUSS 471 Activism in Russia ■ RUSS 472 Great Russian Novels ■ RUSS 498 Capstone Course

Track 2: Area Studies
  • Linguistic proficiency to the level of RUSS 306, or the equivalent, for non-heritage learners; or to the level of RUSS 312, or the equivalent, for heritage learners
  • RUSS 110 • RUSS 210 and/or HIST 225 • Minimum of at least one course in each of the following three areas:
    1. Russian Literary and Cultural Studies
    2. Russian, Eurasian and East European History
    3. Russian, Eurasian and East European Political Science
  • RUSS 498 Capstone Course
  • Recent courses in Russian, Eurasian and East European History have included: ■ HIST 325 Red Phoenix: Revolution and USSR ■ HIST 426 Soviet Russia 
  • Recent courses in Russian, Eurasian and East European Political Science have included: ■ PLSC 358 Russian and Post-Soviet Politics
Honors Program

The Director of Undergraduate Studies administers the Russian honors program. Students interested in honors must consult with the director to determine eligibility, and eligible students must submit a proposal no later than September of the senior year. To be eligible to earn honors, a Russian major must have a GPA of 3.60 in Russian studies courses, not counting courses taken Pass/Fail. The student must write an honors thesis and the thesis must be judged worthy (of honors, high honors, or highest honors) by the faculty supervisor and one other member of the department (or a faculty member outside the department approved by the undergraduate director). In case of disagreement between the two readers, a third is designated by the undergraduate director. This work may be completed during the student’s last semester. Students writing an honors thesis will register for RUSS 499 Honors Thesis. However, this course may not be used to satisfy the major requirement. For more information, the student should refer to the “Rules Governing the Preparation of Undergraduate Honors Theses,” available from the undergraduate director.

Requirements for the Russian Studies Minor

A minimum of six courses is required for the minor in Russian studies with a language and literature concentration. All students are required to gain language proficiency to the level of RUSS 204 or equivalent; in addition, all students must take RUSS 321 or 341, RUSS 110 or 374. A Russian Studies minor with an Area Studies concentration is also available. For details, see the Russian and East European Program description or check with the REEP director, Prof. Nancy Tittler.

Study Abroad

Students with some proficiency in Russian are encouraged to attend a study-abroad program in Russia for a summer, semester or academic year. In most cases these programs will help students make progress towards the minor or the major.

Last Updated: 9/10/20