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Modern Foreign Languages & Literatures – Russian Studies Major Guide for 2015-2016

What is Russian Studies?

With Russia flexing its muscles and attempting to expand its influence in the world, it is increasingly important that many Americans come to understand this powerful and ambitious country, its history and culture.  Russian is recognized as a Critical Language by the US Departments of State and Defense.   Russia’s boundaries encompass a sixth of the earth’s landmass, and Russia has played a critical role in the modern history of the world.  It is home to many of the world’s most renowned artists, musicians, and writers.  It is a place of extraordinary beauty and strong human relationships. As Russia continues to remake itself politically and economically, students have the opportunity to witness the transformation of a people. Holding some of the world’s largest mineral resources and with an outstanding education system, Russia will remain a major player in world affairs. It is essential that as many people as possible in this country become familiar with Russia, and its language.  Fortunately, the language is not as hard as most people think; the alphabet takes less than a week to master. Learning Russian allows students to go there and witness first-hand the changes taking place in religious, economic, and cultural behaviors. Russian makes an excellent language—and even second major—for those pursuing careers in sociology, anthropology, criminology, political science, international law, geology, journalism, and international business.

Career Opportunities in Russian Studies

Russian Studies is not just for translators, diplomats and teachers! Knowledge of Russian can be helpful in landing any career.  Having Russian Studies as a second major makes any job candidate stand out vividly from the crowd, whatever the field.  Russian can be especially useful for people pursuing careers in business, law enforcement, political analysis, nuclear waste and weapons management, geological exploration, work in international aid organizations, natural resource management, and computer science. For those seeking a career in research, Russia is a massive field for study in disciplines like Religious Studies, Economics, Sociology, Anthropology, History, Political Science, and more.

Salary Trends in Russian Studies

An Arts and Sciences degree can propel students in limitless directions. Majors are not always the deciding factor as to what career path is followed. As with any degree, pre-professional experiences (volunteerism, work experience, internships, etc.) enhance the chances of obtaining desired employment and further affect the projected salary.

High School Preparation

No special preparation in Russian Studies is necessary to take Russian at UT. Russian is a great second language for students who did well in a language in high school and want to add a second foreign language. Although Russian is a little bit more challenging than French or Spanish, most students find that it is both manageable and a lot of fun to learn.

How to Major in Russian Studies

The Russian major has three options – Russian Studies, Russian Studies – Honors Concentration and Russian Studies – Language and World Business Concentration. Russian 201-202 is a prerequisite for each option. Students in either option can take courses during a summer or semester in Russia, which is encouraged, and these courses can be counted toward the major.

Requirements for Russian Studies

The Russian Studies major consists of 30 hours.

Complete 12 hours:

  • RUSS 311 – Russian Composition and Conversation
  • RUSS 312 – Russian Composition and Conversation
  • RUSS 401 – Advanced Grammar, Conversation, and Composition
  • RUSS 402 – Advanced Grammar, Conversation, and Composition

Select 3 hours:

  • RUSS 451 – Senior Seminar
  • RUSS 452 – Senior Seminar

Select 15 hours:

  • RUSS 221 – Rebels, Dreamers, and Fools: The Outcast in 19th Century Russian Literature
  • RUSS 222 – Heaven or Hell: Utopias and Dystopias in 20th-Century Russian Literature
  • RUSS 322 – Dostoevsky, Terror, and Pan-Slavic Utopia
  • RUSS 325 – Russian Film
  • RUSS 371 – Martyrs, Mobs, and Madmen in Russian Culture: 988-1861
  • RUSS 372 – Modern Russian Culture through Readings and Dramatic Production
  • RUSS 373–Despotic Family, Despotic State: The Culture of Despotism in Russia
  • RUSS 424 – Nabokov’s Novels and Stories
  • RUSS 425 – Introduction to Descriptive Linguistics
  • RUSS 426 – Methods of Historical Linguistics
  • RUSS 430 – Selected Topics in Russian Literature
  • RUSS 451 – Senior Seminar
  • RUSS 452 – Senior Seminar
  • RUSS 491 – Foreign Study
  • RUSS 493 – Independent Study
  • HIST 341 – History of Russia
  • or
  • POLS 459 – Government and Politics of Russia and Eastern Europe

Russian Studies – Honors Concentration

In addition to the requirements for the Russian Studies major, the Honors Concentration requires 3 additional credit hours or thesis-related work, 6 hours total of honors-by-contract work, completion of an honors project (e.g., original research or translation), and maintenance of a 3.25 GPA.

Language and World Business Concentration
Students who wish to prepare for careers in international business may complete a special major in Russian Studies, a professional emphasis in International Business, International Retail Merchandising, or International Agricultural Economics, and some form of practical experience related to the concentration. Admission to this concentration is by permission of the program director. For more information see the major guide entitled Language and World Business.

Special Programs, Co-ops, and Internships

The Language and World Business program of the Modern Foreign Languages Department sponsors co-ops and internships for students, both in the United States and abroad. Contact the Head of the LWB program for more information (

Highlights of Russian Studies

Russian at UT is an enjoyable and challenging experience. There are regular movie showings, cooking and eating events, conversation table, dance and choral ensembles, and informal parties. The faculty are especially available to students, and they work hard to take individual needs into account. Students describe the program as having a family atmosphere, and that is something students and faculty all enjoy. There is also a sizeable community of native speakers in Knoxville, giving students the chance to practice Russian with people besides their instructors!

Ready for the World logo

The Russian program facilitates student participation in a large variety of available opportunities for study abroad in large and small Russian cities.  During their stay, students will be given the opportunity to participate in excursions to various historical sites in western Russia, as well as (of course) St. Petersburg and Moscow. All majors and even minors are encouraged to plan early to fit this amazing experience into their schedules.

Learn more about UT’s Ready for the World Initiative to help students gain international and intercultural knowledge they need to succeed in today’s world.

Academic Plan and Milestones

Following an academic plan will help students stay on track to graduate in four years. For first-time, first-year, full-time, degree-seeking students, UT has implemented Universal Tracking (uTrack), an academic monitoring system designed to help students stay on track for timely graduation. In order to remain on track, students must complete the minimum requirements for each tracking semester, known as milestones. Milestones may include successful completion of specified courses and/or attainment of a minimum GPA.

To see a sample academic plan and milestones for this major, please visit the undergraduate catalog.

For More Information

Dr. Stephen Blackwell or
Dr. Natalia Pervukhin



The information on this page should be considered general information only. For more specific information on this and other programs refer to the UT catalog or contact the department and/or college directly.

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