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The Breakdown

Russia has a rich, complex and fascinating history. From its many revolutions to the imprint it has left on literature, it is hard to escape the country’s influence. If you have an insatiable curiosity for gulags, Tolstoy and everything in between then perhaps you should contemplate a major in Russian.

As a Russian major, you’ll certainly have your fair share of classes focusing on conversation, composition and grammar. Fortunately, studying a language at the collegiate level goes far beyond those brick and mortar lessons. Indeed, you will be exposed to the culture, art and history of Russia along with a handful of other Slavic countries. You’ll be able to study everything from the storied Bolshoi ballet to the literature of Dostoevsky (in the original Russian of course). Perhaps most exciting, you will likely have the opportunity to study abroad. And there’s no better way to learn a language than total immersion!

Should you decide to study Russian, you’ll need the patience and the fortitude required to achieve proficiency (not to mention fluency) in a foreign language. It also helps to have a good ear for accents and an appreciation for the nuances of grammar. Moreover, when studying another culture, it’s best to maintain an open mind. Finally, we recommend you invest in a samovar and some nesting dolls.

Nuts and Bolts

Don’t fret; Russian majors don’t spend all of their time conjugating verbs. While grammar is certainly a part and parcel for the department, you’ll enroll in a variety classes designed to address all aspects of Russian culture and history. Courses might include: Elementary Russian, Advanced Russian Conversation, The Rise and Fall Tsarist Russia, History of the Soviet Union and Its Successors, Culture and Revolution, Nabokov, Advanced Russian Grammar, Russian for Business, Chekhov: Drama in Prose, Mass Culture Under Communism, Comparative Economic Systems, The Russian Cinema and The Soviet Experience.

Decisions, Decisions

Russian majors love to learn about different countries and cultures, from languages to literature and all topics in between. Therefore, they might also think about studying French, Italian, Spanish, German, Chinese, Japanese, English, Hebrew, Portuguese, art history, international business, political science, East Asian studies, international relations, Slavic studies, Latin American studies, African studies and anthropology.

What's Next

You might not believe it but as a Russian major you’ll be uniquely positioned. Indeed, the writing and critical thinking skills you’ll hone coupled with the international savvy acquired through studying another culture make you quite marketable. And while teaching and translation are common, noble and attainable positions, you will discover that you are not limited to those two professions. Certainly, many graduates find positions with Russian-owned companies involved in a variety of different industries. Others might seek employment in international education or with study abroad companies. A handful of Russian majors also land jobs with NGOs, doing aid work within Russia and other Slavic/eastern European countries. The foreign service is another attractive route as is international business. Lastly, the tourism and hotel industries are popular, as they allow for a high degree of interaction with international clients.


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Don Munce