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About the Department

The Russian program offers a broad range of courses in language, literature (both in the original and in translation), and culture.  

Students who are considering the option of majoring in Russian are urged to begin the study of the language in their freshman year, continuing with intermediate and advanced language courses in their sophomore and junior years. For those who will be starting their language study here, this sequence is mandatory unless one of these levels is covered in an accredited summer program. However, those who have taken Russian in high school or have a knowledge of the language from home should sign up for a placement test that will indicate the appropriate level at which they should enroll.

Students may participate in a number of study abroad programs, including those based in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Yaroslavl. The fall semester in St. Petersburg is a Vassar-sponsored program that offers our students unparallelled access to the cultural treasures of Russia’s imperial capital.

Every semester the department offers a specialized course on a literary or cultural topic given entirely in Russian; access to such courses is open to students who have completed Advanced Russian or have the equivalent language competency. Additionally, most courses taught in English have a supplementary section with readings in Russian.

Students can benefit from participation in the weekly Russian tea, the Russian Club, from conversations with the native speaker who serves as the departmental language fellow, and from many other extracurricular activities.

The department has established the Masha N. Vorobiov Prize, which is awarded each spring to a promising student of Russian who intends to pursue summer study of the language.