Slavic Languages and Literatures

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures PhD graduate program is designed to train future scholars and teachers of Slavic languages and literatures. Students specialize either in literature or linguistics, combining a core curriculum with independent research early in their graduate career.

Students are admitted to the PhD or MA/PhD program only; the department will not consider applicants for the MA only.

Program in Literature and Culture

The program in literature and culture provides a thorough knowledge of the evolving literary canon along with attendant historical contexts while encouraging students to acquire expertise in literary and cultural theory.

Berkeley welcomes students with interdisciplinary interests. Slavic students may pursue official designated emphases in Film, Folklore, Women Gender and Sexuality Studies, Critical Theory, or Renaissance and Early Modern Studies, as well as individually designed areas of specialization. The Slavic Department works in collaboration with the departments of Comparative Literature, Linguistics, Anthropology, History, Theater, Music, Art History, and with the Institute of Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies, which houses the Berkeley Program in Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies and The Caucasus and Central Asia Program.

The majority of students at Berkeley choose Russian as their major language. We encourage students who wish to explore the diverse literary and cultural traditions of Russia, Eastern Europe, and Eurasia. We accept a small number of students who choose Polish, Bulgarian or BCS (Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian) language and literature as their major field; in such cases, special programs are established and students do much of their graduate work independently. These students normally take Russian as a minor field. Berkeley does not administer a PhD Program in Czech, but Czech can be chosen as the second Slavic language.

Program in Linguistics

The Slavic linguistics concentration of our program has been considerably reduced in recent years. Because students of Slavic linguistics have to do most of the graduate work in individual meetings with faculty, we aim to admit students who already have advanced preparation in the field and who are able and willing to pursue an independent course of professional training.

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Admission to the University

Applying for Graduate Admission

Thank you for considering UC Berkeley for graduate study! UC Berkeley offers more than 120 graduate programs representing the breadth and depth of interdisciplinary scholarship. The Graduate Division hosts a complete list of graduate academic programs, departments, degrees offered, and application deadlines can be found on the Graduate Division website.

Prospective students must submit an online application to be considered for admission, in addition to any supplemental materials specific to the program for which they are applying. The online application and steps to take to apply can be found on the Graduate Division website.

Admission Requirements

The minimum graduate admission requirements are:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;

  2. A satisfactory scholastic average, usually a minimum grade-point average (GPA) of 3.0 (B) on a 4.0 scale; and

  3. Enough undergraduate training to do graduate work in your chosen field.

For a list of requirements to complete your graduate application, please see the Graduate Division’s Admissions Requirements page. It is also important to check with the program or department of interest, as they may have additional requirements specific to their program of study and degree. Department contact information can be found here.

Where to apply?

Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page.

Admission to the Program

We select our graduate students on the basis of prior academic achievement and promise of success in scholarship and teaching. Students admitted to the PhD program with an MA in Slavic or a related field from another institution are required to pass a screening (permission-to-proceed) examination. Students who have earned the MA degree from this department may receive permission to proceed to the PhD program following successful performance on the MA comprehensive examinations and demonstrated aptitude for advanced work. The department does not accept applications for a terminal MA program of study.

Doctoral Degree Requirements

Normative Time Requirements

Total Normative Time

Total normative time is six years.

Time to Advancement


Russian Literature Concentration
SLAVIC 201Course Not Available (if applicable per proficiency)
SLAVIC 204Course Not Available
SLAVIC 210Old Church Slavic4
SLAVIC 222Descriptive Grammar of Slavic Languages4
SLAVIC 280Studies in Slavic Literature and Linguistics4
SLAVIC 281Proseminar: Aims and Methods of Literary Scholarship4
SLAVIC Literature electives, as per specialized study list
Russian Linguistics Concentration
SLAVIC 200Graduate Colloquium (if applicable per proficiency)0.0
SLAVIC 201Course Not Available
SLAVIC 204Course Not Available
SLAVIC 210Old Church Slavic4
SLAVIC 222Descriptive Grammar of Slavic Languages4
SLAVIC 280Studies in Slavic Literature and Linguistics4
SLAVIC 282Proseminar: Aims and Methods of Linguistic Scholarship (can be substituted by LINGUIS 100)4
SLAVIC Linguistics electives, as per specialized study list
Foreign Language(s)

Students of linguistics are required to demonstrate a reading knowledge of either French or German before taking the MA exams. They must demonstrate a reading knowledge of both before taking the PhD exams.

Students of literature are required to demonstrate a reading knowledge of either French or German before taking their MA exams. As an alternative, students of literature have the option to complete two semesters of a second Slavic language on a letter-grade basis. Students may, with prior permission granted on an individual basis and with a view to pursuing specific research goals, fulfill this requirement by studying a non-Slavic language from a region within the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe (e.g., Armenian, Georgian, Estonian, and Hungarian).

Preliminary Exams

At the beginning of the semester in which the examination is taken, students who will take the PhD qualifying exam must file the Application for the Qualifying Examination. Note that it requires the names of the student's examination committee (including the outside member). It is advisable to consult with the graduate advisor and, for students of linguistics, with the faculty mentor, and committee members during the semester preceding the examination. By the Graduate Division rules, applicants must list at least three subject areas in which the candidate will be examined. Students in our department list their major and minor fields (literature) or three subject areas (linguistics) as well as the general field for all students: Russian language (or another major Slavic language). The completed form must be signed by the graduate adviser, and if applicable, the designated emphasis graduate adviser. The form is then submitted to the Graduate Division for approval.

In brief:

  1. Print and fill the form; if necessary, consult with the graduate assistant;
  2. Consult with the graduate advisor and, for students of linguistics, with the faculty mentor, and obtain the signatures;
  3. Make a copy for your department file and hand it to the graduate assistant; and
  4. Deliver the form to 318 Sproul Hall, Graduate Division.
Field Papers

Research Requirement (qualifying paper or publishable paper): All graduate students are required to submit an extended research paper (on a topic of their choice) to satisfy the departmental research requirement. Usually, but not necessarily, the research paper is a revised and expanded version of a course/seminar paper. It is expected that the paper will be of publishable quality, that is, it will meet the standards of a scholarly journal in its scope, originality, form, and technical format. In some cases, this paper may further lead to a dissertation topic. The paper is submitted to the graduate adviser at the end of the third year (or by exception, at the beginning of the semester which precedes the exam). The paper must be approved by the graduate adviser, who usually asks two or more faculty members to read it. Faculty members are expected to promptly read and evaluate the paper. In some cases, additional revisions of the paper may be asked, which makes timing essential.

Time in Candidacy


Advancement to candidacy is an important official procedure. To qualify for advancement, a student must have passed the qualifying examinations and completed all other requirements for the degree (course requirements and language requirements). For the application, the student, in consultation with the graduate advisor and, for students of linguistics, with the faculty mentor, will create a working title for the dissertation and select the dissertation committee members.


The dissertation prospectus is a detailed outline of the project. The department requires that a student complete an approved prospectus by the end of the semester following the PhD qualifying examination. At this point students begin registering for the required units through SLAVIC 299 (Directed Research), which is usually supervised by the chair of their dissertation committee, though units may be divided between members of the committee as approved by the graduate adviser.

The prospectus generally includes a justification of the topic and a description of methodology, objectives, available scholarly literature, the potential relevance of the work, and the structure of the dissertation and includes a working bibliography. Once this prospectus has been approved by the graduate advisor, a copy should be given to the graduate assistant for the student's file.


The doctoral dissertation represents the final demonstration, in the graduate program, of a student's research and scholarly abilities, and constitutes an original contribution to the field of study. It is an independent investigation undertaken with faculty guidance and evaluation, and as such it is important that this phase of graduate work be conducted with periodic consultation between the student and the dissertation committee members. The dissertation must receive the unanimous approval of the committee members in order for it to be accepted as final completion of the degree requirements.

During the course of work on the dissertation, it is the student's responsibility to initiate and maintain regular contact with the dissertation committee. Likewise, it is the responsibility of the faculty members to be available for consultation and to offer necessary direction, advice and suggestions for improvements in the research and writing. To ensure adequate and regular faculty/student contact time students enroll each semester in SLAVIC 299, dissertation writing course.

Normally a student will be expected to complete the dissertation within two years after being advanced to candidacy. Each semester, the graduate adviser, in consultation with the dissertation chair, reviews the student's work to determine if acceptable progress is being made. Failure to make progress in the research and/or writing of the dissertation may result in the lapsing of a student's candidacy, as regulated by the dean of the Graduate Division.


Literature, Linguistics and Culture:


Slavic Languages and Literatures








Contact Information

Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures

6303 Dwinelle Hall

Berkeley, CA 94720-2979

Phone: 510-642-2979

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Department Chair

Anne Nesbet

Head Graduate Advisor

Edward Tyerman

6112 Dwinelle Hall

Graduate Admissions

Seth Arnopole

Graduate Student Services Advisor

Seth Arnopole

6313 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-642-9051

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