Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies

What Is It?:

Russia, Eastern Europe, and the former Soviet states of Eurasia form one of the most important, troubled, and interesting parts of the world today. It is also an area steeped in rich history and culture.  Russian is spoken by some 250 million people. It is the language of one of the world's great literatures, as well as a valuable tool within communication and scientific research.

What is the difference between Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies and Slavic Studies?

Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies has a multidisciplinary area studies focus. Students take courses in a variety of disciplines (history, sociology, political science) and develop a broad expertise in the history, politics, and culture of the region that includes Russia, but also many other countries, from the Czech Republic to Estonia to Uzbekistan. Language study can be in Russian or in any of the other languages of the region offered here. Students often go on to careers in government service or to work at NGOs.

Slavic Studies enables students to specialize in one of five concentrations: Russian Language, Literature, and Culture; Polish Studies; South Slavic Studies; Czech Studies; Ukrainian Studies. It emphasizes the study of language, literature, and culture in their historical context. Students develop intensive cultural literacy and communication skills through humanities-oriented training, and many go on to careers in writing and editing, media, or work with international cultural foundations and organizations. The major is an excellent preparation for law school, business school, or other graduate study, as well as careers in the N.G.O. world, teaching, or research.

For more information, please visit the Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center

Courses That Introduce the Major:

  • REES 200—Intro to Russia and Eurasia
  • REES 201—Introduction to Eastern Europe

Students should consult with an academic advisor regarding course selection prior to the advanced registration period. 

Possible Career Opportunities:

Graduates are currently working in international business and banking as specialists in Russian investment, with economic development firms that focus on East European countries, and as lawyers, teachers, and financial analysts. Some have also gone into advertising and public relations. Russian speakers have long been in demand in United States government service, including but not limited to translator and interpreter work.

A vast quantity of original scientific and mathematical research is published in Russian. Graduates who learn Russian and pursue a course of study in science or mathematics will possess a lucrative combination of skills.

Since Russian is closely related to the other Slavic languages of Eastern Europe (such as Czech, Polish, and Ukrainian), it is easy to learn another of these languages with a few years study once Russian is mastered. In some professions, the demand for people who know these languages is even greater than for speakers of Russian since so few Americans have studied them.

Graduates are prepared for work in international affairs with a specialized area. Government, Teaching, and Business are the primary employers. Representative Employers include: U. S. Government (including the State Department, Defense Department, Defense Intelligence Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, International Communications Agency), Multinational Corporations, Educational Institutions, and Nonprofit Organizations.

Common Career Titles Related to this Major:

(Some careers may require education beyond an undergraduate degree)

  • Foreign Service Specialist
  • Import/Export Trade Specialist
  • Intelligence Specialist
  • Journalist
  • Teacher

Enhancing Your Academic Experience:

  • Participating in undergraduate research
  • Applying for a study abroad experience
  • Utilizing resources of The Career Center
  • Joining a Registered Student Organization (RSO) related to this major, such as:
    • Russian Heritage Association: promotes Russian culture and language by providing children and families of the UIUC and Champaign-Urbana communities Russian language learning and cultural experience.
    • Russian Student Organization: unites those interested in experiencing Russian culture on campus, along with providing students with Russian roots an opportunity to meet each other and celebrate Russian culture.

Related Skills:

  • Communication skills (reading, writing, speaking, listening) in both Russian language and in English;
  • Practice in thinking critically and creatively about Russian and East Europe, and about international issues generally;
  • Understanding of and appreciation for the history and societies of these great world cultures and economies

Further Information:

For more information on what you can do with a major in Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies, visit The Career Center’s webpage: What Can I Do With This Major.

There are several professional organizations dedicated to Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies.  Their websites might be able to provide a glimpse in the world of Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies.  These organizations include American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages and Assocation for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies.

For more information on the classes needed for a degree in Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies, visit Undergraduate Programs.