Slavic 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 Slavic Studies and Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies?

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.

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.

For more information, please visit the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures


  • Czech Studies
  • Polish Studies
  • Russian Language, Literature, and Culture
  • South Slavic Studies
  • Ukrainian Studies

Courses That Introduce the Major:

  • RUSS 101—First-Year Russian I
  • RUSS 102—First Year Russian II
  • RUSS 201—Second Year Russian I
  • RUSS 202—Second Year Russian II
  • SLAV 117—Russ & East Euro Science Fiction
  • SLAV 120—Russian & East Euro Folktales
  • UKR 113—Ukrainian Culture

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


Possible Career Opportunities:

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)

  • Analyst for Census Bureau
  • Attorney
  • Bilingual Administrative Assistant
  • Computer Instructional Designer
  • Consultant for the U.S. Dept. of Transportation
  • Defense Policy Analyst
  • Director of Human Resources 
  • Director of International Relations
  • Economic Consultant
  • Editorial Assistant
  • Film Researcher/Copywriter
  • Foreign Language Teacher
  • Foreign Service Interpreter
  • Historian
  • Journalist
  • Linguistics Professor
  • Naval Officer
  • Pharmaceutical Sales Representative
  • Physician
  • Purchasing Specialist
  • Social Worker
  • Teach English as a Foreign Language
  • Teacher
  • Technical Writer
  • Translator

Click on the following links for further information on possible career opportunities and to see what recent graduates are up to.  

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:
    • Polish Club Zagloba: upholds the Polish identity through communicating in the Polish language, practicing of Polish traditions, and promoting the Polish culture on this campus.
    • 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.

Related Skills:

  • Communication: Foreign language majors gain skills in oral expression, critical reading, translation, clear writing, editing and interpreting in foreign languages.
  • Education & Instruction: Many foreign language majors gain valuable instructional skills by tutoring others in both the oral and written aspects of the language.
  • Human Relations: Appreciation for other cultures, adaptability to different environments, and receptivity to new ideas are developed by both studying abroad and studying other cultures.
  • Research & Problem Solving: Comparison of ideas, problem identification, developing problem solving techniques, and information analysis are skills strengthened through a foreign language major.

Further Information:

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

There are several professional organizations dedicated to Slavic Studies.  Their websites might be able to provide a glimpse in the world of Slavic 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 Slavic Studies, visit Undergraduate Programs.