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Do you have a Master's program?

We have no freestanding M.A. program in Slavic Languages and Literatures, and students will not be admitted to the department for M.A. work alone. Students earn an M.A. degree as they progress toward their Ph.D. Michigan's Rackham School of Graduate Studies requires 24 graduate credits, including 6 in a cognate field, for the M.A. The Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies (CREES) offers an M.A. degree.

What do the majority of graduates do with their degrees?

The majority of students that have completed the Ph.D. program with the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures become college professors. We have placed our graduate students as faculty at outstanding institutions such as Harvard, Brown, Dartmouth, ULCA, University of Southern California, University of Florida, University of Virginia, University of Kentucky, University of Iowa, Ohio State University, Wesleyan University, and Tufts University, among many others.

How long does it take to get a Ph.D. at Michigan?

Students are expected to complete course work as pre-candidates in the first three years of study. The preliminary examination, which qualifies students to write the dissertation, must be taken by March of the third year of study. Students are tested in two subject areas of their primary interests, with equal numbers of questions devoted to each area. Students will have two take-home exams, with a 60 hour period for each (e.g. from Friday evening to Monday morning or some other equivalent time period) to submit two essays per exam. An oral exam would follow the evaluation of the essays. Students will advance to candidacy if the committee determines that he or she has passed the preliminary examination. Within six months after the preliminary examination, students must present a dissertation prospectus to their Dissertation Committee. Students are encouraged to complete dissertation research and writing in accord with the demands of their research topics. Ideally, students will complete all requirements for the Ph.D. within five to six years.

Do you offer opportunities for studying abroad?

While we do not have any programs administered within the department to study abroad, students are encouraged to participate in study abroad opportunities during the summer months. Students can apply for departmental support, awarded on a competitive basis, to assist with funding work abroad. Students are also encouraged to apply for support through the CRIF program, Summer FLAS funds, and Rackham research grants, in addition to outside sources of funding that may be applicable.

Do you offer training for new Graduate Student Instructors?

Yes, all new Graduate Student Instructors are required to attend a week-long orientation during the week before the start of the Fall semester through the Center for Research and Learning Technology (CRLT). Additionally, all new Graduate Student Instructors are required to enroll in SLAVIC 500 "Teaching Methods,” during their first or second year, before their first teaching assignment. This course is offered every other year, so students should plan their schedules accordingly. SLAVIC 510 “Pedagogy Workshop” is also a required course for all graduate students, and is taught annually during the regular academic year.

What is a typical course load for a first-year student?

Pre-candidates in the first year are expected to take five courses or about 15 credits each semester. 

Does the University have a graduate student union?

Yes. Our Graduate Employees Organization is the second-oldest graduate employees' union in the nation. GEO represents approximately 1,600 Graduate Student Instructors (GSIs) and Graduate Student Staff Assistants (GSSAs) at the University of Michigan. They negotiate the contract that determines wages, working conditions, health benefits, and tuition waivers.

Do you accept students for the Winter term?

No. We only admit for Fall term and our application deadline is January 7th of each year.

Does your program require a GRE?

We strongly encourage all applicants that are native speakers of English to take the GRE (General Record Examination). The Educational Testing Service (ETS) administers this test. Our PhD program is highly competitive and a strong GRE score can make an application stand out from the rest.

When should I take the GRE?

It is advisable to take the GRE no later than November so that the score report is available by the January application deadline.

Do all international students have to submit TOEFL scores?

International students who have obtained a degree from an institution where the language of instruction is English are exempt from the TOEFL.

When will admission decisions be made?

The departmental Executive Committee strives to review all applications as quickly as possible, while ensuring that each file is read with all appropriate care and deliberation. This can be a time-consuming process, and we appreciate your patience. In general, applicants will be emailed letters notifying them of our decisions no later than the month of March.

If accepted, can I defer enrollment?

Deferred enrollment is considered on a case-by-case basis. Students wishing to defer should submit a request to the Department.

When writing the statement of purpose, what information should be included?

The statement of purpose should provide a clear and concise message about your general research and teaching interests; we would also like to hear with which faculty members you particularly envision studying, and why. While your statement should touch briefly on your intellectual background, we are looking for a focused essay that primarily addresses your research interests.

What part of my application is most important?

The Executive Committee takes a holistic approach to each application packet. We carefully review each student's GRE scores, transcripts, letters of recommendation, writing sample, and the statement of purpose. Applicants should be careful to solicit letters of recommendation whenever possible from professors who are able to speak to their academic accomplishments and promise. Writing samples should likewise provide evidence of the applicant's aptitude for scholarly research. Samples may be written either in either English or a Slavic language.

What type of fellowship aid is offered by the Department?

The Department of Slavic Languages & Literatures offers all students admitted to the Ph.D. program a minimum of five years of financial support. Additional funding is available through a number of sources, such as the Rackham Graduate School, the Center for Russian and East European Studies, and other fellowships. Funding packages will usually consist of some combination of fellowship support and Graduate Student Instructorships, which include full tuition waivers, a stipend, and health insurance coverage. Provision of each year of funding is always conditional upon satisfactory progress toward the degree and satisfactory fulfillment of teaching obligations. There is no need to apply separately for departmental funding. The Department will only admit students we plan to fully fund.

Are international students eligible for fellowship aid?

Yes, all students admitted to our program will receive a five-year funding package.

How many required courses will I have to take for the Ph.D.?

We train all of our students to become successful academics. We prepare students for both the research and teaching aspects of their future careers with courses and seminars on Slavic literatures, cultures, and cinema; team-taught seminars on research methodology as well as on relevant cross-cultural topics; and a series of pedagogy courses and workshops designed to develop students’ teaching portfolios and capabilities within the classroom.

Our graduate program, like most in the U.S., has in the past focused primarily on Russian literature, although we have always also required knowledge of a second Slavic language and literature as well. We anticipate this Russian “track” as still being a frequent choice for our students. However, our curricular innovations will allow students to make an East or Central European literature and culture other than Russian a major focus, with a second language and literature (usually Russian) in a supporting cross-cultural role.

Faculty that we have added in recent years have greatly enhanced our ability to offer such an interdisciplinary program due to their major research interests in areas other than Russian literature including areas such as Polish literature; Czech literature; Serbian and other Balkan literatures and national mythologies; literature and nationalist ideology; Yiddish and Russian literature of the modern period; interactions between Russian and Baltic literatures; and the comparative study of Russian, Polish, Czech, Ukrainian, and Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian literatures. A number of us also have very strong research interests that go beyond literature including: Czech visual culture of the modernist period; Central European and Balkan architecture and its relation to ethnicity and politics; and Russian and East European cinema.

In general, we expect students’ individualized plans of study to be a well-rounded and comprehensive mix of a primary Slavic language and literature, a second language and literature of the area, and a third component in a relevant discipline such as comparative literature, history, Judaic studies, cinema, or art and architecture, among others.

Faculty and students at Michigan are engaged in a lively, interdisciplinary dialogue ranging across the humanities and the social sciences that nevertheless coheres as a curriculum, due to the faculty's shared interest in historical and cultural questions. Traditionally, departments of "language and literature" have sought to provide rigorous training in literary criticism and literary history. We are strong in all these areas, but we are also able to incorporate these more traditional approaches into a broader vision of Slavic Studies that includes the humanities and social sciences. Seminars offered in the different areas of Slavic Studies cover a wide array of literary and theoretical concerns across the disciplines, while also emphasizing the distinct textual and analytical skills required for this kind of work.

Where's information for students who juggle parenting/elder care, study, & work?

The Students with Children website is here:
This site is dedicated to the needs of students at U-M who juggle parenting/elder care, study, and work. Resources include child care, financial assistance, social support, housing, and health care information. The website was created by the former Committee on Student Parent Issues (COSPI) and is maintained by the Work/Life Resource Center,