BA in Russian Language & Literature

The major in Russian Language & Literature expects students to attain a high level of proficiency (ACTFL intermediate-high) in speaking, reading, writing, and listening comprehension in Russian; it trains them to work with primary sources in Russian and to navigate challenging real-life situations. It also provides them with a solid grounding in Russian literature, culture, history, and politics. Russian majors are given the flexibility to follow their specific interests. While some will be drawn to the Russian literary and cultural tradition, others will choose to focus on the historical and political conditions that inform Russia’s place in the world today; yet others will prioritize advanced language proficiency. The Russian faculty is prepared to help students find the right pathway through the major to accommodate these various emphases. The Russian major works well on its own or as a double major with other disciplines, such as international relations, history, English, comparative literature, European studies, and political science.

Russian majors go on to careers in international business, academics, advocacy, politics, journalism, law, government, publishing, and the arts, among many other areas. Russian is spoken by more than 250 million people in the world today, including approximately 3 million people in the US. It remains the lingua franca of the vast geographical area that constituted the former Soviet Union. The Russian major is designed to open up access to these cultures and worlds. In today’s larger geopolitical context, where Russia plays a crucial role in world events, there is an urgent need for experts on Russian politics, history, and culture.

Like all World Languages & Literatures (WLL) majors, Russian Language & Literature majors generally begin with CAS XL 100 Leaving Home: Explorations in World Literature, a team-taught course in which students meet the WLL faculty through guest lectures and get oriented in the rich diversity of the world’s literary traditions. They begin Russian language study as early as possible and complete at least two language courses beyond the fifth-semester level (CAS LR 303). Classics of Russian Prose (CAS LR 250) introduces students to major texts in English translation and can be taken early in the student’s program. Four additional courses in Russian language, literature, and/or culture provide greater depth in areas of special interest to the student. One elective chosen, in consultation with the advisor, among all WLL courses on languages, literatures, and cultures other than Russian, enhances understanding of Russia’s place in the world through regional, global, and/or historical comparison. Students wishing to explore more of WLL’s course offerings outside of Russia may substitute an additional elective for one of their four courses in Russian language, literature, or culture. Seniors majoring in WLL come back together in CAS XL 479, the senior capstone seminar. Students use this course to produce a substantial project in their major and share their work with other WLL seniors working in other languages. The course provides students with structure and research guidance for developing and discussing their projects, while meetings with a faculty language mentor hone students’ advanced language skills as applied to the area of their research. Student presentations build oral communication skills and the ability to describe one’s work to others. Possible final projects could include a research paper on literature, film, or popular culture; an annotated translation or work of subtitling; a video essay; or a digital humanities project. Students producing excellent capstone projects will be encouraged to develop them into senior honors work.

Learning Outcomes

  • Advanced knowledge of major themes and genres in Russian literature and culture in their historical contexts, including links to other European and world literary traditions.
  • Critical thinking, communication, and writing skills within areas of content and cultural knowledge.
  • Familiarity with fundamental research skills for Russian studies, including use of traditional and electronic sources.
  • Proficiency in speaking, reading, writing, and listening comprehension in Russian at the intermediate-high level as measured by ACTFL guidelines.


All BU undergraduate students, including both entering first-year and transfer students, will pursue coursework in the BU Hub, the University’s general education program that is integrated into the entire undergraduate experience. BU Hub requirements can be satisfied in a number of ways, including coursework in and beyond the major as well as through cocurricular activities. Students majoring in Russian Language & Literature will ordinarily, through coursework in the major, satisfy BU Hub requirements in Philosophical, Aesthetic and Historical Interpretation; Diversity, Civic Engagement and Global Citizenship; and Communication, along with requirements in the Intellectual Toolkit. Remaining BU Hub requirements will be satisfied by selecting from a wide range of available courses outside the major.

For the Russian major, a total of 11 four-credit courses is required, all completed with a grade of C or higher.

  • CAS LR 250 Classics of Russian Prose
  • CAS XL 100 Explorations in World Literature: Leaving Home
  • CAS XL 479 WLL Senior Seminar. A capstone course with an essay or translation project that makes use of Russian-language sources.
  • Three advanced Russian language courses above CAS LR 212:
    • CAS LR 303 Third-Year Russian 1: Reading, Grammar Review, and Conversation OR CAS LR 311 Russian Youth Culture
    • Two courses chosen from:
      • CAS LR 304 Third-Year Russian 2: Reading, Grammar Review, and Conversation
      • CAS LR 312 Russia on Screen
      • CAS LR 350 Introduction to Analysis of Russian Prose Texts
      • CAS LR 351 Introduction to Analysis of Russian Poetic Texts
      • CAS LR 440 Russian Drama
      • CAS LR 441 Contemporary Russian Press
      • CAS LR 442 Russian Media
      • CAS LR 443 Contemporary Russian Culture
      • CAS LR 445 Russian in Boston: Advanced Experiential Russian
  • Four courses in Russian language, literature, and/or culture above CAS LR 250. With advisor approval, up to three of these may be Russian studies courses taken outside the WLL department; for example, in history, art history, the Pardee School, or political science. Courses taken at study abroad programs may also fulfill these requirements.
  • One WLL elective course, chosen with approval of the advisor. Chosen from all courses in WLL. May also be satisfied by taking both CAS CC 101 and CAS CC 102, by CAS LX 250 Introduction to Linguistics or a higher-level linguistics course, or by a literature course in Romance Studies, English, or Classics. Students wishing to do more comparative work may count an additional WLL elective in place of one of the four courses in Russian language, literature and/or culture.

Honors in the Major

To graduate with honors in the major, students will maintain a GPA in the major of at least 3.4 and will take one additional course above the 11 required for the major. This can be any CAS XL or TL course numbered 500 or above, or XL 401 or 402 (continuation of the thesis begun in the capstone seminar).