Overview of Doctoral Program

The Doctor of Philosophy degree in Slavic Languages & Literatures builds further on the foundational knowledge and the structured classroom learning that students engaged in during M.A. work. Working under the close mentorship of their advisors, Ph.D. students develop a minor in a related field, learn advanced pedagogical and interpretive strategies, continue to improve language skills, and engage in self-motivated, independent study to develop an area of specialization.

While most KU Ph.D. students find positions as academics, some choose to pursue professional positions in academic support, digital humanities, research, and government service. See Ph.D. Alumni on the Department’s website.

Areas of Concentration

Two concentrations are offered in the Ph.D. program:

  • Russian Literature
  • Slavic Linguistics

Additional information regarding academic opportunities in culture, intellectual history, folklore, or language pedagogy is available on the departmental Ph.D. Overview.

Departmental Funding

The department does its best to provide funding in the form of Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA) appointments to all incoming graduate students.  GTA appointments are awarded for the academic year; .50 full-time equivalent (FTE) appointments come with:

  • a competitive academic year (9 month) salary
  • a 100% tuition waiver for all courses at KU
  • payment of up to 3 hours of student fees
  • optional University-subsidized group health insurance 

The appointments are guaranteed based on performance for up to 3 years for M.A. students, 5 years for Ph.D. students and 6 years for students who receive both an M.A. and a Ph.D. at The University of Kansas.  GTAs in the department receive thorough training in language instruction, close mentoring, and the opportunity to teach at a variety of levels, providing them with a strong base of teaching experience upon entering the job market.

Additional Funding

There are also university fellowships for truly outstanding students. Visit the Graduate Studies website for information about funding opportunities for KU graduate students.

Admission to Graduate Studies

An applicant seeking to pursue graduate study in the College may be admitted as either a degree-seeking or non-degree seeking student. Policies and procedures of Graduate Studies govern the process of Graduate admission. These may be found in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.

Please consult the Departments & Programs section of the online catalog for information regarding program-specific admissions criteria and requirements. Special admissions requirements pertain to Interdisciplinary Studies degrees, which may be found in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.

Graduate Admission

Apply to the graduate program via the Graduate Studies online application system.

For additional information regarding departmental admissions requirements, deadlines and the application process, please visit the graduate page of the Slavic Languages and Literatures website.

Ph.D. Degree Requirements

Students admitted to Ph.D. work in Russian literature or Slavic linguistics must fulfill M.A. requirements and pass the qualifying examination. Students also must fulfill all specific requirements in the concentration, master a western European language, participate in all in departmental colloquia, complete comprehensive examinations, and write a dissertation.

All Ph.D. students are expected to enroll in courses in their concentrations numbered 500 and above offered in a given semester

  1. If they have not previously had the courses or their equivalent,
  2. If it is judged that the course material aids in preparation for comprehensive examinations, and
  3. If it is feasible to incorporate such courses into a given semester’s program.

Requirements for Ph.D. Concentration in Russian Literature

  • Detailed knowledge of the history and development of Russian literature
  • Oral and written competence in Russian language plus an orientation in its structure and history
  • Reading competence in at least one West or South Slavic language and a general knowledge of the history of its literature
  • 9 to 12 graduate semester credit hours in a minor subject either from outside or inside the department
  • An acceptable dissertation

Requirements for Ph.D. Concentration in Slavic Linguistics

  • Detailed knowledge of the structure and history of two Slavic languages, one of which is considered the student’s major language, plus reading competence in a third Slavic language
  • Oral and written competence in the major Slavic language
  • 9 to 12 graduate semester credit hours in a minor subject, either from outside or inside the department
  • Basic knowledge of general and comparative linguistics
  • An acceptable dissertation


Qualifying Examination

All students must take the qualifying examination to be admitted to Ph.D. work. For KU students, the M.A. examination serves as the qualifying examination. Students who hold the M.A. degree from another institution but begin Ph.D. work at KU are required to take the qualifying examination within 2 semesters of entry into the program.

Research Skills & Responsible Scholarship Requirement

The university requires that every doctoral student have training in responsible scholarship and research skills pertinent to the field of research and appropriate to the doctoral level. This requirement must be met before taking the comprehensive oral exam. Graduate students in Slavic Languages and Literatures must demonstrate (through course work or examination) reading competence in a western European language, preferably French or German. The student must also take part in all required graduate colloquia. These cover a variety of topics intended to promote and model responsible scholarship and professional development. Faculty and graduate students participate in three colloquia each semester. Issues of responsible scholarship are also imbedded in the curriculum.

Comprehensive Examination

Students may take written and oral comprehensive examinations after fulfilling all other requirements for the Ph.D., with the exception of the dissertation.

Dissertation Defense

Students demonstrate satisfactory completion of the Ph.D. program in their final oral defense of the dissertation and its field and by prompt submission of the thesis.

Study Abroad

The department offers summer and semester options at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, Russia, and in conjunction with the Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, conducts summer institutes at universities in

  • L’viv, Ukraine; and
  • Zadar, Croatia.
  • Almaty, Kazakhstan (internship program)

Some scholarship support is available.

Consult the Slavic department office or the Office of Study Abroad. Credit for non-KU programs is not automatic and is evaluated in consultation with the Slavic department undergraduate director.

Undergraduate and graduate students at KU are encouraged to spend a summer, semester, and/or year studying and conducting research in their country of interest.

Slavic Language Programs in Russia and Eastern Europe

KU students may take intermediate or advanced Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian at a 6-week summer institute in Croatia or attend a summer language program in Poland.

Graduate students at KU are encouraged to spend a summer, semester, and/or year studying and conducting research in their country of interest.