All entering students who have previously studied Russian should take a Placement Diagnostic during New Student Orientation. The department uses the results of the Diagnostic Interview to recommend the appropriate starting point for each student. No prior knowledge of Russian is needed for enrollment in RUS 101.

Why Russian?

The study of Russian at Grinnell opens the door to a challenging non-Western language, and the rich cultural and historical experience of the world's largest country. All courses in the Russian language emphasize linguistic proficiency, with the goal of educating students who can speak, write, read, and understand the Russian language and Russian culture-and use that knowledge for academic and general research, and in various professional contexts, both in the United States and in the Russian-speaking world.  Particular emphasis is placed on speaking and listening skills at every level, and all language courses are conducted primarily in Russian.  Courses in translation consider the important literary and cultural offerings of Russia's past and present, ranging from the great works by Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, to the history of Russian film and the study of twentieth-century and contemporary Russian culture.  The department provides an active and welcoming co-curricular program, with films, plays, concerts, lectures, and a weekly Russian table.  Our active Russian-language house residents regularly organize vaious student events for those studying Russian.

Russian Studies at Grinnell

The four-semester basic language sequence is essential for a student who wishes to study off-campus in Russia, and who plans to do research in his/her field or to develop strong communication skills in Russian. The fifth semester (RUS 313), required for the major, further develops linguistic competence, and provides a deeper understanding of the essential aspects of Russian culture, particularly in preparation for off-campus study. Students majoring in Russian often further their progress through off-campus study (see below). Students complete the major by taking the RUS 389 - Advanced Russian Seminar. Two-and four-credit independent projects and guided readings are available for students after the fourth semester language course, sometimes in conjunction with courses on the history or politics of Russia-offerings which can also count towards a Russian major. Students often use their Russian language skills in Mentored Advanced Projects (MAPs) in the department or with faculty in the Russian, Central, and Eastern European Studies Concentration.

The department also offers courses on modern Russian literature in translation (RUS 247, RUS 248, RUS 251, RUS 261, RUS 353). These provide access to Russian literature and culture for students who do not have a command of the language. Russian majors are encouraged to take these courses and to broaden and deepen their understanding of the Russian experience by exploring other disciplines—history, philosophy, the social sciences, and the languages and literatures of other national heritages. With this background, they may seek careers in teaching and scholarship, government, library science and informational services, journalism, and international trade. In addition, study in mathematics and the natural sciences in conjunction with a Russian major can open doors to careers in international science and engineering. 

Off-Campus Studies

A variety of summer and semester-long study opportunities in Russia are available for students with one, two, or three years of Russian language study.  Interested students should consult the Russian Department about particular programs. Most Russian majors study abroad in Russia during their four years at Grinnell College, typically in the Fall or Spring semesters of their third year. Courses taken abroad on an approved study program are a substitute for the appropriate semester of third-year Russian, and most credits earned in approved programs count toward the Russian major.

There is no four-year plan typical for a Russian major, but a four-year plan for a Russian major might resemble the following course of study:

RUS 101   RUS 102
RUS 221   RUS 222
RUS 313   study in Russia or Russian History/Russian
Russian Literature-in-translation (4)   Literature-in-translation (4) 
RUS 389   RUS 389 or Russian History/Russian Literature-in-Translation and a plus-2 or RUS 499 MAP