Program Requirements

This section has been prepared in response to questions frequently asked by prospective graduate students.  For more detailed information please consult other areas of our Departmental website and the Princeton Graduate School website.  

Please see also the Graduate Student Handbook.

About Us

Princeton's graduate program is small, with usually no more than two students entering each year. Admitted graduate students are offered a stipend of full tuition and fees together with a five-year fellowship that includes summer salary.  The program of study is flexible enough to allow students with different backgrounds the opportunity to explore areas of special interest (which may extend beyond the Slavic Department and even beyond Princeton).  Meetings with professors — both formal and informal — are frequent, and advanced graduate students work closely with their dissertation advisors. 

Applying to the Program

To ensure a good fit between prospective students’ expectations and what our Department expects and provides, we urge students to carefully consider both our requirements and our offerings before applying.  The faculty encourages prospective graduate students to visitPrinceton before submitting applications. To organize such a visit, contact the Department Manager. If this is not feasible, the faculty may wish to arrange a telephone interview after receiving your application.

The backbone of the program is the Russian language, which entering students are expected to read easily and speak fluently. Beyond that, students are required, by the third year, to achieve a level of reading competency in two other languages selected from among French, German, and Slavic languages other than Russian (Czech, Polish, Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian, and Bulgarian are offered on a regular basis).  Given the nature of our program, complete command of both oral and written English is absolutely necessary and experience in Western universities highly desirable. We strongly urge Russian students who have had no previous experience in Western universities to contact the Director of Studies before applying. 

Writing Sample

All of the portions of the application are important and should be completed thoughtfully.  The writing sample plays a particularly important part in the admissions process.  It is highly desirable that the writing sample you choose to send us be:

  1. Written in lucid English.
  2. Devoted to a Russian literary text, with quotations (and interpretation) that demonstrate the text has been read in Russian.
  3. 10–20 pages long. (It is acceptable to send two samples if the combined length does not exceed twenty pages.)

Above all, however, you should aim to submit a sample that represents your very best work even if it does not fulfill every one of these criteria. If you are uncertain about what to send us, feel free to contact the Director of Graduate Studies for advice.


If you still have questions after going over the available material, feel free to get in touch with the Graduate Program Assistant (Kate Fischer) or the Director of Graduate Studies (Professor Yuri Leving) at any point in the application process.

Language Skills

In addition to knowing English and Russian fluently, students must attain a high level of competence in a third language. Two years of good work (B+ or above) in college level language classes satisfy this requirement; however, it can also be satisfied by a rigorous reading exam. For a Slavist at Princeton, the most logical choices for this language would be French, German, BCS, Czech, or Polish; however, other languages will be considered if they are relevant to the student's interests.  The requirements should be satisfied before Generals.

Russian Language Proficiency

Applicants to our program should have a firm foundation in the Russian language (the equivalent of at least three years of college Russian) and be completely fluent in English. They should also have a general knowledge of the Russian literary tradition and its major writers and works. 


Additional information relating to admission to Princeton University is posted on the Graduate School's website. Both web (the preferred method) and paper applications are available on-line.