Undergraduate Programs

Knowledge of Russian and East and Central European languages and cultures is a marketable and impressive skill, whether you are in academia, arts, law, medicine, governmental service, public interest, business, or politics. Russian is one of the five official languages of the UN and is recognized as a strategic language by the US government. Likewise, it is an increasingly important language for business and trade, and it remains the unofficial lingua franca of the former Soviet republics, an indispensable communication tool across all of the Caucasus and Central Asia. Russia exerts considerable political influence around the world, and there will always be a need for American specialists in Russian and East European affairs. Managing the challenges and opportunities of Central and Eastern Europe will be increasingly high on the international agenda in years ahead.

If you plan to apply to medical or law school, the study of these topics will set you apart as an intellectually adventurous and serious student. In a more direct application of skills, Russian and East European Studies majors and minors typically secure employment in a variety of settings. They go on to work in business as financial and policy analysts for American and foreign companies. They work for NGOs, publishing houses, or the media. They teach abroad, and they consult in marketing, advertising, aerospace, or computer engineering. And, of course, some work as educators in universities and schools, or as employees of the US government.

The department offers a number of major, minor, and certificate program options: 

●   Major in Russian and East European Studies (REES)

●   Minor in Russian Studies (RUSS)

●   Minor in East Central European Studies (ECES)

●   Language Certificate

Combine with Other Studies at Penn

Major and minor programs provide a framework that can be adapted to meet the needs of a wide variety of students, ranging from those oriented on the study of language, literature, and culture to those interested in social sciences and any of a variety of interdisciplinary approaches. Because of their flexible nature, major and minor programs are well suited to students wishing to pursue a double major (or minor) with a complementary field of study, such as Political Science, Economics, International Relations, Anthropology, History, Art, Cinema Studies, or Comparative Literature. The major and minors are well suited to students enrolled in pre-law or pre-med, as well as to students contemplating careers in international business, teaching, governmental and foreign service, or journalism.

Heritage Speakers of Russian

If you grew up in a Russian-speaking home and speak some Russian, we have a special program for you. At Penn, you can learn literacy and develop your colloquial language skills to the level of an educated native speaker. Courses are offered at various levels of language competence, from learning the alphabet to reading and analyzing thick novels in Russian. Heritage courses satisfy the Penn language requirement in just one year (RUSS 0201-0401) and count towards the major, minor, and language certificate in Russian.


For questions about the major and minor programs, planning a degree in REES, or transfer credit, please schedule an appointment with the Undergraduate Chair, Prof. D. Brian Kim, at this link. Prof. Kim can be reached at dbkim at sas.upenn.edu.

Please see this page for information on declaring a major, minor, or certificate program in the College of Arts and Sciences. REES requires a consultation with the Undergraduate Chair prior to approval of such a declaration.