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 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.

Whether 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 majors and minors typically land jobs 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 consult in marketing, advertising, aerospace, or computer engineering. And, of course, some work as educators in universities and schools, and 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 Politics, 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, and 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 a level of an educated native speaker. Courses are offered at various levels of language competence, from learning an alphabet to reading and analyzing thick novels in Russian. Heritage courses satisfy the Penn language requirement in only one year (RUSS360-361) and count towards major, minor, and language certificate in Russian.


For questions about the major and minor programs, planning a degree in REES, and transfer credit questions, please contact the Undergraduate Chair, Prof. Julia Verkholantsev, to schedule an appointment via Zoom or telephone. Prof. Verkholantsev can be reached at juliave at sas.upenn.edu


REES Attributes for Course Selection in PATH@Penn
Broad Cultural Surveys
(AREM) REES 1801–1899 (19th-century surveys)
(AREJ) REES Post 1900 (20th to 21st-centuries surveys)
(AREP) REES Prior to 1800 (pre-1800 surveys)
Disciplinary Distribution
(AREA) REES Art History Content
(AREC) REES Cinema Studies Content
(AREH) REES History Content
(AREL) REES Literature Content
(ARES) REES Political Science Content
(AREO) REES Social Science
Geographic Distribution
(ARER) REES Russia
(AREE) REES Eastern Europe
Minor Requirement
(ARET) REES Minor Comparative (courses with comparative content for RUSS minor)