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Colleges in North Carolina Offering a Major in Russian

by Susan Sherwood

Over 80 percent of Russians speak only that language. On the other hand, according to the 2007 United States Census, fewer than 900,000 people in the U.S. speak Russian at home. With a comparatively small domestic American need for Russian, employment possibilities in the field may, at first, appear gloomy. However, students who major in Russian find job opportunities in many fields, including national security, foreign service, business and economics, film studies and the arts. Several North Carolina schools offer Russian majors.

Duke University

Located in Durham, Duke University offers a major in Russian Language and Culture. Students take beginning through advanced language classes that focus on all the language arts: speaking, listening, reading and writing. These classes are given in traditional, intensive and study abroad formats. During their language courses, students also begin discovering Russia’s culture. To advance this learning, students must choose at least four more Russian classes, with an emphasis on cultural works such as film, theater, music and literature. Duke also offers courses in legal Russian, scientific Russian and translation.

Wake Forest University

Students can earn a Bachelor of Arts in Russian from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem. The German and Russian Department has a broad program that covers knowledge of language, culture, history, politics and business. Courses cover the grammar, structure and history of the language, as well as understanding Russian mass media and 19th century literature. In addition, students develop reading and writing skills in Russian, such as understanding context, gathering information and using the writing process. At the end of the program, students take a capstone course that includes lengthy oral and written projects in the Russian language.

University of North Carolina -- Chapel Hill

The Center for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies is located at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Students can major in Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures with a concentration in Russian language and culture at the bachelor level, taking intensive language courses and courses covering Russian literature and culture. There are study abroad opportunities as well. For those interested in obtaining a higher degree, graduate students can get a Master of Arts in Russian and East European Studies. For admission to the Russian concentration, students must have four semesters -- or an intensive equivalent -- of the Russian language. Required courses include Contemporary History of Russia and Eastern Europe, Identities and Transitions and a language class each semester. Students can take electives at Chapel Hill or its counterpart at Duke University.

Davidson College

While as of fall 2013, Davidson College did not have a major in Russian, a minor is available, with intermediate ability in Russian as a prerequisite. Students must also take at least six other pertinent Russian classes. At least three must be within the Russian Studies department, but the rest, upon approval, can come from related fields, such as history, literature or politics. Looking toward the future, the department is developing majors in Russian Studies and Russian Languages and Literature through the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies. These majors will include language learning and exploration of Russian culture, politics, history and literature.

About the Author

Living in upstate New York, Susan Sherwood is a researcher who has been writing within educational settings for more than 10 years. She has co-authored papers for Horizons Research, Inc. and the Capital Region Science Education Partnership. Sherwood has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from the University at Albany.

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