Doctorate Degree in Slavic


Building on the M.A. foundational base, the KU Ph.D. degree program encourages students to develop their particular intellectual interests in collaboration with KU faculty and their areas of specialization. Ph.D. students also learn a second Slavic language and develop knowledge of a secondary field. For their second field we encourage our students to choose from philosophy, linguistics, religion, history, theatre and cinema, literary theory, comparative literature, and folklore.

Two concentrations are offered in the Ph.D. Program:

  • Russian Literature
  • Slavic Linguistics

Ph.D. students who focus their studies on Russian literature and Slavic linguistics have a full-service curriculum from which to choose their courses. Doctoral students who wish to pursue a Ph.D. concentration in another literature that the department offers, such as Polish, Ukrainian, or Bosnian/Croatian/Montenegrin/Serbian, may develop an individualized program of study in consultation with faculty.

Ph.D. students interested in Russian culture, intellectual history, Slavic folklore, or interdisciplinary themes pursue their studies through the Russian literature PhD concentration.

Ph.D. students interested in working in the field of Slavic language pedagogy pursue their studies through the Slavic linguistics Ph.D. concentration.

For more information about the academic program or about any aspect of the application process, please consult with the Department's Director of Graduate Studies.

Ph.D. Requirement Sequence

After passing the M.A./Ph.D. Qualifying Examination, students begin Ph.D. work. Unlike the M.A., which has a specific curriculum intended to develop foundational knowledge, the Ph.D. is flexible and open-ended. It allows students to explore specific interests that will lead to their dissertation project. Toward this end, students take additional course work to expand their foundational base further, develop additional research skills, explore various methodologies, and focus on areas of particular intellectual interest. During Ph.D. coursework students develop a sub-field in considerable depth and “test-drive” possible dissertation topics.

Ph.D. training is unique to each student, because each student has her or his own intellectual interests, working style, and professional goals. Regular consultation with the academic advisor is a sine qua non of this period of “scholar-apprenticeship,” because in this stage of study students craft their profile (whether academic or professional) and begin their professionalization (such as engaging in conference activity, writing book reviews, drafting articles, grant proposals, and syllabi, seeking internships, preparing for the job search, etc.).

This demonstrates the student’s ability to conduct research in her or his field in a Western European language.

Most students select German or French, depending on their research interests, but other languages may fulfill this requirement depending on the proposed dissertation project. If students have studied French or German as undergraduates, they may take a placement exam in the appropriate department; if not, most departments offer an intensive “Language for Reading” course. This is not just a “hoop,” this is an important skill. Students should plan ahead for this (e.g. summer study, intensive reading course), consult with their advisor, and select the foreign language that best meets their long-range research needs.

This demonstrates knowledge in a second Slavic language and culture/literature.

Russian literature/culture students must take, at a minimum, one year of another Slavic language and one course in that language’s literature or culture. Student research or employment interests usually indicate the appropriate language choice. Slavic linguistics students must have knowledge of at least one East Slavic, one West Slavic, and one South Slavic language.

This demonstrates knowledge of another discipline and methodology that enriches and expands the student’s research and teaching.

This minor may be outside the Department (history, anthropology, sociology, foreign language, religion, general linguistics, film and theatre, area studies, second language acquisition, etc.) or within the Department (another Slavic literature and culture; linguistics for literature students; literature for linguistics students; etc.). Selecting the right minor is very important, as it will play a role in the student’s dissertation project, in the academic profile, and in the nature of future employment. Students should select the minor for good reason and in consultation with the academic advisor.

This examination will serve as the Oral Comprehensive Exam and consists of a student's presentation and defense of their professional Ph.D. portfolio after fulfilling all other requirements for the Ph.D., with the exception of the dissertation. The professional Ph.D. portfolio includes the dissertation prospectus as well as other materials that document the student’s command of major and minor fields, ability to undertake research, and the skills necessary to traverse the profession independently.  A successful exam result will trigger the student’s enrollment in dissertation credit toward dedicated research and writing of the terminal document for the Ph.D. degree.

The portfolio examination demonstrates that post-M.A. students in the Department have:

  1. Acquired the appropriate knowledge base,
  2. Developed the skills that will allow them:
    1. To identify a research question,
    2. To complete the dissertation successfully,
    3. To become competent and responsible teachers, researchers, and writers, and
    4. To embark on a lifetime of constant learning and continued scholarly evolution, regardless of their career path.

The portfolio examination provides post-M.A. students with an opportunity to:

  1. Take stock of their achievements, strengths, and weaknesses,
  2. Reflect on the quality of their progress through the program, and
  3. Outline their future intellectual or career trajectory.

Once coursework has been completed, students present the Portfolio formally to their committee. By this time, they must have fulfilled all requirements for the Ph.D. established by the Department and Graduate Studies with the exception of the Comprehensive Oral Exam, the 18 credit hours of dissertation research, and the dissertation itself. If students meet these criteria, they proceed to the Comprehensive Oral Examination required by the Department and Graduate Studies. The 2-hour Comprehensive Oral Examination follows the formal submission of the portfolio. The oral examination demonstrates the student’s ability to:

  • Defend the choice and direction of the dissertation concept,
  • Respond intelligently and professionally in an oral interview situation on any academic topic,
  • Engage spontaneously in a professional exchange of ideas.

Students will write, defend and submit an appropriate dissertation: this demonstrates the student’s ability to undertake, plan, and complete a sustained piece of original research.

At the time of the comprehensive exam, the student should have a dissertation proposal ready to present to the graduate faculty of the department. The dissertation defense and the approved electronic submission of the dissertation is the final requirement of the program.  SLL evaluates the dissertation according to a specific SLL Doctoral Learner Outcomes Rubric (.docx) through the Office of Graduate Studies. Students should become familiar with this rubric and the stated expectations before they begin to write.

It is the responsibility of the individual student, in consultation with the advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies, to ensure that he or she has met all requirements of the Department (as posted on this page) and of the KU Office of Graduate Studies.