The Princeton Slavic Department offers the Ph.D. degree in either Russian Literature or Russian and Slavic Linguistics. The program provides students with a firm foundation in their major area as well as the opportunity to explore related fields, for example: comparative literature, literary theory, linguistic theory, and other Slavic languages and literatures.
Princeton's Ph.D. program is small: this enables us to offer graduate students accepted into the program a support package for the entire four or five years required to complete the degree. Princeton provides a scholarly, small-town atmosphere in close proximity to both New York City and Philadelphia.
INFORMATION FOR PROSPECTIVE APPLICANTS:
The following guidelines are intended to answer some of the most common questions asked by prospective graduate students. More detailed information on the program itself can be found in the Graduate Student Handbook.
If you cannot find the answer to your question, feel free to contact the Director of Graduate Studies at any point in the application process.
Princeton's graduate program is small, with three or four students entering each year. Graduate students receive a stipend of full tuition and fees as well as a five-year fellowship that includes summer salary.
The faculty prides itself on its accessibility and responsibility. Meetings with professors - both formal and informal - are frequent. Advanced graduate students work closely with their dissertation advisor and generally receive their dissertation chapters back (well annotated) within a week.
The faculty is eager to meet with prospective graduate students before they submit their applications. Such visits can be organized by contacting the Department Manager. If this is not possible, the faculty may wish to arrange a telephone interview after receiving your application.
The program of study is flexible enough to allow students with different backgrounds and preparations the opportunity to explore areas of special interest (which may extend beyond the Slavic Department and even beyond Princeton).
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; for literature students this means any combination of French, German, or other Slavic languages, and for linguists it means two other Slavic languages (Czech, Polish, Serbo-Croatian are offered with regularity).
For the program in Russian literature, the faculty generally selects from three types of students:
1) native speakers of English who have a solid command of Russian (usually through coursework in America as well as study abroad) and who are committed to the study of Russian literature and culture.
2) native speakers of Russian who have a superb command of the English language (writing as well as speaking) and of Russian literature, as well as significant experience in a non-Russian academic environment.
3) native speakers of neither English nor Russian who are fluent in both those languages and can demonstrate excellence in literary study.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Russian students who have not spent prior time at Western universities are encouraged to contact the Director of Studies before
Applicants should realize that the writing sample plays an extremely important part in the decision-making process. It is essential that applicants send a text that represents their best work.
The following points are desirable in a writing sample for literature applicants:
1) it is written in lucid English.
2) it is devoted to a Russian literary text, with quotations (and interpretation) that demonstrates the text has been read in Russian.
3) It is 10-20 pages long. (It is permissible to send two samples if the combined length does not exceed twenty pages.)
However, not all successful applications fulfill these criteria. If your very best work does not fit one of these categories, you should submit it nonetheless. If it does not fulfill two of them (or if you are uncertain), contact the Director of Graduate Studies for advice.
Program of Study
The Ph.D. program normally lasts five years. The student studies full-time in residence during the first two years and takes the general examination at the end of this period or during the first semester of the third year. During the third year the student ordinarily combines study (for instance, begins preparation for and work on the dissertation) and teaching. During the fourth year the student is typically away from campus, spending a year in Russia (or, if appropriate, elsewhere) doing research for the dissertation. Students are encouraged to apply for non-Princeton
fellowships for this off-campus year. The fifth year, like the third, is spent on
campus, with some teaching and the remainder of the time completing the dissertation.
Entering students arrange their programs in consultation with the director of graduate studies and advisers who are assigned to them.
A graduate reading list is provided, consisting of both required and recommended works covering the various fields of study, intended to help students prepare for the general examination. Students are encouraged to identify both a general field of interest and a narrower, more specific topic of interest as soon as possible. In a small program, much individual attention can be given to each student, and this should permit each to focus his or her interests early and proceed briskly toward a dissertation topic.
Ph.D. Program in Slavic Languages and Linguistics
Students do course work in the Structure of the Russian Language (two semesters), Common Slavic and Old Church Slavonic, Old Russian texts, the History of Russian, Comparative Slavic, and one or more of the other major Slavic Languages (Czech, Polish, Serbo-Croatian, Bulgarian). In order to ensure a background in theoretical linguistics, students are urged to take courses in the Linguistics Program (e.g., generative syntax, morphology, phonology, linguistic universals semantics).
Students in Slavic Linguistics are encouraged, although not required, to take courses in Russian Literature. Ph.D. Program in Russian Literature
All students acquire a broad knowledge of the history and major texts of Russian literature. In consultation with the graduate advisor, students choose from a wide range of courses. Individual programs vary in accordance with the interests and background of each student. Graduate seminars cover historical periods (e.g., Russian Realism, Symbolism, Soviet and Post-Soviet Literature and Culture), specific authors (e.g., Pushkin, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Tsvetaeva), theoretical approaches to literature (e.g., Russian critical tradition from Belinsky to the Tartu school and Bakhtin), and core courses in the development of literary genres (the evolution of Russian poetic form; the evolution of Russian prose).
Students in Russian Literature are encouraged, although not required, to take courses in Russian and Slavic Linguistics.
Candidates accepted into the program are ordinarily awarded a five-year fellowship (full tuition, health insurance, and living stipend). As part of this award--and as part of their professional training--students are expected to teach (in literature, language, or both) at least two semesters, normally after the general examinations are taken. Teaching Experience and Assistantships
The department provides graduate students with supervised training in undergraduate teaching. This experience normally takes the form of instruction in elementary or intermediate language courses, and precepting sections of Russian literature survey courses. Usually, this teaching begins only after the first two years.
Students in Russian literature are expected to demonstrate a reading knowledge of either (1) French and German, or (2) French or German and one Slavic language other than Russian. Students in Russian and Slavic language and linguistics are expected to demonstrate knowledge of either (1) German and (2) one Slavic language other than Russian or (2) two Slavic languages other than Russian. Czech, Polish, Serbo-Croatian and Bulgarian are offered on a regular basis. These language requirements must be satisfied before the student is admitted to the general examination. Applicants are urged to begin their preparation in these languages as soon as possible.
Until they pass their general examinations, students have diagnostic tests each year in the Russian language to evaluate their progress.
The general examination consists of written and oral portions. The satisfactory completion of the written examination is a condition for admission to the oral examination. The general examination is based on coursework and the graduate reading list, of which there are two versions: one for those concentrating on Russian literature and one for those concentrating in Slavic linguistics.
Dissertation and Final Public Oral Examination
The dissertation normally emerges from work already undertaken in seminars or other courses under the guidance of departmental faculty. It should be an essay in depth on a subject that can be treated in 150 to 200 pages. In the final public oral examination, the candidate defends the dissertation in the presence of departmental faculty and other informed or interested scholars and is expected to demonstrate mastery of the subject and effectiveness in
Applicants must have a firm foundation in the Russian language (at least three years of college Russian) and be fluent in English. For students planning to specialize in language and linguistics, previous training in general, synchronic, and diachronic linguistics is highly desirable. Applicants in literature should have a general knowledge of the Russian literary tradition and its major writers and works. Prospective graduate students are strongly encouraged to contact the Department and, if possible, to come to campus and meet the faculty. To arrange a meeting, or for
any other questions, call the Office Manager at (609) 258-4726, or FAX at
For additional information regarding admission to Princeton University, please visit the Graduate School's website at http://webware. princeton. edu/GSO/.
You can also request an application at this site.
http://www.princeto n.edu/~slavic/ index.html
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