Interdisciplinary Studies Track

This cutting-edge program offers broad preparation in the relationships among the visual arts, cinema, media, folk and popular culture, as well as Slavic, Balkan, and Baltic languages and literatures. The main thrust of the program is the study of the history and criticism of interdisciplinary approaches to literature and the visual arts. The University of Chicago has particular strength in the cinema of Russia and Central/Eastern Europe. Other emphases include anthropology and intellectual history. The standard time-frame for successful completion of the PhD is six years.

Requirements to qualify for the Ph.D. program

Nine quarter courses (including: Introduction to Slavic and East European Arts and Cultures (proseminar); Words and Images: Introduction to Interdisciplinary Approaches; and three additional courses in a Slavic or East European Literature, art and/or culture) and a comprehensive examination. This exam also serves as a Qualifying Examination for admission to the Ph.D. program.

The Qualifying Exam

By the sixth week of Spring Quarter of the second year, the student must take the Qualifying Exam. Successful completion of the Qualifying Exam allows the student to receive an MA as a terminal degree or as a qualification toward the PhD. In order to continue in the program students must file copies of their examination lists with the Department’s administrators and submit them to their exam committee by the third week of Autumn Quarter of the second year. Students receiving a High Pass for the qualifying exam then commence work on the Qualifying Paper.

Requirements towards the PhD Degree

Students must develop a plan of study by the end of their first year of study, to be approved by their M.A. Exam Committee, and in addition to the courses required at the Master’s level must take the following courses: the advanced research seminar in Slavic and East European literatures; five approved courses in Slavic or East European arts and cultures; and a second language of the region (1 year of study or reading knowledge).

The Qualifying Paper

The Qualifying Paper is an extensive research paper, which should demonstrate the ability to conduct independent research and represent an original, publishable contribution the student’s field of study. The paper is generally 35-40 pages (double- spaced) in length and must be submitted by the seventh week of the spring quarter of the third year. It is written under the guidance of a faculty member of the Slavic Department and in consultation with one additional faculty member. Its evaluation includes a one-hour-long discussion, during which the student responds to the committee’s questions. The committee then recommends to the faculty whether the student should progress to candidacy in the PhD.


The dissertation serves as both a capstone of the student’s graduate education and her first major contribution to the profession. The topic is developed by the student in close consultation with a committee, led by the dissertation advisor and two or three additional faculty readers. The committee may include faculty from other departments at the University of Chicago and other universities. Effective topics approach a clearly defined object of study with a focused theoretical question, with the intention of illuminating and refining both the object and the concepts being employed.  Usually the dissertation is proposed in the fourth year of study and takes two or three years to complete. The dissertation is presented at a public defense before being submitted to the University.

Joint Ph.D. programs

Students who apply to Slavic Languages and Literatures as a second Ph.D. program at the University of Chicago are required to fulfill all the Ph.D. requirements either in the literature or interdisciplinary studies track. Students in a joint Ph.D. program can satisfy the requirement of a minor field using courses from their primary program of Ph.D. study.