Explore One Sixth of the Globe

The Russian Federation and the other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (the former Soviet Union) are dynamic and complex nations. Because of their vast natural resources, technological expertise, and proud heritage, their influence is felt across the globe. At the same time, the region has produced some of the most enduring and beautiful works of music, literature, and art. At Macalester, we provide many pathways into discovering this region, its people, and its works.

Read the Classics

Many of the authors we teach – such as Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, and Nabokov – produced enduring works of world literature that have broadened the definition of their genres. The readings are in translation in the majority of our courses, and all students are welcome. Our courses are cross-listed with such departments as English, History, American Studies, Psychology, WGSS, International Studies, and Political Science.

Discover the Avant Garde

The 20th century brought not only revolution and turmoil, but also dazzling experimentation with form, content, and new ways of thinking. Yet a closer look at Russia’s history reveals centuries of such innovation, which continues to the present day. Our culture courses explore Russia’s folklore, mythology, mass culture, visual arts, theater, music, and cinema.


Start learning Russian this fall and you can study abroad next fall by taking two semesters of first-year Russian and an intensive second-year course over the summer. Students who start in their first year are typically on track to study in Russia in their junior year.

What Can You Do with a Russian Major?

Knowledge of the Russian language gives you access to one-sixths of the world’s landmass and creates professional opportunities in a variety of fields. Russia, and the region where its influence has had a lasting impact, is an ideal destination for the intrepid global citizens that Macalester students seek to become.

The Russian Studies major gives students a pathway to achieving linguistic and cultural proficiency by the end of their undergraduate career. Graduates of the program emerge with a profound understanding of a geopolitically significant world region as well as a skill set (including critical and analytical skills, writing, public speaking, and research) transferable to a variety of professional settings.

Choose the Russian major and you will have many options, whether your interests lean toward literature and culture or the social sciences. Russian majors take a language sequence that includes courses taken during study abroad and culminates in the capstone senior seminar.

You need not only linguistic skills but also cultural understanding in order to successfully interact with Russian-speakers from all walks of life. Russian Studies majors thus take courses on literature and culture as well as supporting courses in departments including history, economics, international studies, political science, and music. The Russian program offers special topics courses and opportunities for independent study.

A Russian major provides preparation for a wide range of careers, including international relations, law, journalism, business, public health, ecology, translation, teaching, and graduate work in the humanities or social sciences.


School of Russian and Asian Studies newsletter with articles about professional applications for your knowledge of Russian


Join us for conversation, tasty food, holiday celebrations, guest speakers, and film screenings. If you like what you see, you can apply to live at Russian House after your freshman year.


Each year, students and faculty work together to produce a conference with a guest speaker and an academic paper competition that is open to all undergraduate students in the Twin Cities area. Past speakers have included musicians, journalists, literary scholars, and historians.


Russian immigrants comprise one of the largest immigrant groups in the Twin Cities, and the majority of them have arrived since the 1990s. There is a large Russian emigre community here, as well as a strong general interest in Russian culture and language. Examples include the Museum of Russian Art — the largest of its kind outside of Russia — and the Russia Far East conservation program at the Minnesota Zoo. There is also a variety of cultural events, restaurants, music performances, dance, and theater.


Russia occupies more land on the planet than any other country. It has 25 percent of the world’s fresh water, 22 percent of the world’s forests, and 20 percent of the world’s oil reserves. The region is second only to the Amazon in the amount of carbon dioxide that it absorbs. What Russia does (or does not do) with its resources can have a major impact on the rest of the world.