Master’s Degree

The Master of Arts Program in European and Russian Studies is unusual in its embrace of all of Europe, east as well as west. The program allows students to choose a regional focus, while also ensuring familiarity with those parts of Europe outside that focus. Students specializing in Russia and Eastern Europe, for example, will concentrate their efforts in that area, but will also take courses relating to Central and Western Europe. As an interdisciplinary program, the E&RS MA allows for concentration in a variety of humanities (languages, literatures, history, art, music) and social science (political science, economics, sociology, anthropology) disciplines, as well as law. The program is suited both to students who wish to pursue further academic studies and to students interested in pursuing careers in policy, journalism, teaching, human rights, development and NGOs.  

Special Requirements for Admissions:

When applying to the program, students will specify as an area of primary concentration either (1) Russia and East Europe, or (2) Central and West Europe. The program requires submission of an academic writing sample of not more than 15 pages, double spaced. The GRE General Test is not accepted. All students must complete sixteen graduate-level term courses (or their equivalent) in the various fields related to European and Russian studies. 

Fields of Study: European languages and literatures; economics; history; human rights; journalism; law; music; policy; political science; sociology; and other social sciences.


Requirements for the M.A. Degree

All students must complete sixteen graduate-level term courses (or their equivalent) related to European and Russian studies. When applying to the program, students will specify either Russia and Eastern Europe, or Western and Central Europe, as an area of primary concentration. For students focusing on Russia and East Europe, two of the sixteen required courses (excluding language courses) must concern the nations of Western and Central Europe. For those focusing on Western and Central Europe, two courses must concern Russia and Eastern Europe. Students are further required to take at least one course in at least three of the four broadly-defined fields of study relevant to the program: history (including history of art, history of science, and history of music), literature, social sciences, and law. Additionally, in their first year, students must enroll in one course focusing on methodology in a chosen discipline (e.g., history, comparative literature, sociology, anthropology, political science).

Only one of the sixteen graduate-level term courses may be taken for audit. Courses graded Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory cannot be counted toward the sixteen-course requirement of the program. All students must meet the minimum Graduate School grade requirement of an overall grade average of High Pass, including a grade of Honors in at least two one-credit graduate courses (for students enrolled in two-year programs).

Language Courses & Requirements

As a requirement for graduation, all students must demonstrate at least L4 proficiency in two modern European languages other than English. These two languages must include at least one directly related to their area of concentration—i.e. students focusing on Russia and Eastern Europe will need to demonstrate knowledge of Russian or an East European language; those focusing on Western and Central Europe will need to demonstrate knowledge of one of the appropriate regional languages.

A maximum of four of the sixteen courses required for completion of the degree may consist of language courses, even though these courses have undergraduate course numbers and undergraduate grading modes. In order to count towards the degree, these language classes must be taken for a grade, not for audit. Further undergraduate-level language classes, beyond these four, can be taken for credit or audited, but will not count towards the sixteen courses required for graduation. Graduate-level seminars taught in language departments are unaffected by this four-course maximum; these are counted as regular graduate courses.

Students already possessing language skills must arrange to receive certification of proficiency by the relevant language department. Most often this involves completing a placement or proficiency examination; in some cases, the director of graduate studies may certify native language skills. Because each language department administers these exams in its own way, students must make arrangements individually with the appropriate departments. Students with Russian competence must receive the grade of 1+ or higher on the ACTFL/ETS Rating Scale as administered by the Slavic Languages and Literatures department at Yale, including reading, oral, and grammar portions. Students who have met the European language proficiency degree requirement may study a non-European language provided the courses are approved by the DGS.

As part of the program’s commitment to outreach, each MA student is required to lead at least one seminar or give one lecture on his/her topic of interest to local secondary school students. This can be arranged through Yale’s Office of New Haven Affairs public school partnerships, or depending on the topic, through the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies curriculum development program.

In all cases, students will comply with the Policies and Regulations of the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, especially regarding degree requirements and academic standing. Any questions regarding these policies should be addressed to your assistant or associate dean. Please refer to GradSchool Degree RequirementsGradSchool Programs-Policies and GradSchool Bulletin E&RS.

The Master’s Thesis

A master’s thesis is required. The topic must be approved by the DGS and the thesis advised by a faculty member with expertise in the chosen topic. M.A. students must register for E&RS 950, which may not be taken for audit and is counted toward the sixteen required courses. For the purposes of preparatory research, students may register for one additional independent study with their potential adviser in a semester prior to taking E&RS 950. The master’s thesis must be submitted in accordance with departmental guidelines; it is due in two copies in the student’s second year on a date in early April as specified by the council. An archive of all MA thesis titles can be viewed on the thesis archive (link to archive). 

Joint Degree Programs

Through agreements negotiated by the MacMillan Center, the European Studies Council offers joint master’s degrees with the Law School, the School of the Environment, and the School of Public Health. Application for admission must be made to both the Graduate School and the applicable professional school, with notation made on each application that this is to be considered for the joint-degree program. Refer to and contact the European Studies Coucil for up-to-date information.

European & Russian Studies Courses

E&RS 940, Independent Study

  • By arrangement with faculty
  • When taken for Master Thesis preparation, it can only allowed to be taken once in the third or fourth semester of study

E&RS 950, Master’s Thesis

  • By arrangement with faculty
  • Only allowed to be taken in the final/fourth semester of study