M.A. in International Studies

M.A. – Russian, East European, and Central Asian Studies

M.A. in REECAS Handbook 2019-20

M.A. in REECAS Handbook 2020-21

Program Description

The Master of Arts Degree in Russian, East European, and Central Asian Studies (REECAS) involves interdisciplinary study which allows students a great deal of flexibility in designing a course of study to meet career goals calling for area expertise.

Each student’s program combines instruction in at least one language with interdisciplinary training. The Master of Arts Degree program ordinarily lasts two years and is designed to either provide a terminal degree for students preparing for careers in government and non-governmental organizations, journalism, business, or teaching at the pre-college level or to provide area training for students wishing to pursue the Ph.D. degree in a discipline.

The curriculum, which is especially strong in the social sciences, history, and regional cultures, encompasses courses in a wide range of departments, including Anthropology, Comparative Literature, Cinema and Media, Communications, Economics, Geography, History, International Studies, Linguistics, Near Eastern Languages and Civilization, Political Science, Scandinavian Studies, Slavic Languages and Literature, and Sociology; as well as in the Schools of Art, Business Administration, Drama, Law, Marine Affairs, and Public Affairs; and in the College of Education. Independent study may be arranged to do work in other fields where there may be no regularly offered area courses.

Language instruction is offered on a regular basis in Russian through the advanced level, all three Baltic languages, and in most major modern languages of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Often it is possible to arrange independent study in relevant languages that are not offered regularly. Intensive programs offer the opportunity to do a full year’s language work during summer quarter.

Scott Radnitz, Russian, East European, and Central Asian Studies Program Chair

Admission Requirements

Applicants must meet basic Graduate School requirements, which include a 3.00 GPA for the last 90 quarter (60 semester) graded credits, and a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution. The Graduate School also requires test results from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). In addition, applicants must meet a language prerequisite of two years at the college level (or equivalent). For those planning to focus on Russia at UW, the prerequisite language must be Russian. For those focusing on Eastern Europe or Central Asia, the prerequisite language may be either a language of the region or one that is relevant to the student’s area of interest (e.g., German or Russian). Applicants also must meet all application requirements and deadlines set by the Jackson School and described in its application guidelines. Because this is a competitive program, meeting the minimum standards does not ensure admission.

Degree Requirements


Two years of instruction (or equivalent proficiency) in a REECAS language such as Russian, Czech, Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian, etc. is a prerequisite for entry to the REECAS MA program. Once admitted to the M.A. program, students must complete two years of additional language study, completing one of the following options:

  1. Two more years of the prerequisite language.
  2. Two years of a REECAS language other than the prerequisite language.

The UW Language Learning Center administers ACTFL exams in students’ final quarter of study to measure language proficiency. Native speakers of REECAS-area languages are exempt from the language proficiency exam. However, they are encouraged to take an additional language as part of their studies.


Required Courses:

  • JSIS A 504: Survey of Eurasia (5 credits) Taken in Fall Quarter of Year 1. An introduction to scholarly approaches to studying the REECAS region, methods of scholarly inquiry, library resources, and analytic writing.
  • JSIS 594: International and Area Studies (2 credits) Also known as “The Director’s Course”. Open to all MA students. Taken in Fall Quarter of Year 1.
  • JSIS 511: Logic of Inquiry in International Studies (5 credits) Taken in Spring Quarter of Year 1. Pooled with students from other Jackson School programs.
  • JSIS A 515: Thesis Seminar (2 credits) A thesis development seminar. Taken in Winter Quarter of Year 2.
  • JSIS 700: Master’s Thesis Credits Students must register for at least at least nine JSIS 700: Master’s Thesis credits to be taken all in one quarter or spread out over several quarters.

Other Coursework:

30 credits divided between a major discipline of concentration and one minor discipline.

Major Discipline (minimum of 15 credits)

Typically history, economics, geography, political science, or literature and culture.

Minor Discipline (minimum of 10 credits)

Typically a second selection from the above-listed disciplines of concentration.

Elective Course (5 Credits)

This course may be from any discipline as long as it is relevant to the REECAS region.
While students normally focus their studies on one major geographical region, the program provides flexibility to take courses on other regions as well.

Graduation Requirements

Language Exam

By the end of their final quarter, students must pass a language proficiency exam in their language of study.

Thesis and Oral Exam

At the end of their course of study, students must submit an original thesis and defend it in front of their Thesis Supervisory Committee. This oral exam will be devoted primarily to the thesis, but at the discretion of the chair, may include questions about topics from the major and minor disciplines.

The Ellison Center for REECAS also offers other graduate degrees and certificates: