SMU is one of few universities in Texas offering Russian language. Having existed for more than 40 years, the SMU Russian program has a rich tradition. Russian language courses are taught in the context of culture and new developments in Russia which makes language acquisition engaging, effective and exciting. The Department of World Languages and Literatures offers a minor in Russian Area Studies (an ideal pairing with a major in international studies, business and history), study abroad opportunities during the summer or regular semester, financial support for study abroad through both the Wiley and Mamontov Foundations, cultural enrichment activities actively supported by the SMU Russian Club and the Russian American Center of Dallas, and a large collection of rare and modern Russian books and films.
Why Study Russian?
1. Russian is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world and one of the 6 official languages of the United Nations along with English, Spanish, French, Chinese, and Arabic.
Russian is spoken by 293 million people. There are more Russian speakers in the world than there are speakers of German and French combined. Russian is the official language in Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is widely spoken in some other former Soviet Republics and in many countries of Eastern Europe.
2. Russia continues to play an important role in global economy, politics, and culture
Russia is the world’s largest producer of natural gas, second largest steel producer, third largest producer of oil and fourth largest in the mining of coal.
“It is extremely important to study Russian now, especially because Russia is an important global presence and has a large percentage of the world's oil. Also, there have been some recent tensions between the U.S. and Russia, and I think it would be a substantial asset to be able to speak Russian.” Meghan Kreuziger (SMU ’06, Accounting, minor in Russian Area Studies; 2009, SMU Dedman School of Law)
“Russian studies are becoming very important again as Russia is beginning to play a more important role in global economy and politics as well as reinvigorating its rich culture […] Knowing the Russian language and society will advantage many students seeking jobs in international business and policy.” Drika Weller (SMU ’05, Psychology), Ph.D., Psychology (University of California, Davis)
3. Knowledge of Russian is a valuable and marketable skill in the workplace
Russian language skills can be combined with other disciplines such as law and business, politics and government, science and technology, engineering and computers. Russian language graduates pursue exciting careers in such diverse areas as foreign and government service, international business, public relations, news media, tourism, law enforcement, education, and social work. The growth of US - Russia trade and cultural agreements has opened new areas of employment in banking, manufacturing, sales, technical consultation, contracts, negotiations, office management and translating. The demand in the workforce for bilingual and multilingual individuals is very strong.
“Russian helped to distinguish me as a candidate for law school. It did help me to get my summer internship at a law firm after my first year of law school and it helped me to get my job, which has led to permanent employment after I graduate.” Meghan Kreuziger (SMU ’06, Accounting, minor in Russian Area Studies; Dedman School of Law’09)
“I do directly attribute my acceptance to business school to my job in Russia, which is due to my Russian studies. It was a very useful part of my professional life.” Will Turner (SMU ’98)
“I will always treasure my SMU days because of the Russian program. Thanks in large part to the help of my Russian Studies professors/mentors I easily gained admission to the best law schools in the US. Russian Studies degree was one of the best career decisions I ever made.” Camille Johnson (SMU ’98), Founding Partner, Savrick Schumann Johnson & McGarr
4. There are many opportunities abroad for individuals with Russian language skills
“It’s very important to study Russian nowadays for anybody who wants to work in or with the Former Soviet Union. With Central Asia being the new hotspot, I would think that it’s even more important to learn Russian -- not everyone speaks or teaches Uzbek or Turkmen, but almost everyone in those countries speaks Russian to some extent.” Andrea Kalan (SMU ’92), Director of Academic Programs for Western Eurasia, IREX (International Research and Exchange Board), Kyiv office, Ukraine
“Having my Russian degree helped me to get my first job. It was also a factor in getting my current position as an attorney with Akin Gump and having worked in their Moscow office for oil-field related businesses and consulting services.” Burke McDavid (SMU ’92, J.D. ’98), Attorney, Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, L.L.P.
“I wanted to work overseas. Russian allowed me to move to Russia with a US company. Living and working in Russia was the best experience in my professional life […] Russian is a great language to speak if you are in the oil business.” C.T. Johnson (SMU ’91), Financial Consultant & CPA
4. Russia has a rich cultural and scientific history
Russian scientists and mathematicians have been at the cutting edge of research in a variety of scientific pursuits, especially in geology, geophysics, chemistry, engineering, and aeronautics. Over a quarter of world’s scientific literature is published in Russian.
“Does Russia Matter?”