You may have noticed that there are two different units in which one can complete a “Russian” major (and minor) at the University of Illinois. What is the difference between them and which is the right one for you?
The major in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies has a multidisciplinary area studies focus. Students take courses in a variety of disciplines, weighted toward the social sciences (history, sociology, anthropology, political science) and develop a broad expertise in the history, politics, and culture of the region that includes Russia, but also many other countries, from the Czech Republic to Estonia to Uzbekistan. Language study can be in Russian or in any of the other languages of the region offered here. The orientation tends to be toward current affairs, and students often go on to careers in government service or in the NGO sphere.
The major in Slavic Studies with a concentration in Russian Language, Literature and Culture is based on a traditional single disciplinary major, though the department encourages interdisciplinary approaches that focus on literature and the arts, literature and medicine, cinema, history, politics, or culture in Russia. Students develop intensive cultural literacy and communication skills through humanities oriented training, and many go on to careers in writing and editing, media, or work with international cultural foundations and organizations.
That said, the majors are only as different, or as similar, as you make them. You can choose literature as your primary field for the REEES major, or take social science courses to develop broad area expertise in your supporting coursework for the Russian language and literature major. Both are excellent preparation for law school or graduate school and careers in teaching or research.
See what some recent graduates have to say about majoring in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Illinois.