About the Program

The Ferrum College major in Russian emphasizes oral and written communication skills in Russan, the ability to read, understand, and analyze Russian literature and mass media texts, and the cultivation of a deep understanding of Russian culture, from the ancient past to the present day. The major is designed to provide students with the fundamental linguistic and grammatical knowledge to understand spoken and written Russian and consistently integrates hands-on opportunities for speaking and writing. For example, in a recent Advanced Russian class, students participated in an email exchange with Russian university students in Vladimir, Russia. Students in this same class also entered a Russian poetry translation contest. Students in Russian classes at all levels are evaluated in many different ways, ranging from memorizing Russian скороговорки (tongue twisters) to reciting poems by famous Russian authors like Alexander Pushkin, Anna Akhmatova, Kornei Chukovsky, Samuel Marshak, Alexander Blok, and Faina Grimberg.

Russian classes at Ferrum above the 200-level meet four times per week, one hour of which consists of conversation in Russian (no English allowed!) every week. The program aims for 90% total immersion in Russian in all classes, per the standards of the American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages (ACTFL).

Even with this intense approach, studying Russian at Ferrum is not only a mental exercise in grammar and syntax, but also an immersive cultural experience that offers unique intellectual and critical thinking challenges. From watching cartoons to full-length feature films and television series, new Russian media is also an important part of learning about contemporary Russia at Ferrum.

The Russian program offers a humanities-oriented major (B.A.) in Russian, a minor in Russian, and an interdisciplinary minor in Contemporary Russian Studies that incorporates coursework from the humanities and social sciences. Students who are interested in pursuing any of these programs are strongly encouraged to sign up for Russian 101 in their freshman or sophomore year. Students who have prior study of Russian should make an appointment with the Russian Program Coordinator to determine at what level they should begin language study at Ferrum.

The curriculum incorporates a variety of topics to prepare students for opportunities in the field of Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, and includes courses such as:

  • Russian Language through the Advanced Levels
  • Russian Conversation
  • Structure of Russian (a linguistics class for advanced students)
  • Russian Civilization and Culture (covers the 10th through the 19th centuries)
  • 19th and 20th century Russian Literature
  • Late and Post-Soviet/Contemporary Russian Literature and Culture
  • Russian and Soviet Cinema
  • Russian Folklore
  • Russia and the Caucasus
  • Independent study on topics of student interest (past topics have included Old Church Slavonic, intensive reading practice, intensive speaking practice, and Russian language pedagogy)

There are over 50 clubs and organizations available to students at Ferrum College. These are specifically related to Russian:

  • Russian Club – provides opportunities for students to learn more about Russian language and culture through film screenings, cooking classes, arts and crafts, and field trips.

Study Abroad: Ferrum College enjoys a unique relationship with Pskov State University in Pskov, Russia. This program brings a Pskov student each semester to the Ferrum campus and sends a Ferrum student (with at least three or four semesters of Russian language) to Pskov to study for a semester. Students recently have also undertaken study abroad in Latvia (2015), Kyrgyzstan (2016), Novosibirsk (2014-15), and Moscow, Russia (2015). From time to time Experiential Terms in Russia or Russian-speaking countries are offered.

Internships: Students are strongly urged to explore career opportunities and to establish mentors through an internship. Internships might involve working with the Pskov-Roanoke Sister Cities organization, tutoring for Russian 101-102 or conversation classes, or doing translation work or assisting with research under the supervision of an instructor.

A major in Russian leads to traditional career paths, as well as less expected fields. For example:You could be a(n) …

  • Teacher of Russian and/or other foreign languages
  • Journalist, Freelance Writer
  • Translator-Interpreter
  • Tour Organizer or Guide
  • Federal Law Enforcement Officer (FBI)
  • International Trade Specialist
  • Foreign Service Officer
  • Intelligence Analyst for the CIA, NSA, or US military
  • Astronaut!
  • Did you know: American astronauts are required to have some knowledge of Russian?

Ferrum graduates credit their program of study for landing jobs or other opportunities in their fields.

Ferrum graduates have used their study of Russian to pursue graduate degrees, to pursue further language training with the United States military, to secure employment with various Federal agencies or corporations, to teach English abroad, and to teach Russian at the high school level.

Find Out More

Please contact the School of Arts and Humanities Dean, Dr. David B. Howell, by calling (540) 365-4413 or email