The purpose of the Russian and East European Studies undergraduate certificate is to enable students to take a coordinated series of courses and to receive a formal certificate signifying this specialization.

In recent years, Russia has become an even larger global influence on politics, the economy, security, and international trade. Understanding the language and culture of Russia has become increasingly important, and the value of knowledge and skills in this area is anticipated to continue to grow.

Only about 15% of the colleges and universities in the U.S. are able to offer a Russian major, and UWM is among this small group. This Slavic language is growing in importance and in value as the political and economic dynamics of Russia and the region are evolving. Russian is one of the five official languages of the United Nations and has more than 200 million speakers around the world. The U.S. State Department has deemed Russian to be a "critical language" and has many programs to encourage students to join this needed area of study.

At UWM, students receive an education in not just language fluency but also in the culture surrounding that language. Context matters in communication, and we believe it is important for students to understand the history, literature, and customs of native speakers of Russian in order to successfully apply their fluency. Students are also encouraged to participate in UWM's study abroad program with destinations including Saratov, Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Vladimir. Some students choose just a short immersion while others go abroad for a semester or even a full year. Because of the complexities of planning a study abroad experience, students are encouraged to start planning early in sophomore year. Most students engage in study abroad during the second half of sophomore year or during their junior year.

Certificates are similar to minors in terms of credit requirements but draw on coursework from multiple fields of study rather than from a single department.


The Russian and East European Studies Certificate Program is open to all students seeking a bachelor's degree from UWM, to those who previously received a bachelor's degree from UWM or any other accredited college or university, and to those who do not plan to pursue a college or university degree (non-degree students) but who have a strong interest in this topic. To be admitted as non-degree students, individuals must meet regular University admission requirements. Students currently involved in baccalaureate studies who successfully complete the requirements of the program will be awarded the certificate at the time of graduation. Students who already have a bachelor's degree and non-degree students receive the certificate upon completion of the program requirements. All students are required to complete an exit survey before the certificate is awarded. 


To obtain the certificate, students must complete at least 18 credits including the requirements in either of the following two tracks. In both tracks, students must achieve a minimum grade point average of 2.75 in all courses taken for the certificate, including language courses. Students should be aware that not all certificate courses are taught regularly. They are advised, therefore, to plan ahead in choosing courses needed for the certificate. A maximum of 3 credits in advanced independent study courses (699) may be applied toward completion of certificate requirements. Other appropriate courses taught by the area faculty, but not on the list, may be taken with the approval of the Chair of the Russian and East European Studies Committee. For courses to count towards the REES certificate, at least one third of the content must be related to the regions of Eastern and Central Europe, Russia, Eurasia, and/or Central Asia. For pre-approved courses, see the list of approved courses. When necessary, requests for other substitute courses will be considered by the committee, provided they are made well in advance of graduation.

Track One (with language study)

  1. 9 credits in approved upper division courses in area history, political science, area studies, and foreign languages and literature, or substitutes as approved by the Committee.

  2. Demonstrated proficiency in one of the languages of the region: four semesters of language study or its equivalent. Students with language proficiency gained in contexts other than classroom instruction should consult the REES advisor about proficiency testing options.

Track Two

  1. 18 credits from the approved list of courses in area history, political science, area studies, and foreign languages and literature, or substitutes approved by the Committee. At least 9 credits must be upper division.

At least 9 credits must be completed successfully at UWM for both tracks.

Courses Approved for the Certificate Program

GEOG 330Europe: East and West3
HIST 239Poland and its Neighbors, 1795-19143
HIST 248The First World War3
HIST 249The Second World War in Europe3
HIST 295Historical Encounters: (with Russian and/or East European subtitle)3
HIST 341Imperial Russia3
HIST 343Russia Since 19173
HIST 346Poland and Its Neighbors, 1914-19453
HIST 348Poland and Its Neighbors, 1945 to the Present3
HIST 363Germany: Hitler and the Nazi Dictatorship3
HIST 364The Holocaust: Anti-Semitism & the Fate of Jewish People in Europe, 1933-453
Jewish Studies
JEWISH 358The Jews of Modern Europe: History and Culture3
JEWISH 421Introduction to Yiddish Literature:3
Political Science
POL SCI 302Politics of Eastern Europe3
POL SCI 310Russian and Post-Soviet Politics3
POL SCI 312The Politics of Authoritarian Regimes3
POL SCI 333Seminar in Comparative Politics: (with Russian and/or Eastern European subtitle)3
POL SCI 371Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict3
All courses. The following Polish courses are offered regularly:
POLISH 101First-Semester Polish4
POLISH 102Second-Semester Polish4
POLISH 236Polish Culture in its Historical Setting3
All courses. The following Russian courses are offered regularly:
RUSSIAN 101First-Semester Russian5
RUSSIAN 102Second-Semester Russian5
RUSSIAN 201Third-Semester Russian4
RUSSIAN 202Fourth-Semester Russian4
RUSSIAN 310Advanced Russian Reading and Conversation:3
RUSSIAN 311Contemporary Russian Language:3
RUSSIAN 419Introduction to Translation: Russian to English3
Courses taught in English:
AMLLC 240Vampires: From Slavic Village to Hollywood3
RUSSIAN 245Russian Life and Culture3
RUSSIAN 260Topics in Slavic Culture:1
RUSSIAN 350Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy in Translation: Major Works3
RUSSIAN 361Russian and Slavic Folklore3
RUSSIAN 391Russian Literature and Culture in Translation:3
Slavic Languages
All courses

Spring 2024: Upcoming Courses in Program

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Summer 2024: Upcoming Courses in Program

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Fall 2024: Upcoming Courses in Program

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Certificates are similar to minors and generally require the completion of six to eight classes. Unlike a minor where all of the classes come from a single subject area, the classes come from multiple subject areas related to the theme of the certificate. Certificates are typically earned in conjunction with a degree though some certificates are available as a standalone credential.