UW-Madison is known nationally for its outstanding programs in Russian language and culture.

Explore Russian @ UW-Madison

Program Overview

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Russian Flagship Program is a federally funded program that provides opportunities for undergraduate students of any major to reach a professional level of competence in Russian by graduation. The program not only strives to increase students’ Russian language proficiency and intercultural competencies, but also links students’ intensive language study with their other academic interests and professional aspirations. The program welcomes applications from undergraduates of all majors and at any level of prior experience in Russian.

The Russian Flagship Program is a collaborative initiative of the Department of German, Nordic, and Slavic and the Language Institute, with the Center for Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia and the Doctoral Program in Second Language Acquisition, funded by The Language Flagship, a public/private partnership sponsored by the National Security Education Program (NSEP).

The content of this website does not necessarily reflect the position of policy of the U.S. government. No official government endorsement should be inferred.

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Who enrolls in this program?

The ideal student is motivated, hard-working, and eager to join the next generation of global professionals. Anyone with an interest in Russian language or culture, representing any academic major or career path, should consider this unique and competitive program for UW-Madison undergraduates.

What is professional-level proficiency?

Students in the Russian Flagship Program work toward a Superior level of proficiency in Russian, a specific measurement of language competence based on guidelines established by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). (Superior proficiency is equivalent to Level 3 on the Interagency Language Roundtable scale used by the federal government.) Individuals at this proficiency level are able to speak, read, listen, and write at length and in detail on a wide variety of topics and in various settings, both informal and formal, concrete and abstract; to state and support opinions and to hypothesize, advise, persuade, negotiate, and interpret subtleties of meaning; and to reword or “circumlocute” when the precise word needed is lacking. Those with Superior-level proficiency can deal with linguistically unfamiliar situations and are able to communicate with native speakers unaccustomed to speaking with foreigners. Individuals with a Superior-level command of the language are able to function productively in a wide variety of professional settings.

Where, when, and how does the program happen?

The program is comprised of both domestic and overseas study. UW-Madison is one of eight universities that offer domestic Russian Flagship programs; the other seven institutions are Bryn Mawr College, Indiana UniversityPortland State University, the University of California, Los Angeles, the University of Georgia, Virginia Tech, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Each domestic program works in partnership with American Councils for International Education to prepare students for a capstone year abroad, the Russian Overseas Flagship (ROF), hosted at Al-Farabi Kazakh National University in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Prior to the ROF, students in each of the domestic programs complete intensive Russian coursework, participate in required tutoring and co-curricular programming, and study abroad in a Russian-speaking country for at least six weeks. During the ROF, students continue to receive intensive, professional language training, which includes direct enrollment in a course related to the student’s academic major at the host university and a professional internship. Together, the domestic program and the ROF offer a sequence of articulated domestic and overseas study that enables undergraduates of all majors to reach a professional level of Russian language proficiency by graduation.

How can I get started?

Your next steps will be determined by a variety of factors, including your current student status (e.g. UW-Madison sophomore vs. high school senior), your prior experience studying Russian (if any), and your academic interests or professional goals. Please contact us for a personalized recommendation. In the meantime, we encourage you to explore the program’s admissions procedures.