Russian Language

Why Study Russian?

While you may have heard that Russian is a strategic language for U.S. security needs and economic advantage, it is also the language that unites millions of people around the globe, including our own backyard.

265,000,000Total Speakers  

154,000,000Native Speakers


18Total Countries

1st  Europe

2nd  Internet

8th  World

  • Russian is the official language of Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan 
  • Russian is the unofficial lingua franca in Azerbaijan, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan 
  • There is a notable contingent of Russian-speakers in Cyprus, Finland, Hungary, Mongolia, Poland, China, the U.S., and Israel 
Official languageUnofficial lingua francaRussian speakers reside in

Russian as a Critical Language

Russian has been designated 1 of 15 critical languages by the United States government. Critical languages are those that are considered crucial for national security and economic prosperity, but are spoken by too few Americans.  

The Russian language has also become increasingly lucrative as the Russian economy continues to expand. According to the Critical Language Scholarship Program, “Russian continues to be one of the most in-demand languages among employers in both the public and private sectors due to its international relevance and unique versatility.”

Russian at IU

IU features extraordinary opportunities in the study of Russian language, literature, culture, and history including Russian area studies courses taught by over 30 full-time faculty members in over 15 different departments and schools.  

Students will take language and content courses in the Department of Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures, such as: 

  • Introduction to Russian Culture 
  • Russian Language for the Social Sciences  20150824_firstdayofclasses_jb_0295.jpeg
  • Central & East European Immigration and Ethnic Identity in the U.S.
  • Russian Literature: Tolstoy to Solzhenitsyn 
  • Russian and Soviet Film
  • Business Russian 
  • The Vampire in European and American Culture 
  • Civilization and the Russian Far East 
  • Dostoevsky and His Demons 
  • Political Russian 
  • Contemporary Russian Culture

Students are also welcome to take area studies courses offered by our partners and colleagues in other departments including the Russian and East European Institute, the Department of International Studies, and the History Department. In these departments, students can take classes such as: 

  • American-Russian Rivalry in Central Europe 
  • Eastern Europe: 1944-Present 
  • Travelers and Explorers in Central Asia 
  • Environmental Issues (taught in Russian) 
  • Contemporary Security Issues in Europe 
  • Russia and Soviet Foreign Policy 
  • Daily Life in Russia 

Students of Russian at IU can take advantage of the world-renowned Summer Language Workshop located right on the campus of Indiana University.  

  • The Summer Language Workshop is one of the nation’s largest summer intensive language programs that teaches over 20 foreign languages, including 6 levels of Russian 
  • Students complete a full language level in only 8 weeks. 
  • All students pay in-state tuition, regardless of state of residence. 
  • Undergraduate students are eligible for additional scholarships.
  • The Russian program at the IU Summer Language Worship is an NSEP-approved training site for all students participating in the Russian Flagship programs across the U.S.