Russia Direct has been working on the first comprehensive ranking of Russian and Post-Soviet Studies programs in the United States. It is to be released this March as part of our special report on Russian Studies programs in America. Below, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the ranking.


What is this ranking?

The Russia Direct Ranking of Russian and Post-Soviet Studies Programs is an attempt to analyze and rate the U.S. universities that offer advanced degrees in Russian studies, including languages, history, political science and international relations.

At this time we are focusing only on Master’s level degrees as these programs provide an advanced professional training and prepare students for work in government, business and international organizations. We’ve selected 33 such universities that have centers or departments that offer Master’s programs in Russian and Post-Soviet Studies.

Who is doing the ranking?

The Russia Direct editorial team has developed a methodology for the Ranking with close cooperation and help from four international experts in Russian Studies.

Why are we doing it?

Russia Direct hopes to increase the interest of Americans in studying Russia and the post-Soviet space. We believe that this is very timely as the relations on the political level between the U.S. and Russia deteriorated significantly in the course of the last year.

What is the methodology exactly?

First, we’ve developed six parameters that our evaluation of Russian and Post-Soviet Studies programs will be based on. We then sent a survey to educators at the 34 selected universities with a request to evaluate which of these parameters were most important from their point of view. Based on their responses, we assigned a value to each of the parameters:

1. Average U.S. Universities ranking – 10%

2. Study abroad and exchange opportunities – 20%

3. Academic competitiveness and research – 20%

4. Reputation  – 20%

5. Employment opportunities for graduates – 20%

6. FLAS and NRC funding (Title VI) – 10%.

It should be pointed out that the sixth parameter was not included in the original survey, but it was added later after expert consultations. We believe that it adds a certain objectivity introducing this parameter, which is based on the U.S. federal government’s estimation of the quality of Russian Studies programs in the country. For this reason, we assigned a 10% value to this parameter.

1. Average U.S. universities ranking

We use the Shanghai, QS and Times Higher Education rankings, because they are quite different in their methodology of evaluation as well as the most acknowledged. So, we take these three and use four criteria that are used in at least two of them. We value them according to the weight they have in the respective rankings. However, we count an institution’s placement in each of the rankings only considering U.S. universities.





1.      Academic reputation




2.      Academic staff to students ratio




3.      Citation




4.      International students & staff to domestic ratio








Further calculating the weight of each in 100% scale. The sum is 169.4 (100%) The result for each is:

Weight in average ranking

15% (0.15) or 0.2

53% (0.53) or 0.5

32% (0.32) or 0.3

As a result, the QS and Times Higher Education rankings have more weight in calculating the average ranking of an institution when using all three rankings.

2. Study abroad and exchange opportunities

Exchange programs are crucially important during graduate study, especially when the concentration is in regional studies and languages. An opportunity to travel to Russia and the post-Soviet space to study a semester abroad or to have an internship there is extremely important.

Under this parameter we consider three subcategories:

1. Total number of exchange programs and agreements with regional universities and institutions.

2. Ratio of number of students travelling to the region to the overall number of enrolled students in the academic year.

3. Linguistic opportunities, including number of regional languages available to study (except the languages of the Baltic states).

3. Academic competitiveness and research

This component is considered because it shows how deeply the faculty is devoted to research and impacts the entire academic community of the related field; it demonstrates the quality of the academic environment and how hard it is to get into a program. This component consists of three sub-categories:

1. Number of peer-reviewed publications by faculty members and students;

2. Ratio of academic staff to students;

3. Acceptance rate.

4. Reputation

This part consists of two surveys: one is distributed among international experts and potential employers to value the reputation of a program under consideration; and the second peer-review survey is sent to educators.

5. Future employment prospects

This component estimates the employment opportunities for recent graduates, in terms of their ability to pursue specific opportunities linked to Russian Studies based on the potential employers’ survey. The prospect of future employment is quite important, because the graduates of Russian and Post-Soviet Studies programs might become decision-makers or professionals who deal directly with Russia or the post-Soviet space and, thus, utilize their knowledge and skills acquired during graduate studies.

6. Title VI center status

The U.S. Department of Education each year awards grants to institutions of higher education to strengthen the capacity and performance of American education in foreign languages, international and area studies, teacher preparation, and international business education. If an University under our consideration is awarded with the federal grant through these two programs (authorized by Title VI of the Higher Education Act of 1965), National Resource Centers (NRCs) and Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships, in Russian area studies it receives additional points. Receiving this federal grant is a very prestigious and it enhances institutional leadership in advancing area studies which is in our case Russian studies.

Is our methodology perfect? 

We treat this ranking as the first attempt in conveying a comprehensive analysis of Russian Studies programs in the U.S. We clearly realize that it is just the first step towards designing a more advanced ranking which will take time and ultimately take into account the peculiarities of each and every program. We’ve already received recommendations from the universities themselves on how to advance our methodology. All of them will be published in our report as a discussion point for the future. However, at this time, we have decided to keep our own methodology in an effort to collect available data and compile a comprehensive and accurate ranking of Russian and Post-Soviet Studies programs in the U.S.

What programs are we considering?

Here is the list of the programs under consideration:

1. Boston College, M.A. in Slavic Studies

2. Brown University, M.A. in Slavic Studies

3. Columbia University, Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies (Harriman Institute)

4. Duke University, Slavic and Eurasian Studies

5. Florida State University, Russian and East European Studies

6. George Washington University, Elliott School of International Affairs, M.A. in European & Eurasian Studies

7. Georgetown University, Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies (CERES)

8. Harvard University, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian studies

9. Indiana University-Bloomington, The Russian and East European Institute

10. John Hopkins University, MA European and Eurasian studies

11. Miami University of Ohio, Havighurst Center, Russian and Post-Soviet Studies

12. Middlebury College, Monterey Institute of International Studies

13. New York University, Department of Russian and Slavic Studies

14. Northwestern University, Department of Slavic Languages and Literature

15. Ohio State University, Center for Slavic and East European Studies (CSEES)

16. Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus, Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures

17. Stanford University, Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies at the Stanford University

18. University of Arizona, Department of Russian and Slavic Studies

19. University of California - Berkeley, Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies

20. University of Chicago, The Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies

21. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, The Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center (REEEC)

22. University of Kansas, Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies

23. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies

24. University of Missouri-Columbia, College of Arts and Science - Russian, M.A. in Russian and Slavonic Studies

25. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Center for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies

26. University of Oregon, Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies

27. University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus, Center for Russian and East European Studies (REES)

28. University of Texas at Austin, Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies

29. University of Virginia, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, M.A. in Contemporary Russian Studies

30. University of Washington-Seattle Campus, Ellison Center for Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies

31. University of Wisconsin-Madison, Center for Russia, East Europe and Central Asia

32. Yale University, M.A. program in European and Russian Studies

How can you get in touch if you have any questions or suggestions?

Contact our editorial team at with questions about the methodology, content in our special report and date of publication.

If you wish to enquire about advertising in our special report on Russian and Post-Soviet Studies programs in the U.S., please contact Ksenia Smertina at: