Master of Arts (AM)

The program in Regional Studies: Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia (REECA) is based on the premise that in the study of society and culture, the integration of multiple academic disciplines will produce insights unobtainable within the confines of any single discipline. The program seeks to produce area specialists with a sound knowledge of the societies, cultures, and languages of Russia and other countries of the area.

The program offers preparation for careers in public service, business, or for more advanced academic programs. Each student’s career goals, as well as previous training, experience, and academic qualifications, are taken into account in planning his or her course of study. A limited enrollment in the program facilitates individual guidance and personal attention.

The REECA program is based at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University’s center for interdisciplinary research and study of Russia and the countries surrounding it. The Davis Center community comprises over 200 affiliates working in disciplines ranging from political science to literature, and whose regional interests span virtually all of Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia. The Center’s goal is to foster these scholars’ development and to stimulate interdisciplinary thinking by creating opportunities for them to meet and exchange views, and REECA students are a central part of the Davis Center community.

The Davis Center makes its home in a new and beautiful space in the Center for Government and International Studies, a multi-building complex housing the Government Department, faculty of the History Department who have international research interests, and many of the thriving research centers in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University.

Requirements for Admission

All applicants to the program must meet the requirements of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. These include a bachelor’s degree from a recognized institution (or an acceptable substitute) and a superior undergraduate record. The statement of purpose, three letters of recommendation, and results of Graduate Record Examinations (GREs) are required for indications of promise and commitment. Three years (or the equivalent) of college-level Russian are strongly recommended. Foreign students must demonstrate proficiency in English by submitting results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

Deferrals for admission are not allowed. Students accepted into the program but unable to enroll must reapply for admission for the year in which they expect to take up academic residence. The application deadline typically falls in late December or early January for the academic year beginning the following August; see the GSAS Deadlines Page for this year’s deadline.

Financial Aid

Financial aid is administered under the direction of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Harvard grants are open to all students, regardless of citizenship, and are awarded on the basis of academic merit and financial need, as determined by documents submitted to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences as part of the financial aid application. Prospective students apply for financial aid at the same time they apply for admission.

The Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowship program, sponsored by the US Department of Education, is designed to meet the critical need for American specialists in education, government, and other fields who have knowledge and understanding of non-Western languages and cultures. Applicants must be US citizens or permanent residents of the United States and pursue a course of study that complies with FLAS requirements. Students must apply for Harvard financial aid in order to be considered for FLAS funding.The FLAS fellowship program is subject to renewal of funding by the US Congress.

REECA applicants are strongly urged to apply for all eligible outside sources of financial aid. A partial list of potential sources of aid appears on the REECA website

Degree Requirements

Academic Residence. Two years of full-time study while registered in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences are required.

Program of Study. Programs are designed individually in consultation with the program’s academic advisor to meet each student’s particular needs. The precise requirements depend upon the student’s background and preparation. Each student submits a draft plan of study to the academic advisor before making final course selections for the first term in the program. At the beginning of each subsequent term, students meet with the program academic advisor to discuss the plan and make any necessary changes.

Language Requirement. Before graduating, all REECA students are required to demonstrate a high level of proficiency in Russian or (by petition) another regularly-taught Slavic language of the region. Please consult the REECA program office for details.

Course Requirements. Students must successfully complete at least sixteen approved courses. Six courses are selected from a pre-approved list of regional course offerings, marked with † on the Davis Center website. Of these, four must be in the social sciences (including history). Up to four courses are generally required to fulfill the regional language proficiency requirement. Approved electives round out the plan of study and bring the total to sixteen. Approved electives are selected in consultation with the academic advisor and typically include theory courses in a discipline that do not directly address the region; additional language study; or professional school courses that relate to future career plans.

Thesis. The AM thesis is supervised by a member of the Harvard faculty and takes the form of a traditional academic work or a "white paper" addressing a policy question. . It should demonstrate original research and be based, to a significant extent, on sources in one or more languages of the region. The thesis should demonstrate the candidate’s familiarity with previous scholarship related to the topic.

Foreign Area Officers

Foreign Area Officers in the US Army who are completing a civilian master’s degree as part of their US Army service are subject to special requirements. Please consult the REECA program office for details.

Sample Thesis Topics


  • "Framing Chechnya: An Analysis of the News Coverage of Russia’s Chechen Wars"
  • "A War of Laws: The Crimean Question, Tensions, and Ukrainian-Russian Relations"
  • "The Political Economy of Mass Privatization in Kazakhstan"
  • "Blogs and Ballots: The Civic Potential of the Ukrainian Webspace"
  • "Russian Experimental Jury Trials: A Preliminary Examination"
  • "Questions of Identity: Islam and Ethnicity in St. Petersburg and Moscow"
  • "Claiming Autonomy in Russian Federalism: A Study of Conflict in Russia’s Main Oil and Gas Producing Region"
  • "Provisioning Elephants: Arms Transactions with India and Russian Power in Asia, 1962-2012"
  • "Reconciling Reform with Reality: Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights in Russia"


Course Offerings

Current course listings in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences are available at online A list of regional course offerings is posted on the Davis Center website and is published in a booklet each fall. Students may cross-register in Harvard’s other professional schools (including the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Law School, and Business School), as well as in the Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. You may browse Harvard course catalogs online.

To request a course booklet or additional information about the AM program in general, please contact the program office at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., (617) 495-1194, or REECA Program, Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, CGIS South Building, 3rd Floor, 1730 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02138.

To Apply

The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences requires online submission of the application. For details about the application and admissions process, see the GSAS Admission website. For REECA-specific details and advice on the admissions process, please see the REECA website.

PhD Programs

This interdisciplinary program is for the master’s degree only. Some graduates of the program subsequently apply to PhD programs at Harvard or other universities. Students interested in obtaining a PhD may wish to consider one of the programs listed in the GSAS Programs of Study.


Please see the list of Davis Center Faculty Associates at the Davis Center website. Please note that faculty whose titles include the designation "Emeritus" have retired from teaching.