Why Study Polish with the KU Slavic Department?

Languages in the Slavic Department

Polish is spoken by almost 40 million people in Poland and around the world, including the US.  By some counts, the city of Chicago has the second largest Polish population in the world.   

Following the Solidarity movement of the 1970s and 80s and the important historical contributions of such figures as Lech Wałęsa and John Paul II,  Poland in 2013 has a vibrant economy and is experiencing rapid political, social and demographic changes.  Today, Poland is a key member state of the European Union and NATO.  The country has a flourishing cultural and arts scene.  

Poland has a rich literary tradition, tracing its beginning to the Renaissance and the poetry of Jan Kochanowski.  In the twentieth century four Polish writers Henryk Sienkiewicz, Czesław Miłosz, Wisława Szymborska, and Władysław Stanisław Reymont have won the Nobel Prize for Literature.  The culture has a strong music tradition, including Fryderyk Chopin in the 19th century and Krzysztof Penderecki in the 20th.  Mikołaj Kopernik (aka Copernicus) and Maria Skłodowska Curie are among those Poles who have also made important contributions to world knowledge in the natural sciences.

Polish at KU

Map of PolandThe University of Kansas has a more than thirty-year tradition of teaching Polish language and literature. Polish language and culture courses at KU are designed to accommodate students with a wide range of interests, including students with Polish heritage, students interested in Polish and East European history, literature, film. The Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures offers yearly regular courses of elementary, intermediate and advanced Polish. Students who already have advanced knowledge of Polish can take independent study courses in Polish Language and Literature after obtaining the consent of the instructor.

KU encourages students to study abroad either in the summer or during the academic year.

Courses Offered


In Memoriam

Reed Rankin ✝ 12/29/2019

The faculty and students in the Department Slavic Languages and Literatures are deeply saddened that one our undergraduate majors, Reed Rankin, passed away last week (12/29) in Fredonia, Kansas. Reed was a beloved student in the department and is fondly remembered by his peers and professors. He began studying Russian as a Freshman and stayed with a challenging but rewarding language for three and a half years, tackling introductory, intermediate, advanced levels, and even continuing his studies into his senior year with Russian for the Professions. We know that he was planning further study in Moscow in the next academic year, prior to matriculation at KU School of Law.

A thoughtful student, Reed often contributed insight and posed challenging questions in class. ​​ Reed’s dedication to the study of Russian language, culture, and history was tremendous and fueled by infectious curiosity. He showed great acumen in translating from Russian into English, always finding English-language equivalents for Russian cultural concepts through skillful use of one-liners from American films. We also treasured his ability to speak in fluid Russian about rural, farm life in Kansas, and the effects that natural phenomena, like floods, on a farming community. He was a pleasure to know and teach, and will be remembered for his kind and polite demeanor. Our thoughts are with Reed’s family at this time


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KU’s Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies program is one of only 12 federally-funded national resource centers in the US
Only doctoral program in Slavic Languages and Literatures between the Mississippi and the West Coast
100% of graduate students in the Slavic program had funding in academic year 2012-13
KU's Libraries house over 500,000 volumes of Slavic books and electronic editions
Two of the department’s last four doctoral candidates have won a Fulbright grants to conduct dissertation research abroad