Graduate Foreign Language Requirement | World Languages, Literatures, & Cultures

Graduate Foreign Language Requirement

Foreign Language Proficiency Examination Schedule

2016/2017 Testing Schedule

  • October 6, 2016 2-5 PM
  • February 16, 2017 2-5 PM
  • June 8, 2017 2-5 PM
  • July 20, 2017 2-5 PM

*Remember students must register with the main department office one month in advance using the form below. See below for details about how to qualify for the exam.

Foreign Language Proficiency Examination Form

Graduate Students - How to Fulfill Foreign Language Requirement

1. Graduate students may satisfy the requirement with undergraduate credit in the language through the sophomore year, no older than 10 years. For us, this means:

  • 1010, 1020, 2040, and 2050 or their equivalents at other institutions. PHD students must have an average of 2.75 or higher in those courses, and MA students must have a C or higher for the final course in the sequence. (from
  • CLEP credit (12 hours)
  • AP credit (ordinarily a score of 5 covers it -

Usually, the Graduate School can just pull the students' undergrad transcripts or examine their test results in the above cases, and we in World Languages don't have to be involved (though we never mind getting involved if the student needs help).

2. Graduate students may take the undergraduate courses here on campus while they're doing their graduate work. A student may take the first two semesters (1010 and 1020) and then proceed to #5, or they may take all four semesters and be done.

3. Graduate students may take the placement exam we offer to undergraduate students and "place out" the same way that undergraduate students do and have the credit posted on their transcripts. If they place out of all 4, they're done. If they place out of fewer than the 4, they may complete the requirement by taking the remaining classes, or if they place out of at least 1010 and 1020, they may go on to the reading/translation exam, described in #5. We offer the placement exam many times throughout the long semesters and summers, and the schedule is posted on our website at

If a graduate student takes the placement exam and does not place out of enough credit to qualify to take the Foreign Language Placement Exam (i.e. 1010 and 1020), they MAY retake the placement exam as many times as they need in order to qualify, but they may not take it more than once in an attempt to earn credit for all four semesters and bypass the translation exam altogether.

4. In the past, we offered "grad prep" courses in FREN or GERM -- 5016 and 5026 in sequence. We no longer offer those courses, so as a way to make things easier for graduate students who want to take the classes, we are now (as of Fall 2011) allowing graduate students to enroll in a 5000-level Special Problems section and attend the undergraduate course (1010 if they are beginning the language, higher if they place out or have other credits in the language). Many graduate students are glad to take the undergraduate courses, but for some, it creates complications with financial aid and enrollment levels to be enrolled in an undergraduate course. This is an alternative for those students. A student may do this for the equivalent of the first two semesters (1010 and 1020) and then proceed to #5, or they may take all four semesters and be done. To do this, the student must contact the main office and know which section they wish to attend (and which lab, if applicable).

5. Foreign Language Proficiency Examination - This is a reading/translation exam which is offered once each long semester and twice in summer (ordinarily October, February, June, and July). We require that the students register with us one month in advance, so that our instructors have ample time to prepare the exams, but we've been known to show patience and kindness if the students are a few days late. The exam is scheduled from 2:00 pm-5:00 pm, and the student may bring a dictionary. They are required to translate an article in their field from the target language into English, and the graders are looking not only for a literal understanding but a grasp of the spirit of the text. This test CAN be retaken. Detailed documentation about the test and what to expect can be found at the following link: Foreign Language Proficiency Examination

Again, in order to qualify for the translation exam, graduate students must have either taken 1010 and 1020 as undergraduates within the past 10 years or they must take our placement exam and place out of -at least- 1010 and 1020. Only in the case that a graduate student takes the placement test and does NOT place out of at least 1010 and 1020 will we allow them to take the placement test a second time. They may NOT take it a second time to try to earn full credit to bypass the reading/translation exam.

6. If a student was educated at the high school or college level primarily in another language, even if that language is not one offered on this campus, the department will facilitate a waiver of the requirement if the student presents us with a transcript showing that work. The student is responsible for ensuring with their graduate advisor that their "home" program will accept this particular language and that it is relevant to their studies.

7. Finally, if the student is adept in a language which is not taught on this campus and was not educated at the high school or college level in that language, we have a means by which a student can be measured for proficiency. We have our own network of contacts both on and off campus who speak many languages that we don't offer, and using a procedure we established and maintain, they will test a student and determine whether the second language requirement should be waived. Because we do not offer those languages, we cannot award transcript credit, but usually having proof of proficiency is sufficient for most programs. As with the above, the student is responsible for ensuring with their graduate advisor that their "home" program will accept this particular language and that it is relevant to their studies.

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