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Graduate Foreign Language Requirement

The Foreign Language Requirement for Ph.D. Students

Doctoral students fulfill the language requirement by passing translation examinations (with a dictionary) in two languages relevant to literary scholarship.   Masters students need pass just one exam. The examinations are administered only in mid-fall (usually October) and mid-spring (usually early April); a student cannot request an exam at some other time to suit his or her convenience. 

Students taking the French, German, Spanish, or Latin summer classes that the Grad School offers for free to PhD students may request a similar exam from their summer language professors. Ultimately, the class is an enrichment course so, it is up to the individual professors. Students not enrolled in a summer language class cannot take a summer exam. Please contact Anna Smith at the Graduate School ( for more information on the summer language courses.

The exam consists of two translation passages using a dictionary, generally one critical or philosophical and the other from a poem or novel. Neither passage should exceed 300 words, and the total for both should be less than 500 words. Students have a maximum of two hours to complete the exam using a dictionary.

The Graduate Coordinator will announce the exact date of the exam and will see if the chosen language is available via e-mail. 


Undergraduate Language Courses (Below 400-level)

Students are permitted to register for undergraduate language courses (below 400-level), but they receive no graduate credit for them. Some departments, like the English Dept., can offer graduate course numbers (ENGL998) that can be used to replace the undergraduate number of a language course but the professor will have to have his/her PhD. The student will register for the graduate course number, and receive graduate credit for it, while taking the undergraduate course. Students who take the course with an undergraduate course number should register for it as an Audit. Courses registered as audits do not count toward the student's max load. An undergraduate language course should be registered as a 4th or 5th course. The Graduate Group Chair must request permission from the Associate Dean for a student to register for a 5th course for credit.

With the permission of the Graduate Chair, two or more 400-level foreign lanaguage courses (with significant literary content) may be counted as 1 graduate-level seminar course for the purposes of the Graduate English Department seminar requirement. Students should petition the Graduate Chair for this option.