Language Requirement

All students must present evidence of advanced knowledge of a language other than English and of its literature or culture prior to the start of their fourth year. Students should choose a language that is appropriate for their specific field of inquiry, and should embark upon language study after consulting with their Advisor and/or the Director of Graduate Studies.

The language requirement almost always must be fulfilled before a student takes the PhD Preliminary Examination; it is best, however, to complete this requirement as soon as possible after a student enrolls in the PhD program.

The department accepts several different alternatives for demonstrating advanced knowledge of a language (other means may also be acceptable at the discretion of the Director of Graduate Studies):

  • 4 semesters of college/university language study, with a grade of B or better. Courses where readings are in translation may not be used. The last semester of study can be no more than 4 years prior to the student’s first year of graduate study.

  • The equivalent of the above (determined by the Director of Graduate Studies) in workshops, summer programs, fieldwork or research in a foreign language, or other language-learning activities.

  • A Degree from a foreign university where English is not the primary language of instruction. In cases of languages, such as some Native American languages, where there is not a significant body of written material in the language, courses focusing on grammar and conversation, or spoken fluency as demonstrated by testing, may be used.

  • Native speakers are exempt from the language requirement as are those students who have completed: 1) study in a foreign language at a foreign university, 2) field work conducted in a second language, or 3) summer intensive second language programs at an advanced level.

  • A test administered by or through the Department of English of no more than two hours. The language test usually consists of a translation of a passage into English with the aid of a dictionary; a spoken component for the examination will be administered in appropriate cases.

  • A test of language proficiency from the MA degree (must be noted on transcript)