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Foreign Language Requirements

Please note: Students should fulfill their language requirement early in the program so it does not delay graduation.

International students whose native language is not English will have this requirement waived once the Plan of Study (iPOS) has been approved with a full committee.

U.S students who are bilingual must still demonstrate a reading knowledge in the second language. To waive the language requirement, documentation or proof in the form of a certificate, a class or indication of bilingual work in a job will be required.

Students in MAS Film and Media Studies, MA/PhD English Education, and MFA Creative Writing do not have a language requirement.

Students must demonstrate evidence of a competent knowledge of a natural language other than modern English by being able to prove an intermediate reading knowledge in that language. For PhD students, the language requirement must be completed before the student is eligible to take the PhD examinations. This requirement may be met by:

  • The School of International Letters and Cultures offers online courses (iCourse for in-person students and oCourse for fully online students) in GER 550 German for Reading Knowledge, FRE 550 French for Reading Knowledge, SPA 550 Spanish for Reading Knowledge, and ITA 550 Italian for Reading Knowledge that can satisfy the requirement with a grade of B or better and count as elective credit in the program.
  • Demonstrating comparable proficiency by taking a translation language exam. All students taking the Graduate Foreign Language Exam through the School of International Letters and Cultures will be charged a $100 fee. For more information about the exam, see below.*
  • In-person students in Linguistics/TESOL: Earning a “B” (3.00) or higher in both ENG 530 Old English and ENG 531 Old English Literature or their equivalent. Literature and WRL students: Earning a "B" (3.00) or higher in ENG 530 Old English or an equivalent, such as Old Norse. Note: these courses are currently not available online.
  • Earning a “B” (3.00) or higher in a 400- or 500-level course in an appropriate (approved) language. Any course in which all class meetings are conducted in the approved language will satisfy this requirement; courses conducted in English will not. The class must have been completed within six years of the semester for which the student has been admitted to the program.
  • Holding a bachelor’s degree in an approved foreign language.
  • Having fulfilled a foreign language requirement towards a previously awarded master's degree that has been completed within six years of the semester for which the student has been admitted to the program.
  • For languages which the School of International Letters and Cultures does not offer or does not offer above the 200 level, two years (4 semesters) of successfully completed college level coursework at least at the 100 and 200 level with a C or better would fulfill the requirement. The coursework must have been successfully completed no more than six years prior to admission to the degree program.
  • For questions on alternate ways to fulfill the language requirement, contact

*Language Examination Procedure

Language competency is certified by the School of International Letters and Cultures upon satisfactory performance on a foreign language examination.

In-person student procedure

The student, in consultation with the advisor or committee chair, will select for translation a book of at least 200 pages (other than fiction or poetry), complete the Application for Graduate Foreign Language Examination at least one month prior to the examination, and deliver the form plus the approved book to the testing supervisor, who will make a copy of the passages you will be translating on the day of the examination and will return the book to you for study.

For further information about the examination and test dates, visit the School of International Letters and Cultures.

Online student procedure

Email the graduate advisor Elizabeth Downs to plan a test date. The test must take place during Department of English business hours: Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Arizona time (excluding holidays). Indicate your choice of language and select from the following list:


  • Come si fa una tesi di laurea by Umberto Eco
  • Il Costume Di Casa. Evidenze e misteri dell'ideologia italiana by Umberto Eco
  • Il secondo diario minimo by Umberto Eco


  • El laberinto de la soledad by Octavio Paz
  • Culturas híbridas. Estrategias para entrar y salir de la modernidad by Néstor García Canclini
  • Ni apocalípticos ni integrados : aventuras de la modernidad en América Latina by Martín Hopenhayn


  • Medialität der Erinnerung: Uwe Johnson und der Dokumentarismus in der Nachkriegsliteratur by Alexandra Kleihues
  • Die literarische Funktion von Kleidung in den Íslendingasögur und Íslendingaþættir by Anita Sauckel
  • Der Holocaust in der literarischen Erinnerung: autobiografische Aufzeichnungen von Udo Dietmar und Elie Wiesel by Antonia Barboric


  • Romantismes Européens et Romantisme Français by Pierre Brunel
  • Les écrivains et leurs lectures Philosophiques texts gathered by Bruno Curatolo
  • L’Histoire Interdite by Thierry Wolton

Note to in-person and online students: All students taking the Graduate Foreign Language Exam through SILC will be charged a $100 fee. The fee entitles students to one exam. Payment must be received before the student takes the exam.

Please make payment through the following link.

If you have questions about payment, please contact the SILC graduate coordinator Monica Hopkins.

Things to Remember

Students should fulfill their language requirement early in the program so it does not delay graduation.

In-person students

Students wishing to graduate in May should take the exam offered in the fall or before. Those who want to graduate in December should take the exam in the spring or before. In other words, students who take the exam in the fall may not be able to graduate that December. Students who take the exam in the spring may not be able to graduate that May.

Students must successfully complete the foreign language examination before taking any required comprehensive examinations or scheduling the final oral defense of the thesis or dissertation or defending an applied project.

It can take six to eight weeks for exam results to be reported.

Students must be enrolled in at least one graduate-level English credit during the semester in which they take the examination.

Online students

We will provide the passage for translation. The passage will range from 300 to 400 words. The examination should not last more than two hours and examinees are expected to translate the entire passage. We are looking for an accurate translation that preserves both idiomatic content and the diction of the text to the best degree possible. The short passage is to be rendered into comprehensible, grammatically correct English. The text is not to be summarized, nor is it to be translated mechanically word-by-word. (Note: we will be able to tell if the student resorted to translation tools.)

The translation test will be conducted entirely online. This is a pass/fail exam. You will be notified of your results in approximately two to four weeks.

Note: Students must be enrolled in at least one graduate credit the semester they take the test in.

Petitions to Retake the Exam

Students who fail the exam may petition the Graduate College to retake the exam. The petition should include why the student failed, what the student will do to prepare for the next exam (i.e., new book, dictionary, tutoring, etc.), and why the exam is needed. Students will be required to pay another $100 fee

Note: Only two petitions to retake the exam are allowed. Normally, the student should allow three months to study for the next exam. In order to be eligible for the second or third examination, the student must submit a petition electronically via their iPOS. This must be approved by the academic unit and Graduate College prior to the reexamination.