Foreign Language Requirement in the Ph.D. Program

If your dissertation is in a non-US field, you must demonstrate a reading proficiency in at least one non-English language determined by the dissertation director. You must demonstrate proficiency by reading and translating a selection from a historical work or source assigned by the examiner. This requirement is a minimum for all Ph.D. candidates in non-US fields; you must pass an examination in all languages, however many, that your Advisory Committee considers necessary for expertise in your primary area(s) of research.

For students in U.S. history, the Advisory Committee will determine the language requirement. The Advisory Committee can waive the requirement completely for students in U.S. history. Be sure to have your committee enter their decision to waive this exam on your Ph.D. Planning form when you meet with them during your first year in the program.

The Department of World Languages and Literatures (DWL) will administer Ph.D. language examinations in all languages in which it has a specialist. DWL agrees to the following as its standard procedure, although it is willing to make special accommodations (such as a suggestion for a text or different requirements for the exam) as determined by a student's committee: "The exam will assess the reading skill of the candidate and will be geared at the 2020 level. Also, every effort will be made to select a passage to be translated relating to the candidate's field of interest. Each exam will last from one hour to an hour and a half and will be based on translating a passage ranging from one to one-and-a-half pages. Moreover, candidates may use dictionaries to assist them." "Dictionaries" refers to books whose purpose is to translate words between two or more languages; you are not allowed to use grammar books, verb books, etc. in the exam.

To arrange for the exam, you should contact the appropriate professor in DWL, who will also be able to advise you on texts to study and how to prepare for the exam. At present, you should contact one of the following:

These contacts may change. If you cannot reach the proper person, or you wish to take an examination for a language not listed, contact the DWL main office. Most language professors will arrange to give an acceptable exam at the conclusion of an intermediate-level language course. This is not necessarily the normal exam for such classes, so you must speak to them ahead of time to see if it is possible to arrange. It is not currently the policy of the department to accept a passing grade in such a course in lieu of the exam, but if you have had many courses in a language or can otherwise demonstrate proficiency far beyond the intermediate level, talk to the Director of Graduate Studies to see if you can be exempted from the exam.

It is your responsibility to arrange for a language proficiency examination. You must pass all required language exams before taking the comprehensive examination.