Foreign Language Requirement

General Information
Academic Affairs

The Foreign Language Requirement Website

The foreign language requirement forms part of Columbia College’s mission to prepare students to be tomorrow’s conscientious and informed citizens. Knowledge of another’s language and literature is the most important way to begin to know a country and people. The study of a foreign language:

  1. Introduces students to world cultures, also making them aware of their own culture within that context;
  2. Informs students of the differences in structure, grammar, and syntax that distinguish languages from each other, and clarifies the intimate links between language and cultural meaning;
  3. Contributes to the development of students’ critical, analytical, and writing skills.

The requirement may be satisfied in one of the following ways:

  1. Satisfactory completion of the second term of an intermediate language sequence.
  2. Demonstration of an equivalent competence through the appropriate score on the SAT II Subject Test or Advanced Placement Tests.
  3. Demonstration of an equivalent competence through the College’s own placement tests (consult the department through which the language is offered).
  4. The successful completion of an advanced level foreign language or literature course that requires 2102 or the equivalent as a prerequisite. This course must be taken for a letter grade.
  5. Students whose native language is not English are not required to take an additional foreign language or an achievement test if they have completed the secondary school requirement in the native language.

Because success in learning a foreign language is dependent on the full engagement of the students enrolled in a language course, all terms of language instruction/conversation courses, whether being used toward fulfillment of the foreign language requirement or not, must be taken in order and for a letter grade. These courses may not be taken for a grade of Pass/D/Fail.

Students wishing to satisfy the requirement in any other language should consult with their advising dean. In some instances, equivalent language courses offered at Barnard College and in the School of General Studies may be used to satisfy the requirement, however, students should speak with the Columbia department to ensure that courses from these schools are approved for the requirement.

Any student who wishes to submit a language course taken at another institution in fulfillment of the language requirement must pass a departmental placement examination.

In order to ensure that students achieve foreign-language proficiency without a significant break in progress, this requirement must be completed before a student can be eligible to study abroad, even if the language of instruction of the study-abroad program is English. For students seeking to study abroad in other languages, more advanced foreign-language study is usually required (see Special Programs).

The following languages are offered in the College toward satisfaction of the requirement: