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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 Creaive Writing do not have a language requirement.

MA English (English Studies) Online students should consult the handbook. MTESOL Online students please see the Foreign Language tab. In-person students follow the procedures below:

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. This language is to be selected by the student and is subject to approval by the chair of the supervisory committee. For PhD students, the language requirement must be completed before the student is eligible to take the Ph.D. examinations. This requirement may be met by:

  • 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.The Department of English does not require its graduate students to write papers in the approved language.
  • The School of International Letters and Cultures offers iCourses 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 language examination, administered by the School of International Letters and Cultures, in a language approved by the student’s supervisory committee. There is a $100 fee to take the translation test.
  • Linguistics/TESOL students: 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.
  • 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 enggrad@asu.edu

Language Examination Procedure

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

Beginning with the Spring 2018 exam, 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. Students should pay via money order payable to Arizona State University, and include GFLE on the memo line. They may submit the money order with their application or mail to:

ASU School of International Letters and Cultures
Testing Coordinator
P.O. Box 870202
Tempe, AZ 85287-0202

or click the link to complete the payment online.

If you have questions about payment, please contact Monica Salazar.

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

Things to Remember

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

Those 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 be enrolled in at least one graduate-level English credit during the semester or summer session in which they take the examination.

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.

The language requirement will be waived for students whose native language is not English. 

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. 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.

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