LANGUAGE REQUIREMENT: Can you explain the foreign language requirement?

Yes! Yes we can. 

Degree candidates must meet a language requirement in a language other than English that is taught at Harvard or for which an appropriate examination can be given. The College affirms that the learning of a language other than English is an essential component of a liberal art and sciences education and that this learning should allow a student to develop first-hand understanding of linguistic and cultural variety.  The language requirement demands rigorous study but does not require a particular format of study or examination.  Students should be taught in all forms of a language that are customary in the practice of that language. The requirement can be satisfied in one of the following ways:

  • Earning a minimum score of 700 on a College Entrance Examination Board SAT II Test in a language other than English, a score of 5 on a relevant Advanced Placement examination, or a score of 7 on a relevant International Baccalaureate examination;
  • Earning a passing score as determined by the department on a placement examination administered by certain language departments;
  • Passing with a letter grade one appropriate year-long course (8 credits) or two semester-long courses (4 credits each) in one language at Harvard, or the equivalent as determined by the appropriate language department. These courses may not include foreign literature courses conducted in English;
  • Passing with a letter grade a language course or courses at the appropriate level taken in Harvard programs abroad, as approved by the appropriate language department. Study completed at other institutions may also fulfill the requirement if approved by the appropriate language department whether through examination or on the basis of achieving a minimum grade;
  • A student whose high school education was conducted in a language other than English may satisfy the language requirement with evidence of the official high school transcript;
  • A student who claims fluency in a language other than English may satisfy the language requirement through satisfactory completion of an examination in the relevant language, provided that an appropriate examination can be given.  If the language is not one that is offered at Harvard, and if a qualified examiner, as determined by the Office of Undergraduate Education, cannot be identified, the student must meet the language requirement with another language;
  • No student may take the relevant departmental examination more than once for the purpose of meeting the language requirement.

Details on language placement exams, including the process for registering for these exams and FAQs, can be found on the Placement Exams Information website.

 

More information here: https://classics.fas.harvard.edu/college-language-requirement