Language Requirement FAQ

Language Requirement Policy FAQs

As part of the Language Requirement Policy, each candidate for the degree of Bachelor of Arts must show, ordinarily before the beginning of her senior year, that she has some proficiency in the use of at least one language, ancient or modern, other than English.

Nevertheless, some of you may have a question or two. Below you can find some answers. If in doubt, please check with the chair of the department (or director of the program) that offers the language you are interested in. 

 

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What if … I want to try something new and begin study of a language at Wellesley?

We encourage you to do that. Wellesley offers 15 language options and you will probably never again have the chance to study these languages in such a congenial environment and with such expert and dedicated teachers. Remember, to fulfill the College’s Language Requirement you must complete two units of study of the language at the second-year college level (that means completing 101, 102, 201 & 202 in the language you choose; for Latin it means completing 200 and 201). Some departments offer intensive language courses—103 & 203—that allow you to fulfill the language requirement in one year. If you go for either of these options you would be well-advised to begin your language study in your first semester, since you usually can’t start a new elementary language course in the spring term

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What if … I want to carry on with a language I’ve already studied and love?

We like that too. To make sure you end up in the right course, we will need to know how proficient you are in the language.

For students entering in the fall of 2020 or later, if you passed the Advanced Placement Examination with a score of 5; or passed a IIB Higher Level Language Exam with a score of 5 or above, you may complete the language requirement by completion of one unit of work taught in that language in an advanced course identified by the department or program.  Then you can take some of the many courses that departments and programs offer in the literature, culture and history of the nations and regions where that language is spoken

 

For students who entered prior to the fall of 2020, if you passed the SAT II exam with a score of at least 690; or passed the Advanced Placement Examination with a score of 5; or passed a Higher Level IB language exam with a score of 5, 6 or 7, you have already fulfilled Wellesley’s Language Requirement and you can take some of the many courses that departments and programs offer in the literature, culture and history of the nations and regions where that language is spoken. If you are not quite at that level, your other option is to take the appropriate department’s or program’s placement test. On the basis of your result, you will either be allowed to place out of the language requirement on condition that you complete one course taught in the language above the 202 level or you will be placed in a language course appropriate for your level in the language.  

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What if … I am a heritage speaker, someone who is very proficient in the language but has no paperwork to show how proficient I am?

All you have to do is go to the department or program where the language is spoken to request permission to be exempted from the language requirement (you may need to take a placement test to see if your actual level is good enough). Some departments will approve this exemption without further courses, while others may ask you to take one upper level course. If your language is not taught at Wellesley, you can talk with your class dean about how to present any documentation you have to the Academic Review Board. In the past, students, for example, presented a letter from a person with an academic position at another school who is able to assess the student's level of fluency and certify that it is sufficiently high. This is typically, but not always, a language instructor at another American university. 

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What if … I want college-level language courses I took elsewhere to count at Wellesley?

This too depends on the department or program. After having examined the courses you have completed, they will tell you whether you have to take a placement test and/or enroll in an additional course in the language on campus. At the discretion of the department or program, language courses taken at the college level (for example in the case of transfer students) can be applied towards the language requirement.