Foreign Language

Not all colleges require foreign language beyond UW admissions requirement of two high school years or two college quarter. However, some majors might. Consult our page on General Education Requirements by College and School for more information. 

If deafness, speech impairment, or a certified learning disability would interfere significantly with your study of a foreign language, you can petition to be allowed to substitute coursework about a foreign culture for language requirements. 

Recommendations

  1. If you plan to continue the foreign language you took in high school, we encourage you to complete your foreign language requirement right away, while what you’ve learned is still fresh in your mind.
  2. If you’re considering majors in colleges such as business or nursing, which don’t require any foreign language beyond the UW’s admission requirement, you may want to postpone language study—although in most colleges you can count foreign language courses toward VLPA if you complete the third-quarter course.
  3. You should get started on your foreign language courses right away. Some last-quarter seniors don’t graduate on time because they fail to complete the third-quarter course with at least a 2.0 grade.
  4. Although the UW offers 10- and 15-credit intensive language instruction in Summer quarter, many students find these courses more difficult than regular language instruction.

 

Languages taught at the UW
Language & Intro CourseDepartmentFor more information
American Sign Language
ASL 101
LinguisticsVisit Website
Arabic
ARAB 411
Near Eastern Languages and CivilizationVisit Website
Bengali
BENG 311
Asian Languages & LiteratureVisit Website
Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian
BCS 401
Slavic Languages and LiteraturesVisit Website
Bulgarian
BULGR 401
Slavic Languages and LiteraturesVisit Website
Burmese
JSIS 486
International StudiesEmail Department
Chinese (Mandarin)
CHIN 101 or 111
Asian Languages & LiteratureVisit Website
Czech
CZECH 401
Slavic Languages and LiteraturesVisit Website
Danish
DANISH 101
Scandinavian StudiesVisit Website
Estonian
ESTO 101
Scandinavian StudiesVisit Website
Finnish
FINN 101
Scandinavian StudiesVisit Website
French
FRENCH 101 or 110
French and Italian StudiesVisit Website
German
GERMAN 101 or 111
GermanVisit Website
Greek (Classical)
GREEK 101
ClassicsVisit Website
Greek (Modern)
JSIS E 111
International StudiesEmail Department
Hebrew (Biblical)
HEBR 414
Near Eastern Languages and CivilizationVisit Website
Hebrew (Modern)
HEBR 411
Near Eastern Languages and CivilizationVisit Website
Hindi
HINDI 311
Asian Languages & LiteratureVisit Website
Indonesian
INDON 111
Asian Languages & LiteratureVisit Website
Italian
ITAL 101 or 111
French and Italian StudiesVisit Website
Japanese
JAPAN 101
Asian Languages & LiteratureVisit Website
Kazakh
TKIC 414
Near Eastern Languages and CivilizationVisit Website
Khmer
JSIS 486
International StudiesEmail Department
Korean
KOREAN 101
Asian Languages & LiteratureVisit Website
Latin
LATIN 101
ClassicsVisit Website
Latvian
LATV 101
Scandinavian StudiesVisit Website
Lithuanian
LITH 101
Scandinavian StudiesVisit Website
Norwegian
NORW 101
Scandinavian StudiesVisit Website
Persian
PRSAN 411
Near Eastern Languages and CivilizationVisit Website
Polish
POLSH 401
Slavic Languages and LiteraturesVisit Website
Portuguese
PORT 101 or 110
Spanish and Portuguese StudiesVisit Website
Russian
RUSS 101
Slavic Languages and LiteraturesVisit Website
Sanskrit
SNKRT 301
Asian Languages & LiteratureVisit Website
Slovenian
SLVN 401
Slavic Languages and LiteraturesVisit Website
Spanish
SPAN 101, 110, or 121
Spanish and Portuguese StudiesVisit Website
Swahili
SWA 101
American Ethnic StudiesEmail Department
Swedish
SWED 101
Scandinavian StudiesVisit Website
Tagalog (Filipino)
TAGLG 101
American Ethnic StudiesEmail Department
Thai
THAI 111
Asian Languages & LiteratureVisit Website
Turkish
TKISH 411
Near Eastern Languages and CivilizationVisit Website
Ukranian
UKR 401
Slavic Languages and LiteraturesVisit Website
Urdu
URDU 311
Asian Languages & LiteratureVisit Website
Uyghur
TKC 417
Near Eastern Languages and CivilizationVisit Website
Uzbek
TKIC 411
Near Eastern Languages and CivilizationVisit Website
Vietnamese
VIET 111
Asian Languages & LiteratureVisit Website
Grades required

You must achieve at least a 2.0 grade in the third quarter of the foreign language. The third-quarter course may not be taken on the satisfactory/not satisfactory (S/NS) grading option.

Any passing grade, including an S on the S/NS grading option, in the fourth or higher quarter of a language will also satisfy the requirement.

Placement and proficiency tests

If you plan to continue the foreign language you took in high school, you must take a placement test to determine the level at which you should resume the language. In most languages, if you have transferred college credit, you may simply continue the language with the next quarter. Alternatively, if you have no background in a language, for most languages you can just start with the first class in the sequence.

If you place into the fourth quarter of a foreign language, or higher, your placement test score alone exempts you from the Arts and Sciences foreign language requirement. Placement tests taken at other universities or colleges do not exempt you from the UW's language requirement.

Humanities Academic Services coordindates placement and proficiency testing for many languages, but not all. In some cases you will need to contact an individual department or school to make arrangements. Consult the above 'Languages taught at the UW' to make that determination. If the language that you are proficient in is not offered at the University of Washington, you can go through the UW Language Learning Center to be tested for proficiency .

Overlap with other requirements

Courses used to satisfy the foreign language requirement can also count toward your major, if applicable. They may also count towards the Arts & Humanities (A&H) component of your Areas of Inquiry requirement. See below.

All colleges

  • Language instruction courses at the second-year level and beyond may be counted toward the A&H requirement.

College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Social Work

  • The entire first year of the language used to meet the foreign-language graduation requirement cannot also count toward A&H.
  • First-year courses in a language that is not being used for the foreign-language requirement may be counted toward A&H, but only if you complete the third-quarter course.

All other colleges

  • First-year courses may be counted toward A&H, but only if you complete the third-quarter course.

In other words

If your major is in a College or School that requires the foreign language graduation requirement, none of the first-year courses you take to meet the foreign language requirement — first, second, and third quarter — count toward the A&H requirement. All courses in a second foreign language can be counted toward A&H, provided you complete at least the third college quarter of the language. You may choose which language to use for the language requirement and which to count toward A&H.

If your major is in a College or School that does not require the foreign language graduation requirement, then all of your first-year foreign language courses count toward the A&H requirement, provided you complete at least the third quarter.

All courses at the second-year level and beyond will count toward A&H — if taken for a grade and not S/NS.

AP and IB

If you achieved a score of 3, 4, or 5 on a College Board Advanced Placement foreign language examination, you will receive 5, 10, or 15 college credits at the second-year level. This satisfies the foreign language requirement, and the credit also counts toward A&H. See the AP tables for more information.

If you achieve a score of 5, 6, or 7 on an International Baccalaureate Program Higher Level foreign language exam, you will receive 5, 10, or 15 credits at the second-year level. This satisfies the foreign language requirement, and the credit also counts toward A&H. See the IB tables for more information.

For transfer students

Transfer college credits in a foreign language satisfy this requirement if you complete the third quarter or second semester with at least a 2.0 grade (or a higher-level course with any passing grade), and if the entire first-year sequence would transfer as at least 12 quarter credits.

Transfer students who completed college coursework in their high school language of admission are allowed credit for the first quarter of the language, if the course was taken before admission to the UW.

Students who enter under the Direct Transfer Agreement are not exempt from the foreign language requirement.

For postbaccalaureate students

Postbaccalaureate students are not required to complete the foreign language requirement.

High school duplication

If, after your admission to the UW, you start over again in the foreign language you took for two or more years in high school and used for admission, the first college quarter is considered a duplication and you are not awarded college credit. The course and grade will appear on your college transcript, but will not count toward your credit total or your GPA. You will receive credit for all language courses from the second quarter on.

Even when the first quarter of the language is considered high school duplication, the course is counted in your credit total when tuition is assessed, and is also counted for the purposes of quarterly financial aid, veterans benefits, or a student visa. (Note, however, that it will not count toward the 36 credits per year required by financial aid.)

If you take the placement test and place into the first quarter of your high-school language, and you wish to continue studying that language, you must start with the first quarter even though it will not count toward the total credits required for graduation.

English as second language

You are exempt from the foreign language requirement if you spoke a language other than English in your home during the first six years of your childhood, and it was the language in which you received instruction in school through the seventh grade. See the Office of Admissions to have it recorded in your record that you are a native speaker of another language.

If you do not meet this definition, you may still be able to pass a proficiency test in your language.

Making up an admission deficiency

You have an admission deficiency in foreign language if you lack the University admission requirement of two units (years) of one foreign language in high school. If you lack this admission requirement, normally you must make it up with college coursework before transferring to the UW. A passing grade in the second college quarter of a foreign language removes the admission deficiency. UW Placement into the third quarter of a foreign language will also remove the deficiency.

Students with foreign language deficiencies are occasionally admitted by petition. If you are a prospective student, contact the UW's Office of Educational Assessment to learn about taking a foreign language placement test. Contact the Office of Admissions if you have questions about the foreign language admission requirements.

The foreign language courses you take to remove an admission deficiency can also count toward the foreign language graduation requirement. Although courses taken pass/fail can be used to make up an admission deficiency, you must take the third quarter of the foreign language for a grade, and receive at least a 2.0, if you plan to use the course to satisfy the foreign language graduation requirement.