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Academics Overview

Students holding class outdoors

Students meet for their course section outdoors on a nice day.

The Language Requirement

All Stanford undergraduate students are required to complete one year of college-level study or the equivalent in a foreign language. There is more than one way to meet this requirement. Read more about how to satisfy this requirement by clicking on Language Requirement here or in the menu to the left.

Students who have fulfilled the language requirement with official test scores or transfer credit and wish to pursue further study in the language must take the placement test to determine the most appropriate course for them.

Beyond the Language Requirement

Language programs at Stanford University housed in the language departments (Asian Languages, French and Italian, German Studies, Slavic, and Spanish and Portuguese) as well as through the Center itself (Arabic, Hebrew, Swahili, as well as an array of additional less-commonly taught languages) have committed themselves to imparting to students a set of second language literacies. This means that beyond having students informed about the belles lettres of the cultures they choose to study, all Stanford language programs are also committed to having students use their speaking, listening, reading and writing in the language of their choice for learning in all of their academic and personal endeavors.

For all languages at Stanford, proficiency objectives in each of the skill areas have been established for one year of study. For the most commonly taught languages (such as French, German, and Spanish), listening, speaking, reading, and writing objectives are set at the intermediate-mid level of the ACTFL-FSI scale [American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages-Foreign Service Institute]. In the non-cognate languages, the levels are set at novice high on the ACTFL-FSI scale. Students in each language program are assessed annually. Their performances indicate that they do indeed meet these objectives after one year (30 weeks) of foreign language instruction. Clearly, the Stanford language programs meet a high national standard. In addition to these fundamental standards that all programs meet, individual programs may meet additional objectives that are particularly important or specially reflective of their program traditions and student interests.

Undergraduate Programs

There are a variety of opportunities to major or minor in foreign languages, literatures, and cultures at Stanford. Administration of such majors and minors is handled by the Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages (DLCL), which combines five departments: Comparative Literature, French & Italian, German Studies, Iberian and Latin American Cultures, and Slavic Languages and Literatures..

Learn more about majors and minors

Graduate Programs

Graduate students from all departments and schools are welcome to enroll in language courses at Stanford. Information about available courses can be found in the "Programs" and "Languages" pages within this website. General and schedule information can be found in the Stanford Bulletin, Explore Courses, under School of Humanities and Sciences.

The Division of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages (DLCL) offers several Ph.D. and M.A. programs, as well as co-terminal M.A.s for Stanford undergraduates and Ph.D. minors.

Learn more about graduate programs in the DLCL