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The Language Requirement

General Education Requirements are listed in the Stanford Bulletin.

Stanford undergraduate students are required to complete one year of college-level study or the equivalent in a foreign language. Students may fulfill the requirement in any one of the following ways:

  • Completing the first-year language course sequence (4-5 units per course) at Stanford or the equivalent at another recognized postsecondary institution, subject to current University transfer credit policies. Note that online and hybrid language courses do not fulfill the language requirement.*  Language courses at Stanford may be taken with the Credit/No Credit grading basis, if so offered, to fulfill the requirement. 
  • Scoring 4 or 5 on a foreign language Advanced Placement (AP) exam prior to college matriculation. AP Literature scores are not accepted.
    Registrar's Office AP Credit Chart
  • Scoring a 5 or higher on a foreign language higher level International Baccalaureate (IB) exam prior to college matriculation.
    Registrar's Office IB Credit Chart
  • Achieving a satisfactory score on the SAT-II Subject Test in the following languages prior to college matriculation:
    • Chinese: 630
    • French: 640
    • German: 630
    • Modern Hebrew: 540
    • Italian: 630
    • Japanese: 620
    • Korean: 630
    • Latin: 630
    • Spanish: 630
  • Taking a placement test in a particular language and receiving a placement beyond first year courses in that language.

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.

International students whose native language is not English may contact the Language Center to inquire about an exemption from the language requirement. Note that, for the purposes of the language requirement, a "native speaker" is someone who has completed 10 or more years of schooling (all subjects) in a language other than English. Verification may be requested.

*Note: While the Language Center generally does not accept online coursework to fulfill the undergraduate language requirement, during the COVID-19 pandemic (until further notice),  online language courses taken outside Stanford may fulfill the university language requirement, if they meet the following criteria (online Stanford language courses are already designed to meet this criteria):

  • Must be given by a fully accredited institution of higher education
  • Must be at least 50 contact hours (interactive class time)
  • Must include an oral proficiency component
  • Must complete a first-year, college-level textbook
  • Must be approved by the Language Center through the transfer credit approval (or pre-approval) process