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Department of

Languages, Cultures and Literatures


The mission of the Department of Languages and Literatures is the development of students’ communicative and linguistic proficiency, intercultural competence, and skills in critical thinking through the study of languages, literatures, and other forms of cultural production. We are dedicated to excellence in teaching in these areas and producing original scholarly and creative contributions to our disciplines. Our mission speaks directly to the University’s commitment to academic excellence, providing students with an enriching liberal arts education, and preparing them to engage responsibly in diverse local, national, and international realities.  

The department offers undergraduate studies in nine different languages with majors in French, Italian Studies, and Spanish; minors in French, German, Italian, and Spanish; and courses up to fourth-semester proficiency in Ancient Greek, Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Japanese, and Latin. In addition, the Department's courses form a part of a number of interdisciplinary programs including Asian Studies, Latin American Studies, and Medieval and Renaissance Studies as well as the Bilingual Credential Program and Interdisciplinary Humanities program. By its very nature, the Department contributes significantly to the internationalization of the curriculum and cultural diversity at USD.

Language study is a vital part of an education in the liberal arts. At the lower-division level, the language programs are devised to enable students to acquire the basic structures and vocabulary necessary to communicate effectively in the target language in a variety of settings. Likewise students develop a greater awareness of other cultures, develop skills in intercultural communication, and gain direct access to additional bodies of knowledge. Ultimately, through their language studies, students will be better prepared to participate more fully and actively in the global community.

Upper-division courses provide students with a foundation in the cultural history of the languages, peoples, and regions studied within their socio-political and economic contexts. These courses help students to develop skills in critical thinking, literary and cultural analysis, and clear and effective self expression in both speaking and writing in the target languages. Students enhance their appreciation for and contribution to the level of inclusion and diversity in U.S. and international societies through cultural understanding and linguistic proficiency. Upon completion of the Department's majors, students are well prepared to initiate graduate studies in language, literature, or other disciplines, or to become successful professionals in a number of different areas including international relations, law, health, business, and education, among many others.