Requirements and Placement Guide

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Core Curriculum Language Requirement

As part of the Core Curriculum, undergraduate students must have third-semester competency in another language in addition to English at the time of their graduation. Students are encouraged to fulfill this requirement during their freshman and sophomore years at USD. There are a number of ways in which this can be done:

  1. Completing the third-semester course (201) in any of the nine languages offered at USD: Arabic, Chinese, Classical Greek, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Spanish
  2. Alternate credit:
    • Competency exam - This exam cannot be taken more than twice in a given semester and there needs to be at least a month between the two exam dates. It should not be confused with the Placement Exam (see below.) Note: No units are awarded upon successful completion of the competency exam. The DARS will reflect "waived by exam" in the language section to indicate that the requirement has been fulfilled.
    • Transferring credit from another college or university - The student must take USD's placement exam and submit a prior to taking a language course elsewhere.
    • Advanced Credit - Sufficiently high scores on the following tests: AP or IB
    • Waiver of Proficiency - A waiver of the language requirement will be written for any student who completed high school outside the United States as long as it was not at a British or American school. All classes (other than English or another language) had to have been conducted in the student's first language. Students who meet these requirements must submit an unofficial copy of their high school transcript in person to the department chair (Dr. Michèle Magnin, Founders 138).

Placement in a Language Program

All students--with only one exception noted below–-must take the Placement Exam before taking any language courses at USD (or at another college or university if they intend to transfer it). This is a diagnostic tool, and students should not study for it nor receive any outside assistance. Students who have never been exposed to the language they wish to study may request a waiver of placement in order to enroll directly in 101.

Placement results are valid only for the academic year in which they were obtained. The Placement Exam may only be taken once without the express consent of the Director of Placement or the Department Chair.

Students who place into 202 or upper division have two options to fulfill the Core Curriculum language requirement:

  • take 202 or an upper-division course, selected in consultation with the Director of that language program, or
  • take the Competency Exam (which should be done as soon as possible).

Students who place high are well poised to begin a Major or Minor in the Department of Languages, Cultures and Literatures.

Transfer of Credit for a Language Course

If the student plans to take a language class at another institution he or she must take USD's Placement Exam (or file a Waiver, if appropriate) and must not enroll in the class before receiving a placement determination. Students who violate this policy risk not receiving credit for the course taken.  Courses taken must be in the classroom.  We do not accept online or hybrid courses.

For complete information on departmental transfer policies and procedures, see Transferring Credit. Students who violate this policy risk not receiving credit for the course taken.

Majors and Minors

Students who wish to continue their language studies and earn a major or a minor should consult with the Department website and/or Chair for more information. Majors are offered in French, Italian Studies, and Spanish; Minors in French, German, Italian, and Spanish. In addition, there are a number of interdisciplinary programs that include language courses in Chinese, Japanese, Latin and Greek as well as French, German, Italian, and Spanish.

Additional Resources

See Frequently Asked Questions for language placement and alternate credit policies.