Language other than English Requirement

All students are required to demonstrate a reading knowledge of at least one foreign language and are strongly encouraged to develop competence in a second. Students consult with the Director and/or their principal advisor(s) to determine the appropriate language on which the student will be tested, based on their interests and program of study. Advisors, moreover, may require the demonstration of reading knowledge in additional languages according to the scholarly demands of the student’s specific field. All language requirements must be satisfied before students are advanced to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree.

Students are encouraged to demonstrate proficiency in an additional language to be eligible to compete for external fellowships requiring two languages other than English. The same options for certification are available for the additional language as the first, but these should be satisfied before fellowship nominations from the program will be considered.

Official language requirements are found in the UCI General Catalogue.

*Note: Students will not be allowed to take the Qualifying Examinations, and in no case will they be advanced to candidacy, until they have satisfied all language requirements. Nor will they be awarded the MA degree.

Ways in which the requirement can be satisfied:
  1. By completing, with a grade of "B" or better, a language course at the 2C level or equivalent, with the exception of Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, which must be completed at the 3C level or equivalent.
  2. By enrolling in and completing, with a grade of "B" or better, one of the following three translation seminars: French/German/Spanish 97, "Fundamentals of French/German/Spanish (with Emphasis on Reading)."
  3. By passing the program's foreign language exam. Students choose the language they wish to test in. This request must be made to the VS Staff within the first two weeks of the quarter the student wishes to take the exam.
  4. By attaining a proficiency level of 2C on the Russian Exemption Exam or a proficiency level of 3C on the Chinese Exemption Exam offered by UCI's Academic Testing Center.
  5. By petitioning the program. Grounds for a petition might include the student being a native speaker a language other than English, or the student having satisfied the language requirement at a previous institution, etc. The granting of this petition remains at the discretion of the VS Director, although students dissatisfied with this determination may request the petition be considered by the full faculty.
What does the program's language exam consist of?
  • This exam consists of the translation of two passages, each approximately 250 words in length.
  • The passages will be texts within the student's general field, written for a broad audience.
  • In the case of European languages, one passage will be translated with the aid of a translation dictionary and one without; in the case of Asian languages, an electronic dictionary may be used for both passages.
  • Students will be given one hour to work on each passage.
  • Passages will not be used more than once.
  • There will not be an oral component to the exam.
  • Tests are conducted in a quiet, closed environment. Students leave their belongings with the VS Staff. Paper, a pencil and a laptop computer with a word processor only will be provided to the student. The exam will be typed.
  • A student can attempt the test only once per quarter.
  • The exam will be graded by a faculty member appropriate to the language. This person is chosen by the program, not the student.
  • It is the responsibility of the student to inform VS Staff within the first two weeks of a given quarter of his/her intent to take the examination for a particular language during that quarter.
  • The Graduate Director will sign off on all language exams.
  • Where possible, VS will make one practice exam available per language. These samples will be culled from exams administered from Fall 2010 forward.
  • The practice exams will indicate the language and the date (quarter/year) administered, but will not provide an "answer key" to the passages for translation.
  • Practice exams are available for download here:
    Spanish (Film and Media Studies)
    Spanish (Visual Arts)
How and with whom do I schedule a program-administered language exam?
  • A request must be made to VS Staff within the first two weeks of the quarter the student wishes to take the exam.
  • Exams will be scheduled and administered between weeks 3-8 of the quarter depending on student and faculty availability.
  • Students work with the VS Staff to find a suitable day and time to complete the exam.
  • Exams will be graded and results communicated to students within 3 weeks of the exam date.
  • VS Staff will prepare the paperwork after a student has passed the exam.
How do I indicate I have completed the necessary coursework?

Once final grades have been posted for the course, contact VS Staff. They will refer to your transcript for verification and prepare the paperwork.

How do I submit a petition to fulfill the requirement?

Contact the VS Staff. For courses and requirements completed at another/previous university, transcripts are required. Other circumstances require differing documentation. For procedural questions, consult with the VS Staff; for content-based questions, consult with the VS Director.