Scheduling World (Foreign) Language Courses

Any student may schedule any world (foreign) language by following the Placement Policy for Penn State Foreign Language Courses. Some students are required to schedule a language to meet either major or bachelor of arts (B.A.) degree requirements. A list of World (Foreign) Language Requirements in University Park Majors is provided to help students compare major requirements.

When a student is required to take a world language, this requirement is listed in the Undergraduate Degree Programs Bulletin under the requirements for the major, or—if the degree is a B.A.—the heading "Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements" is listed.

Although a world language is not a requirement for General Education, a world language course may be used as a General Education substitution.

Languages Offered

Courses in the following languages are offered at Penn State:

Languages Offered at Penn State.
Languages Offered:
Arabic Japanese
Chinese Korean
French Latin (see placement policy below)
German Portuguese
Classical Greek (see placement policy below) Russian
Hebrew Spanish
Hindi Swahili
Italian Ukrainian

Less commonly taught languages may be in LionPATH Search for Classes (tutorial: Searching for classes) under the course abbreviation LANG (less commonly taught language), as shown below:

View of less commonly used language course listing in LionPATH.

Language Placement Policy

The Placement Policy for Penn State Foreign Language Courses provides an explanation of this policy, which has been approved by the Interdepartmental Council on Languages and Literatures. A student who has questions about his/her language placement should contact the department offering the language of interest. There are two exceptions to this policy, accelerated language courses and Latin (below).

Accelerated Courses

Students enrolling in accelerated language courses are not required to follow the Placement Policy for Penn State Foreign Language Courses. These courses are offered in a few languages during the academic year: French 111 and 112, Italian 10 and 20, and Spanish 10 and 20. Accelerated courses are also offered by Penn State's Summer Intensive Language Institute.

Greek and Latin Courses

Both Greek and Latin are exempt from the University's language placement policy; students can earn credit at any level regardless of their high school background. The Department of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies (CAMS) provides information and guidance for selecting Greek and Latin courses. CAMS has developed a Latin placement guide and also offers a Latin Placement Exam and answers to this exam. The Latin course sequence is LATIN 101 (4 credits), 102 (4 credits), and 203 (4 credits). The Greek course sequence is GREEK 101 (4 credits), 102 (4 credits), and any 400-level GREEK course (3 credits). These 11 credits in Greek will satisfy the 12-credit level of proficiency required for B.A. degrees.

Determining High School Background for Placement

To guide their selection of courses in world languages, students and academic advisers can check the advisee's Student Center in LionPATH (Academics, Academic Background, Test Results/View All) to find the units of language(s) a student earned in high school, as shown below.

LionPATH view of displayed High School background for language placement.

In addition, information about the student’s native language is provided.

If a student who completed high school in May 2001 or later did not complete at least two units of the same world language at the high school level, he/she must make up this deficiency (see World Language Admission Requirement).

If you have questions about a student's language background, contact Undergraduate Admissions.

Exemption from a Language Requirement

A student who is competent in a world language (either as a native speaker of that language or as a native English speaker) can become exempt from a language requirement by contacting the department offering that language to request proficiency verification.

Proficiency Certification and Credit by Examination

Students who are proficient in a world language may be able to earn credit by exam or non-credit proficiency certification. Credits can only be earned or certified as allowed by the Placement Policy for Penn State Foreign Language Courses. For example, a student who earned four units of high school Spanish places into SPAN 3. He/she may earn credit by exam or seek proficiency certification for SPAN 3 but not for SPAN 1 or 2.

The College of the Liberal Arts provides information for students and advisers about Proficiency Certification and Credit by Examination.

For additional information, contact the appropriate language department or the School of Languages and Literatures (427 Burrowes Building; 814-865-1168).

Language Assistance

Tutoring in many languages is available from Penn State Learning.


Last Update: May 2016

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