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Participants gather for a group photo at the ODU Graduate Program in International Studies’ Annual Graduate Research Conference. College of Arts and Letters

Graduate Program in International Studies:Language Requirements

Foreign Language Requirement in GPIS

The GPIS Program would very much like to see you succeed in satisfying the Foreign Language Requirement (FLR) early in your graduate career.

Masters candidates may complete their language requirement either before or after their Comprehensive Exams, but must pass before their graduate tenure expires (MA: 6; PhD: 8). Extension of graduate tenure will only be considered for exceptional circumstances; documentation will be required. It is highly recommended that the FLR be completed before taking the Comprehensive Exams. Ph.D. candidates must fulfill the FLR before scheduling the Comprehensive Examination.

International students with a mother tongue other than English may receive a waiver from the Foreign Languages Department Chair provided they submit documentation (high school diploma, for example) that demonstrates aptitude in reading, writing, speaking and listening.


Level of Proficiency

For the purposes of meeting the language requirement in GPIS, all Master and Doctoral candidates should demonstrate language proficiency at the third-year college level, equivalent to the ACTFL Guidelines to Intermediate High reading level.

Intermediate High: Readers should be able to read consistently with full understanding simple connected texts dealing with basic personal and social needs about which the reader has personal interest and/or knowledge. Reader can get some main ideas and information from texts at the next higher level featuring description and narration. Structural complexity may interfere with comprehension; for example, basic grammatical relations may be misinterpreted and temporal references may rely primarily on lexical items. Has some difficulty with the cohesive factors in discourse, such as matching pronouns with referents. While texts do not differ significantly from those at the Advanced level, comprehension is less consistent. Readers may have to read material several times for understanding.

The Plan

1) All graduate students are expected to submit a written plan by the end of their first semester of their graduate study at ODU to the Assistant Director. The plan should clearly state how s/he would work to achieve the required language proficiency level.

2) In their first semester at ODU, students should take a Placement Exam at the Office of Prior Learning Assessment if their foreign language is: French, German, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese-please contact Dr. Huizar for other languages.

3) If the student has had significant academic experience in the language, s/he can schedule a translation exam is offered for: French, German, Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese. The exam fee is 30% of current tuition rate (currently $270 for 3 credits) assessed by the Office Prior Learning Assessment; the exam is proctored and evaluated by faculty in Foreign Languages. Only passing exams are charged the fee.

4) Examinations of less commonly taught languages must be done either through ACTFL or a recognized military institute (all examination fees run at the cost of the student).

A passing score is 75%. Students scoring lower than 69% will be asked to complete elementary (101/102, 201/202 based on placement at the Testing Center) language courses at ODU or a local community college. Self-study (even with the aid of language software) has proven not to be an effective means of preparation.

Various Options

Below are the various options for fulfilling the language requirement:

a) French, German, Spanish

Option A: Take course at ODU: FR/GER/SPAN 311, FR/GER/SPAN 312 [min. grade of B-]

Option B: 311/312 courses transferred from another institution

Option C: Translation Exam through the Office of Prior Learning Assessment [75% passing score]

b) Chinese, Japanese

Option A: CHIN/JAPN 311, CHIN/JAPN 312 [minimum grade of B-]

Option B: 311/312 courses transferred from another institution

Option C: Translation Exam through the Office of Prior Learning Assessment [75% passing score]

c) Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew, Italian, Russian [languages not taught at the 300-level]

Option B: 311/312 courses transferred from another institution

Option C: Translation Exam through the Office of Prior Learning Assessment [75% passing score]

  • Or, if you speak, read and write a language other than what is offered at ODU and you received general education (high school or undergraduate work) in that language you may petition for a waiver.

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