Foreign Language Requirement

  1. General: The student must demonstrate, by equivalencies or exam, reading knowledge of one language other than English. When satisfying this requirement, students are encouraged to choose a foreign language that is appropriate for his or her area of doctoral studies. The Director of Graduate Studies (DGS), the student's mentors, and the student will coordinate in determining the appropriate language. In addition to the foreign language requirement administered by the Graduate Studies Office (GSO), the student's dissertation committee may also recommend more advanced proficiency in the language selected and/or work in an additional language; however, the student is obliged to be tested on (or to provide an equivalent for) only one language. The foreign language requirement must be fulfilled before the student can be admitted to his or her Qualifying Exam and no later than the fifth semester in the program in order to maintain satisfactory progress to degree.
  1. Equivalencies: Equivalencies include: native speaking ability; undergraduate major; passage of an equivalent requirement in another graduate program; a grade of B or better in a 300-level course in the language taken at the University of Maryland after starting the PhD program. A 300-level course must emphasize the fluent use of the language in a variety of formats and all major assignments in the course must be conducted in the language and not in English. The written work for the course must be evaluated for language and style as well as for organizational accuracy and coherence. The DGS will determine whether coursework or other equivalencies are appropriate and sufficiently recent to attest to proficiency.
  2. Timeline: If foreign language equivalency is not fulfilled prior to admission, students have the option of taking a foreign language exam at the end of their first or second semester of the PhD program. Students who have not fulfilled the foreign language requirement by the end of their second semester will test out of or enroll in a pre-requisite entry-level foreign language class in their third semester. Students will have the opportunity of (re-) taking the exam during the first week of their third semester. Students who pass the exam can drop the pre-requisite language class. Students who do not pass will complete (or test out of) the pre-requisite class will have another opportunity of taking the language exam at the end of their third semester. Students who have not fulfilled the foreign language requirement by the end of their third semester will take a 300-level language class in their fourth semester. Students who do not receive a grade of “B” or better in the foreign language class during their fourth semester will re-take the class or/and the language exam in their fifth semester. (Students admitted prior to Fall 2015 must fulfill their foreign language requirement by their 5th semester in the program, and before taking a qualifying exam, but are exempt from the rest of this timeline.)
  3. The Foreign Language Exam: At least one month prior to the exam, students will choose and submit to the GSO for its approval two books of at least 200 pages in the foreign language, one primary work and one secondary work (both works must have been originally written in the target language and may not be translated works). The GSO will determine the appropriateness of the student’s choice. ('Appropriateness' does not necessarily mean that the primary text must come from your period of specialization and that the secondary text must be about your period, simply that the texts are equivalent in difficulty to other texts students are tested on.) Once the student’s choice of texts has been approved, the GSO will assign an appropriate faculty member to administer the exam and provide this faculty member with a set of guidelines and expectations for the foreign language exam. The faculty member administering the exam will choose a 250- to 300-word passage from each, the primary and the secondary work. The student will have three hours to prepare the translation with the help of a dictionary. The faculty administrator will evaluate the translations and determine whether or not the student passed or failed, based on the guidelines provided by the GSO. The GSO will keep on file all exams and make them available to students preparing for the exam.