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Language Requirement

Wind Art outside of Kohlburg Hall

Sculpture “Back From Rio” (Alexander Calder, 1959) near Kohlberg Hall.
(Photo: Alina Jara Yupanqui)

To receive the degree of Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science, candidates must fulfill a foreign language requirement. To meet Degree Requirements as outlined in the Swarthmore College Bulletin, candidates must have done at least one of the following:

“(a) Successfully studied 3 years or the "block" equivalent of a single foreign language during grades 9 through 12 (work done before grade 9 cannot be counted, regardless of the course level);
(b) Achieved a score of 600 or better on a standard achievement test of a foreign language;
(c) Passed either the final term of a college-level, yearlong, introductory foreign language course or a semester-long intermediate foreign language course; or
(d) Learned English as a foreign language while remaining demonstrably proficient in another.”

    If you have fulfilled your language requirement, the Department encourages you to use your time at Swarthmore to become truly proficient in that language, or even to discover a new one.

    If your placement recommendation placed you out of the language sequence, consider taking introductory and/or advanced courses, many of which fulfill the Writing Course requirement.

    Are you planning to begin a new language at Swarthmore?

    In order to have useful proficiency in that language, be sure to enroll in the beginner classes during your first year. If you discovered a new language after your freshman year, talk with us on how you could catch up during the summer or while studying abroad.

    Please read the brochure Language Study in the Age of Globalization: The College-Level Experience, which explains how knowing other languages will enrich your personal life, expand your range of professional opportunities, and increase your power to act as a citizen of the world.

    Choose a Language Program

    Language Study in the Age of Globalization

    This brochure by the Modern Language Association is directed primarily to college students. It​ explains how knowing other languages enriches students’ personal lives, expands their range of professional opportunities, and increases their power to act as citizens of the world.


    Language Media Lab

    The Language Media Lab provides resources to enhance the study of foreign language, literature, and culture at Swarthmore College. Students have access to audio/video materials required for foreign language classes. The lab's resources include 12 Macbook Pros, 8 iMacs, an extensive library of foreign films, video cameras, and audio recorders. The space is a unique, adaptable, multimedia-friendly place to study, practice and develop language skills. 

    Learn More