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Language Requirement


To receive the degree of Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science, candidates must fulfill a foreign language requirement. The foreign language requirement can be fulfilled by:

“(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.”

(Swarthmore College Bulletin; Degree Requirements)

    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 freshmen year, talk with us on how you could catch up during the summer or while studying abroad.

    Did you know that studying a second language can improve your skills and grades in math and English and can improve entrance exam scores—SATs, ACTs, GREs, MCATs, and LSATs?

    Research has shown that math and verbal SAT scores climb higher with each additional year of foreign language study, which means that the longer you study a foreign language, the stronger your skills become to succeed in school. Studying a foreign language can improve your analytic and interpretive capacities. And three years of language study on your record will catch the eye of anyone reading your job or college application. If you’ve already learned a language other than English at home, expanding your knowledge of its vocabulary, grammar, culture, and literature—at the same time you are learning English—will also improve your chances for success in school and in your career.1

    Check out this document for information on how to build a successful career with foreign language proficiency.


    ¹Cited from

    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 Center

    The Language Center 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