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Foreign Language Requirement

Soumaya Museum

Soumaya Museum, Plaza Carso, Mexico City, Mexico

“It is most desirable that students include in their programs some work in a foreign language, beyond the basic language requirement.” Swarthmore College Bulletin, Educational Program (Section 7.2. Program for the First and Second Years)

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 of a single foreign language during grades 9 through 12 (work done before grade 9 cannot be counted, regardless of the course level);
  • B. successfully completing the final term of a college-level, year-long, introductory foreign language course or a semester-long intermediate or advanced foreign language course; or
  • C. for students who have learned English as a foreign language; demonstrate proficiency in another language.

In this regard, please note that the Spanish Placement Test is not a substitute for an official standard achievement test of a foreign language. Therefore, it does not serve as proof of achievement for the purpose of fulfilling the language requirement. This test is only intended to assist instructors in placing students in the appropriate Spanish courses at Swarthmore. (The Spanish Placement Test is required for all students with previous experience in the language who are planning to take classes at Swarthmore, including students with AP/IB scores.)

If you need to complete the language requirement, plan your Spanish courses during your first semester at Swarthmore to avoid scheduling conflicts with other courses required for your major at a later stage. Spanish classes can help you structure and maintain a daily study routine, which can be very helpful in your first year. They can also help you anchor your place at Swarthmore by building close relationships with your classmates. The department faculty is ready to support you, and provide the best advice on course selection.

The Registrar recommends that students fulfill the language requirement before their junior year.  Students can check its completion status on mySwarthmore Degree Audit.

Students cannot fulfill the requirement through summer language courses.


If you have fulfilled your language requirement, the Department encourages you to use your time at Swarthmore to become truly proficient in Spanish. Consider taking any of our introductory courses: SPAN 008, 012, 015, 022 and 023 are officially designated Writing Courses, and as such they fulfill the Writing Course Requirement.

If you have any doubts or concerns, please consult the chair of the department.

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