Foreign Language

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You can complete the Arts & Sciences language requirement in either of two ways:

Option 1 - Successfully complete one intermediate course of 3 or more credits at Cornell at the 2000 level or above.

Option 2 - Successfully complete at least 11 credits of study (2 or 3 semesters) in a single foreign language taken in the appropriate sequence at Cornell.

If you plan to continue in a previously studied language, you must take a placement test to determine the correct level for enrollment. Online placement tests in several commonly-taught languages are available online.

If an online placement test is not available, then consult the course descriptions to determine which course seems more appropriate for you. You may change your enrollment after taking a placement test during Orientation.

For a list of foreign languages and fall course offerings, please see here.

Please keep in mind the following:

  • If you plan to continue studying a language taken in high school, we recommend you do so in your freshman or sophomore year.
  • If you wish to start a new language at Cornell, be aware that the first course is usually only offered in the fall semester.
  • If you hope to study abroad in a non-English speaking country, additional language instruction beyond the intermediate level may be required. (Learn about the College's policy by attending the A&S study abroad information session at the start of the semester.)

Frequently Asked Questions

I studied a foreign language in high school, but I'm not confident in my abilities, and I'd like to enroll in a lower-level course than I placed into. Is this all right?
No, it is not. Departments require that students enroll in the course indicated by their placement exams.

I am already fluent in another language. Can I be exempted from the language requirement?
Exemptions may be granted under the following circumstances:

1. Completion of secondary education at a foreign institution where the language of instruction was not English.
2. Native or near-native proficiency in speaking, reading, and writing a second language, as determined by examination.
If you are fluent in a language that is not offered for study at Cornell, it may be possible to arrange for testing in that language, but test availability is not guaranteed. Contact the Academic Advising Office for further information.
Can I use AP, IB or A-Level credits to fulfill the language requirement?
No. These scores may be used for placement into a higher-level course, but will not fulfill the requirement. 
After I fulfill the language requirement, can I still study another language at Cornell?
Absolutely!  Many Cornell students study more than one language, or continue in language study beyond the college requirement.