Student Resources

World Languages and Literatures

The Second Language Requirement

As part of SMU's commitment to broaden the global perspectives of its students (Strategic Plan Goal Five), the university requires all students to achieve and demonstrate intermediate-level proficiency (as measured on an accepted international scale) in a second language. See this interactive tutorial for detailed information about meeting this requirement and the other university curriculum components second language courses fulfill.

UC 2012 As a requirement of the 2012 University Curriculum, students who do not meet certain criteria must improve their language proficiency by the equivalent of two college-level semesters.

UC 2016 As a requirement of the 2016 university curriculum students must demonstrate intermediate proficiency by taking and passing a course at the second semester of language study or higher (or the equivalent).

The Second Language Requirement may be met in one of the following ways:

UC 2012

UC 2016

I. Test Credit

A score of 4 or 5 on an Advanced Placement (AP) language exam.

A score of 5, 6, or 7 on the Higher Level (HL) International Baccalaureate (IB) exam.

A score of 640 or above on an SAT II Subject or Subject with Listening exam.

A score of 4 or 5 on an Advanced Placement (AP) language exam.

A score of 5, 6, or 7 on the Higher Level (HL) International Baccalaureate (IB) exam.

A score of 640 or above on an SAT II Subject or Subject with Listening exam.

II. Examination

Students who place into 1st-3rdsemester on the SMU placement exam will meet their requirement taking two semesters of a single language.

Students who place into 4th semester on the SMU placement exam will meet their requirement taking one semester of a single language.

Students who test into 5th semester or above can take one course to fulfill their language requirement, or request additional testing to waive their language requirement.

Achieving an appropriate score on an approved proficiency examination (contact WLL Advisor Brandon Miller).Only those students placing into 3rd semester or above are eligible for this option.

III. Language Study

Take 2 sequential semesters of a language you have not previously studied. SMU offers Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Russian and Spanish.

Continue a language you have previously studied. Most students will take two terms of language to satisfy this requirement, although students who come in with 3 levels of proficiency will only have one term left to complete.

Complete two courses on an SMU-Abroad program or an approved program from an abroad provider.*

Successfully completing two approved substitution courses as recommended to the student by the Disability Accommodations & Success Strategies (DASS) office.

Successfully completing the second semester of a second language at SMU or in another approved program.

Successfully completing one 2000-, 3000- or 4000-level language courseat SMU or an approved abroad program.(Also meets Language & Literature requirement).

Successfully completing two approved substitution courses as recommended to the student by the Disability Accommodations & Success Strategies (DASS) office and cleared through Brandon Miller, WLL Advisor.

IV. Transfer Credit

Transferring in two sequential terms of a second language taken at any regionally accredited, post-secondary institution.

Courses taken at 2-year institutions may only be on campus courses and may only be taken to fulfill the

language requirement (do not transfer grade and/or credit).

Courses taken at 4-year institutions may only be fulfill the language requirement, and the grade and credit transfer back to SMU upon receipt of official transcripts.

Pre-matriculation: Transferring in credit in a second language equivalent to the second semester level, taken at any regionally-accredited, post-secondary institution.

Post-matriculation: Completing a second-semester equivalent only at another 4-year institution, OR having second language creditequivalent to the first semester levelfrom another post-secondary institution prior to matriculation at SMU, and successfully completing one additional semester of that language beyond the level of the transfer credit.

V. Native Literacy in Another Language

Demonstrating native literacy in a language other than English as determined by International Student Admissions.

Demonstrating native literacy in a language other than English as determined by an approved proficiency exam.

Demonstrating native literacy in a language other than English as determined by International Student Admissions.

Demonstrating native literacy in a language other than English as determined by an approved proficiency exam.

* The Department of World Languages and Literatures only accepts SMU-approved abroad courses for course credit or for the second language requirement. Only programs listed as approved on the SMU Abroad website are eligible for approval for university credit of any kind. It is advisable that students petition all study abroad coursework before departure. We reserve the right to decline any petition for language courses from outside institutions. Please note: Students who begin their language requirement at SMU will not be permitted to complete the second half abroad.

Students who study language gain not only the ability to communicate in global contexts beyond their own, they inherit a new world, an insight into the ways of thinking and being in diverse regions of our interconnected world. Intermediate-level proficiency is also a gateway to linguistic and cultural fluency, which the U.S. Department of Labor and sources ranging from Forbes to CNN have rated as the most-needed skill in the job market today. Students who are fluent in a second (or third) language have significant advantages in job placement in fields as diverse as medicine, finance, engineering, pharmaceuticals, and law, and will earn more over their lifetimes than their monolingual colleagues.  Foreign language study is an investment that more than pays for itself! We encourage you to embrace your second-language study, and to think carefully about your options for fulfilling the requirement and building upon the proficiency it provides. If we can help you explore the advantages of language proficiency, help you select a language best suited for your career goals, or answer any other questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Professor Dayna Oscherwitz, Ph.D.
Chair, World Languages and Literatures