Student Resources

World Languages and Literatures

The Second Language Requirement

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

UC Second-Language Foundation

SMU students fulfill the Second Language Foundation Requirement by demonstrating proficiency in reading, writing, speaking and understanding a second language at the Intermediate level, equal to the first-year’s study of language at the university level.

While first-year students may receive credit for dual and/or transfer credit earned prior to matriculation at SMU, this credit will not satisfy SMU’s Second Language Foundation requirement. 

At SMU, proficiency can be achieved in one of the following ways, after matriculation:

1. Students placing into and successfully completing a course in the second semester level of a language (or above) will be able to satisfy their Second Language Requirement with that course. SMU offers Arabic, Chinese, Classical Greek, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Russian, American Sign Language, and Spanish, as well as Biblical Hebrew and Biblical (Koine) Greek.
2. Dependent on prior approval from the World Languages and Literature Department, students may complete language coursework at another accredited four-year institution. 
3. Placing into the fourth term or beyond on the SMU World Languages placement test and also earning an appropriate score on an SMU designated Second Language Proficiency Test. (You will need to pay a non-refundable registration fee for your proficiency test and take the test within one year of matriculation at SMU.)
4. Achieving a score of Intermediate-Mid or above on the ACTFL OPI examination in a language not taught at SMU.

Students can fulfill the Second Language Foundation requirement prior to matriculation in one of the following ways:

1. Presenting an appropriate score on a recognized second language proficiency exam (4 or 5 on AP exam; 5, 6, or 7 on IB HL exam; 640 or above on SAT II).
2. Demonstrating an existing proficiency in a language other than English as documented by:
a. Matriculation as an International Student from a non-English-dominant country AND providing high school transcripts from a non-English-medium high school;
b. Successful completion of an ESL DISC course at SMU.

* 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.