What is the Foreign Language Requirement for College?

All college admissions offices have general education requirements including foreign language requirements for college. Language proficiency is one of them. Most schools are looking for students who have completed at least two years in these courses. But that number can vary by each school and admissions office.
Even after high school, most colleges require one or more semesters of foreign language credits to graduate. The actual requirements for your own education depend on the school in question.
Here’s what you need to know about foreign language requirements for college. Plus, some tips for helping you decide what language is right for you.

Foreign Language During High School

Foreign language requirements for college depend on the particular school in question. Many are looking for students who have completed a set number of years in foreign language. Some do require that you take these courses, while others only recommend it. And the number of years you’re required to take on a foreign language also can vary.
Hello in foreign languages.
For example, Florida State University requires 2 foreign language units but recommends 4. University of Miami doesn’t require any, but does recommend you take 4 units.
Rule of thumb: competitive colleges are generally looking for applicants who have taken at least two years of foreign language classes. Some are looking for even more – Harvard asks for four years.
And even if the school only “recommends” a certain number of years, it’s a good idea to do it! It could give you the edge over another student who only did the required work.

Foreign Language Requirements for College

Quite a few colleges and universities have general requirements for their students. These are classes that help broaden your horizon and can include history, math, and, of course, a foreign language. They are usually taken during the first two years of college.
If you’re not sure what your school’s foreign language requirements are, meet with your counselor. They can help determine what classes you need to take to graduate on time. Some schools will require you to take placement tests if you are continuing the language you took in high school. That way you’re placed in the right class. Other colleges will only consider “advanced” foreign language courses towards your general requirements, and not beginner classes.

How Can You Choose a Foreign Language?

Whether you’re in high school or college, choosing a foreign language can be tough.
In high school, you might be fairly limited to what courses are available to you. Almost all schools offer at least Spanish and French, but others can include less common languages including Latin! This restriction, though, can make it a lot easier for you to determine what class you should take. But, it’s a good idea, once you start a language, to continue it throughout your entire high school experience.
In college, you usually have a whole host of options, which can make this choice a lot more difficult! You could opt to continue the language you started in high school. Or you can try a language that wasn’t offered in high school.
If you’re struggling to choose which language interests you, first start thinking about your interests outside school. Are there shows or movies you would like to watch in a different language? Are you interested in visiting a particular county and speaking the language would help?
You could also try “testing out” the language before you commit to a class. There are plenty of apps out there, including free ones like Duolingo, that allow you to get a feel for a language. You can test as many languages as you’d like to help you make your decision.
You shouldn’t think of your foreign language class as just a checkbox you need to tick off. Learning another language can bring a whole host of benefits to your life, and you could find you enjoy the courses and want to continue even after you finished the “requirements.” Speaking it fluently, too, can open the doors to new job opportunities and plenty of travel options.
Are you interested in pursuing a foreign language major? Check out our College Majors search tool to help uncover some amazing areas of study, and then use our Career Finder tool to see what jobs will be available to you upon graduation.