The History Department requires reading proficiency in one or more second languages for all M.A. and Ph.D. candidates. Proficiency is achieved when the students acquire the expertise to read widely in secondary literature and undertake original research in another language. The Department standard establishes minimum requirements that must be fulfilled by all students before the M.A. Comprehensive Exam or the Ph.D. Preliminary Exams. M.A. and Ph.D. Committees may require students to achieve proficiency in additional languages and meet higher standards of proficiency when necessary for individual programs of study and thesis/dissertation research.
Because language proficiency is often a prerequisite for participation in colloquia and seminars, students should be prepared to fulfill proficiency requirements as soon as possible after entering the program. Students who seek to fulfill proficiency requirements in spoken languages that rarely, if ever, generate written texts, may do so with the approval of the Graduate Committee.
The language proficiency requirement is fulfilled by passing the History department’s written proficiency exam, approved by the Graduate Committee. Proficiency is here defined as the student’s ability to read, comprehend, and render into standard written English primary source material and articles from academic journals in the target language. Language proficiency requirements fulfilled as part of an earlier program of study count toward fulfillment of Department requirements; documentation must be provided. In certain instances, other methods of meeting the language proficiency requirement may be necessary. Such methods will be discussed and approved by student’s full committee, the Director of Graduate Studies, and the Department language administrator.
Language courses do not apply toward degree course requirements in History. Instruction in languages not taught by regular faculty is available through the Critical Languages Program.
Written proficiency exams will be offered once a semester. The exam shall be a four-hour test composed of a reading comprehension exercise, in which students answer a series of questions in English, and a translation exercise. Students are permitted to use a dictionary for both portions. All students testing in a language shall take the exam on a given testing date. The exam is evaluated in the history department by faculty members proficient in the language tested or by instructors in the appropriate language or area studies department in consultation with the Department language administrator.