Language Requirements

All of our M.A. and Ph.D. candidates must demonstrate reading proficiency in one or more second languages.

Master's Requirements

Every candidate for the Master's degree must demonstrate a reading knowledge of one second language before taking the comprehensive examination.

Ph.D. Requirements

A reading knowledge of two languages is required of all Ph.D. candidates, except in United States History, where one language is required. The requirement must be completed before the written/oral comprehensive examination. 

Language Proficiency

Proficiency is achieved when you acquire the expertise to read widely in secondary literature and undertake original research in another language. You must also be able to render into standard written English primary source material and articles from academic journals in the target language.
The Department standard establishes minimum requirements that must be fulfilled by all students before the M.A. Comprehensive Exam or the Ph.D. Comprehensive Exams. Your M.A. and Ph.D. Committees will work with you to determine how many and which additional languages you need to demonstrate proficiency in, based upon your individual program of study and thesis/dissertation research. 
For spoken languages that rarely, if ever, generate written texts, an ad hoc oral exam will be provided. To satisfy the language requirements in Latin and Greek, M.A. and Ph.D. students may, in consultation with and approval from their committee, substitute a 400-level course passed with a grade of B or better, in place of the department proficiency exam. Language courses do not apply toward degree course requirements in History, unless they are at the 500 level or higher. 
Because language proficiency is often a prerequisite for participation in colloquia and seminars, you are strongly encouraged to make your first attempt to fulfill the language requirement during your first semester in the program.

Proficiency Exam

The language proficiency requirement is fulfilled by passing the History Department's written proficiency exam. Departmental written proficiency exams will be offered once a semester, currently on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, and on the Saturday after Spring Break.

The exam shall be a four-hour test in two parts, in which students 1) translate a passage from the target language into English and 2) demonstrate their reading comprehension by answering a series of questions in English about a passage in the target language. You 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 appropriate language or area studies departments in consultation with the Department language administrators. Under normal circumstances, you will be notified of the outcome of the exam within a two-week period. Students who do not pass the exam may retake the exam as many times as needed without penalty.