University of Southern California
Dornsife College

Foreign Language Requirement at USC

The foreign language requirement applies to all students earning degrees granted by, or under the jurisdiction of, the Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. Placement in elementary and intermediate foreign language courses is made by the appropriate placement examination.  Students who studied a foreign language in high school, or elsewhere, prior to enrolling at USC must take the placement examination.

Transfer courses certified as equivalent to a USC elementary or intermediate foreign language course fulfill the prerequisite for the next course in the sequence, but students may be advised, although not required, to repeat, without additional credit, a semester or semesters of instruction if their skills are judged insufficient at the time of testing.

Fulfilling the Foreign Language Requirement:
The foreign language requirement may be satisfied only by:

  1. earning a passing grade in Course III of a foreign language sequence at USC or its equivalent elsewhere, or

  2. scoring on the placement examination at a level considered by the language program as equivalent to the completion of Course III, or

  3. scoring on a national or statewide examination at a level set by the department and approved by the Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, or

  4. passing a competency exam of advanced language skills, administered at USC, subject to the availability of suitable academic examiners. The competency exam will test proficiency in listening, reading and writing skills.

Exemptions to the Foreign Language Requirement:

  1. International students whose native language is not English are exempt from the foreign language requirement. This appears on a STARS report as:  "FOREIGN LANGUAGE REQUIREMENT WAIVED BY VIRTUE OF INTERNATIONAL STUDENT STATUS AND COUNTRY OF ORIGIN". This determination is made by international student admissions, based in part on the default language of instruction during secondary school.

  2. Students who can supply proof of at least two years of full-time secondary schooling beyond the age of 14 taught in a foreign language may request exemption from the foreign language requirement. This does not mean that you studied two years of foreign language in high school. It means that you went to high school in a non-English-speaking country where the default language of instruction in high school was not English.

When to Satisfy the Foreign Language Requirement:
It is strongly recommended that all students who as freshmen are enrolled in degree programs that have a language requirement fulfill that requirement by the time they have completed 64 units. All other students for whom it is a requirement should fulfill it before they have completed 96 units.

Students with Disabilities:
Students with documented learning disabilities or physical impairments inhibiting language acquisition may petition for substitution. The first point of contact is the USC Office of Disability Services and Programs.

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