Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York

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Language Requirements

Ph.D. and M.A. Degree Language Requirements

Before taking their Ph.D. Comprehensive exam:

  • Ph.D. students must demonstrate reading knowledge of two foreign languages at Fordham. Ph.D. students must fulfill at least one language requirement by the beginning of Fall semester of the 2nd year (i.e., within the Fall, Spring, or Summer of the 1st year in the program). The second language requirement should then be fulfilled before the beginning of Fall semester of the 3rd year and before, or at least within, the semester in which the Ph.D. comprehensive exam is taken. It is preferable that the second language requirement be fulfilled by the Spring of the 2nd year and then for the Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam to be taken in the Spring.

Before completing their M.A. Capstone:

  • Master's students must demonstrate reading knowledge of one foreign language at Fordham.

Students may fulfill their language requirements in French, German, Italian, Latin or Spanish by receiving at least a B in zero-credit graduate reading courses
(see GSAS Tuition & Fees for cost). Many students choose to do this during one of the (shorter) summer sessions. Students should check for the current graduate reading language courses.

A second option to fulfill the language requirements at Fordham is to schedule an examination with the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences’ Modern Languages or Classics Departments (see GSAS Tuition & Fees for cost). Taking an exam might be a good option for those students who have studied a language at another institution. Exams at Fordham are not listed on transcripts until successfully passed. However, students who have little formal training in a foreign language are urged to take a course.

Students wishing to substitute another modern or ancient language for those mentioned above must obtain approval from the Graduate Director. The primary criteria for such requests should be scholarly—that is, the substituted language should have some intrinsic importance to one’s area of literary interest or career plans.

If students wish to take a language class at another university, they are welcome to do so, but the only criterion accepted for fulfillment of Fordham’s language requirement is an exam given by the relevant Fordham language department.

Scheduling An Exam

The Modern Languages & Literature (MLL) and the Classics departments offer exams on an as needed basis during the fall and spring semesters.

The exams, which will be equivalent in difficulty to the final in the graduate language for reading courses (the one-semester "French for Reading," "Italian for Reading," and "Spanish for Reading" courses and the second-semester "German for Reading II"), will test students' proficiency in reading primary and/or secondary sources in their professional fields. In order to pass the exam the student will have to receive a grade of B or higher.

Students who are interested in taking an exam in French, German, Italian or Spanish should email the MLL Department Secretary, Maria Totino ( and copy the graduate administrator ( to request that an exam be administered. To take an exam in Latin, students should contact the Classics department. Students must provide sufficient notice to schedule an exam and should not contact these departments during University holidays and breaks. Master’s students who wish to take an exam to fulfill their language requirement in the same semester in which they graduate, must indicate that in their request.

Exams will be corrected within two weeks and the department will be notified of the students' grades. The English Graduate Program Administrator then sends the language certification request to GSAS for processing.

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