Skip to Content

Language Substitutions

All students completing an B.A. or B.S. degree in the College must demonstrate fourth-term proficiency in a language other than English prior to graduation. You can fulfill this requirement either by electing the necessary language courses or through placement testing. However, the College recognizes that there are some students with a language learning disability who would not be able to meet this requirement with language courses.

How Do I Know If I Am Eligible to Petition for a Language Exception?

You may petition the Academic Standards Board for a Language Requirement substitution if you have:

  • A documented history of extreme difficulty in learning a foreign language
  • A “good-faith effort” at learning a language at the college level
  • A score on the MLAT (Modern Language Aptitude Test) consistent with a language learning disability

How Do I Start the Petition Process?

If you think you may have a case for a Language Requirement substitution, your first step is to meet with a member of the Academic Standards Board who serves on the Language Exception Committee. The Board member will talk with you about the criteria for approving an exception and about the petition process.

What Should I Include in the Petition?

  • A written argument describing your experiences with studying language that explains what your learning disability is and why you think an exception to the language requirement is warranted.
  • An MLAT score report. A few times each semester, the College offers the MLAT in the Language Resource Center. You may register for the test here. You cannot petition for a foreign language exception without these test results.
  • A letter from an instructor of a college language course commenting on your attendance, effort, and capability for language learning. For a sample instructor letter, click here. Note that you are required to attempt a college language course, but you are not required to fail it. If it looks like you will fail the class, you can drop it before the 9th-week deadline. However, you need to demonstrate that you’ve given your best effort. We will be looking to the instructor to provide information about any discrepancies between your effort and your ability to master the material.

How and Where Do I Submit My Petition?

Petitions and supporting documentation can be submitted in person, by mail, email, or FAX:

You will be notified of the Board’s decision by email.

What Happens If My Petition Is Granted?

You will be allowed to substitute culture courses for language courses to meet the requirement. You will meet with one of the Language Requirement Committee members to determine which courses you will use. (The courses must be approved in advance by a committee member.)

What Happens If My Petition Is Denied?

You are encouraged to meet with a member of the Language Requirement Committee. They will help you assess degree options and next steps.