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PhD students in History & Women’s Studies cannot advance to candidacy without meeting the language requirement for their program. Basic reading knowledge of one language other than English is required of students in United States history; two languages are required for students in all other fields, including transnational fields. The purpose of this requirement, in addition to the relevance it may have to primary research, is to minimize scholarly provincialism and facilitate exposure to historical literature in languages other than English.

Students may establish their ability to use a foreign language in one of the following ways:

  • By passing a written examination administered by our faculty, requiring translation (with the aid of a paper dictionary) of two passages selected as representative examples of scholarly historical writing in that language
  • For Spanish, by taking the LSA Spanish placement exam and placing in Spanish 232 or above
  • By completing with the grade of B or above, one semester of courses in U-M language departments on the model of French or German 112, Spanish 113, or Spanish 231 or 275
    (Note: Enrollment in 112 is normally predicated on successful completion of 111. In rare cases, a student can petition the instructor to take 112 without having first taken 111. Students who take only 111 must pass the departmental written language exam to demonstrate proficiency.)
  • By completing two language courses at second-year level with a grade of B or above and approval of the advisor. If taken at another university, the courses must have been taken during a graduate program and appear on the student transcript
  • By satisfying a language requirement similar to our own and administered in similar ways for a Master’s degree at this or another university

Students are expected to fulfill one language requirement during the first year of residence. By the end of the second year, they should have fulfilled the second language requirement as well. Tests in French, German, Russian and Spanish are offered by the History Department at the beginning of fall term and, as needed, during winter term. Tests in other languages can be arranged on an ad hoc basis by contacting the History Graduate Office. The History Associate Chair has oversight of the departmental language examinations, and the History DGS certifies fulfillment of the language requirement.

Speakers of English as a Second Language
Students from countries in which English is not the standard language of secondary school and university instruction (and whose family language is not English), may satisfy the language requirement by demonstrating competence in one foreign language in addition to English and their native language.