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FAQs about Foreign Languages at Stanford

Part 1:
Part 2:
Language Offerings
Part 3:
Language Learning
What is the university language requirement?
Stanford students are to complete one year of college-level study of a foreign language (or the equivalent).
How do I meet the language requirement?
By being placed into a second-year course (or beyond) through on-campus placement testing or
By completing the third course in a first-year sequence or
By presenting an AP score of 4 or 5 in Chinese, French, German, or Spanish or an SATII of 630 in Chinese, German, Italian, Korean, Latin, or Spanish; of 640 in French; of 620 in Japanese; or of 540 in Hebrew. Or by presenting an IB High Level score of 5.
What if I am a native speaker of a language other than English?
Please send an email to to arrange for validation of this status.
Do I have to take a placement test?
Yes. If you intend to continue with a language you have already studied, we need to assess your skills (particularly in oral proficiency) so that you begin in the proper course. We cannot allow you to self place. We check all course rosters to insure that students have been placed in the appropriate course.
When should I begin/complete my language requirement?
It is best to begin working on this as soon as possible. Placement results are valid for only one year. Beginning early is particularly important if you are thinking of studying abroad. You should complete the university language requirement and continue in a language sequence up until departure for an overseas campus.
How can I find out my placement?
You will find them at
What if my placement isn't listed?
Check with the coordinator of the language, listed on the Language Center website, or send an email to
What if Axess doesn't list the completion of my language requirement or my AP/SATII scores?
It is always wise to give Axess a chance to update itself. If after a few weeks an update is not listed, contact the Language Center at
May I take my language courses CR/NC?
May I transfer language credits from non-Stanford programs?
Yes. But you MUST obtain pre-approval. Bring information about the non-Stanford program to the Language Center student services officer. (Bldg 30, Room 103) who will conduct the approval investigation.
Do Special Languages (Ewe, ASL, Vietnamese, Amharic, Xhosa, Igbo and so forth) fulfill the requirement?
Yes, as long as you take from 12-15 units in these languages.
How do I differentiate between and among the uses of the word requirement?
The university language requirement is listed above. But be careful! The Bing Overseas Studies program has different language requirements for each location. And some majors, such as International Relations, which requires two years of an individual language, have language requirements beyond the university requirement. Make sure to check major requirements thoroughly.
What are the language requirements for overseas campuses?
Language prerequisites for BOSP centers (Bing Overseas Studies Program) vary by location. In general, at least one year of language is required. Please note that the overseas requirement is not the same as the university language requirement. See the BOSP website for details on requirements and preparation. If you are considering study abroad during your Stanford career, a wise choice is to go beyond the minimum prerequisite and continue language study right up to departure. Additional overseas opportunities such as internships are available to students with advanced language skills.