Foreign Language Requirement

Why study language? Because language is the human being's distinctive characteristic, and virtually all intellectual activities and forms of social intercourse depend on it. Language links us with our culture and with one another; it mirrors and constructs our experiences; it makes possible the full spectrum of human endeavors. In the broadest sense, a primary objective of the language requirement is to promote an awareness of the essential role language plays in our daily lives. Beyond this, the language requirement:

  • exposes the inner workings of both one's native language and the language studied;
  • lays a foundation for course work in literature and in other disciplines;
  • provides opportunities for personal experience with other languages and cultures;
  • enhances professional and career training;
  • promotes self awareness and sensitivity to others;

Both the University of San Francisco and the broader San Francisco/Bay Area communities provide an ideal environment for developing an understanding of a variety of cultures. The language requirement encourages students to reshape themselves as sensitive, participating members of a broader multicultural and multilingual community. This participation has many dimensions, and USF students are encouraged to explore them through course work, extracurricular and community activities, as well as study abroad.

Because language lays a foundation on which further academic education is built, another objective of the language requirement is to contextualize and integrate course work in other disciplines. Students are encouraged to approach the study of African, American, Asian and European contributions to human civilization which are culturally and linguistically grounded, and students are encouraged to approach the study of these contributions from within the culture in question, rather than as outsiders. The language requirement provides the point of departure for the development of proficiency adequate to academic and professional needs, and promotes the multidisciplinary study of cultures and societies both outside the United States and within our increasing multicultural communities.

Whether investigating the past, analyzing or constructing the present, or forecasting the future, knowledge of languages and cultures privileges the University of San Francisco student.


All candidates for the Bachelor's degree in the College of Arts and Sciences whose native language is English must complete a foreign language requirement. Arts majors must complete the requirement by satisfactorily completing one of the following courses: ARAB 201, ASL 201, FREN 201, GERM 201, GREK, 102, HEBR 102, ITAL 201, JAPN 201, LATN 102, CHIN 201, SPAN 201, SWAH 201, PORT 201, TAGA 201.

Science majors must complete the requirement by satisfactorily completing one of the following courses: ARAB 102, ASL 102, FREN 102, GERM 102, GREK 102, HEBR 102, ITAL 102, JAPN 102, LATN 102, SPAN 102, SWAH 102, CHIN 102, PORT 102, TAGA 102.

Exemption from this requirement may be obtained through establishment of equivalent proficiency as determined by results of the Foreign Language Placement Test, transfer of equivalent college-level course credit, or achievement of a minimum score of 4 on any foreign language CEEB Advanced Placement Examination.