Language Requirement FAQ

WPU World Languages Graduation Requirement
Frequently Asked Questions
“Students! It is to Your Advantage to Take the Placement Test:
You Might be Waived from the Language Requirement!”


(Please note that American Sign Language (ASL) is included in the general term “world languages” and fulfills the graduation requirement)



  • Why is there a language graduation requirement?


The world languages graduation requirement is part of WPU’s missionto graduate students who embody “active involvement in a multicultural world.”


  • What is the WPUNJ Language Graduation Requirement?


Based on your individual situation with respect to previous language study, or lack thereof, you will have to complete either 1(one), 2 (two), or O (zero) semesters of world language study at WPU.


  • How do I know what my individual situation is?


The first step is to take a placement test in the world language you have knowledge of, due to your family heritage, personal life circumstances, or previous study in middle or high school. Your score on this test will determine your placement level, and indicate whether you need 1 (one) 2 (two) or 0 (zero) semester(s) of language courses at WPU.


  • So I may not have to take ANY language courses?


Correct! If you score above a certain level in the language placement test, you have already satisfied the graduation requirement.


  • What, exactly, is this placement test?


It is a computerized test that takes no more than 10 -15 minutes to complete, and it’s offered in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian and Spanish.   You need an appointment to take the test. For an appointment or questions contact James Miles the Director of the Lab. (

  • How do I prepare for the placement test?


You don’t! The placement test is not a judgment of performance, but an assessment of your current level. It is a tool that helps the Department place you in the course that is right for you.


  • Where can my Advisor find my language placement score?


Advisors can access language placement results through the student information page (“View Test and Placement Scores”) in WPConnect. The level you are placed in is clearly indicated.


  • Please explain the number of semesters I will need to take language courses.


If you have no previous knowledge of a particular world language - for example, if you wish to study a language that is different from the one you speak at home, or the one you studied in middle or high school, you must complete the 1100 and 1110 (Basic 1 and 2) levels of that language. This means you will take two semesters of that language.


If your score on the test places you at the 1110 (Basic-2) level, you must complete that level and the 2100 (Intermediate-1) level of that language. In other words, you will take two semesters of that language.


If your score on the placement test places you at the 2100 (Intermediate-1) level, you only need to complete the 2100 course. In other words, you will need to take just one semester of that language.


If your score on the placement test places you at the 2110 (Intermediate-2) level or above, Congratulations! – you have fulfilled your graduation requirement and do not need to take any more language courses.


(Of course, mastering a foreign language takes years of study and practice, and WPU hopes you will continue to take language courses out of interest, to solidify skills acquired in Basic and Intermediate courses. Courses at the 2110-level and above will earn you elective credit. You may also choose to major or minor in specific languages in which these opportunities are offered at WPU, namely, French and Spanish, or study Chinese and Japanese within the framework of the Asian Studies Program).


  • What if I want to study a new language?


You may certainly do so, as explained above. You will have to complete two semesters (1100 and 1110) of the new language. However, you should still take a placement test in the language you previously studied, in case you decide to drop the new language and go back to the previous one.


  • Which languages can I study at WPU to satisfy the language requirement?


Typically, the Department of Languages and Cultures offers about a dozen different languages each semester. These include the more commonly taught languages such as French, German, Italian and Spanish, as well as less commonly taught ones such as Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Korean and several others.  For the latest listing, please consult the current semester’s course offerings in WPConnect.


  • What if I’ve studied a language before, but don’t feel confident being in the level I’m placed in?


It happens. You have two options. You may take a lower–level course (e.g. you may take 1100 even if you are placed in 1110) as a refresher course. You will earn free elective credit for the lower course, but not graduation credit. In other words, you would still need to take two more semesters (after completing 1100) to fulfill the graduation requirement. Or, you can sign up for the course you are placed in and avail of the help available at the Academic Support Center, located in the lower level of Raubinger Hall. This Center is open for extended hours and its well qualified staff offers tutoring assistance free of charge in many languages.


  • When should I take the language courses?


It is advisable to complete your language graduation requirement as early as possible in your academic career. Most importantly, if the placement test determines that you are required to take 2 semesters of language courses, you should take them one after another, in two consecutive semesters.


  • Is American Sign Language (ASL) accepted in fulfillment of the Language Requirement?


Yes it is. Both ASL I and ASL II meet the university language graduation requirement.


  • Can I get Advanced Placement (AP) Credit towards the Language Requirement?


AP Credit is granted by the Office of Admissions to students who have earned AP exam credit, and reported it to WPU. AP credit is not granted for merely taking AP courses in high school. Granting AP Credit is the purview of the Office of Admissions, not of the Department of Languages and Cultures, although the Department sets the equivalencies between an AP score and WPU course credit.


  • Can you explain Challenge Exams?


Challenge Exams are administered by the Department of Languages & Cultures for any language taught at the University. Challenge Exams:

  • Are offered only at the Intermediate level (2100 and 2110).
  • Although you may take the test up to your last semester, we strongly advise you to take it as soon as possible. You will only have one opportunity  to challenge the language. If you fail you will be required to make those credits up in the classroom.

For languages not taught at WPU, you can take the NYU challenge exam. This exam can be taken at WPU upon payment of the NYU fee. The NYU challenge exam will be accepted for credit or waiver according to the policies outlined above. Please contact the Language Placement Office in Atrium 129 for more information.


  • Can I transfer in language credit from my previous academic institution?    

You may transfer in language classes taken elsewhere as long as you have earned a “C” grade or better if you have not yet transferred in 70 credits from a community college or 90 credits from a four-year university. If you have already transferred in 70 or 90 credits as the case may be, you may complete the language credits at another institution and have the WPU requirement waived (no credits will be granted) at the discretion of the Department of Languages and Cultures.


  • What about CLEP (College-Level Examination Program) Credits?


You may transfer in up to a maximum of 6 CLEP language credits. However, these credits will not fulfill the language requirement but will count as free electives. You are still required to take the Placement Test in Atrium 129 to determine your level.


  • Who can I contact for help if I still have questions?


Professor Ming Jian (, Department Chairperson, Professor Maria Tajes (, Assistant Chairperson, or Jim Miles (, Director of the Department’s Multi-Media Center.