Gen ed language requirement


If you are a student in a Sciences and Letters major, secondary education, or specialized curricula for geology, or physics (chemistry and chemical and biomolecular engineering specialized curricula students see below)you must demonstrate proficiency in a non-primary language in one of the following ways. Before graduation, you must satisfactorily complete two years of college study (or four years of high-school courses) in a single non-primary language. If you have completed three years of a single non-primary language in high school, you may either continue studying that language and complete the fourth-semester course or begin another language and complete the third-semester course.

All courses applied toward the language requirement must be taken for a letter grade: the credit/no credit option cannot be used for any part of this requirement. You are not required to enroll in a language in consecutive semesters, but you are strongly urged to do so. Language instructors note the importance of studying a language without interruption, in order to limit the loss of learned skills due to long intervals between study and lack of use. Fulfilling the language requirement within your first two years also lets you study a particular language at an advanced level, if you like. If you have not satisfied the requirement by the beginning of your junior year, you must take language courses each semester until you do meet the requirement. It is your responsibility to complete the language requirement within the four years of your undergraduate study.

If you want to continue your high school language, you need to take the placement examination in that language to help determine which university course will suit your achievement level. Students who completed the non-primary language admissions requirement via dual enrollment should consult with their college admissions/records officer.

If you score high on the placement test, you may want to take a proficiency test and thus earn college proficiency credit for work beyond the elementary level (i.e., for third- and fourth-semester course work). Students may get advice and information about these proficiency tests from the respective language department during the first week of the semester.

If you perform satisfactorily at the fourth-semester level in a proficiency examination approved by the college and the appropriate department, you may also meet the language requirement. You can apply up to 10 hours (third- and fourth-level only) of basic language proficiency credit toward your graduation from LAS. You may also receive additional proficiency credit for advanced language courses that emphasize literary and linguistic study.

Proficiency credit is not awarded for languages that are not taught on the Urbana campus. However, you can still meet the LAS language requirement if you demonstrate the appropriate achievement level in one of three ways:

  1. Certification by an authorized faculty member on the Urbana campus.
  2. Certification by an authorized faculty member on the Chicago campus, where reciprocal agreements have been arranged through LAS.
  3. Credit awarded through other recognized programs, such as approved study abroad, advanced placement, or international baccalaureate.

For the first two options, fourth-semester proficiency is determined by testing fluency and comprehension in reading, writing, listening, and speaking. If you show proficiency at this level, the requirement for four courses will be met, but no college credit will be granted because these are languages not taught on the Urbana campus.


  • If you are in specialized curricula for biochemistry, chemistry or chemical and biomolecular engineering, you need to complete only three semesters of college study (or three years of high school study) in a single non-primary language. Consult with your advisor before enrolling in a language.
  • Students who can demonstrate and document a specific language-learning disability may petition for an accommodation and substitute cultural-based course work for regular language courses. Previous and current records of achievement, commentary from previous teachers, and clinical data are generally required to support petitions. All petitioners must also be registered with Disability Resources and Educational Services. Students who are uncertain if they qualify for a language accommodation should start by meeting their DRES access specialist who will help to determine their eligibility and explain the various petition requirements.
  • Accommodation decisions are made once a semester, and the petition form will be made available again at the start of the Spring 2023 semester.

For more information, visit LAS Student Academic Affairs or contact a staff member at the Disability Resources and Educational Services.