Foreign Language Requirement

The foreign language requirement for the Linguistics graduate program was abolished October 2016; current students will not be held to it.


Graduate students are required to show proficiency in one foreign language prior to award of the M.A. degree, unless they are native speakers of some language other than English. The language must have either substantial literature on linguistics or serve as a contact language for field research.

Contact the Department’s Language Examination Committee for more information.

It is highly recommended that students fulfill the language requirement as early as possible. Some suggestions for exam preparation: take a language course at UCLA, especially one targeted at graduate students preparing for foreign language exams; find a linguistics text in your foreign language for translation practice. Summer language courses at Santa Monica College tend to be inexpensive and of high quality.

Content of Exams

Students will be given a passage, approximately 500 words in length, to translate into English. The passage may be taken from any scholarly work in the field of linguistics, and will be chosen as being of medium difficulty. Students will have one hour to translate the passage; dictionaries are permitted.

In order to pass the examination, students must:

  1. Translate the entire passage
  2. Make no more than one “major” error (e.g. missing the basic sense of some sentence)
  3. Make no more than three “minor” errors (e.g. mistranslating the aspect of some verb).

Other Ways To Fulfill the Language Requirement

It is also possible to fulfill the language requirement by one of the following methods:

1. A research paper based on extensive sources in the language
2. An oral examination of conversational fluency showing knowledge in depth

Attention international students: Native speakers of languages other than English may use English to meet the foreign language requirement. Please see the Student Affairs Officer to pick up a petition for your foreign language.