Language and Culture

Program Offerings

Offering type

The Program in Language and Culture, administered through the individual language and literature departments, allows majors in any discipline to earn a certificate in language and culture. Certificates can be earned in the Departments of French and Italian, German, Near Eastern Studies, and Spanish and Portuguese

Admission to the Program

The program is open to undergraduates in all departments. Students should consult the appropriate director of undergraduate studies by the middle of  sophomore year. Ordinarily, students majoring in language and literature departments, including comparative literature, will be eligible for the certificate in language and culture provided that: (a) the linguistic base for the language and culture certificate is different from the linguistic base of the major; and (b) the work required for the language and culture certificate does not duplicate the requirements of the major. Students pursuing area studies certificates may earn the certificate in language and culture provided that: (a) the courses they elect to satisfy the requirements of the area studies program are different from those they elect to satisfy the requirements of the language and culture certificate program; and (b) they submit a piece of independent work in addition to the independent work that satisfies the requirements of the area studies program and the home department.

Additional Requirements

Program Requirements

Because the length of time required to gain proficiency varies from language to language, the specific level and content of courses required for the certificate may vary from department to department. All language certificate programs will have the following common core:

  1. The study of language beyond the level required for the completion of the University language requirement.
  2. A minimum of three departmental courses in language, linguistics, literature, or culture, excluding courses that do not have a language prerequisite. Language courses above the level required for the completion of the University language requirement may be counted. At the discretion of the certificate-granting department, a student may substitute one cognate course with a substantial language component for one of the three departmental courses.
  3. A piece of independent work or equivalent. This requirement can be satisfied in one of several ways, depending on the requirements of the respective departments as well as on the student's major and interest. Students should consult individual department listings for details of this requirement.

(a) A substantial paper growing out of one of the courses taken to fulfill the certificate requirement. This paper will be in addition to the work required in the course; or

(b) A substantial paper on a topic agreed upon with an instructor in the department and approved by the program; or

(c) With the agreement of the home department and the program, a piece of independent work that will satisfy the requirements of both the home department and the program. For example, a student could write a junior paper or senior thesis based in substantial part on language sources.

Study Abroad

Although not required, it is strongly recommended that students spend some time in the country whose language and culture they are studying. This can be done through an approved study abroad program or through a summer program of work and/or study. The area studies programs in Latin American and Near Eastern studies may be important resources in providing guidance, and students who are earning language certificates in these areas are urged to consult with the director of the relevant program in planning their course of study or work abroad.

Certificate of Proficiency

Students who have met all the requirements of the program will receive a certificate of proficiency in the language and culture of the relevant department upon graduation.


  • Executive Committee

    • Rafael Cesar, Spanish & Portuguese
    • Flora Champy, French & Italian
    • Thomas Y. Levin, German
    • Daniel J. Sheffield, Near Eastern Studies

For a full list of faculty members and fellows please visit the department or program website.