Language Requirement

Complete information on fulfilling the language requirement is available in the Handbook for Students

All undergraduates are required to demonstrate proficiency in the study of a foreign language. Students must complete the foreign language requirement by the beginning of junior year. This can be achieved by:

• Language Study – Students may take a year-long (eight credit) or two semester-long (four credits each) courses in a single language at Harvard. Courses taken abroad may also be considered with prior approval. Students who study language at Harvard will have their record updated upon successful completion of the coursework. A list of the foreign languages offered at Harvard can be found on the Arts and Humanities website

• Test Score - Students who received a minimum score of 700 on a College Board SAT II test with a reading component, a 5 on an AP exam, or a 7 on an IB exam in an approved language have fulfilled the requirement. These exams must have been completed prior to arriving at Harvard and scores must be reported to the Registrar’s Office.   

• Placement Exam - Exams are offered online and on campus in a range of languages offered at Harvard. Scores will be reported to the Registrar's office and will be reflected on the Placement and Test Scores Report in my.harvard. 

• High School Transcript - Students who have completed the majority of their secondary school education in a language other than English may submit an official transcript for review to the Office of Undergraduate Education. All subjects (i.e. History, Literature, Science, Math) must be conducted in a language other than English. Secondary school study of a foreign language is not sufficient to fulfill the requirement. Please email for more information.

The Harvard faculty offer instruction, from beginning to advanced levels, in over 45 languages, ranging from Arabic and Spanish to Russian and Vietnamese to Igbo. Most students find that the emphasis on oral and aural skills in language courses taught here is far greater than that in their high school classes.