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Foreign Language Proficiency Requirement

The Undergraduate Catalog states that all students will have proficiency in a foreign language at the 202/203 level. A foreign language is understood to mean a natural language other than English. You can complete your foreign language requirement in any of the following ways:

Prior to enrollment at William & Mary:

  1. completion of Level IV in high school of an ancient or modern foreign language;
  2. graduation from a high school where the main language of instruction was not English (official High School transcript must be in language of instruction; English translation must be provided);
  3. transfer credit for a language course taught in the target language at a level equivalent to or above the 202/203 level at William & Mary;
  4. transfer credit obtained via internationally accredited exams such as Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, A-levels, etc., in some specific languages (for those languages, please check the section on “Credit for Pre-Matriculation Examinations” ;

Students seeking to demonstrate foreign language proficiency by means of option 1 or 3 may use American Sign Language. 

After enrolling at William & Mary:

  1. completion of a language course at William & Mary, taught in the target language, at a level equivalent to or above the 202/203 level;
  2. obtaining a score of “intermediate” or higher on both the Oral and Writing Proficiency ACTFL standardized tests for a language other than English (not administered by William & Mary).
  3. through study abroad, only if: 
    a) prior approval for the course has been obtained from the Department of Modern Languages & Literatures, and 
    b) the course is taken in a country where the language is the official language.

Students seeking to demonstrate proficiency at W&M by means of options 2 or 6 may petition the Registrar. Petition forms may be obtained at the Registrar’s website. Petitions for fulfillment of the FLP should be completed by the end of the sophomore year.

For students seeking to demonstrate proficiency at W&M by means of option 5, please note, the 202/203 level (or above) proficiency course courses taken after matriculation at the university may not be selected as pass/fail. Foreign Language Proficiency course prerequisites may not be selected as pass/fail during the term in which the course is taken. Once the prerequisite courses are completed and graded, they may be selected as pass/fail retroactively.

Some modern languages offer combined language tracks: 103 is the equivalent of 101 and 102 in one semester; 203 is the equivalent of 201 and 202 in one semester. Hence, 203 fulfills the Foreign Language Proficiency Requirement. Since both 202 and 203 bring students to the same proficiency level in the target language, a 203-level modern language course may not be used to fulfill major requirements in majors that require courses above the 202 level.

Students seeking to start or to continue training in a language offered at W&M should:

  1. Make sure that their transcripts adequately reflect previous training in the target language (if any), and reach out to the Registrar’s Office with questions about transfer credit. Choose appropriate W&M course enrollment by consulting the website for placement of the Department of Modern Languages & Literatures. 
  2. If a student completed the fourth level of a language in high school, they have satisfied the Foreign Language Proficiency (FLP), and this will be indicated in the DegreeWorks. However, perhaps these four years of high-school language do not align with W&M standards, and the student wants to continue with the language even though they have fulfilled the FLP. The student should take the placement exam for that language, and if the result indicates that they should take 201, 202 or 203, they can take this course without relinquishing their FLP. 

See our placement guidelines to figure out where to start.