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Foreign Language Requirement

DSPT MA (Philosophy) and (Theology) Thesis Option students, concurrent DSPT program participants, and GTU Common MA program students must show foreign language proficiency.

Requirement Overview

Students in the DSPT MA (Philosophy) Thesis Option, DSPT MA (Theology) Thesis Option, any concurrent DSPT program including either of these, or the GTU Common MA program must demonstrate reading proficiency and comprehension skills in a foreign language. Students in the concurrent DSPT MA option with a concentration in Thomistic Studies must demonstrate reading and comprehension proficiency in Latin. There is no language requirement for any of the other DSPT degree programs.

Always refer to the DSPT Student Handbook for details. Work with the DSPT Academic Dean to use your language studies toward certification.

Fulfilling the Requirement

Students are expected to fulfill the language requirement by the beginning of the third semester in the program. GTU Common MA students should note that they must fulfill this requirement before they can form a thesis committee. DSPT follows the policy of GTU for fulfillment of the foreign language requirement. For details, students should consult the most current version of the MA Program Handbook, found on the GTU website.

In general, language certification may be obtained by any of the following means:

  • Pass the foreign language certification exam offered by the GTU each September, February and May. GTU certifies proficiency in Chinese, French, German, Modern Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Latin, and Spanish. Students wishing to certify proficiency by examination in other languages must submit a petition to the GTU Dean of Students at least one week before the exam and include in the petition the name and contact information of a qualified, impartial examiner. All students must register for language examinations at least two weeks in advance at the GTU Office of Student Affairs located at 2465 Le Conte Avenue, Berkeley.
  • Have completed four semesters of a language with a grade of B (3.0) or better in the final semester. Students must petition the Academic Dean to use this work for language certification. See below for more information on the GTU summer intensive courses. Students may also consider regular and summer courses at UC Berkeley.
  • Have studied/lived/worked in a non-English-speaking country or region. Students must petition the Academic Dean to use this experience for language certification. Students enrolled in a DSPT MA program who desire certification in a language not approved by the GTU must submit a written petition to the Academic Dean. The mode of certification is as for other languages.
  • Foreign students whose native language is not English may fulfill the language requirement by passing the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) examination.

Using Foreign Languages Courses for Credit

As a general policy, foreign language courses taken to fulfill the language requirement, including courses taken to prepare a student for the GTU language exam, cannot be counted as electives toward fulfillment of course requirements of a degree program. However, certain advanced-level language courses designed to equip MA students for future research may be counted as electives in some circumstances. Students must submit a written petition to the Academic Dean for approval of such coursework as graduate electives.

Other types of language courses can be counted as electives toward a degree program, such as specialized languages (Hindi, Japanese, Modern Hebrew, Aramaic, etc.) and classical languages (Greek, Hebrew, Latin).

GTU Summer Intensive Language Courses

The GTU offers summer intensive language courses designed to equip students to certify proficiency in French, German, or Spanish. Enrolled students must complete the course and pass the exam, which is equivalent to the GTU Modern Foreign Language Examination. Courses are typically 4 weeks long during the last two weeks of July and first two weeks of August; and meet 5 days a week, Mon - Fri, for three hours/ day (60 contact hours). Read more on the GTU website.

 Planning for the GTU Language Certification Exam

  • Register for the exam at least three weeks in advance through the GTU.
  • Exams are offered in Sept, Feb and May.
  • Students will be asked to summarize a chosen passage with some specific words to translate.
  • The student’s summary must illustrate understanding of the main point as well as knowledge of the supporting evidence behind the author's argument.
  • Translation must pay attention to proper spelling, verb tense, and context. A literal translation may not suffice.
  • Students may use their own dictionary or one provided from the GTU Library.
  • Refer to the Academic Milestones information on the GTU website for the latest information on taking the exam.