Second Language Requirements

Second Language Requirement

Students completing a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Master of Arts (M.A.) degree must meet the second language requirement to graduate from Portland State. Students who graduated from an Oregon high school in 1997 or later must meet the Second Language Admission Requirement

There are many options for meeting the admission requirement, most are listed below. However, if you speak, read and write in a language other than English but cannot find an option below for demonstrating proficiency in that language, contact the Department of World Languages and Literatures at 503-725-3522 or world@pdx.edu to see if other options might be available.

Exam applications will not be accepted after the beginning of week 7 of fall, winter, spring and summer terms. Exams are not given after week 8 of fall, winter, spring and summer terms.

Second Language Requirement
The B.A. language requirement is not defined in credits, but in terms of competence: for graduation, a student must demonstrate competence equivalent to that normally attained after two years of college study. Students with no previous knowledge of a world language are advised to complete two years in a language.

Students who already possess sufficient proficiency (or who wish to prepare themselves outside of formal classes) may meet the B.A. language requirement in any of the following ways: 

  1. Completion in any second language of 203 or its equivalent with a passing grade
  2. Completion in any second language of a course that has 203 or higher as a prerequisite
  3. Demonstration of proficiency in a second language equivalent to that attained after two years of college study.

There are four ways to demonstrate equivalency proficiency: 

  • CLEP: Complete a College Level Exam Program (CLEP) with a score high enough for second-year level credit in French, German, or Spanish. 
  • Credit for Prior Learning/Credit by Examination: Pass a departmental examination with a score high enough for second-year level credit in other languages regularly taught by the Department of World Languages and Literatures.
  • Non-credit Departmental Examination: In any language for which the Department of World Languages and Literatures has a qualified tester, by passing a non-credit departmental examination such as the BYU FLATS Exam, Proctored WebCAPE or Language Proficiency Exam, see below for details.
  • Native speakers: A native speaker is defined by PSU as a student whose formal secondary education was completed in any language other than English. Native speakers may demonstrate proficiency by filling out the Second Language Requirement Verification Request form and include the appropriate documents (diploma/transcript from home country with notarized translation). Native speakers cannot receive Credit for Prior Learning/Credit by Exam or CLEP in their native language.

English proficiency can satisfy the B.A. Second Language Requirement for students whose official transcripts demonstrate that their secondary education was completed in a language other than English. Such students cannot enroll in first- or second-year courses in the language in which they received their secondary education.

Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate Credit

Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate credit for a language up to the 203 level or its equivalent demonstrates proficiency to fulfill the second language B.A. and M.A. requirement.

CLEP Language Exam

WLL accepts the CLEP examination for French, German and Spanish and can be used to meet the admission, B.A. and M.A. Second Language Requirements. The table below illustrates the scores needed to meet each requirement. Students may be awarded up to 12 credits for taking CLEP. 

Eligibility to Take the Test: 

  • Students must be formally admitted to PSU and currently enrolled in or have completed a course at PSU to qualify for this testing option.

Students who have already completed a CLEP Language Exam can have their scores sent to PSU to fulfill the second language requirement.

Native speakers cannot receive Credit for Prior Learning/Credit by Exam or CLEP in their native language.

Instructions: 

  1. Discuss testing options with the WLL department, contact WLL. You are required to get approval prior to ordering and scheduling an exam.
  2. Complete and return the Second Language Examination Request form to world@pdx.edu.
  3. Schedule an exam appointment with PSU’s Testing Services in the Center for Student Health and Counseling (SHAC). Current fees may change from year to year, check the SHAC website to find out current fees.

If you have questions about the content of the exam, visit to the official CLEP website.

Scores Accepted by PSU

A student may earn credit for first-year or second-year language sequences only (101/102/103 or 201/202/203). If you have already earned credit in a 300 or higher-level language course or sequence, you will not receive credit for a first- or second- year language course/sequence for the equivalent CLEP exam. The language sequences must be taken in order. A student may receive credit by exam for a maximum of one language sequence (12-15 credits). 

Language and Score

Number of Credits

Course Equivalency

French 50

12

French 101, 102, 103

French 59

12

French 201, 202, 203 (B.A./M.A. requirement)

German 50

12

German 101, 102, 103

German 60

12

German 201, 202, 203 (B.A./M.A. requirement)

Spanish 50

12

Spanish 101, 102, 103

Spanish 63

12

Spanish 201, 202, 203 (B.A./M.A. requirement)

Credit for Prior Learning and Credit by Examination

Credit for prior learning and credit by examination is an option for languages regularly taught by the Department of World Languages and Literatures. A student may earn 12-15 credits in a first- or second-year language sequence (101/102/103 or 201/202/203). The language sequences must be taken in order (credit for one or two classes in a sequence is also permitted). A student who has earned credit in a 300-level or higher language course or sequence will not receive credit for a first- or second-year language course or sequence or the equivalent CLEP exam. Credit received by exam is graded Pass or No Pass (P/NP) and is available to eligible PSU students only, see below. There is a mandatory 6-month waiting period for retaking a failed exam.

Eligibility
To be eligible to earn Credit for Prior Learning/Credit by Examination, a student must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Students must be formally admitted to PSU and currently enrolled in or have completed a course at PSU to qualify for this testing option.
  • Seeking Credit for Prior Learning/Credit by Examination for one of the following languages offered by Portland State: American Sign Language (ASL), Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Norwegian, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Swedish, and Vietnamese.

Native speakers cannot receive Credit for Prior Learning/Credit by Exam or CLEP in their native language.

Instructions

  • Discuss testing options with the WLL department, contact WLL. You are required to get approval prior to ordering and scheduling an exam.
  • Complete and return the Second Language Examination Request and Credit for Prior Learning form to world@pdx.edu. (Students do not need to get department chair signature to submit the Credit for Prior Learning form for the Second Language Requirement—WLL will coordinate getting the chair’s signature.)
  • Once your form has been approved, a payment link will be emailed to you. Pay the $200 fee by following the link in the email. WLL will be notified automatically that you’ve made the payment.
  • WLL will contact you via email with information for scheduling your exam.

Non-credit Departmental Examination Options
Proficiency Examination Option

A Proficiency Exam can be used for any language to meet PSU’s Second Language Requirement:

This exam is to demonstrate proficiency only. No credit will be awarded. If taking this exam to meet a requirement outside of PSU, you must verify with your home institution that it will meet its standards prior to scheduling the exam. Exam results are issued using Portland State University Department of World Languages and Literatures letterhead and not recorded on a transcript.

Eligibility: Anyone can use this testing option, including students intending to take this exam to fulfill a requirement at another institution.

Instructions:

  1. Discuss testing options with the WLL department, contact WLL. You are required to get approval prior to ordering and scheduling an exam.
  2. Complete and return the Second Language Examination Request and Credit for Prior Learning forms to world@pdx.edu. (Students do not need to get department chair signature to submit the Credit for Prior Learning form for the Second Language Requirement—WLL will coordinate getting the chair’s signature.)
  3. Once your form has been approved, a payment link will be emailed to you. Pay the $80 fee ($100 for non-PSU students) by following the link in the email. WLL will be notified automatically that you’ve made the payment.
  4. WLL will contact you via email with information for scheduling your exam, exam must be completed within 30 days of receiving this email.

PSU Approved Proficiency Examination Languages

  • Chinese: Mandarin
  • Hebrew (Modern)
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Kurdish
  • Latin
  • Norwegian
  • Pashto
  • Portuguese (Brazilian)
  • Portuguese (Continental)
  • Russian
  • Somali
  • Swedish
  • Urdu
  • Vietnamese

BYU FLATS

Student may take the Brigham Young University Foreign Language Achievement Testing Services (BYU FLATS) to demonstrate proficiency for fulfilling the admissions (level 2), B.A. and M.A. (level 3) requirements with a passing score in a language listed below. The exam is multiple-choice and includes a listening comprehension section. There is a two-and-a-half hour time limit. Credit received by exam is graded Pass or No Pass (P/NP) and is available to eligible PSU students only, see below. A Pass score demonstrates proficiency and fulfills the Second Language Requirement for the B.A. There is a mandatory 6-month waiting period for retaking a failed exam.

Eligibility: Students must be formally admitted to PSU and currently enrolled in or have completed a course at PSU to qualify for this testing option.

Instructions:

  1. Discuss testing options with the WLL department, contact WLL. You are required to get approval prior to ordering and scheduling an exam.
  2. Complete and return the Second Language Examination Request form to WLL.
  3. Follow the instructions for BYU FLATS exam registration through PSU’s Testing Services. Current fees may change from year to year, check the SHAC website to find out current fees.
  4. After taking the test, allow two weeks for the results to be received and processed by WLL. 
  5. If you have any questions about exam content, consult the BYU FLATS website.

PSU accepts BYU-FLATS exam results for these languages.

  • Albanian
  • Arabic
  • Armenian
  • Bulgarian
  • Cambodian
  • Cantonese
  • Cebuano
  • Croatian
  • Czech
  • Danish
  • Dutch
  • Estonian
  • Fijian
  • Finnish
  • Georgian
  • Greek
  • Haitian Creole
  • Hmong
  • Hungarian
  • Icelandic
  • Ilonggo-Hiligayan
  • Indonesian
  • Latvian
  • Lithuanian
  • Malagasy
  • Malay
  • Mongolian
  • Polish
  • Romanian
  • Samoan
  • Serbian
  • Tagalog
  • Tahitian
  • Thai
  • Tongan
  • Ukrainian

Proctored WebCAPE

Students may take the Proctored WebCAPE exam in Spanish to meet the Second Language Admissions Requirement. Additionally students may take the Proctored WebCAPE exam in French, German and Spanish to meet the Second Language B.A. and M.A. Requirements. This exam is to demonstrate proficiency only. No credit will be awarded. WebCAPE is an adaptive test, meaning that the length of the exam is dependent on how the questions are answered. The average time taken on the exam is 20-30 minutes, however students may take less or more time on the exam.

Scores Needed to Demonstrate Proficiency

Second Language Requirement

Language

Score

Admissions Requirement

Spanish

226 or higher

B.A. and M.A. Requirements

French
German
Spanish

400 or higher
400 or higher
451 or higher

Eligibility: Students must be formally admitted to PSU and currently enrolled in or have completed a course at PSU to qualify for this testing option. 

Instructions:

  1. Discuss testing options with the WLL department, contact WLL. You are required to get approval prior to ordering and scheduling an exam.
  2. Complete and return the Second Language Examination Request form to WLL. WLL will send you an email approving your request to take the WebCAPE Exam.
  3. Follow the instructions to schedule and take the exam with the SHAC Testing Center. Current fees may change from year to year, check the SHAC website to find out current fees. Do not pay the WebCAPE test fee outside of the PSU process or your exam result will not count.