Meeting the Second Language Requirement

Language Requirements

Contact world@pdx.edu to check whether the language exam you wish to take is currently available. Testing Deadlines: Exam requests are accepted from the first week of classes until the Friday of week 6 of each term. Exams (except for Goethe) must be taken by Friday of week 8.

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 University. Students who graduated from an Oregon high school in 1997 or later must meet the Second Language Admission Requirement

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 second language. Students who have sufficient proficiency (or who wish to prepare themselves outside of formal classes) may meet the B.A. second language requirement in one 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 equivalent 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 languages regularly taught by the Department of World Languages and Literatures.
  • Non-credit/Waiver Examination: In any language for which the Department of World Languages and Literatures has a qualified tester, by passing a non-credit examination such as the BYU Flats exam, proctored WebCape exam or departmental 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 submitting the Second Language Requirement Verification Request form, filled out by the student, with the appropriate documents attached (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.

Students who wish to use English as a second language to satisfy their B.A. Second Language Requirement can satisfy the requirement by showing an official transcript 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 and 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. language requirement. AP and IB exams are offered to high school students only.

CLEP Language Exam

The CLEP examinations in French, German and Spanish can be used to meet the admission, B.A. or 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.

Students can take the CLEP exam at an approved testing site, if one is open. Request that CLEP send the official score transcript to Portland State University (select PSU's school code when requesting a transcript). You can find a list of CLEP testing centers on the CLEP website. If you have additional test center questions, contact CLEP Services at clep@info.collegeboard.org.

Eligibility

  • Students must be formally admitted to PSU and currently enrolled in or have completed a course at PSU to qualify for this exam option.
  • Students who have already completed a CLEP Language Exam can have their official scores sent to PSU to fulfill the second language requirement.
  • Native speakers cannot receive credit for CLEP in their native language or Credit for Prior Learning/Credit by Exam.
  • There is a mandatory 3-month waiting period for retaking a failed exam.

Instructions

  1. Have your academic advisor complete the Advisor Language Proficiency Exam Referral Form.
  2. Complete the Second Language Proficiency Exam Request form. You are required to get an approval email from world@pdx.edu before you order and schedule an exam.
  3. If you have any questions about the content of the exam, visit the official CLEP website.

Scores Accepted by PSU:

A student may earn credit in 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 in 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 for 12 credits. 

Language Score # 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/Credit by Examination

WLL offers Credit for Prior Learning or Credit by Examination in the following Languages: American Sign Language (ASL), Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Norwegian, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Vietnamese. 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. Credit received by exam is graded Pass or No Pass (P/NP) and is available to eligible PSU students only, see below. 

Eligibility

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

  • must be formally admitted to PSU.
  • must be currently enrolled in or have completed a course at PSU to qualify for this testing option. The course number cannot be 199, 299, 399, or 401-410.  
  • Native speakers cannot receive Credit for Prior Learning/Credit by Exam in their native language.
  • There is a mandatory 3-month waiting period for retaking a failed exam.

Instructions

  • Have your academic advisor complete the Advisor Language Proficiency Exam Referral Form
  • Complete the Second Language Proficiency Exam Request form and the top section of the Credit for Prior Learning form. (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 from world@pdx.edu. Pay the $200 fee by following the link in the email. WLL will be notified automatically that you’ve made the payment. You are required to get an approval email from world@pdx.edu before scheduling an exam.
  • WLL will contact you via email with information for scheduling your exam.

Non-credit/Waiver Departmental Examination Options - Proficiency Examination Option

This exam is to demonstrate proficiency only. No credit will be awarded. A PSU student may take this exam option to satisfy the Admissions Requirement (102), B.A. Requirement (203), or M.A. Requirement (203). 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 will not be recorded on a transcript. PSU offers the Proficiency Examination in the following languages: American Sign Language, Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), French, German, Hebrew (Modern), Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Norwegian, Persian, Portuguese (Brazilian or Continental), Russian, Spanish, Somali, Swedish, Urdu, and Vietnamese. 

Eligibility:

  • Anyone can use this testing option, including students intending to take this exam to fulfill a requirement at another institution.
  • There is a mandatory 3-month waiting period for retaking a failed exam.

Instructions:

  1. If you are a PSU student, have your academic advisor complete the Advisor Language Proficiency Exam Referral form. If you are a non-PSU student, discuss testing options with the WLL department, at world@pdx.edu.
  2. Complete the Second Language Proficiency Exam Request form.
  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 from world@pdx.edu with the approval and information for scheduling your exam, exam must be completed within 30 days of receiving this email.

BYU FLATS

A PSU 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. A Pass score demonstrates proficiency and waives the Second Language Requirement. This exam is to demonstrate proficiency only. No credit will be awarded.

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 and Ukrainian.

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.
  • There is a mandatory 6-month waiting period for retaking a failed exam.

Instructions:

  1. Have your academic advisor complete the Advisor Language Proficiency Exam Referral form
  2. Complete the Second Language Proficiency Exam Request form
  3. You are required to get email approval from world@pdx.edu before paying and scheduling an exam. 
  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.

    Proctored WebCAPE 

    Students may take the Proctored WebCAPE exam in Spanish to meet the Second Language Admission Requirement. B.A. and M.A. students may take the Proctored WebCAPE exam in French, German or Spanish to meet their Second Language Requirement. This exam demonstrates proficiency only, and 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. Students are allowed up to 45 minutes to complete the exam with a proctor. 

    Scores Needed to Demonstrate Proficiency

    Second Language Requirement Language Score
    Admission 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.
    • There is a mandatory 3-month waiting period for retaking a failed exam.

    Instructions

    1. Have your academic advisor complete the Advisor Language Proficiency Exam Referral form
    2. Complete the Second Language Proficiency Exam Request form
    3. You are required to get email approval from world@pdx.edu before paying and scheduling an exam. 
    4. Do not pay the WebCAPE test fee outside of the PSU process or your exam result will not count.