colleges that require 3 years of foreign language

One would think that high school graduation requirements in the area of foreign language would match those of the nation’s premier colleges and universities.

Sadly, that would be giving the public educational system far too much credit. Presently, 23 U.S. states do not require the two years of foreign language study that is required for admittance into many colleges. Therefore, an unfortunate number of high school students may mistakenly think that they do not need to take a language to get into their dream university—after all, their high school must know what it’s doing, right? Before a teenager decides whether or not to say “bonjour,” “hola,” or “hallo” to the language of their choosing, they should be fully aware of the standards for admission at their prospective schools. Below, College Transitions has put together a list of foreign language requirements at many of the top institutions in the United States.

InstitutionForeign Language units (Required)Foreign Language units (Recommended)
Adelphi University2
Agnes Scott College22
Alfred University
Allegheny College2
American University23
Amherst College3
Appalachian State University2
Arizona State University2
Auburn University1
Austin College23
Babson College4
Bard College44
Barnard College3
Bates College24
Baylor University2
Belmont University22
Beloit College2
Bennington College3
Bentley University33
Berea College2
Binghamton University3
Boston College4
Boston University24
Bowdoin College4
Bradley University2
Brandeis University4
Brigham Young University-Provo2
Brown University34
Bryant University22
Bryn Mawr College4
Bucknell University24
Butler University2
Cal Poly, Pomona2
Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo24
California Institute of Technology3
California State University, Fresno2
California State University, Fullerton22
California State University, Long Beach22
Carleton College3
Carnegie Mellon University22
Case Western Reserve University23
Centre College24
Chapman University24
Claremont McKenna College33
Clark University2
Clarkson University
Clemson University23
Coastal Carolina University2
Colby College3
Colgate University34

Why Do Schools Require 3 Years of Foreign Language Study?

  1. Cultural Awareness: One of the primary reasons schools require foreign language study is to foster cultural awareness and sensitivity. Learning a foreign language provides students with insight into the customs, traditions, and values of different cultures, promoting a more globally informed citizenry.
  2. Cognitive Benefits: Research has shown that learning a foreign language enhances cognitive skills such as problem-solving, multitasking, and memory retention. It can also improve a student’s native language skills.
  3. College Admission: Many colleges and universities value foreign language study as an indicator of a student’s commitment to a well-rounded education. A three-year requirement signals that the student is willing to take on academic challenges, which can be attractive to admissions officers.

Do You Need Three Years of Foreign Language for College Admission?

The college admission process can vary from one institution to another. While some colleges require or strongly recommend three years of foreign language study, others may not have this requirement at all. In general, having three years of foreign language study on your high school transcript can make you a more competitive candidate for college admission, especially at selective institutions.

For instance, colleges that emphasize a holistic admissions process, such as Ivy League schools and other prestigious universities, often seek students who demonstrate academic rigor and a commitment to well-rounded learning. In such cases, fulfilling the three-year foreign language requirement can be an advantage.

Does Boston College Require 3 Years of Foreign Language?

As of my last knowledge update in September 2021, Boston College did not have a specific foreign language requirement for admission. However, it’s essential to note that college admission policies can change over time, so it’s advisable to check the most up-to-date admission requirements on Boston College’s official website or contact their admissions office for the latest information.

Does Boston University Require 3 Years of Foreign Language?

Similar to Boston College, Boston University also did not have a specific foreign language requirement for admission as of my last update in September 2021. However, like with any college, admission requirements can change, so it’s essential to verify the most current requirements on Boston University’s official website or reach out to their admissions office for the most accurate information.


While many high schools across the United States require three years of foreign language study, it’s not a universal requirement for college admission. The importance of fulfilling this requirement depends on the specific college or university you’re interested in. It’s always a good idea to research the admission requirements of your chosen institutions carefully and ensure that you meet or exceed their expectations. The ability to speak a foreign language can not only open doors to educational opportunities but also enrich your personal and professional life in a globalized world.

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