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Washington State University
History | Language Examination

Language Examination Guidelines

The language requirements for the PhD program must be fulfilled prior to the scheduling of preliminary examinations. Continued funding is contingent upon passing the language examination by the end of the third semester of doctoral work. 

The language requirement can be satisfied in one of the following ways. 

  • A PhD Student for whom English is not their first language may request a waiver of the language requirement from the Graduate Studies Committee. 
  • A PhD Student may take a language course numbered 306 or higher and achieve at least a B grade. Students may also enroll in Spanish 600 (S/F) with preapproval from their major professor and the Graduate Studies Committee. 
  • A PhD Student whose undergraduate or graduate transcript records a grade of B or higher in a course equivalent to 306 or higher may petition the Graduate Studies Committee for credit in fulfillment of their language requirement. 
  • A PhD Student may take a language examination in the School of Languages, Culture, and Race. Students who pursue this path must complete a screening interview with a faculty member from SLCR by the end of their second semester of enrollment in the PhD program at the latest. If SLCR determines that the student is not prepared to sit the examination, the student is strongly encouraged to enroll in a language course numbered 306 or higher in their third semester. Language examinations at the doctoral level will be administered and evaluated by the Department of Foreign Languages and Cultures at Washington State University. Students should obtain a copy of the document entitled “Fulfillment of the Foreign Language Translation Requirement for Graduate Students in Other Departments” and following the procedure and using the application form outlined therein.

Once a PhD student has successfully completed the foreign language requirement, the major professor must report the results to the Graduate Studies Committee for the purpose of maintaining the student’s record. 

Please fill out the Language Background Form and send it with your application to the Department of History.

Required Form

Please fill out the Language Background Form and mail it with your application to the Department of History.

Evaluation Procedures

What is being tested in these examinations are 2 sorts of linguistic skills:

  1. comprehension of the meaning of appropriately-selected passages in the language of the examination, and
  2. the ability to find a suitable English equivalent to the language of the examination passage and to render a smooth, idiomatic translation.

The language examination is designed to test both skills; but, inasmuch as the ability to read and do research in another language is more important than the ability to translate it, in general, exactitude of meaning should take priority over fluency of expression.

In translating the test passage, students should demonstrate not only a knowledge of the meaning of the words; they should be able to put verbs in the correct tenses, words in their proper grammatical forms, and common idioms in their nearest English equivalents. The candidate should recognize the difference between negative and positive phrases, declarative and interrogative expressions, and indicative and imperative moods.