Top 6 Colleges That Waive Foreign Language Requirements

Last Updated on October 30, 2023 by Editorial Team

Colleges often have a foreign language in their curriculum to ensure students are exposed to new areas. Due to certain reasons, Some students may need the college to waive Foreign language requirements.

Accordingly, some colleges offer a chance to eligible candidates to leave a language from academics, which is often known as a Foreign language waiver. 

In recent times,  as most students are mastering foreign languages in high school, only 7.5 percent of college candidates are seen enrolling in foreign language courses.  If you are one of those who may also be interested in waiving out this dialect,  here we listed some eminent colleges that offer foreign language waivers under certain conditions. 

Foreign language requirement: The need for newer accents!

Apart from being an important life skill, learning a foreign language(s) at college has been mandated because of various factors, including it being a stepping stone for students who might want to explore opportunities in a foreign land. The rationale behind this mandate states significant features in various domains of our lives, which can be enlisted as follows:

1. Professional edges:

  • Having proficiency in a foreign language has been shown to increase the chances of an individual bagging a respectable job in government departments, business, law, medicine, politics, fashion, etc. 
  • Bilingualism, to as many levels as possible, provides an individual with rare and significant opportunities in the global markets. 
  • If an individual moves to another country, communication can be easier if they know the bare basics of the language. 

2. Cultural features:

  • Learning a new language provides an overview of the culture it belongs to, and to some level, allows a deeper understanding to appreciate or identify gaps in one’s own culture. 
  • It definitely increases an individual’s social quotient, in terms of fostering respect and understanding for a different culture, language, and human nature.

3. Academic features:

  • It definitely boosts communication skills with valuable insight into the culture.
  • Acquisition of a second language is known to help in increasing the scores on SAT and GRE exams. 
  • Learning a foreign language is proven to show significant development in the cognitive skills of an individual by improving their memory, listening skills, and even problem-solving and analysis.

Having mentioned these features, learning a second language can help in innumerable ways, but does an additional accent benefit everyone? while the intent behind it is to create a rather inclusive society. There are many examples that show that learning a second language assists. 

Circumstances under which a college waives the foreign language requirements

Most of the colleges in the USA require students to either have 4 years of learning experience in a foreign language / study it in college/or display college-level proficiency in the foreign language. 

While the universities seem to be making the above-mentioned features the strong basis for keeping the mandate around foreign language strong, Russell Neuman’s article challenges those reasons and states that there is insignificant to no major impact of learning a foreign language on the proficiency of the students. 

Princeton University, for instance, has not only mandated a few classes of learning foreign languages but a core course to graduate, under the heavy expectation of creating a barrier-proof multicultural campus. 

Having mentioned that there are certain colleges that offer to waive this requirement but only under very few circumstances, like 

1. Number of semesters 

While there is no specific threshold, most of the competitive institutes generally ask for 3 to four semesters of foreign language training mandate by getting in touch with the student counselor, where the course might require them to finish it in only a single non-primary language. 

2. Accommodations 

A college can waive off the student’s second language as a part of the accommodations. If the student has a relevant special background or an IEP plan, the college evaluates respective documents to waive off for facilitating the student. However, the candidate here should maintain a routine-based contact with the student counselor and be prompt with the documents that might be required. 

3. Students with a specific language learning disability 

Students who have a learning disability can have challenges in the process of learning a foreign language. They can apply for a foreign language waiver under guided rules that apparently require a certificate and other essentials to prove the credibility of their information.

4. International student 

If the student has done their education in a different country and completed it in their official language until high school, then the student can apply for a waiver by informing the student counselor. 

Colleges that offer foreign language waiver 

1. University of Georgia 

Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, affiliated with the University of Georgia, aims to foster an environment that understands and identifies the existence of differences and diversity. They believe in creating a safe space for every individual and allow accommodation for these differences by allowing waivers in their conditions under legible circumstances. 

The policy for students with learning disabilities states that an individual can apply for a waiver of the foreign language requirement through DRC, i.e. Disability Resource Center shall send the college an accommodation letter stating the waiver, which would be notified to the student on their University mail, through the Office of Academics, along with a foreign language substitution form. 

The student will have to choose three/four subjects, and upon completion, will have to submit it to the Graduation Certification Office. Upon completion of the procedure, the foreign language requirement shall stand waived. 

2. George Mason University 

The College of Science at George Mason University works to prepare students for various interdisciplinary courses in the field of science providing cutting-edge research opportunities. While they have a mandate for learning a foreign language, they do offer waiver under certain circumstances, listed below: 

  • If the student can provide qualifying scores for the Advanced Placement Exam, the International Baccalaureate, the SAT Subject Test, or others, submitted with the application to Mason.
  • If they provide documents for placement into 250/300 level class on the placement exam, administered by the dept of classical and modern languages. 
  • If they can provide a qualifying TOEFL score. 
  • If they can show the attendance record of a high school where the student has attended classes for at least 4 years and had a language of instruction other than English. 
  • If they provide language proficiency certified by ACTFL.

However, for a student with proficiency in a foreign language that is not taught at Mason’s, then they will be required to arrange an affiliated faculty to administer their test and submit the required forms for both the test and acceptance of the test taker, along with the scores, to move forward for the waiver. 

3. University of San Francisco

Being one of the top-ranked schools for Entrepreneurship, USF offers students a range of courses and learning opportunities with their campuses around the globe. 

While the requirements might vary from college to college, USF mandates that every student has to pass the foreign language course with a minimum grade of -C, however, students falling under certain requirements can apply for the waiver of the requirement :

  • They can provide a score of 4-5, on the Advanced Placement Exam and 4-7 on the International Baccalaureate Exam. 
  • USF has made arrangements to accept all college-level credits and under the qualifying circumstances, the student can provide the credits they have received for a foreign language in any other college, get them transferred to avail a waiver, or ensure that they begin the classes from the following credit level. 
  • Students can take a Foreign Language placement test if they have proficiency in languages other than English, however, only one attempt shall stand corrected. 
  • If the student is a non-native speaker of English, they can provide transcripts for their education in another language for classes up to 8th grade or higher, and avail of the waiver. 

4. UMass Dartmouth

University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, a research university provides a dedicated and vibrant environment to the learners and also allows students with well-documented learning disabilities to get the foreign language requirement waived off under certain circumstances. The accommodations will be made under the following circumstances; 

  • If the student can provide documents, appropriate to the post-secondary environment evaluated by professionals, qualified with experience in the special needs education domain. For example clinical psychologists, educational or neuropsychologists, etc. 
  • If they can provide actual scores of neuropsychological or psychoeducational assessments, along with data and specific diagnosis. 
  • The documented diagnostic summary includes recommendations for academic accommodations. 

Post the required documentation and assessment scores have been submitted, the student shall reach out to the foreign language department for confirmation of the waiver. 

5. University of Louisville

The Department of classical and Modern Languages at the University of Louisville aims to empower students while accommodating their diversity and being socially impactful in providing them with a learning environment. 

A student who might be a non-native speaker of English is eligible to request a waiver of the mandatory requirement to learn a foreign language, given they can fulfill the following requirements: 

  • Provide qualifying scores for TOEFL
  • Provide transcripts or degrees of the school/institution of education with instructional language other than English. 
  • Scores for the STAMP 4S exam, for students who have prior proficiency only in the SPANISH language, where the qualifying scores for students will be dependent on the level of degree they are opting for. 
  • Students who have a native language other than English may get themselves independently evaluated for the language by filling out the evaluator and assessment form provided on the university website and submitting the scores for the same. 

6. Binghamton University 

Binghamton University is a world-class institution that offers students a broad, interdisciplinary education, with a mandate towards learning a foreign language at the university. 

However, they do offer waivers for the same under certain circumstances, listed below: 

  • The student is pursuing an engineering program at Watson College. 
  • Students pursuing nursing at the Decker School or a computer science course at Watson College may apply for a waiver if they have one approved foreign language course at any level. Or they have demonstrated a proficiency level equivalent to completing 3 or more units of high school foreign language with a Regents or Checkpoint B Examination score of 85 or higher. 
  • The transfer students from the College of Community and Public Affairs, Harpur College, and School of Management can apply for the waiver if they have FL2 level proficiency in the foreign language course. Or students have demonstrated a proficiency level equivalent to completing 3 or more units of high school foreign language with a Regents or Checkpoint B Examination score of 85 or higher.

Students whose native language is not English can apply for a foreign language requirement waiver if –

  • They have a college transcript with ESL or ELI.
  • They have appeared for a TOEFL test to secure admission.
  • They have received schooling in another language up to the age of 12 and then moved to the United States.

How to get out of foreign language requirement in college 

With a few instances where some colleges become accommodative of the challenges and understand that mandates don’t work in acquiring education unless the individual really wants to. So, the following section shall enlist a few steps to help in getting the requirement of foreign language waived in the colleges: 

1. The student should consult their issue with the student counselor, and draft a formal application along with any documents that might be required. 

For example: In the case of an individual with a learning compromise, the wise step would be to procure a certificate stating the same, to deliver it as proof to the administration for the waiver. 

2. The student will then be referred to the Head of the foreign languages department where they will be required to present their situation formally, for the waiver to come into action. 

3. The head of the department will have the complete authority to question the student thoroughly and if deemed honest and may forward their request to the dean by filling out a foreign language waiver form. 

4. The dean will then go through documents and the formal application for the waiver, and respond back to the Head of the department regarding its acceptance or rejection, who will then get back to the student counselor upon the same. 

5. Once the dean has signed off on the application of the waiver, the student can show it during the allotment of courses and get through with the admission process. 


It is extremely important for a society to be eclectic in its nature and inclusive in its functioning. Several universities in the USA have mandated structures of education that push students to learn foreign languages as a prerequisite even to graduate. 

While this promotes an inclusive society for multicultural people, it also limits individuals with Learning disabilities. Through this article, we list a few ways to navigate through this issue and seek waivers for learning foreign languages. In the end, the article lists universities and colleges that offer waivers for foreign languages based on the choice of the students.

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