Foreign Language Competency

The Foreign Language Competency requirement is defined as earning a C (2.0) or better in the third quarter of university-level language study. For many students, the general education Foreign Language Competency requirement will be met by taking a one-year series of courses. However, several alternative ways of meeting this requirement are listed below:

  • Show by your high school transcript that you have completed a third year of a single foreign language (during grades 9–12) with an average grade of C (2.0) in the final year or a C (2.0) or better in the final course.
  • Attain a minimum grade of C (2.0) or “pass” in the third quarter of the elementary level of an SPU foreign language course (with the exception of THEO 1203), or a higher level course, in a language other than modern English.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in a language by taking an oral proficiency (not placement) test administered by a qualified testing center and achieving a ranking equivalent to ACTFL Intermediate-Low or better. Such test results may be submitted electronically to or via regular mail to: LCL Department, Seattle Pacific University, 3307 Third Avenue W, Suite 109, Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, WA 98119-2335.
  • Provide evidence that you are a native or near-native speaker of a language other than English by:
    • Gaining admission to SPU as a student required to submit proof of English language proficiency along with your admission application (through completion of a TOEFL exam or IELTS, for instance).
    • Setting up an appointment for an oral assessment of your language skill, if your language is one in which SPU faculty members have expertise. To set up an oral assessment, contact the department chair at
    •  Submitting a letter attesting to your proficiency from a non-family member who uses that language in his or her professional life. Such letters should specify the relationship between your attester and you, and should include information about the context in which you have used the language and your level of proficiency in the language. Letters may be submitted electronically to or via regular mail to the LCL Department, 3307 3rd Ave W, Suite 109, Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, WA 98119-2335.
    • Complete a 10-week minimum quarter- or semester-intensive language immersion program that includes a minimum of 8 semester or 12 quarter credits of the foreign language through the 1103 or A2 level (Common European Framework of Reference) with a minimum grade of C. A homestay is encouraged in a country whose primary language is not English.
    • Transfer a course equivalent to, or more advanced than, 1103 (the third quarter in an elementary-level SPU course) in a language other than English. The course must have been taken at an accredited post-secondary institution whose credits are accepted for transfer by SPU. The grade in the transferred course must be C (2.0) or better, or a “pass,” provided the institution’s minimum achievement level for a “pass” grade is a C (2.0) or higher. 
    • Receive SPU credit for a foreign language exam through Advanced Placement, Cambridge International, or International Baccalaureate, in accordance with the AP, Cambridge International, and IB Transfer Charts.
    • Earn a sufficiently high score on a CLEP test in a language other than English. Attaining a score equal to or above the minimum score recommended by CLEP for awarding credit for the exam will fulfill the Foreign Language Competency requirement; however, no credit will be awarded for CLEP foreign language exams. 
    • American Sign Language (ASL) may be used to fulfill the SPU foreign language requirement if the time you spent in classroom instruction is equal to the 15-credit requirement. No other forms of sign language satisfy the requirement. 
    • Earn an approved direct transfer degree from a Washington, Oregon, or California community college prior to matriculation at SPU. A degree earned in California must be accompanied by full completion of the IGETC curriculum.

    Foreign language substitution policy for documented disability

    Qualified students with current (i.e., issued within the past five years) professional documentation that specifically certifies the student possesses a disability, and clearly indicates the inability to successfully complete the study of a foreign language, may be able to utilize the Foreign Language Substitution Policy as the means to satisfy the general education foreign language requirement. For more information, contact Disability Support Services in the Center for Learning.

Graduation checklist

The 2020–21 graduation requirements checklists

Refer to your 2020-21 checklist to ensure that you’re taking the required courses and credits you need to earn your degree in a timely manner.