Majors and Minors

World Languages and Literatures majors and minors

The Department of World Languages and Literatures offers a Bachelor of Arts in World Languages and Literatures, with majors in French and Spanish. Students may also complete minors in Chinese Studies, French, Japanese and Spanish, as well as interdisciplinary minors in Basque Studies, International Affairs and Latin American Studies. In addition, the department offers a Minor of Translation in Spanish, to address the needs of students interested in Spanish translation and wishing to acquire a higher degree of competence in the field.



* Students may petition the Associate Dean to use a special related field in lieu of a minor. For example, a student may wish to complete a special related field in pre-law or pre-med, minors that are not recognized by the college or the university. Please contact the College of Liberal Arts general advising office to request relevant paperwork.

Reasons to study a world language

In addition to broadening your life experiences and your view of the world, studying another language has been shown to improve your general communication skills, your cognitive abilities and your critical thinking. Language study on your transcript gives you an edge in any career choice. Among other things, world language study offers a gateway to countries that trade with the United States. To compete in a global marketplace and to engage an increasingly diverse U.S. population, major industries, multinational corporations and many branches of government seek employees who speak more than just English. Even small local businesses, without global reach, know that applicants with foreign language skills are better qualified than those without them.

What can I do with a major in a world language?

How will a language degree help you find a job?  Well, for starters, a language major doesn't restrict your job opportunities. On the contrary, a major in languages will open up more career options and make you more competitive on the job market. How?

Diverse skill set

The study of languages develops a core set of skills sought after by employers in a wide range of occupational settings. A sampling of representative skills and abilities follows.

  • Multilingualism
  • Cross-cultural communication
  • Expressing and understanding multiple viewpoints
  • Presenting information logically
  • Reading critically
  • Writing effectively
  • Linguistic sophistication
Human relations
  • Understanding cultural differences
  • Sensitivity to cultural issues
  • Flexibility in thinking and learning
  • Ability to adjust to new environments
  • Appreciation of cultural history, literature, politics, music and more
Critical thinking
  • Thinking collaboratively
  • Analyzing information, cultures and complex problems
  • Comparing and contrasting interpretations
  • Offering diverse perspectives
  • Assessing cultural differences
  • Synthesizing themes
  • Research skills
Problem solving
  • Assessing needs
  • Defining problems
  • Understanding alternative perspectives
  • Gathering information from a variety of sources
  • Weighing alternatives
  • Generating creative solutions

Cultural competence

In addition, your communication skills and cultural know-how can nicely complement virtually any career preparation. The study of a language entails much more than merely learning grammar and memorizing vocabulary. It gives you solid preparation for understanding and dealing with an entirely new culture, a skill of increasing significance due to globalization. Proficiency in foreign languages and an understanding of other cultures are essential tools in an increasingly interdependent world. For this reason, your communication skills and cultural know-how can nicely complement virtually any career preparation.

Sample internship opportunities

  • U.S. State Department
  • Government agencies (e.g., National Security Agency)
  • Embassy (U.S. & foreign)
  • Museums (e.g., Smithsonian Institutions)
  • Educational Programs (e.g., Summerbridge)
  • Consulting firms (e.g., Social Technologies)
  • Media (e.g., ABC Nightline, Dateline NBC)

In addition to going into teaching, the following areas are looking for leaders with a foreign language proficiency:

  • translation/interpretation
  • language analysis
  • linguistics
  • diplomacy
  • civil service
  • foreign service
  • immigration/naturalization
  • customs
  • intelligence
  • security and protection
  • law enforcement
  • journalism/broadcasting
  • public NGOs (Amnesty International, District Attorney, World Bank, Google, Yahoo)
  • language service providers