Placement Policy for World Language Courses

Placement Policy

Students who have studied a world language within four years immediately before admission to Penn State may enroll in that language for credit based on the number of Carnegie units prior to admission. (A Carnegie "unit" refers to one course level of a world language — French 1, French 2, French 3, etc. — equivalent to one year of study and accredited as such by the school.) If a period of four or more years has elapsed between a student's graduation from high school and admission to college, he/she may be eligible to enroll in level 1 of the language studied in high school.

Units of Study Prior to Admission to Penn State Register in Penn State Language Level
Fewer than two Course Level 001 (4 cr.)1
Two or three Course Level 002 (4 cr.)2
Four or more Course Level 003 (4 cr.)3

Students may choose to audit a lower-level course but may not receive credit for it. Students who feel they are qualified for a more advanced course, or students seeking proficiency certification or credit by examination, if available, should contact the appropriate language department for details. For more information, see College of the Liberal Arts policies.

Non-Course Work Knowledge of World Languages

Students who have acquired a knowledge of a world language by means other than course work (e.g., family background, travel or study in a foreign country, participation in noncredit summer language programs, etc.) may enroll in elementary and intermediate courses in that language only with permission of the course coordinator or department head. Once students have been placed in a skills course, they may not receive credit for a lower-level skills course.

Students whose native language is not English may not receive credit (through course work or examination) for elementary and intermediate courses in their native language. Enrollment in skills courses beyond intermediate level (e.g., conversation, composition) must be approved by the department head.

Accelerated and Intensive Courses

Students may choose to enroll in accelerated courses such as French 111 and 112, German 11 and 12, or in Penn State's Summer Intensive Language Institute courses. Because the objectives of these courses are somewhat different, students may schedule them for full credit even if they have studied the language previously.

Credit by examination (fee charged), when available, is offered to the extent allowed by the placement policy. For example, a student who has two units of secondary school foreign language and chooses to begin study of that language at the third level instead of the second (Course Level 003, 4 cr.), may receive credits for the second level (Course Level 002, 4 cr.), but not for the first level (Course Level 001, 4 cr.). See the appropriate department for details.


Questions should be addressed to the course coordinator or department head of the particular language department concerned.