Frequently Asked Questions

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What languages are offered at UW-Madison?

UW-Madison regularly offers over 40 languages during the academic year. Additional language courses are offered during summer term through individual courses and Wisconsin Intensive Summer Language Institutes (WISLI). Visit the Languages page to learn more about each language program.

What are Madison’s language requirements?

Admissions Requirement

The minimum foreign language requirement for admission to UW-Madison is two sequential units of a language (other than English). Competitive applicants have at least three or four units.

A unit of language is defined as:

  • One semester of college OR
  • One year of high school OR
  • Two years of middle school

Graduation Requirement

The foreign language requirement for graduation from UW-Madison varies by School or College.

School or College BA & BS Language Requirement
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences None
School of Business 3 units of the same language

  • High school and college units can be combined
School of Education None

  • Language courses may be used to fulfill Humanities requirement for certain majors.
  • Language Teaching Certification requires additional language coursework
College of Engineering None

  • Language courses can be used to fulfill 6 credits of Humanities required of all Engineering students.
School of Human Ecology None

  • Language courses can satisfy the additional Humanities requirement for certain majors.
College of Letters and Science Students may combine high school and college work to meet requirement. Students with prior language experience (formal/informal) may take a placement exam to begin in higher level coursework.

BA

  • Completion of fourth level of a single language

OR

  • Completion of second level of one language AND third level of a second language

BS

  • Completion of third level of a single language
School of Nursing None

  • Knowledge of another language is considered beneficial when applying to the professional program.
  • Foreign language courses may count toward Humanities requirement.
School of Pharmacy BS Pharmacology & Toxicology:

None

  • Foreign language courses may count toward Humanities graduation requirement.

Can I get retroactive credits? How?

Please refer to the College of Letters & Science Undergraduate Guide to view the Credit By Course Examination/Retroactive Credit Policy (Credits —> Credit By Course Examination/Retroactive Credits).

How do I determine the number of retroactive credits I will receive?

There are two considerations you should make when determining the number of retro credits you will receive upon earning a B or better in your first language course at UW-Madison:

  1. What language course did you place into?
  2. What are the prior UW-Madison courses (first semester, second semester, third semester, etc.) in the course sequence for that language, and how many credits are those courses worth?

Remember: Retrocredits can only be earned for the first four semesters/terms of a language sequence.

For Example:

Language Course Completed Previous Course(s) in the Sequence Retrocredits Earned
African 323

(Third Semester Arabic)

African 321 (First Semester Arabic), 5 cr.

African 322 (Second Semester Arabic), 5 cr.

10 retrocredits
E Asian 102

(Second Semester Chinese)

E Asian 101 (First Semester Chinese), 6 cr. 6 retrocredits
French 204

(Fourth Semester French)

French 101 (First Semester French), 4 cr.

French 102 (Second Semester French), 4 cr.

French 103 (Third Semester French), 4 cr.

12 retrocredits
German 102

(Second Semester German)

German 101 (First Semester German), 4 cr. 4 retrocredits
Spanish 203

(Third Semester Spanish)

Spanish 101 (First Semester Spanish), 4 cr.

Spanish 102 (Second Semester Spanish), 4 cr.

8 retrocredits
Spanish 226

(Fifth Semester Spanish)

Spanish 101 (First Semester Spanish), 4 cr.

Spanish 102 (Second Semester Spanish), 4 cr.

Spanish 203 (Third Semester Spanish), 4 cr.

Spanish 204 (Fourth Semester Spanish), 4 cr.

16 retrocredits

 

How do I find out what the prior courses are for the course that I place into?

To find prior coursework in the course sequence, admitted and current students can conduct a search through the Enroll App or the CourseGuide through MyUW. Prospective students should refer to the Public Class Search.

If you have further questions regarding retroactive credits, please contact advisor@languageinstitute.wisc.edu.

When is the best time to start a new language?

For most languages, you can only take the odd-numbered courses (i.e. first semester, third semester, etc.) in the fall, and the even-numbered courses (i.e. second semester, fourth semester, etc.) in the spring. This means that if you want to start a new language, you usually have to start in the fall semester.

Do I need to take a language placement test? How do I register?

Placement testing is required for students who have prior experience in a language. Students entering with AP language credit or other college credit are also strongly encouraged to take the placement test to ensure accurate course placement.

If you want to start learning a new language, you do not need to take a placement test. Go ahead and enroll!

French, German and Spanish Test Registration:

New Freshmen & Transfer Students

  1. Pre-Orientation (Spring/Early Summer): Register for the French, German or Spanish placement test through regional placement tests (in or near WI) or computer-based testing.
  2. Post-Orientation (During Academic Year): Find times for the French, German or Spanish placement test through UW-Madison Testing and Evaluation Services (no registration necessary).

Current Students

  1. Find times for the French, German or Spanish placement test through UW-Madison Testing and Evaluation Services (no registration necessary).

Learn more about content on French, German and Spanish placement tests.

 

Placement Information for Languages Other Than French, German, and Spanish:

Contact the designated placement test coordinator to schedule a placement test.

Language Testing Coordinator
Arabic Katrina Daly Thompson

katrina.daly.thompson@wisc.edu

Chinese Complete background questionnaire.
Czech David Danaher

dsdanaher@wisc.edu

Danish Nete Schmidt

aschmidt2@wisc.edu

Dutch Jolanda Vanderwal Taylor

jvtaylor@wisc.edu

Filipino Complete background questionnaire.
Finnish Nete Schmidt

aschmidt2@wisc.edu

Greek (Ancient) Toni Landis

tllandis@wisc.edu

Hausa Katrina Daly Thompson

katrina.daly.thompson@wisc.edu

Hindi Complete background questionnaire.
Hmong Complete background questionnaire.
Icelandic Kirsten Wolf

kirstenwolf@wisc.edu

Indonesian Complete background questionnaire.
Italian Visit the department’s placement page
Japanese Complete background questionnaire.
Kazakh Jennifer Tishler

jtishler@creeca.wisc.edu

Khmer Complete background questionnaire.
Korean Complete background questionnaire.
Latin Toni Landis

tllandis@wisc.edu

Norwegian Peggy Hager

pehager@wisc.edu

Ojibwe Rand Valentine

rand.valentine@wisc.edu

Persian Complete background questionnaire.
Polish Ewa Miernowska

miernows@wisc.edu

Portuguese Ellen Sapega

ewsapega@wisc.edu

Quechua Alberto Vargas

avargasp@wisc.edu

Russian Anna Tumarkin

atumarki@wisc.edu

Sanskirt Gudrun Buhnemann

gbuhnema@wisc.edu

Serbo-Crotian Tomislav Longinovic

tlongino@wisc.edu

Swahili Katrina Daly Thompson

katrina.daly.thompson@wisc.edu

Swedish Susan Brantly

sbrantly@wisc.edu

Thai Complete background questionnaire.
Tibetan Complete background questionnaire.
Turkish Venkat Mani

bvmani@wisc.edu

Urdu Complete background questionnaire.
Vietnamese Complete background questionnaire.
Wolof Katrina Daly Thompson

katrina.daly.thompson@wisc.edu

Yiddish Sunny Yudkoff

yudoff@wisc.edu

Yoruba Katrina Daly Thompson

katrina.daly.thompson@wisc.edu

Yucatec Maya Alberto Vargas

Avargasp@wisc.edu

Email advisor@languageinstitute.wisc.edu or call (608)265-8753 with placement test questions.

How will my college credit earned in high school transfer to UW-Madison?

There are many ways that you can earn college credit for language study while still in high school:

  • Advanced Placement (AP) tests
  • International Baccalaureate (IB) tests
  • Dual enrollment programs (UW-Oshkosh CAPP, UM College in the Schools, etc.)
  • A language course taken at a college or university while still in high school

It is important to verify how your credit will transfer prior to your arrival. To transfer the credit, you should request that transcripts or test scores be sent from the credit-granting institution to UW-Madison Office of Admissions and Recruitment as soon as possible.

Direct further questions to: advisor@languageinstitute.wisc.edu.

Are there scholarships for language study?

Yes, our scholarships page will tell you about specific opportunities on and off campus.

Where can I get career and academic advising?

Schedule an appointment with International Directions Advisor, Kaitlin Koehler, to discuss academic programs and campus resources that fit students’ international and language interests as well as professional opportunities (full-time jobs and internships) that draw on these experiences. Don’t forget to check out the many other career resources on campus too.

Whom can I contact with questions?

For general questions, email advisor@languageinstitute.wisc.edu or call (608)265-8753.