Foreign Language Requirements
The MA in History ("research" option), the MA in Humanities ("research" option), the MA in Latin American Studies, and the PhD in Humanities all require demonstration of reading proficiency in a foreign language.
The foreign languages automatically acceptable for satisfying the language requirement for degrees in History and Humanities are: Chinese, French, German, classical Greek, Italian, Latin and Spanish. The foreign languages automatically acceptable for satisfying the language requirement for the degree in Latin American Studies are: Spanish and Portuguese.
The graduate program does not regard computer languages as foreign languages, so they do not satisfy the foreign-language requirement for either the MA or the PhD degree.
Doctoral students normally use the same language with which they satisfied the requirement for the MA to satisfy the requirement for the PhD.
- Requirement for the MA Degrees
- Requirement for the PhD Degree
- The Language Proficiency Examination
- Modifications in the Graduate Language Requirement
- Foreign Language Supervisors
Students satisfy the foreign language requirement for the MA by means of a proficiency examination, which they must pass before they submit their proposals for the MA portfolio, thesis, or capstone project to the Graduate Studies Committee.
The proficiency examination is a four-hour translation exercise. The exam itself consists of two passages, a primary text and a secondary or critical work in the student's general area of interest (Aesthetic Studies, History, History of Ideas or Literary Studies). Students may use a dictionary and will have two hours to work on each passage, which will be about 500 words in length.
They should translate as much of the individual passages as they can in the allotted time. The students are not expected to achieve a literary translation, but they must present a draft in clear comprehensible English prose. Although they need not necessarily complete the entire passage, the less they translate the more accurate and idiomatic the English rendition should be. In evaluating proficiency, the faculty readers will weigh the length and quality of the translation as well as the difficulty of the passage itself.
Students may retake the examination until they pass it, but they may not retake it within three months of an earlier attempt.
The proficiency examination is scheduled through the Graduate Support Assistant in the Arts & Humanities Office (JO 4.510) or by calling 972-883-4419.
Students may also take review courses in some languages (HUMA 6320-6323) and advanced language workshops (HUMA 6330-6333) to help prepare themselves for the appropriate proficiency examination, which serves as the final exam for an advanced workshop. Students taking a language workshop (HUMA 6330-6333) to prepare for the proficiency exam, however, must take the translation examination as the final for the course. These review courses and workshops do not count toward minimum course requirements for the degree.
Students admitted to the PhD program from universities other than UT Dallas must pass a language proficiency examination in an approved foreign language within one calendar year (in the case of full-time students) or within two calendar years (in the case of part-time students) of their entry. The examination will be equivalent to that required for MA students.
In addition, doctoral students must demonstrate their active use of the foreign language at an advanced level in two courses. For this purpose, they may undertake readings and research in regular organized courses. They may also meet one half of the requirement by taking the Art and Craft of Translation (HUSL 6380) once, or they may undertake readings and research in the context of an independent study.
Once doctoral students have demonstrated the scholarly use of their chosen language, faculty members should send the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies a memo stating the student's name, the course number (plus semester and year) in which proficiency was demonstrated, a brief description of how proficiency was demonstrated, and full bibliographic citation of the text(s) used
PhD students may use only courses taken after they have passed the proficiency examination to satisfy the doctoral language requirement.
Students must satisfy the PhD foreign language requirement in the semester prior to taking the doctoral field examinations.
As part of its approval of a dissertation proposal, the Graduate Studies Committee will consider the appropriateness of a candidate's language preparation for the research or creative project.
Administration of the Language Exam
Normally, both passages of the examination, the primary text and the critical or secondary work, are to be translated on the same day, though students must take a break between the two parts.
Students have two hours to translate each passage, which is approximately 500 words in length. Students cannot take anything into the testing room; we will provide a dictionary, paper, and writing implements. Should the student wish to use their own dictionary, it must not have a grammar or idiom section and must be approved by the Graduate Support Assistant prior to the exam.
The exam is now done digitally by translating the document and typing it in to a word document. This is to prevent confusion and questions about clarity of hand writing. Scratch paper is allowed in the exam room to make notes but must be discarded upon completion.
Individual arrangements to take the examination are made with the Graduate Support Assistant in JO 4.510 (phone 972-883-4419).
Grading of the Language Exam
To allow for "blind" readings of the examination, the identity of the student is not revealed to the faculty graders.
Generally, the translations are evaluated by two regular faculty members, both of whom must evaluate the translation as acceptable in order for the student to pass this portion of the exam. Should they disagree, however, a third faculty reading will decide the outcome.
Students are not expected to achieve a literary translation, but they must present a draft in clear comprehensible English prose. Although they need not necessarily complete the entire passage, the less they translate the more accurate and idiomatic the English rendition should be. In evaluating proficiency, the faculty readers will weigh the length and quality of the translation as well as the difficulty of the passage itself.
Students who do not pass the language exam may retake it as many times as are necessary to pass it, though they may retake it only at three month intervals.
Students may seek modifications in any of the provisions of the graduate language requirements but only by petition to the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies, who must approve any changes or waivers.
Because of the current makeup of the Arts and Humanities faculty, the languages most commonly chosen to fulfill the requirements are Chinese, French, German, classical Greek, Italian, Latin, or Spanish. On the recommendation of a student's advisor (or the chair of the supervisory committee), however, the Associate Dean may approve substitution of another language, although it must be appropriate to the student's research topic.
Graduate students whose first languages are non-European languages may petition the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies to consider English proficiency as meeting the program's foreign-language requirement, especially if their research here would involve their native languages or probably would not involve one of the automatically approved European languages. They may demonstrate their English proficiency either by possession of a degree from an accredited English-language university or by a score no lower than 580 (or no lower than a computer-based total of 90) on an official Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).
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