Language Major Placement

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Frequently Asked Questions

Who should take language placement tests? What kind of language placement tests are available?

All new students, both incoming first-year and transfer, with academic or life experience in one of the following languages: Chinese, French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish, should take the online WebCAPE Placement Exam prior to beginning classes at Fairfield University.

Since there is no language placement exam in Arabic, Hebrew, Japanese, Portuguese, Latin or Classical Greek, all new students, both incoming first-year and transfer, with academic or life experience in these languages, should follow the advice given by the representative faculty from the Department in Modern Languages and Literatures or Classical Studies at Orientation.

Can I start a new language? What are my options?

You are free to start a new language offered at Fairfield University: Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Classical Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish, whether or not you have already studied one or more of these modern or classical languages. If you are starting a new language at Fairfield University, you do not and should not take the placement test in this new language. Instead, please register for the elementary level 110 (e.g. CI 110) of that language.

When should I take the language placement exam?

If you are a high school student, you should take the language placement exam in the spring of your senior year of high school prior to arriving at Fairfield. Please check your Orientation materials for specific dates for taking the Placement Exam.

I already have proficiency in a language outside of English. What are my options?

Every undergraduate student at Fairfield University, beginning with the Class of 2023, must complete one semester of a language as part of the Magis Core. Depending on one’s program of study, the student will also be required to complete a second semester of that same language OR a second mathematics course. Because Fairfield University is committed to each student being exposed to other cultures/traditions as part of a liberal arts education formation, there will be no place-outs of the one semester language requirement.

Students who have developed proficiency in one language are strongly encouraged to consider taking advanced classes in that language or starting a new language.

Modern Languages and Literatures majors often double major or minor in Communication, English, International Business, International Studies or Politics as well as other areas of study. Foreign Language Minors often major in the preceding disciplines or Accounting, Art History, Biology, Marketing, Mathematics, Psychology, as well as other fields. Certain languages are closely connected with areas of study offered in interdisciplinary Minors and are likely to be either required or approved electives. For example, a student interested in Asian Studies will want to consider starting Chinese and/or Japanese; a student interested in Italian Studies, Italian; a student interested in Latin American and Caribbean Studies (LACS), Portuguese, French, or Spanish; a student interested in Russian, East European, Central Asian Studies, Russian. The U.S. Government treats Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese and Russian—as Critical Languages important to strategic interests and scholarships may be available for immersion study in these languages. Any of the 12 foreign languages offered at Fairfield could be included in an individually designed major.

For students of Latin and Classical Greek, the Classical Studies Program similarly offers a minor in Classical Studies as well as a full major through the individually designed major.

Do I have to pay for my language placement test?

Language placements tests for Fairfield University students are free of charge.

How many times can I take the placement test?

Current policy specifies that only the first score earned from one of our online placement tests will count for that language unless a suitable rationale for retaking the test is accepted by the Chair or members of the language placement team.

What should I do if I want to change the level within the language I am taking?

After attending a full week of classes, if you still think you want to change the level within the language you are taking, you must discuss it with the instructor first and then get the approval from the Department Chair.

Whom should I contact if I need to make arrangements to take the placement exam outside of summer Orientation or if I have general questions regarding placement?

If you have previous academic or life experience in Chinese, French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish, write to If you want to continue your study in Arabic, Hebrew, Japanese, and Portuguese, languages for which there is no placement exam, you can contact the Chair of Modern Languages and Literatures for more information. Students who are starting to learn a new language do not need to take the Placement Exam in this new language.

Students who have previous academic or life experience in Latin or Greek will be placed according to your background and information obtained on the Academic Interest Questionnaire by a faculty member in the Classical Studies program.

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