Language Requirements for the MA program:

MA students must demonstrate an ability to work at the graduate level in at least one language other than English. There are a couple of ways to demonstrate this language proficiency by:

• Successfully completing a graduate course that is taught in a foreign language.
• Arranging with a graduate instructor for you to write, speak, and read in a foreign language within the context of a seminar that is taught in English. These arrangements must be made in the first week of the semester and confirmed by the Graduate Professor via email to the Associate Director.
• Arranging an evaluation of your language proficiency by a graduate faculty member at the U of T.
• Providing official academic transcripts from post-secondary school/institution in which instruction was conducted in the language.

Adequate reading knowledge of a second language other than English must be demonstrated BEFORE the MA is received. A reading exam can be taken in a language department or given by a Professor willing to administer and grade the test. Upon completion of the foreign language reading test, that Professor should write a letter to the COL Director or Associate Director providing them with the test mark.

Language Requirements for the PhD:  

First non-English language: Ability to work at the graduate level 

Doctoral students are required to demonstrate competency in either 3 non-English languages, or 2 non-English languages and competence in a non-literary discipline prior to taking the field examination. The path that each student will take will be made in consultation with the Associate Director at the beginning of the first year of the PhD, with an assessment toward this goal taking place in the fall of the second year. The Centre encourages less commonly taught languages, in particular Indigenous languages.  

The first non-English language will still be characterized as the “ability to work at the graduate level” in that language. This is understood in most cases to mean near-native ability – reading, speaking, writing and comprehending. The first non-English language should be relevant to the student’s academic work and should be at a level of high proficiency. We seek reading, writing, speaking, and ability to conduct advanced research using primary and secondary materials in that language in most cases. The standards for appropriate proficiency in Classical languages, less commonly taught languages, primarily oral languages and Indigenous languages will be determined in consultation with authorities in the field and with the Associate Director. Native speakers of a non-English language whose language is not relevant to their research should achieve the “ability to work at the graduate level” by demonstrating appropriate proficiency in another non-English language relevant to the student’s academic work. 

Second non-English language: Advanced Proficiency 

Advanced proficiency should enable the student to conduct advanced research using primary and secondary material in that language. Advanced proficiency in the second language can be demonstrated in a variety of ways – prior upper level undergraduate work; passing an advanced level reading exam (with or without a dictionary, depending on what the prevailing norm is for demonstrating advanced proficiency in that language); a letter from a professor attesting to the ability of the student to read all texts in the original language based on the evidence of advanced language course work; completion of an intensive summer immersion course; completion of an advanced language course at a recognized language institute. Such flexibility should take into account the variable standards and practices of a range of language and literature departments at the University. 

For students admitted with an established creative practice relevant for the thesis project, the second non-English language may be replaced by advanced competency in the creative practice relevant for the thesis project. This competency is assessed at the time of Admission.

Third non-English languageReading knowledge  

Reading knowledge of a third language is normally demonstrated by passing a reading exam with the aid of a dictionary. The third non-English language may be replaced by taking two graduate courses in a non-literary discipline. 

If students have replaced the second non-English language requirement with advanced competency in a creative practice, this requirement must be satisfied with reading knowledge of a second non-English language.

updated: June 6th, 2023