Foreign Language Requirement
All students in the IR Department are required to demonstrate graduate level reading proficiency in a foreign language prior to completion of the degree program. Graduate level proficiency is the ability to understand accurately newspaper and professional journal articles in the field of foreign relations, using standard reference materials. Proficiency is normally demonstrated by passing the foreign language exam, but for a limited selection of languages it may be satisfied through completion of special graduate reading knowledge classes (details below).
Students may take the examination in any contemporary language with relevance for international affairs for which we can identify a BU faculty member with appropriate expertise.
The foreign language exam is for students currently registered in an MA degree program in the IR Department. The exam is administered three times each year as indicated on the Graduate Student calendar. Normally, the exam is offered each year in September, November, and March.
Students receive notification of the results of their exams by email within one month of the exam date; the exams are not returned to the students. All grades are pass/fail.
The exam may be repeated as many times as necessary. All students must pass this exam in order to graduate from the IR Department, unless they successfully complete one of the graduate reading knowledge courses described below. The results of the exam(s) remain in the department and are only forwarded to the GRS Records Office when the student passes.
For the exam, students are given a text in their target language and are permitted 90 minutes to provide a translation of the text into English. In most cases, the text will be a current newspaper or academic journal article relevant to international affairs. For exams on Western European languages, such as German and French, students are typically expected to translate approximately two pages of text into English. In the case of languages more distant from English, such as Chinese or Arabic, the expectations on the quantity of text that students should translate are lower. Students testing in such languages are usually expected to translate about three quarters of a page.
Because we normally provide the text of the entire article (rather than cutting it off), the amount of text given to the student may be in excess of the amount that the student is expected to translate. In such cases, it is not necessary to translate the entire document.
Students are not expected to be at the level of a professional translator. Rather, they are to translate the text into proper English with only minor errors. Translations must demonstrate clearly that students understood well the material they were translating. Students’ translated texts should make good sense (i.e., students should not simply transliterate the text word for word into English) and should enable someone who reads the translation to understand without major errors what the foreign language text says.
Students are permitted to bring with them to the exam one dictionary, which can either be a monolingual or a foreign language/English language dictionary. No grammar books, verb conjugation guides, special terminology, phrase dictionaries or the like are permitted. Electronic dictionaries must be presented to the Graduate Programs Administrator a minimum of 48 hours before the exam for inspection. Electronic dictionaries must be housed in a device that is not capable of communicating with any other devices. No device capable of accessing the internet, sending text messages, making phone calls, etc. will be permitted under any circumstances.
Non-Native English Speakers
In the case of non-native English speakers who were required to submit a TOEFL score report as part of their application for admission, knowledge of English fulfills the foreign language requirement. These students are not required to take the departmental foreign language exam.
The next foreign language exam will be held on Friday, March 21.
Time: 1:00 – 2:30 pm
Location: Eilts Conference Room, 2nd Floor, 154 BSR
The deadline to register is Friday, March 7.