CAS requires all students to demonstrate or develop proficiency at or above the intermediate level in a language other than English.

Proficiency in a second language provides insight into other cultures, enables direct contact with literature and other written and oral texts, and combined with other fields of study, serves a multitude of practical and professional purposes. It sharpens skills in one’s first language, and it develops critical thinking and understanding needed for life in multicultural and multilingual societies in the US and elsewhere.

Placement examinations are required of any student whose most recent language course was not completed at Boston University. Placement exams DO NOT by themselves fulfill the language requirement.

Upon fulfilling the Second Language Requirement, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate proficiency in all relevant modalities (speaking, writing, reading, listening) at a level that allows for communication and comprehension;
  2. gain insight into the nature and structure of language; and
  3. use the language to acquire knowledge of other cultures, past and present.

Transfer Credit

Students who have taken language courses at other colleges than Boston University should contact the CAS Student Advising Office, 353-2400, before selecting a BU course. This is in addition to the need to take the a placement test (credit and placement are two different things). If you enroll in a course that’s equivalent to one you’ve already taken elsewhere, you’ll forfeit credit, so be sure to ask the language advisor first!

AP Equivalencies

Please speak with a faculty member in your language of interest if you have questions.


If you scored a 5 on the Chinese AP, you have credit for CAS LC 212. If you plan to take more advanced courses in Chinese, you’ll need to take a placement exam. If you got a 5 on the Chinese AP but your placement score indicates that you should be in LC 212 or below, talk with a faculty member in Chinese to discuss your options.


If you scored a 4 on the German AP, you have credit for CAS LG 212. If you scored a 5, you have credit equivalent to one course numbered LG 305-309. But if you plan to go on and take more German at BU (and why wouldn’t you, seeing how good you are at it?), you should still take the placement test. If the placement test tells you something different from your AP score, please contact a German faculty member right away to discuss the best course of action.


If you scored a 4 on the Japanese AP, you have credit for CAS LJ 212.  But if you plan to go on with your study of Japanese, as we hope you will, you must take the placement test as well.  If the placement test places you in LJ 212 or below despite your AP score of 4, it’s essential that you contact a Japanese faculty member for advice.

SAT II Results

A score of 560 or higher on the SAT Foreign Language Subject Test in Chinese, French, German, Modern Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, or Spanish. Students are encouraged to take these exams before applying for admission. Information is available in CAS Academic Advising at 100 Bay State Road, 4th Floor. NOTE: In January 2021, the College Board announced it would no longer offer SAT Subject Tests in the US, and, after the June 2021 test date, would no longer offer them internationally. Students who have prior SAT Subject Test scores in languages may still submit them for fulfillment of the requirement.