The Language Requirement in Spanish, Portuguese, and Catalan

For students with no knowledge of Catalan at least four terms of the language are required: UN1101 – UN1102 (or UN1120) and UN2101 – UN2102 (or UN2120). All courses must be taken for a letter grade to fulfill the Language Requirement.

There is no placement examination for Catalan. Students with prior knowledge of Catalan (secondary school, living abroad, near-native or native speakers) should register in the course that they believe is their appropriate level and speak to the professor of the class about placement.

For students with no knowledge of Portuguese, at least three terms of the language are required: UN1101-UN1102 (or UN1320 for Spanish speakers) and UN2101-UN2102 (or UN2120). All courses must be taken for a letter grade to fulfill the Language Requirement.

Students with prior knowledge of Portuguese (formal courses taken at other schools, living abroad, near-native or native speakers) who plan to continue studying Portuguese are required to take a Placement Examination before registering for a course.

Exemption from the Language Requirement in Portuguese

The Language Requirement may be fulfilled in Portuguese by:

For students with no knowledge of Spanish at least four semesters of the language are required: UN1101 – UN1102 (or UN1120) and UN2101 – UN2108 (or UN2120). All courses must be taken for a letter grade to fulfill the Language Requirement. 

The two Spanish as a Heritage Language courses needed to fulfill the requirement are as follows:

  1. Spanish UN 1108: Elementary Spanish for Heritage Speakers
  2. Spanish UN 2108: Intermediate Spanish for Heritage Speakers

School of International and Public Affairs' (SIPA) Students: Please click here for information.

All students new to the Spanish Language Program at Columbia are required to take a departmental placement examination before registering for a course or provide proof of exemption. All Columbia students must take Spanish language courses (1101-3300) for a letter grade.

Exemption from the Language Requirement in Spanish

You may be able to obtain an exemption from the Language Requirement in Spanish in ONE of six ways:

  1. By obtaining a score of above 625 on the department’s online Spanish as a Second Language Placement Examination or the department's online Spanish as a Heritage Language Placement Exam. For the Spanish as a Second Language Placement Exam, your exemption in this case will be verified by taking another version of the placement exam, which are scheduled as follows:
  • For the fall 2024 semester: the second Spanish as a Second Language Placement Examination for possible exemption based on your first exam score will be given in-person during the New Student Orientation Programs (NSOP) for students in Columbia College, the School of General Studies, and the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA).

    This page will be updated with the link to the required online registration form as well as the date, time, and location of the second exemption exam to be given in August 2024 as soon as this information becomes available. In the meantime, please feel to contact Dr. Lee B. Abraham with your questions.

  • For the spring 2025 semester: You may take the second version of the Spanish as a Second Language Placement Examination in the Department's main office located in Casa Hispánica’s (612 W. 116th Street (between Broadway and Riverside) from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. or from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.: Google Map). Please contact Kosmas Pissakos ([email protected]) to schedule the administration of the exam in the Department at Casa Hispánica.

    For the Spanish as a Heritage Language Placement Exam, you will be contacted by Dr. Francisca Aguiló with your first exam score and then by Dr. Lee B. Abraham to schedule a second exam, should your first exam score qualify you for a possible exemption.
  1. OR by presenting a score of 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement Spanish Language or Spanish Literature exams. In this case, you may register for a section of Spanish UN 3300 - Advanced Language through Content. Click here for the descriptions of fall 2024 Spanish 3300 courses. 
  • If you received a score of 5 in either exam you will be awarded three advanced placement credits upon successful completion of a 3300-level (or above) course in Spanish with a grade of B or higher. There is no Advanced Placement credit granted for a score of 4.
  1. OR by presenting a score of 780 or above on the SAT Subject Test. Students with a score lower than 780 should take the department’s online Placement Examination and follow the placement advice received.
     
  2. OR by presenting a score of a 7, 6, or 5 on the International Baccalaureate Higher Level (HL) exam in Spanish.
     
  3. OR by presenting the certification of the D.E.L.E Examination (Diploma de Español como Lengua Extranjera) for either the Intermedio or the Superior levels.
     
  4. OR by presenting the certification of the CELU Examination (Certificado de Español: Lengua y Uso) for either the Intermedio or the Avanzado levels.

Study Abroad and The Spanish Language Requirement

  1. In order to confirm that you have fulfilled the Spanish language requirement, you must take the placement exam in person upon returning to Columbia from a study abroad program. Please make an appointment to take the test with Kosmas Pissakos ([email protected]) in our department.
     
  2. Credits will be generally awarded by the College only for courses that have contact hours and workload scales equivalent to Columbia University courses (semester and summer sessions). You must provide the following materials to the Director of the Spanish Language Program, Lee B Abraham ([email protected]):
  • a course syllabus
  • a list of assigned readings and texts used
  • corrected and graded tests, papers, and any other materials used to evaluate the student’s work
  1. If you wish to continue taking courses in our Department, you should register for the course above the level for which you received credit. For example, if you received credit for Spanish 2102, you should register for a section of Spanish UN 3300 - Advanced Language through Content. Click here for the descriptions of fall 2024 Spanish 3300 courses.
     
  2. For transfer of credits for Spanish 3300-level courses contact Francisco Rosales-Varo: [email protected], Director of Advanced Language through Content.
     
  3. For transfer of credits for courses beyond the 3300 level please refer to this page and contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS).

Advanced Placement Credit

An Advanced Placement (AP) score of 4 or 5 on the Spanish language or literature exam satisfies Columbia’s foreign language requirement. In addition, the department will award 3 points of Advanced Placement credit to students with an AP score of 5 upon completion of a course in Spanish numbered UN 3300 or higher with a minimum grade of B. (No credit is awarded for an AP score of 4.)

Students with Advanced Placement credit who wish to pursue a course of study in Spanish should take Spanish UN 3300, “Advanced Language through Content.” This is also the first course that counts toward a major or concentration in Hispanic Studies.

For more information, contact Professor Ana Paulina Lee, Director of Undergraduate Studies ([email protected]).