Foreign Language

Students pursuing the B.A.J. degree must establish proficiency in a single foreign language through the second semester of the second year of college-level course work. Students are encouraged to include foreign language study in their first semester at Indiana University Bloomington (IUB).

Completion of the foreign language requirement can be demonstrated in four ways:

  1. Completion of the final course in the sequence.
  2. Testing out of the requirement by virture of appropriate performance on certain types of exams, such as Advanced Placement (AP), SAT II, and/or International Baccalaureate (IB) exams. Check with the relevant department for additional information about which type of exam is accepted.
  3. Appropriate official documentation that the student has proficiency via formal education in a language other than English. This documentation must be from an accredited international institution which is considered appropriate by both the relevant department and the College of Arts and Sciences. Such documentation generally indicates satisfactory completion of a secondary education in a language other than English--i.e., a transcript.
  4. Satisfactory completion of a proctored proficiency exam administered by the relevant department (NOT the placement exam), if such an exam is offered by that department.

Completion of high school foreign language courses is not accepted as completion of the requirement.

Please note that the foreign language requirement for the B.A.J. differs from the campuswide General Education curriculum's World Languages and Cultures requirement. However, by completing the B.A.J. foreign language requirement students will also complete the campus-wide General Education World Languages and Cultures requirement.


Students who matriculate to Indiana University with prior knowledge of a foreign language must take the placement test in that language before registering for their first semester's classes to identify the appropriate foreign language course to take at IU Bloomington. For the following languages, this is done online: Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Spanish. For all other languages, please contact the relevant department for information on their placement tests.


The test used for placement is NOT the same exam used to establish proficiency in foreign language. A few departments offer proficiency exams to students who wish to demonstrate that they do not need any additional foreign language enrollment/study to meet the IU General Education World Languages requirement and/or IU Journalism's foreign language requirement. Proficiency exams are not tied to special credit. Domestic students interested in establishing proficiency should contact the department offering the relevant language. International students who wish to use their native language (if their native language is not English) to establish foreign language proficiency should complete the Application for Establishment of Foreign Language Proficiency for Non-Native Speakers of English. Students interested in this option should complete the process as early in their undergraduate careers as possible.

Special Credit Policy

Degree-seeking students can earn a maximum of two semesters of special credit for foreign language and this special credit is limited to two semesters of second-year study (the third and fourth semesters). The number of credits varies according to the language. To earn special credit, students must take the placement test offered by the appropriate department at IUB, complete a validating course on the IUB campus at the level into which the student placed (or higher) with a grade of C or higher, and apply for the special credit to be posted retroactively. If a student earns a grade of C- or below in the validating course, s/he will not earn special credit.

  • To be eligible to earn foreign language special credit, students must take a validating language course which must be their first IUB course in that language. A transfer course may not be used as a validating course.
  • If a student drops the validating language course, s/he can re-enroll and be eligible for special credit provided that s/he earns a grade of C or higher in the course. Grades (A, B, C, etc.) are not given for special credit. Students with native language fluency (i.e., students who learned the target foreign language in ways other than formal schooling/instruction) are not eligible to earn special credit in that language.
  • Students can earn special credit in more than one language as long as they meet the other requirements listed above and below to earn special credit.
  • Students who have taken the AP, SAT II, or the IB exam must check with the respective language department to find out departmental policy regarding which exam has precedence in terms of placement in language classes. Policies regarding AP, SAT II, and IB credit are unrelated to those for IU special credit, so AP, SAT II, and IB credit remain unaffected by the College's special credit policy.

Special credit can be awarded for all third- and fourth-semester foreign language courses. The validating foreign language course:

  • Must be taught at IUB;
  • Can only be a fourth-semester language course or higher;
  • Must be the student's first course in that language at IUB;
  • May only be completed once in an effort to earn special credit; and
  • Must be completed with a grade of C or higher.

For those students interested in special credit, it is in their best interests to complete their validating course as soon as they begin their studies at IUB.

Generally 100-level foreign language courses may not be used to fulfill any other B.A.J. requirements. However, foreign language courses at the 100-level from departments that allow 100-level courses to fulfill major requirements, may be applied to other appropriate B.A.J. requirements.

Culture Studies

The purpose of the Culture Studies curriculum is to introduce students to cultural systems, to allow students to define what is commonly meant by the term "culture," and to examine critically specific examples of culture. The curriculum also provides students with the opportunity to explore the relationship between cultural artifacts and the community that produced them and/or draw comparisons between different cultures. This exposure can lead students to understand the facts, possibilities, and limitations of their own cultural conditioning.

The Culture Studies requirement is divided into two areas of study:

  • Global Civilizations and Cultures (GCC)
  • Diversity in the U.S. (DUS)

Students must complete two GCC courses and one DUS course to fulfill the requirement.  Approved courses can be found by using the College of Arts and Sciences Course Designations search tool.  A couple Journalism courses are also Culture Studies options:

  • JOUR-J 418 Field Experiences in Journalism (only this topic: International Reporting) counts as GCC.
  • JOUR-J 375 Race, Gender and the Media counts as DUS.

Note: The College of Arts and Sciences Course Designations search tool was designed for College of Arts and Sciences students rather than Journalism students so it may include search functions for requirements exclusive to the College of Arts and Sciences degrees in addition to the requirements for which Journalism students have been directed to the site. Journalism students only need to fulfill the requirements listed here in the IU Journalism bulletin.

Students should note the examples below before using the College search tool:

Example 1: Course level approval

  • AAAD-A 112 Black Music of Two Worlds A&H GCC

All versions of AAAD-A 112 are approved for A&H* and GCC.

Example 2: Topic level approval

  • ANTH-E 300 Culture Areas and Ethnic Groups Islam in and out of Africa S&H GCC (for this topic only)

Only the topic "Islam in and out of Africa" is approved for S&H* and GCC. Other topics of ANTH-E 300 are not approved for these designations.

(*A&H is the abbreviation for Arts and Humanities and S&H is the abbreviation for Social and Historical Studies, which are two of the designations within the Breadth of Inquiry requirement.)

Please note that some of the courses on the campus-wide General Education World Cultures course list are on the GCC and DUS course lists, but not all of them.

Students who successfully complete an academic semester abroad in a program sponsored by the Indiana University Office of Overseas Study will partially satisfy the culture studies requirement of one course from the Global Civilizations and Cultures list. Similarly, students who successfully complete an academic year abroad in a program sponsored by the Indiana University Office of Overseas Study will partially satisfy the culture studies requirement of two courses from the Global Civilizations and Cultures list. Students participating in academic programs sponsored by other universities may petition for a similar exception, providing materials from courses taken and evidence of the general cultural emphasis of the program.

Academic Bulletins

PDF Version

Click here for the PDF version.