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Foreign Language Department

What We Do

The study of Foreign Languages will suit those students whose future endeavors will have them working with a non-English speaking population, be it in the health services, education, social services, counseling or journalism, to name just a few.

(315) 223-2578
Department Type
Office Location
102 DePerno Hall

Students who successfully complete a major in either French or Spanish [more languages may be added as student demand necessitates], with an accompanying minor or sequence of courses in a second language or subject area, will have been exposed to a variety of linguistic, literary and cultural models upon which to draw in their professional lives. They will have also developed empathy for non-native speakers of English, having undergone a similar experience while learning their second and possibly third languages. Furthermore, the knowledge of other languages is a positive attribute for anyone entering the job market or pursuing a graduate degree.

Home to a uniquely diverse student body, many Utica College students come from, and will return to, multi-lingual families and populations. Many other students have become cognizant of the increasing heterogeneity of their regions and of their future work places. Those students who research the job market may readily discover that more than 70 federal agencies require employees with foreign language skills, and thousands of positions remain unfilled due to the lack of language-qualified personnel (Katherine McIntire Peters. "A Critical Shortage of Federal Employees with Foreign Language Skills is Hurting National Security", Government Executive May 2002).

Even at the local level there is a great need for students who should broaden their cultural horizons in order to successfully function in the professional arena. The Mohawk Valley is home to speakers of more than 30 different languages. Job-seekers who are at least conversant in one of these other languages will find themselves to be the more attractive candidates in the educational, health, social services and business fields because of their abilities to communicate.

Program overview

Utica College offers programs in the study of French and Spanish languages, literature and cultures.  Students interested in the majors must develop a concentration with a faculty member. Logical combinations would include, but are not limited to:

  • A second language
  • International Studies
  • Human Rights Advocacy
  • Journalism
  • Education
  • Public Relations

The programs seek to help students gain fluency in reading, writing, and speaking the languages they study and to gain knowledge of their literatures and cultures. Students will learn to make connections between their chosen discipline and other disciplines within the liberal arts tradition and in the world beyond the College, including professional aspirations. They also help students to acquire a deep and compassionate understanding of peoples and their culture. For more information, see Programs and Courses.

Students may take advantage of the Mohawk Valley College Consortium agreement, wherein they may take one course per semester at SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Herkimer County Community College, Mohawk Valley Community College, SUNY Morrisville, SUNY Empire State College, and Hamilton College.

The French and Spanish majors enable students to combine the study of French or Spanish with a major related sequence of courses, resulting in the acquisition of vocabulary and cultural knowledge relevant to the major related area.

Students will develop an understanding of the language, grammar, literature and culture of their primary language, through both classroom study and a foreign studies experience. The Senior Research Project will combine the primary language with a Major Related Sequence such as Sociology or Human Rights Advocacy, acquiring the background knowledge and vocabulary in the primary language with which to successfully work in this field.

This majors are designed to meet the needs of those students intending to work with a non-English speaking population, be it in business and management, education, social services, journalism, law, travel and tourism, and other fields which require language-qualified personnel. Furthermore, the knowledge of other languages is a positive attribute for those students who will pursue a graduate degree.

Spanish Major

French Major

Spanish Minor

French Minor

The U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate designated 2005 the Year of Foreign Language Study in recognition of the contributions that foreign-language study makes to students’ cognitive development, to the American economy, and to national security. It has been demonstrated that the study of foreign languages increases students’ general cognitive and critical thinking abilities, prepares them for full participation in the global economy, promotes U.S. national interests, and helps to build international goodwill. It also enhances students’ ability to understand, appreciate, and interact with people of other cultures, both at home and abroad.

According to the 2000 census of the U.S. population, only 9.3 percent of Americans are fluent speakers of more than a single language; by contrast, more than 52.7 percent of Europeans speak both their native language and another language fluently. In declaring 2005 the Year of Foreign Language Study, Congress further noted that American multinational corporations and nongovernmental organizations do not have sufficient personnel with foreign-language ability and cultural exposure; nor are there enough individuals with expertise in critical languages to work on crucial national security and foreign policy issues.

As Karen A. Holbrook, president of Ohio State University, states: Foreign Languages studies can enhance the well-being of students and the global community through the creation and dissemination of knowledge; can enhance and better serve the student body; can create a rich educational environment for undergraduates; and can help build future in our increasingly global marketplace and in our ever more diverse population. Creating and disseminating knowledge of the world beyond America’s borders are among the boldest steps possible towards each of these goals.

The language minor (and major) will prepare students for careers in fields such as education, social services, medical professions, criminal justice, journalism, civil services, editing, counseling, public relations, government, travel and tourism, and translating. 


Foreign Language Career Map
Foreign Language Career Map

Why do I have to study a language other than English?

a. To graduate from Utica College you must study a language other than English. Utica College has set goal 3 of the general educational core as follows:

“Students will demonstrate competency in a language other than English and will be able to recognize and explain different cultural beliefs and practices of the language's speakers.”

b. Students enrolled in majors such as Criminal Justice, Health Professions, and Business Administration, will most likely have contact with persons of different languages and cultures during their professional careers.

c. The study of a language other than one’s native language allows for a deeper understanding of the language and enhances cognitive development that will develop one’s analytical abilities.

d. The study of a language and culture provides for an appreciation and awareness of other peoples and cultures.

How can I satisfy the general education foreign language requirement?

By passing the sequence of two three-credit first year courses offered at Utica College: 101 and 102. You must study the same language; for example, a student who passes Spanish101 and French101 does not fulfill the general education language requirement.

Native/Bilingual Speakers and Students who have earned AP Credit...

a.  International students from a non-English speaking country are exempt. If you are a native or bilingual speaker of a language other than English, you must schedule an interview with a member of the foreign language department to assess your reading and writing skills. These cases are dealt with on an individual basis.

b. Students with Advanced Placement course work in a language other than English or successful completion of a program such as the University at Albany’s University in the High School may be exempt if complete transcripts are sent to the Foreign Language Department at Utica College

Does a high grade on the New York State Regent’s Examination in a Foreign Language qualify for an exemption?

No. The grade on the Regent’s Examination is not considered at Utica College in granting an exemption.

The Placement Process...

Placement decisions are made according to the following scheme, based on full years of high school (9th-12th grades) language study:

a. If you have two or less years of a foreign language, regardless of the grade earned, you will be placed in the first semester course 101.

b. If you have three or four years of a foreign language, and have earned at least an average of 80, you will be placed in the second semester course 102. If several years have passed since you last studied the language, you will be placed in 101. For example, If you have three years with a B average you will be placed in 102.

How do I know my placement?

Since many first-year students submit only a high school transcript up to their junior year, all students must send a COMPLETE high school transcript including senior grades after graduation so that proper placement decisions can be made. If your high school does not assign grades according to a traditional system (A, B, or numbers), your guidance office must send a detailed description of their grading system. 

Attention: all transfer students should ensure that complete transcripts are forwarded to the college.

Before enrolling in any language course, you must check with your advisor or with the Academic Support Services Office in the summer before your first semester. All placement decisions are recorded in the Banner system under degree evaluation.

Attention: Do not enroll in any language course without prior consultation with your advisor.

Do I have to study the same language at Utica College that I studied in High School?

No. However, if you chose a new language you must start with the 101 course.

What languages are offered at Utica College?

Utica College currently offers first year programs in  French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, and Arabic.

Does Sign Language satisfy the foreign language general education requirement at Utica College?

No, not at this time.

Will taking FRE 101 and SPA 101 satisfy the language requirement?

No, you must take and pass the 101 and 102 levels of the same language.

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