Where to Study Language in New York City
New York City is a culturally and ethnically diverse area with several public and private institutions that offer degree programs in foreign language. Read an overview of each school's program options, and find an accompanying table with useful institutional statistics. A brief description of other area language schools is located at the end of the resource.
- The City College of New York is part of the City University of New York (CUNY), and the landmark campus is located in northern Manhattan, about nine miles from the downtown area. At the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, students can pursue undergraduate and graduate degree programs and courses in 11 different languages.
- Hunter College is also part of the CUNY system, and its eastside Manhattan campus, located less than five miles from the downtown, is within walking distance of Central Park and several foreign consulates and institutes. The college's Department of Romance Languages has approximately 65 full- and part-time faculty members who teach at both the undergraduate and graduate levels and are active in publishing, research and graduate education.
- Pace University has campuses in New York City, White Plains and Westchester County. At the university's Modern Languages and Culture Department in downtown Manhattan, students can pursue undergraduate courses in seven different languages, as well as interdisciplinary programs in language and culture.
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Comparison of Schools
The following chart is designed to provide students with a quick overview of the three featured schools. It includes important information about admission rates and tuition, as well as the likelihood of receiving financial aid.
|City College of New York (CUNY)||Hunter College (CUNY)||Pace University|
|School Type||4-year; public||4-year; public||4-year; private not-for-profit|
|Total Enrollment (2014)||15,579*||23,112*||12,857*|
|Campus Setting||Large city||Large city||Large city|
|Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (2015-2016)|| $6,689 in-state;
| $6,782 in-state;
|% of First-Year Students Receiving Some Form of Financial Aid (2014)||76%*||67%*||97%*|
|Acceptance Rate (2014)||38%*||35%*||85%*|
|Retention Rate (2014)|| 86% full-time;
| 86% full-time;
| 76% full-time;
|Graduation Rate (Students who enrolled in 2008)||44% (32% transfer-out rate)*||52% (27% transfer-out rate)*||55%*|
Source: *NCES College Navigator
City College of New York (CUNY)
The Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures offers degree programs, minors and individual courses in almost a dozen different languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Hindi and Spanish. Students also have access to department clubs and honor societies, as well as the option to study abroad.
As an alternative to high school coursework in a foreign language, undergraduates can satisfy departmental prerequisites by taking a competency exam or completing a basic language sequence.
Bachelor of Arts in French or Italian
The 4-year programs in French and Italian require 36 credits of major coursework in language and literature. To fulfill the language requirement, students in both majors can pursue more advanced topics in grammar, speech, translation and writing. French literature courses include the study of traditional and contemporary French novels, film, poetry and theater. Italian majors have the opportunity to study, among other subjects, Renaissance literature, Dante's Divine Comedy or the relationship between civilization and culture.
Bachelor of Arts in Spanish
The major in Spanish also requires 36 credits to complete, and students can specialize in either literature or linguistics. All undergraduates must take two courses in grammar and writing, and those who specialize in language must take an extra course in Hispanic linguistics. Additional requirements include cluster courses in Spanish and/or Spanish-American civilization. The list of electives is substantial, and students can choose courses in Caribbean or Dominican literature, Baroque and Renaissance poetry or Latin American film.
Bachelor of Arts in Two Romance Languages
The department recommends that students who pursue this 36-credit program specialize in one of the following combinations: French/Italian, French/Spanish or Italian/Spanish. Students are assigned a special adviser for each field of study and must choose a minimum of six advanced courses from each language. As with the aforementioned majors, the course distribution requires topics in language and culture.
Minor in Classical Studies
This program requires a minimum of 12 credits to complete, and in addition to courses in Greek and Latin, students can pursue topics in literature and translation, Egyptian art and architecture, classical mythology, philosophy or political science.
Minors in French, Italian, Portuguese or Spanish
Students who minor in one of these areas must meet the department's foreign language prerequisites and take five courses in language and literature.
Master of Arts in Spanish
The graduate program in Spanish requires a total of 33 credits, and the coursework includes topics in grammar and morphology, research and Spanish language history. In addition to a written test, students must write an essay or a thesis, demonstrate proficiency in Spanish and pass the Foreign Language Qualifying Examination for a second language. The program allows for 27 credits of electives, and with prior approval, nine of these may be taken outside of the department.
Hunter College (CUNY)
The Department of Romance Languages offers undergraduate and graduate programs in French, Spanish and Italian that can help students prepare for careers in business, communications, education or international affairs. In addition to a New York-Paris exchange program and other options to study abroad, the department sponsors conferences, film festivals and poetry readings.
Outside the Department of Romance Languages, Hunter College offers individual Bachelor of Arts programs in Chinese, German, Greek, Hebrew, Latin and Russian, as well as sequences in Arabic and Japanese. To help students fulfill the foreign language requirement, the college offers free, walk-in placement exams.
Bachelor of Arts in French or Italian
The 4-year programs in French and Italian require 30 credits of major coursework, and students can specialize in either literature or language and civilization. French literature majors take courses in oral and written expression, grammar and translation. Students who specialize in Italian literature pursue topics in composition, phonetics and syntax. Both majors require an additional course in second language acquisition for those would like to teach at the high school level. The requirements for the concentrations in language and civilization cover topics in communication, culture and literature, and courses are offered in both English and the field of study.
Bachelor of Arts in Spanish
The department offers two majors in Spanish, and the concentrations in literature and translation require 36 credits of specialized coursework. The curriculum for the major in literature includes the study of Latin American or Spanish civilization, pre-19th century prose and Latin American writing. Future teachers must take the course in second language acquisition. Undergraduates who major in translation and interpretation study the theories and practices associated with the field and pursue courses in civilization and literature.
Bachelor of Arts in Romance Languages
This program is similar to the one at City College and requires the study of two foreign languages. Under advisement, students must take 12 credits in language, 18 in literature and six in cultural studies or translation.
Minor in French, Italian or Spanish
The minors require between 12 and 15 credits of coursework, and depending on the program, may include specializations in language, culture or literature.
Master of Arts in French, Italian or Spanish
Admission requirements to each of the three programs include letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose and proficiency in the designated foreign language. The degree requires 30 credits to complete, and students must take one course in linguistics or language history. The remainder of the program consists of literature courses associated with the field of a study; a master's thesis is optional. In addition, students must have a reading knowledge of German or Latin and take a final written exam.
The Modern Languages and Culture Department (Dyson College of Arts and Sciences) offers courses in Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian and the Romance languages. In addition to honor societies, co-curricular activities include individual language clubs and the Japanese Business and Cultural Society.
If they want to continue their studies at the college level, students with a high school background in foreign language (Chinese, French, Italian, Russian or Spanish) must take the school's placement tests.
Bachelor of Arts in Language, Culture and World Trade
This is a unique, interdisciplinary program that combines cultural and religious studies with coursework in one of four foreign languages: French, Italian, Spanish or Russian. Students also have to complete a concentration in culture and geography and a minor in international banking, diplomacy, travel or world trade. Coursework for the concentration may cover topics in economics, geography, history or political science. An international internship is required, and the program culminates in a capstone course.
Bachelor of Arts in Modern Languages and Cultures
The language requirements for this major also include the study of French, Italian, Spanish or Russian. To fulfill the 12-credit minor, students can pursue a second language or individual tracks in Francophone, Hispanic, Italian or Slavic studies. Study abroad is encouraged, and the program culminates in a capstone paper or translation project.
Bachelor of Arts in Spanish
This program is designed to help students become fluent in America's second language and develop professional research and writing skills. Additional requirements for the major include cultural and literary studies associated with the Caribbean, Latin America, Mexico and Spain. While not required, students are encouraged to pursue a minor or a double major in a related field of study.
Minors in French, Italian, Russian and Spanish
The minors require between 12 and 18 credits of coursework, and in addition to French and Italian studies, the department offers concentrations in East Asian, Latin American and Middle Eastern studies.
Other School Options
Along with the programs described above, the School of General Studies at Columbia University offers undergraduate programs in French, Italian and Russian. Foreign language education programs in Chinese, Italian, Japanese and Spanish are also available at New York University's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development. Public school options include the Department of Modern Languages and Comparative Literature at Baruch College (CUNY), where students can pursue an undergraduate major in Spanish and minors in Chinese, Hebrew, Japanese or one of the Romance languages.