Department of Languages, Cultures and Religions


Accelerated master's option.Indicates accelerated graduate program is available




  • Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education – Modern Language/Teacher Certification in Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Latin, and Spanish (BS)
  • Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation – Modern Language/Teacher Certification in Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Latin, and Spanish (BS) 

General information

The department dedicates itself to providing the linguistic and cultural foundations necessary for students to flourish in the Twenty-first Century. Our courses prepare students to present themselves as educated citizens in the global village, schooled in the ancient traditions and the modern societies of West and East, experienced in understanding and communicating across borders and at home everywhere in a changing world.

The department offers courses in more than a dozen different languages – both modern and classical – as well as courses on related topics, such as literature, film, culture, and translation. Students in the programs participate in a variety of activities which complement the department’s academic programs, such as language clubs, conversation tables, honor societies, and community outreach activities. The department also offers education abroad opportunities, allowing students to improve the languages they study and acquire global competence in authentic contexts.


Department head

Stephen C. Berkwitz, PhD


Siceluff Hall, Room 223





Initial placement

Initial placement refers to the specific level at which students begin coursework in a language in the department. Proper initial placement safeguards the integrity of the department’s lower-division courses, recognizes students’ prior learning experiences, and helps them save time and money. The department has adopted and enforces the following guidelines with respect to initial placement:

  • Students with no prior experience in a language must enroll in the 101-level course.
  • Students with transfer credit in a language (including dual credit) must enroll in the next course in the sequence, may not take the placement exam, and are not eligible to receive retroactive credit.
  • Students who have studied a language in high school (without receiving dual credit), heritage speakers (students who have grown up speaking a language other than English in their homes), and other non-native speakers with prior exposure to a language must take the placement exam adopted by the department prior to enrollment in their initial language course. If no placement exam has been adopted, students must consult with a faculty member who will assess their proficiency and make an initial placement determination.
  • Students whose placement exam scores are very high and who wish to begin above the 202 level may request that a faculty member assess their proficiency and eligibility for higher initial placement.
  • Native speakers (students who were raised and educated in communities and countries where the language is spoken) must consult with departmental faculty for a determination of appropriate initial placement.
  • Students must initially enroll in the course indicated by their placement score or faculty proficiency assessment. However, an initial placement may be adjusted downward or upward upon request by the student and with faculty approval.
  • The department head has the authority to approve student requests for exceptions to the above placement guidelines.

Retroactive credit

Students who bypass levels in a language sequence as a result of initial placements determined through placement exam scores or faculty proficiency assessments may request retroactive credit for lower courses in the sequence if they complete the course into which they are initially placed with a B or better. Students who intend to major or minor in a language program may receive up to 12 hours of retroactive credit. Otherwise, the limit is 6 hours.

Accelerated pathway – Spanish minor

Because the Department recognizes that many students have acquired proficiency in Spanish as a result of previous exposure to and experience with the language, it has established an accelerated pathway for completion of the minor. The accelerated pathway allows students with demonstrated language abilities to begin at a higher point in the regular sequence. Eligible students must complete their first course (usually SPN 312) with a B or better to receive nine hours of retroactive credit. They then complete the minor by passing two additional upper-division Spanish electives.

Learners from the following groups may be eligible for the accelerated pathway, pending verification of their language proficiency:

  • Heritage speakers - learners raised in Spanish-speaking households who completed secondary education in the United States.
  • Native speakers - learners who completed secondary education in countries where Spanish is the primary language.
  • Other speakers with advanced proficiency - learners who have developed high degrees of functional language ability because of intensive study or long-term residency in Spanish-speaking countries.

Students interested in pursuing the accelerated pathway should call the WLC office and request an appointment with the department head for an eligibility assessment.

Teacher certification

In conjunction with the College of Education, the Department offers a variety of fully accredited teacher certification options, including the Bachelor of Science in Modern Language, post-baccalaureate certification, and graduate-level alternatives.

The Foreign Language Institute

By combining students and instructional resources from Missouri State University and other area universities, the Foreign Language Institute (FLI) allows students to study languages that otherwise might not be available in the region. Missouri State University students may enroll in and receive academic credit for FLI courses in less commonly taught and critical languages, such as Arabic, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian, and Portuguese. The FLI is jointly administered by the Department of Languages, Cultures and Religions and International Programs.

Program requirements and restrictions

Bachelor of Arts language requirement

All students pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree must complete a language requirement of 12 hours. Students may complete 12 hours in a single language offered by the Department of Languages, Cultures and Religions to meet this requirement. Students with advanced proficiency in a language other than English may be exempted from this requirement with approval from the head of the Department of Languages, Cultures and Religions.

Bachelor of Arts fine arts restriction

Literature courses in this department will count toward the Fine Arts requirement provided those courses have not also been used to meet the foreign language requirement.