6 Most Popular Colleges for Foreign Language Majors

Check out the colleges to which foreign language majors are flocking and their cost.

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With economic woes hitting higher education pretty hard, many schools are cutting foreign language programs. The State University of New York at Albany eliminated all programs in French, Italian, Russian, German, and the classics. But with globalization on the rise and the world metaphorically getting smaller, knowing a foreign language can be a useful, marketable skill not to mention a challenging, worthwhile experience.

Some schools have continued to bolster their foreign language programs in spite of economic hardship.

6. Georgetown University: $42,360

Georgetown emphasizes that learning a foreign language can help students understand the world better. They offer courses on two tracks, one more intense than the other, so that students can be flexible with their study of languages.

  • Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Enrollment Data: 6,300 undergraduate students
  • Foreign Language Options: Arabic, Chinese, Turkish, Hebrew, Polish, French, Greek, and many more.
  • Why this program? Georgetown not only offers a great liberal arts education but also gives students access to the diversity of Washington D.C. The school itself has a large population of international students but D.C. in general has an even larger population.

5. University of Pennsylvania: $43,738

Located in the heart of the City of Brotherly Love, Penn offers courses in more than 50 languages from reputable professors.

  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Enrollment Data: about 10,000 undergraduate students
  • Foreign Language Options: Arabic, Chinese, Swahili, French, American Sign Language, Sanskrit, and dozens more.
  • Why this program? Penn's Language Center offers language courses for special purposes, like Medical American Sign Language and Business Chinese. Penn also gives students the option to earn a dual degree in two of three Romance Languages, French, Spanish, or Italian.

4. University of Wisconsin: $10,385 (resident), $26,634 (non-resident)

UW-Madison has become an international leader in foreign language education. It offers majors in eleven different languages and courses in dozens of other languages.

  • Location: Madison, WI
  • Enrollment Data: about 28,000 undergraduate students
  • Foreign Language Options: Burmese, Czech, Filipino, French, Hindi, Portuguese, Swedish, Zulu, and dozens more modern, ancient, and classical languages
  • Why this program? Students at UW-Madison can apply to over 200 different study abroad programs. They also have their Language Institute, which offers many different courses, outreach programs, research opportunities for students, and their Russian Flagship Center.

3. Middlebury College: $55,570

Middlebury College is surrounded by mountains in a beautiful area of Vermont. This school is known for its leadership in language instruction.

  • Location: Champlain Valley of Vermont
  • Enrollment Data: 2,450 undergraduate students
  • Foreign Language Options: Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, Italian, Hebrew, French, Russian, and Spanish.
  • Why this program? Middlebury dedicates a large portion of their finances and resources to maintaining the strength of their foreign language programs. They have built an international reputation and work hard to uphold it. Furthermore, Middlebury has schools abroad at more than 40 universities in South America, Asia, Africa, and Europe.

2. UCLA: $12,686 (resident), $22,878 (non-resident)

UCLA is known for being an academic powerhouse. Students have the opportunity to choose from dozens of languages to study, and they live in sunny Southern California, where they can practice many of those languages in their neighborhoods.

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • Enrollment Data: about 28,000 undergraduate students
  • Foreign Language Options: Yiddish, Indonesian, Hindi, Thai, German, Zulu, Armenian, Danish, and dozens more.
  • Why this program? UCLA's Center for World Languages is the hub for the 50+ foreign languages they offer. It hosts events and provides resources for students, including help with courses and study abroad programs.

1. Harvard University: $37,576

In addition to their consistently high rankings, Harvard teaches over 70 foreign languages, more than any other university.

  • Location: Cambridge, MA
  • Enrollment Data: about 6,700 undergraduate students
  • Foreign Language Options: Celtic languages, Romance languages, Slavic languages, South Asian languages, and many more
  • Why this program? Harvard keeps its class size very small for foreign language courses. No more than 15 students are in introductory courses at a time. Plus, their introductory courses are taught only by native speakers.

Quick Tips

  • Middlebury College offers intensive language instruction in the summer in ten different languages. Their internationally acclaimed Language Schools are open to students from other colleges and even some high school students.
  • Already at a different school? Some of these colleges, like University of Wisconsin-Madison and UCLA, offer distance education courses and summer classes for foreign languages.

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