Proficiency in a language other than English is a graduation requirement for MIA students and EPD Concentrators. Proficiency is defined as the ability to read, write and speak the language at the Intermediate II level. This requirement is met in one of three ways:

  • As a native speaker of a language other than English who also demonstrates that a substantive part of their education (e.g., high school, college, prior graduate degree) has been in that language. TOEFL/IELTS will also be taken into account as supplemental evidence of proficiency in another language.


  • By passing a language proficiency exam. The exam can only be taken once. You are advised to take the exam in your first year. SIPA offers language proficiency exams in French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. Information about SIPA proficiency exams including taking exams in languages other than those offered by SIPA can be found here.


  • By achieving a grade of B or better in an Intermediate Level II (4th semester) language course at Columbia. Students may register for any language course at Columbia. However, Elementary-level courses cannot count toward the 54 credits applicable to the degree. Intermediate-level courses will count as electives. If you are at the elementary level, you should start your language courses in your first semester.


Please note: The language proficiency exams offered in these languages by SIPA are separate from the placement examinations offered by language departments. Information about language placement examinations and registration for classes is available on respective departmental websites for FrenchItalianPortuguese and Spanish. Placement exams in French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish do not fulfill SIPA’s language requirement.