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Language Requirements and Instruction Policy for PhD Programs

I.  Language Requirement Policy for PhD Students

Language requirements for the PhD Programs in Philosophy and Theology can be satisfied in one of the following ways:

a) Passing a departmentally-administered language exam according to departmental policy.  Students should work closely with their program director in planning to sit for the exam(s).

b) Completing an intensive language program at another institution, if approved by the Advisor. (Note:  Graduate assistantships do not support these programs. Students should work with their program directors to identify potential sources of funding).

c) Formal certification of language competency based on prior coursework and/or experience according to departmental policy.


II. Language Instruction:  The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers the following options to assist graduate students in language instruction for reading purposes.

a. Summer Language Workshops

The Office of Graduate Studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences sponsors intensive language training during the summer to assist students in preparing for reading proficiency examinations.  Typically, 1-2 workshops will be offered annually (French, Hebrew, Spanish, German, or Koine Greek) on a rotating basis.   

No previous language background is assumed.


Courses meet for 54 hours over no more than six weeks.  Courses are zero credits and will appear on the student’s transcript with a grade of Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory (S or U).  Students should keep in mind that these are intensive courses and therefore they should be prepared to minimize conflicts that may interfere with attendance.

Application & Registration

Priority enrollment is for PhD students in Theology and Philosophy, followed by Master’s students in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.  

Students wishing to participate in the workshop must apply by April 15th using the form available on the Graduate Studies website. Courses must typically have a minimum of 4 students and a maximum of 15 enrolled.



  • A student who fails to complete the course in which he or she has enrolled without providing official documentation may be disqualified from applying to Graduate Studies funding programs in the future.
  • If a course section has been either filled to capacity or cancelled, students will be notified at least 2 weeks prior to the start of the workshop.
  • Students are only permitted to enroll in the same particular language workshop twice during their graduate enrollment at Villanova.
  • Students may apply to participate in a language workshop during the summer before they begin their respective doctoral program.  They should follow the application process above and also notify the Office of Graduate Studies in writing of their intent so that their start term can be adjusted.  Students receiving an assistantship for their doctoral study should be aware that even if they enroll in a summer workshop, their stipend will not begin until the Fall.

b. Undergraduate Courses

Graduate students who need training in languages other than French, Hebrew, German, Spanish, or Koine Greek may petition the Graduate Dean for financial support to enroll in an undergraduate course at Villanova.  

Students should write a letter requesting permission to take the course to their program director at least 2 weeks prior to the start of a semester.  The Graduate Program Director will forward the student’s request with a recommendation to the Graduate Dean.  The Graduate Dean will inform the student of the decision. Please note the following:

  • The course must be taken for credit; however, students approved to take an undergraduate language course will not receive graduate credit for these courses and therefore it does not count towards any degree requirements.
  • Students may register to take the course “Pass/Fail.”
  • Individuals may receive no more than six credits of tuition remission for language courses during their entire time at Villanova. Students enrolled in the Biblical Studies specialization in Theology may complete up to ten credits of undergraduate study in Classical Greek if needed.
  • The language must be one that is required for the program (i.e., the student is required to pass an exam in the language).