District of Columbia Language Graduate Schools & Programs

Language Graduate Schools offer programs designed to help students build fluency and prepare for complex and challenging roles helping others communicate. Students could study languages from across the globe, examine how language evolves over time, and discuss its application in the classroom, industry, and in translation and interpretation.

Moreover, while many programs focus on building fluency with one language and its related cultures, some linguistics-focused programs instead discuss the construction and evolution of language itself, its relationship with people and culture, and how that language can be used to understand and improve communication strategies.

Best of all, by studying in on campus in a graduate school setting, you could rely on the resources you need to learn effectively, in the comfort of your own campus community.

Why Earn Your Graduate Language Degree on Campus?

Studying language on campus could have some unique advantages to support your overall education. First there’s the advantages of studying on campus in general—the resources your school has to offer like the library, computers, and gym, not to mention advisement services.

But for language graduate programs, it’s more than that. Language is inherently interpersonal, connecting people through communication. So it makes sense that you’d want to learn a language alongside your peers, and practice using it together in and out of the classroom. Studying on campus means you could do exactly that.

What’s more, if you choose a graduate school that’s located in a community that speaks the language you’re learning, you could leave campus and build your fluency in the community throughout your daily life!

Types of Language Graduate Schools

Language graduate schools are many and varied. How so? First, there’s the obvious—what language you’re studying. After all, learning Latin American Spanish is a little different from becoming fluent in Cantonese! But choosing a language graduate program involves a little more than just picking the language.

There’s also your objective in learning it.

Here are a few examples of the different ways your potential language graduate schools might design their programs.

  • Translation and Interpretation Graduate Schools don’t only focus on being able to communicate fluently. Rather, they prepare students to understand complex ideas in one language, and communicate them efficiently, clearly, and accurately in another.
  • Language Instruction Graduate Schools center on helping students learn to help others learn a language. This could be in a K-12 language classroom setting, adult language instruction, career training, and more. These programs are likely to incorporate concepts from other education-related programs, including curriculum, instructional techniques, testing, and language acquisition research.
  • Industry or Profession Specific Language Graduate Schools are unique in that they focus on building fluency in a specific language for use in a specific context. One common example could be Spanish for Healthcare, aimed at doctors, nurses, and hospital interpreters, other medical staff who may work with diverse populations. In these programs, the curriculum is likely to emphasize the type of vocabulary, issues, and challenges you’d face in that professional setting.

Of course, these are not the only types of language graduate schools out there! Given that there are more than six thousand currently spoken languages around the world today, it’s a given that language graduate programs are also diverse.

Below, we’ve broken them down into three basic categories, which may overlap with the approaches described above.

Romance Languages Graduate Schools

Just like the name sounds, Romance Languages Graduate Schools focus on exactly that: the romance languages. This category refers primarily to French, Italian, Spanish, Catalan, and Portuguese—in other words, modern languages from Western Europe that trace their roots back to the Vulgar Latin commonly spoken throughout the Western Roman Empire. (That’s the actual reason they’re called “romance.” Not just because they’re romantic to listen to!)

In most cases, programs that fall in this category would focus on a single language, rather than the whole family. However, that would vary on a case by case basis and some—particularly doctorate level programs or ones that cross over with linguistics—might study several.

Foreign Language Graduate Schools

In this case, the category foreign language graduate schools covers any graduate school program focused on languages other than romance languages. As such, there’s considerable variety here.

This category, foreign language graduate schools, covers potential areas of study such as:

  • Germanic languages: German, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, and even English fall into this category.
  • Slavic languages: This includes Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, Czech, and other Eastern European languages
  • Asian Languages: This includes multiple language families, covering a variety of Chinese languages, Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese, Thai, and more.
  • Middle Eastern Languages: This category includes Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Kurdish, Turkish, and more.
  • African Languages: While more than one hundred languages are spoken throughout Africa, a few major examples include Somali, Swahili, Yoruba, Berber, and Amharic.
  • Indian Languages: More than 23 official languages are spoken throughout India, including Sanskrit, Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu, and Bengali.

Linguistics Graduate Schools

Unlike the previous two categories, linguistics graduate schools focus less on building fluent communication skills, and more on understanding how language in itself works. Some linguistics graduate programs may focus on the development, functioning, and variation of a specific language or language family. (English linguistics, for example, would be included here.) Other programs may just look at how language functions in general, across cultures and continents, and how its evolution is impacted by socioeconomic and political changes.

Topics of focus in linguistics include grammar, word construction, phonetics, slang, and even language construction or “conlang.” (If this doesn’t sound familiar, think about functional languages from fiction, such as Klingon, Elvish, or Dothraki to get an idea what this means.)

Graduate Language Degree Levels

Whatever your chosen area of study, language graduate schools offer a range of degree levels, which may be appropriate for you depending on your background and level of experience. The prerequisites for each degree level may vary between schools and programs. This could hinge on the types of students the program is designed to attract, the objective of the program, its level of competition, and other factors.

  • Language Masters Degree Schools: These programs are likely to confer either a Master of Arts or Science (MA or MS). There does not tend to be a significant difference between these two options. However, some programs—particularly education ones—might offer alternative degree types like MEd, depending on how they’re designed and the type of school offering it. Masters programs may require a bachelors degree in that language or other evidence of fluency, such as through an entrance exam.
  • Language PhD Schools: At the doctorate level, the majority of programs confer a PhD upon completion. These programs are likely to require a masters in that specific language, as well as other evidence of fluency, such as through writing samples, a language proficiency test, or professional experience. Often, PhD programs focus on advanced topics and skills like culture and literary analysis in that language, or linguistics.
  • Language Graduate Certificate Schools: These programs are somewhat brief compared to masters and doctorate degree programs. They usually have fewer courses, often (but not always) focused on a narrower topic or skill set related to the language in question. Graduate certificate programs include masters certificates (open to those holding only a bachelors degree) and post-masters certificates (for students who have already earned a masters in language or higher).

Search for Language Graduate Schools

GradSchools.com is here to help you begin your search for Language Graduate Schools. Start by narrowing down your options.

Use the menu to select your preferred degree level, as well as your preferred format, location, or specialty, if necessary. Then review the sponsored program listings that match your criteria.

Click on the name of a program to learn more about it and get in touch. After that, schedule a meeting or campus visit, and start to apply!

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