2017 Top Online Schools for Foreign Languages

Scroll down to see the top not-for-profit colleges offering foreign language degrees online.

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New Mexico State University-Main Campus

New Mexico State University offers a Master of Arts in Spanish that can be completed entirely online with no requirements for any campus visits. Students choose to focus either on linguistics or literature. The program requires students to complete 36 credits. All classes are taught entirely in Spanish, and all student work turned must be entirely in Spanish. Applicants to the program should have an undergraduate degree in Spanish or a closely related field. Master's candidates will also have to prove they are proficient in another language besides Spanish and English to earn their degree. This is a non-thesis program requiring students to pass a written and oral exam.


Oregon State University

Students interested in a degree in a foreign language can earn a Bachelor of Arts in German or Spanish through Oregon State University, which offers an entirely online bachelor's program. To earn the degree, students must complete 180 quarter credits, including general education requirements. The curriculum requires 45 credits in Spanish or 49 credits in German. To earn a degree in either language, students must complete a study-abroad program or approved internship in a German-speaking or Spanish-speaking country. Online classes are offered in 11-week sessions for the fall, winter and spring terms. Summer classes are offered in a number of formats, including accelerated three-week and four-week classes.

CAG Score 94.8

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

28,886 Students


California University of Pennsylvania

California University of Pennsylvania has an online Bachelor of Arts in Arabic Language and Culture. The degree can be earned entirely online, and students who follow a suggested eight-semester outline of coursework complete their degree in four years. The curriculum emphasizes reading, writing and speaking standard modern Arabic, and students also have the option to learn Egyptian and Levantine dialects. Classes also cover cultural topics such as geography, religion, and food of the region. Students take capstone courses to enhance their language skills and deepen their understanding of Arabic culture. The college also has a completely online Certificate in Arabic Language and Culture. CUP will accept up to 45 transfer credits from the Defense Language Institute forthe degree program.

CAG Score 93.5

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

7,978 Students


University of New Orleans

The Department of Foreign Languages at the University of New Orleans has an online option for students who want to earn a Master of Arts in Romance Languages. Students can choose a concentration in literature or in language, culture and civilization. While most students take classes only in French or only in Spanish, students have the option of taking up to two classes in the minor language and counting it towards the master's degree. Applicants must be fluent in the language and must have at least achieved a minor in French or Spanish in their undergraduate studies. The program requires 30 credits plus a thesis or 33 credits without a thesis. The university accepts up to 12 graduate transfer credits.


The University of Texas at Brownsville

The University of Texas Brownsville has an online Master of Arts in Spanish Translation and Interpretation that prepares students to translate from Spanish to English and English to Spanish. Students learn to translate and interpret general documents and conversations as well as specialized content such as legal, medical or technical documents. Students learn both consecutive and simultaneous interpretation methods. Applicants to the program must prove fluency in both English and Spanish, typically by taking an entry test that requires them to translate a document from English to Spanish and another from Spanish to English. The master's degree requires 36 credits. The university also offers a 15-credit, 100 percent online Certificate in Spanish Translation.


Rio Salado College

Rio Salado College has online programs leading to an academic certificate in Language Studies or in Spanish Language and Culture. The language certificate has a prerequisite that the student be able to demonstrate 200-level proficiency in a foreign language, either by coursework or exam. The certificate requires eight to 12 credits, including a course in linguistics and courses in the foreign language. The certificate in Spanish Language and Culture requires 25 credits, including 16 credits in basic Spanish language coursework and nine credits in electives, with six of those credits taught in Spanish.


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The University of Illinois offers an online Master of Arts in Translation and Interpretation that is open to students with an undergraduate degree in a foreign language, linguistics or area studies. Students can choose a specialization in translating for the professions, conference and community interpretation, or literary and applied literary translation. The program supports more than 30 languages. The 32-credit program includes 12 credits in core requirements, eight credits in the area of specialization, eight credits in required electives, and a capstone project. The online program uses a cohort format, with the cohort members taking two courses per semester, with each course delivered in an eight-week format. The online program takes four semesters. Classes are delivered asynchronously.

CAG Score 95.7

  • Advanced Placement Credit
  • DSST Credit
  • CLEP Credit
  • ROTC Program

45,140 Students


University of Maryland-University College

The University of Maryland's University College offers an online certificate in Spanish for Business and the Professions. The 16-credit program requires students to complete four courses in intermediate to advanced-level Spanish and to take a course in Business Spanish, which is taught in Spanish. The program is not intended for native speakers of Spanish. It is intended to help students prepare to work and communicate in a Spanish-speaking environment. Students can earn the certificate in about 12 months. UMUC offers online courses with a variety of start dates during a traditional semester.


Marygrove College

Marygrove College offers an online certificate program in Modern Language Translation in French, Spanish, or Arabic. The 16-credit program lasts for one year and prepares students to take the certification exam offered by the American Translators Association. The program is open to students who have an undergraduate degree in one of the three languages and is also open to native or near-native speakers who are bilingual in one of the languages and English. The curriculum includes five courses covering translating journalistic, business, legal and scientific texts as well as a cooperative field experience where the student performs translation work and compiles a portfolio. Many of the class sessions utilize an online workshop format to allow students and instructors to collaborate.


University of Louisiana-Monroe

The Department of Modern Languages at the University of Louisiana Monroe offers an online Bachelor of Arts in Modern Languages with a concentration in French. Students in the program must complete 120 credits, including at least 30 credits in French classes above the elementary level. Students who have had at least two years of French classes before entering the program can take a placement exam which might result in credit and will help them determine which level French classes to take. Many online classes at ULM are offered in an eight-week format, allowing students to complete more credits in a semester.


Allan Hancock College

Allan Hancock College offers an Associate in Arts in Spanish degree that can be completed entirely online, with the possible exception of proctored tests. To earn an associate degree for transfer to a four-year college, students must complete 25 units in Spanish, including intermediate-level Spanish classes and a course in advanced Spanish composition and grammar, at the minimum. Students who scored 3 or higher on the AP Spanish test receive 5 credits in Spanish. Students must also complete about 40 units in general studies requirements for the degree. General studies classes are offered online.


National University

National University has an online program leading to a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish. In addition to becoming proficient in the Spanish language, students in the program study the history, culture, politics and geography of Spanish-speaking areas of the world. The degree requires a total of 180 quarter units. Spanish majors must take five preparatory courses, including beginning and intermediate Spanish, before starting the 10 required upper division Spanish courses. Students also take seven upper division electives, and they can choose related courses, such as Latin American history, to fulfill those requirements. Students complete the program with a capstone seminar and project.


St Philip's College

St. Philip's College offers an Associate of Arts in Spanish that can be earned 100 percent online. The 60-credit program includes Spanish-language acquisition classes and focuses on Spanish culture and literature. To earn the degree, students must earn 18 credits in Spanish, including language classes up to the intermediate level, at least. The degree requires students to fulfill general studies requirements by taking classes in subjects such as English composition, math, science, history, government, and creative arts. Most classes are offered in an asynchronous format.


Tiffin University

Tiffin University offers an online certificate in Arabic Studies designed for students who plan on careers in the military, intelligence, or foreign affairs. The 18-credit program includes four language courses in modern standard Arabic, a course in the history of the Middle East, and an course in Middle Eastern cultures. The language classes align with the Rosetta Stone program of self-paced learning and assessments. Additionally, students can schedule an unlimited number of chat sessions with native speakers of Arabic to work on pronunciation and fluency. Laboratory practices and group sessions are also included. Instructors are native speakers of Arabic.


Judson College

The Distance Learning Program at Judson College offers an online bachelor's program for students who want a degree in Spanish. To earn the Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, students must complete 33 credits in Spanish above the introductory level. Required courses include intermediate Spanish, Spanish syntax, Hispanic culture, Spanish literature, Latin American literature, translation, and Spanish phonetics. Students have the opportunity to enroll in a study-abroad program that results in academic credit. Judson requires at least 128 credits for a bachelor's degree, including general studies requirements.

Evaluating Online Foreign Language Degrees

When it’s done well, an online degree in a foreign language can be just as good as an on-campus qualification. However, you’re still going to find a lot of shady, for-profit “universities” that are eager to take your money. So before you invest in an online language degree or certificate, check to see if your school has:

  • Regional accreditation
  • Programs that arrange internships, practicums, or overseas experiences where you can practice your language with native speakers
  • Strong “brick and mortar” reputation (e.g. top school rankings, respected teachers, and distinguished alumni)
  • The same faculty who teach on-campus courses teaching online
  • Interactive technology/software (e.g. textbooks, exercises, video, etc.)
  • Dedicated distance learning support services
  • Career centers with job placement figures

Avoid schools with low completion rates and high student loan default rates.


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