2024 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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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.

School Selections

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.

Central Texas College

College students who want to major in a foreign language can complete the first two years of their degree online in a program at Texas Central College that results in an Associate of Arts in Modern Language. This is a 60-credit program that covers many of the general studies requirements needed for a bachelor's degree. The student will also take four semesters of a foreign language for this degree. Online classes are asynchronous, so students can view coursework when it fits into their schedule. CTC's online classes have monthly start dates and range in length from eight to 16 weeks, giving students more flexibility in scheduling.

College of Southern Nevada

Students can learn a foreign language and prepare for a bachelor's degree by earning an online Associate of Arts in World Languages from the College of Southern Nevada. The college offers classes in a wide range of languages, not just the typical French, Spanish and German. Languages taught at Southern Nevada include Arabic, Chinese, and Russian. This is a 61-credit programs that covers general education classes and includes 14 credits in one of the available languages. By graduation, students should be able to hold conversations in the language, read it, and be familiar with the culture of the language's native speakers.

Lamar University

Lamar University's Department of English and Modern Languages offers a Master of Arts in Teaching Spanish that is presented in collaboration with the University of Salamanca, Spain, where students complete five weeks of study abroad during the summer. This is a 30-credit program, and students can take all the Lamar classes online aside from a teaching practicum course. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree in Spanish and must prove proficiency in the Spanish language. The target audience for this program is current teachers of Spanish at any grade level who want to advance their skills and students with a Spanish degree who want a master's degree. Classes cover art, literature, and culture as well as teaching methods.

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.

Palo Alto College

Palo Alto College has a 62-credit Associate of Arts in Spanish that is available through online coursework. In this program, students complete their general education requirements, learn the Spanish language, and learn about Spanish culture. The curriculum calls for students to complete four Spanish language courses (through intermediate Spanish). This degree prepares students to transfer to a four-year college to finish a bachelor's degree. Palo Alto College is part of the Virtual College of Texas, a consortium of schools that share online courses. That partnership means Palo Alto students who have trouble finding a class they need may be able to take one through the Virtual College.

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.

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Individuals who want a career in English-Spanish translation or interpreting can complete a master's degree and a range of relevant graduate certificates through online programs at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. The Master of Spanish Translation and Interpreting is a 36-credit program that students can complete in as little as 36 months. Graduate certificates are offered in court interpreting, literary translation, localization and audiovisual translation, and Spanish translation. Graduate certificates are 15-credit programs that students can complete in as little as one year. Applicants to graduate certificate programs must prove proficiency in Spanish and English through a writing assignment and translation assignment. The master's program requires GRE scores and an undergraduate GPA of 3.0.

Troy University

Students interested in foreign language can earn a Master of Science in Second Language Instruction from Troy University's online division. This program does not result in teacher licensure or certification. Students can choose to complete either a capstone or a thesis. In either case, candidates must complete nine core courses and a practicum. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree in English, a foreign language, linguistics, or a field such as sociology or psychology. The interpreter program for individuals who want to work as an ASL/English interpreter is also delviered online. Applicants must have a 2.75 GPA and rate at least intermediate-plus in sign language proficiency. The program prepares students to sit for a national certification test in interpreting.

University of Florida

At University of Florida, Latin is alive. The school gives three online options. The first is the Master of Latin (ML). Its curriculum includes one course in Latin Prose Composition, five seminars, a reading examination, a written and oral examination, and two Summer Latin Institutes, which are two-week, on-campus sessions. To get in, applicants must be teachers with a baccalaureate in the Classics and have three-years of college studies in Latin. After completing their first year, ML students can transfer into the MA, which swaps out a seminar and the written examination for a thesis. The PhD in Latin and Roman Studies builds off the ML and MA programs, adding more seminars, summer instruction, and research papers.

  • Advanced Placement Credit

50,645 Students

University of Hawaii at Hilo

The Master of Arts in Indigenous Language & Culture Education at UH Hilo isn't your typical foreign language program. The distance ed program doesn't mandate which indigenous language is the focus, though applicants should have 30 program-approved undergraduate language credits. Enrollees in the non-thesis program complete 31 credits: all of which are in the Hawaiian medium. Students embark upon two field experiences and take courses on how to teach everything from PE to social studies in Hawaiian. Coursework on teaching within multilingual societies is built into the curriculum.

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.

  • Advanced Placement Credit

45,842 Students

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.

University of Massachusetts-Boston

UMASS Boston's MA in Applied Linguistics has two concentrations: ESL & Bilingual Studies and Foreign Language Pedagogy. The program boasts a diverse student body, with 25 percent from outside the U.S. All applicants should hold a relevant baccalaureate, whether in a foreign language or a liberal arts subject. They must also write an essay detailing prior experiences learning and/or teaching a language. The 30-credit program requires students to complete five courses spanning linguistics, teaching and cross-cultural communication. Those without teaching expertise then complete a field experience in a classroom, language institute or local agency. The remaining credits come from concentration courses and optional electives.

  • Advanced Placement Credit

17,030 Students

University of Nebraska at Kearney

The MAE in Spanish Education is a 36-credit program for current K-12 Spanish instructors looking to teach at the college level. Half of the program is comprised of elective courses in the language, from the Seminar in Contemporary Spanish Thought to Topics in Latin American Literature and Culture. Students can also choose to study abroad, the end result of which is a research paper. The other half of the program deals with research fundamentals and pedagogical frameworks for teaching a foreign language. Although graduates could use the MAE as a springboard to a doctorate in education, it is not recommended for students eyeing a Spanish language PhD.

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.

University of North Florida

Most students in UNF's MS in American Sign Language/English Interpreting program steer toward the General Practitioner concentration, which has spring and fall start dates. Applicants need either an associate degree in interpreting or a baccalaureate and national certification to get in. Those without certification complete a six-credit internship; certified enrollees are exempt and need only 30 credits to graduate. All students are required to spend one weekend per semester on campus. The program's other concentration, Interpreting Pedagogy, is for certified interpreters interested in teaching. The 33-credit program starts in the summer with the first of two 10- to 12-day sessions at the VRS Interpreting Institute in Salt Lake City. The second summer session involves an internship.

  • Advanced Placement Credit

15,675 Students

University of Northern Colorado

UNC Online's Bachelor of Arts in American Sign Language English Interpretation is the only online program accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Interpreter Education. Underclassmen in the program work on concurrently developing both their ASL and English language skills. In their final two years, students learn to interpret while taking 18 credits in their chosen emphasis: Community Interpreting or Educational Interpreting. Although most courses are online, students must commit their summers to hybrid coursework, in which they'll have four intensive weeks on campus. Applicants to the program should be proficient in ASL I-IV; those who are not can take ASL I-II on campus and ASL III-IV online.

Western Oregon University

Western Oregon University's hybrid graduate certificate in Dual Language/Bilingual Education is a 15-credit certificate. It is designed for baccalaureate holders working toward a Master of Science in Education, and its specific purpose is to prepare students to work in bilingual settings. That distinguishes it from the full online K-12 English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) endorsement. The ESOL program serves bilingual teachers in the Master of Arts in Teaching program who are focused on English instruction. It is also available to licensed Oregon teachers via WOU's graduate school.

William Woods University

William Woods University draws upon the nearby Missouri School of the Deaf to strengthen the curriculum of its online BS in American Sign Language (ASL) Interpretation Studies. To be admitted, applicants must be fluent in ASL and hold a two-year degree in ASL interpreting. The 36-credit degree completion program builds on that, with students expected to complete a capstone and two field practicums on top of courses in linguistics, literature and, of course, interpreting. Graduates can sit for the National Interpreter Certification.

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