Certificates of Specialization

Deadline for spring 2021 graduates:

Students must meet with FCCWL director no later than February 26, 2021.
Eligibility requirements may be adjusted in response to pandemic-related restrictions.

A Certificate of Specialization may be issued by FCCWL to any graduating senior who has made study of a language through FCCWL a significant part of their academic career. These certificates provide evidence of language learning accomplishments for resumes, applications, and portfolios. Certificates are issued directly by FCCWL and will not be noted on a student’s academic transcript. 

Students interested in a Certificate of Specialization should schedule an advising appointment with the Director of the Five College Center for World Languages about the requirements and process of application early in the college career. Email fclang@fivecolleges.edu or call 413-542-5264 to schedule.

Eligibility requirements:

1. Study of a language through FCCWL for at least 6 semesters, including at least one semester during the student’s senior year. All courses must be completed with a grade of B or better. A student in Hindi, Swahili, or Turkish may meet this requirement in 4 or 5 semesters by completing the equivalent of at least 6 half courses, at least one of which must be during the student’s senior year.   

  • Up to 2 semesters of language study abroad or summers of intensive language study may be counted toward the 6 semesters with approval of the Director of FCCWL. In order for study abroad or summer intensive language study to be counted toward the certificate, a student must complete at least one semester of enrollment in a FCCWL course after the study abroad or summer intensive experience. One semester abroad or one summer of study will count as the equivalent of one semester of study with FCCWL regardless of the intensity of the course. A student in more intensive courses may place into higher level FCCWL courses and may be eligible for a higher level certificate.

 2. Completion of two academic courses or special projects that provide context for study of the language.  Academic courses must be completed with a grade of B or better. Courses or projects may be completed either on campus or abroad. Unofficial transcripts, copies of papers, narrative descriptions, and/or letters of reference will be required depending upon the course(s) or project(s). Because students learning less-commonly studied languages through FCCWL have a wide variety of academic, personal, and professional goals, this requirement is deliberately broadly defined.  Students considering options for meeting this requirement should discuss possibilities with the Director of FCCWL early in their academic career.

Course types that provide context for study of the language:

  • Courses related to a region of the world or a population in which the language is extensively used
  • Courses related to diaspora, immigrant, or other cultural settings in which the language is used
  • Courses in international studies, global studies, or international relations (or Deaf Studies for ASL)
  • Courses in linguistics, theories of language, or social-scientific approaches to the study of language and communication
  • Courses in translation studies
  • Courses related to language and cultural education, second language learning, or Teaching of English as a Second Language
  • Courses in another language that is spoken in the same context as the FCCWL language or is closely related linguistically

Special Project types that provide context for study of the language:

  • A major paper or project from an upper-level subject area course for which the student was able to focus on a country where the language is used, a population that uses the language, or use primary sources in the language
  • A senior thesis (or Hampshire College Division III project) that focuses on a country where the language is used, a population that uses the language, or primary sources in the language
  • An internship or significant volunteer work in a setting where the language is used
  • Research fieldwork in a setting where the language is used
  • A creative writing, translation, or artistic project that makes significant use of the language

3. Students of Cantonese for Mandarin Speakers and Arabic Dialect courses are not eligible for certificates of specialization.

Certificate Levels: 

  • “Certificate of Specialization: Intermediate Level” for a student who completes through level VI or VII (ASL students need to complete through High Intermediate ASL B).
    • Certificate will state “A student earning a Certificate of Specialization: Intermediate Level has made language learning a significant part of the student’s academic career and has successfully completed a curriculum designed to solidify linguistic skills at the intermediate level. In addition, the student has also completed at least two academic courses or special projects that provide context for the student’s language study. Intermediate skills include the ability to hold extended conversations on topics related to home, family, friends, school, work, and community; and the ability to use the language to manage logistics of everyday life such as taking care of shopping, transportation, lodging, and other necessities. Some students will perform above the intermediate level by this point.” NOTE: For a student who completes through level VI, the certificate will say "Intermediate" and for a student who completed through level VII, the certificate will say "High Intermediate." All other wording is the same.
  • “Certificate of Specialization: Advanced Level” for a student who completes through level VIII or above. ASL students need to complete at least one course above High Intermediate ASL B (students who took Mentored ASL VI in Spring 2017 should contact the Center).  
    • Certificate will state “A student earning a Certificate of Specialization: Advanced Level has made language learning a significant part of the student’s academic career and has successfully completed at least one course designed to develop skills at the advanced level. In addition, the student has also completed at least two academic courses or special projects that provide context for the student’s language study. Advanced skills include the ability to describe, summarize, and narrate in detail across a range of social and cultural topics; to discuss and give opinions about matters of community, national, and international concern; the ability to handle everyday transactions even when complications arise; and the ability to handle some professional work situations. Some students will have developed higher advanced skills including the ability to communicate about technical matters in a specific field and the ability to provide detailed supporting arguments for opinions and plans of action."