Five College Consortium

Five College Center for the Study of World Languages

Certificates of Specialization (Intermediate or Advanced)

A Certificate of Specialization may be issued by FCCSWL to any graduating senior who have made study of a language through FCCSWL a significant part of their academic career.  A Certificate of Specialization is available in languages offered by FCCSWL for which the Center is able to provide courses at a high enough level.  Upper-level courses are not available in all languages.  In addition, a Certificate of Specialization is not available for taking Cantonese for Mandarin Speakers or Arabic Dialect courses. This is a certificate issued by FCCSWL, not a certificate that will be noted on a student’s academic transcript.  FCCSWL courses and grades are listed on a student’s transcript.

These certificates provide additional evidence of language learning accomplishments for resumes, applications, and portfolios.

A FCCSWL student interested in a Certificate of Specialization should schedule an advising appointment with the Director of the Five College Center for the Study of 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.

Beginning with the 2017-2018 academic year, a graduating senior who is on track to meet the requirements should request an application form to be submitted near the beginning of the final semester of study (by Oct. 15 for fall graduates and by Feb. 15 for spring graduates).  Remaining documentation of requirements being met during the final semester will need to be submitted by the end of the semester. Certificates will be issued as both pdfs and paper copies that will be sent to graduated seniors in January and June of each year. Fall 2017  and Spring 2018 graduates who may meet the requirements should contact the Center as soon as possible to discuss eligibility and the application process.

Requirements:

1. Study of a language through FCCSWL 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 FCCSWL.  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 FCCSWL 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 FCCSWL regardless of the intensity of the course. A student in more intensive courses may place into higher level FCCSWL 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 FCCSWL 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 FCCSWL 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; and
  • Courses in another language that is spoken in the same context as the FCCSWL 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; and
  • A creative writing, translation, or artistic project that makes significant use of the language.

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 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.”
  • Not available for students taking Cantonese for Mandarin Speakers or Arabic dialect courses. May also not be available in some less-commonly taught languages for which FCCSWL cannot provide courses at a high enough level. Students in these languages may still be eligible for Certificates of Achievement.