1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

Competency Requirements

Overview of Requirements and Restrictions

All undergraduate students in the College of Arts & Sciences must complete three competency requirements: the First Writing Requirement, the Second Writing Requirement and the Foreign Language Requirement. More information on these subject areas, their related credit requirements, competency exemptions and University restrictions can be found in sections below. Once a student matriculates, all area and competency requirement must be completed in the College of Arts & Sciences at U.Va.

All courses for these requirements must be taken for a grade and for credit.

Some restrictions apply to completing competency requirements. These requirements may NOT be fulfilled by the following:

  • Dual enrollment credit
  • College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests
  • Courses taken under the Credit/No Credit (CR/NC) option
  • Courses taken under the Audit (AU) option

To help students keep track of their earned competency requirements, Arts & Sciences offers a College Area Requirements Checklist.

First Writing Requirement (FWR)

Students may meet the first writing requirement in one of two ways: by successfully completing one of the FWR-eligible ENWR courses, or by earning exemption. For detailed information on placement, go to the English Department's web site.

If you have questions regarding first writing requirement placement, please e-mail the writing program administrators.

Second Writing Requirement

Qualifications

All students except Echols Scholars must complete a Second Writing Requirement with a grade of C- or better. To meet the Second Writing Requirement, a class must:

  • Assign at least two writing assignments in English totaling 4,000 words (20 pages) or more independent of quizzes and final examinations
  • Have a student/faculty ration no greater than 30/1

If the class used to fill this requirement is not coded as such in SIS the requirement is not complete until you file a Second Writing Requirement Completion Form and have it certified by the College Registrar (138 Monroe Hall). The form is also available in 101 Monroe Hall.

Restrictions and Clarification

Any course meeting the above standards can satisfy the Second Writing Requirement but poetry and fiction writing classes are excluded from fulfilling the second writing requirement.

The Second Writing Requirement must be taken at the University and within the College. A course in another school of this University (e.g., Engineering), advanced placement credit, advanced standing, dual enrollment credit or credit transferred from another university will not satisfy this requirement.

Although it is not advised, you may take a course that meets the Second Writing Requirement before or during the semester that you complete the First Writing Requirement. However, completing the Second Writing Requirement neither exempts you from nor fulfills the First Writing Requirement.

A course that satisfies the Second Writing Requirement may simultaneously count toward your major or minor program. One course, in addition to meeting the Second Writing Requirement, may also complete area requirements (no more than two).

Foreign Language Requirement

Qualifications

Undergraduate students must earn anywhere from zero to 14 foreign language credits, depending on their foreign language placement examination scores. The requirement should be fulfilled before the seventh semester in the College.

Languages taught at U.Va. that count towards the requirement are:

American Sign Language German Italian Persian Spanish
Arabic Greek Japanese Portuguese Tibetan
Chinese Hebrew Korean Russian Urdu
French Hindi Latin Sanskrit  

Placement and Exemptions

For languages taught at U.Va.

The types of examinations for foreign language placement include:

  • SAT II Subject Test
  • Advanced Placement (AP) Exam
  • Higher-level International Baccalaureate Exam
  • College Summer Orientation Foreign Language Placement Test

Check the Foreign Language Placement Examinations page for details on these tests or the Foreign Language Requirement FAQ for more specific inquiries and contact information. Click here for placement guidelines.

For languages not taught at U.Va.

It is also possible for students to fulfill their requirement through taking the NYU 16-point Foreign Language Proficiency Test. The test is intended only for exemption from the Foreign Language Requirement; no credit is given for any score. A student is given exemption for a score of 14 or more.

Deadlines and information about the test can be found on the Foreign Language Placement Examinations page.

Completion of the Requirement

Students can meet the Foreign Language Requirement by successfully completing one of the following courses of action:

  • Earn exemption if you place beyond the 2020 level by examination
  • Take 14 credits or four semesters of a language in the proper sequence
  • After placement, complete the remaining courses in the sequence up to the fourth semester (usually 2020)

Consult the Foreign Language Placement Index to determine your exact placement.

Taking introductory language courses which duplicate credits earned from AP or IB tests neither give you credit nor count for the Foreign Language Requirement.

Some or all of the requisite 14 credits can be earned by transfer students from coursework completed at a previously attended college or university if credits are earned prior to matriculation to the College. Dual enrollment courses, however, do not fulfill the requirement.

Furthermore, the College provides Foreign Language Disability Accommodation when needed to satisfy this requirement.

Need Help?

Students with questions about testing, placement, etc., should contact the Foreign Language Coordinator.