There is no Institute language requirement; however, several departments require that a candidate be able to read or speak one or two foreign languages with intermediate competence. A student may satisfy the requirement in one of three ways: by fulfilling the requirement before entrance by passing one or more intermediate or advanced subjects with a grade of C or better; through examination by the Foreign Languages and Literatures Section; or by taking a two-term subject in a language or languages offered by the Foreign Languages and Literatures Section. Normally, introductory courses in a foreign language cannot be used to satisfy a requirement for language proficiency.
Depending on student demand, the Section offers a choice of two-term language subjects, stressing the ability to read or speak in French, German, or Spanish. For the purpose of the second alternative, the section gives written examinations in French, German, and Spanish twice a year at the end of each term. Examinations in other approved languages, such as Chinese or Japanese, are arranged individually upon request.