Saturday, May 21, 2011

Philosophy Language Reqirements

A language requirement in graduate programs is something which has been established since the good old days when education was not so wides spread. If one were to go to college back then, one would learn Latin and Greek as a requirement to be considered an educated person. Now for graduate students in philosophy, many programs still have a language requirement where your allowed to choose the language you wish to study. Testing is usually done by accurately translating a chapter of a philosophical text in a couple hours. 

Problem: Many students, especially those involved in analytic philosophy, don't particularly need the language requirement.  Almost all of their research is in english in it's origianl form. This seems then to be a waste of time.

Solution: Many programs have taken on a shifting system such as the one below. Where if a student is studying Heidegger or Nietzsche they need to learn German. If, on the other hand, one is studying Dewey then the requirement is void. 

Thoughts: While it makes sense to not make anyone study a language which is irrelevant to their subject of interest, I'm still forced to be split on the subject. Is this a sign of the "dumbing down" of the education systems so that its "easier" for students, or is this just making an outdated process streamlined?

Comments are open.

Note: Having a language or two under your belt looks great on job or graduate application whether or not your studying in the area.  See Tips for Creating an EXCEPTIONAL Graduate Application in Philosophy

This is an example of a sliding scale which was found here
 Language requirement

If competence in one or more languages other than English is determined by a student’s dissertation committee to be necessary for the student’s dissertation research, the student will be required to demonstrate proficiency in the relevant languages prior to advancement to candidacy by (1) passing the Princeton Foreign Language examination for the language or languages, or (2) passing a translation examination administered and graded by a member of the philosophy department and a faculty member of the appropriate language department or departments.


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