Language and intercultural competence are key elements of our degree programs.

Learning in Language: Providing Tools for a Professional Career

The Middlebury Institute differs from a lot of other institutions in that we’re required to study language here. But also we’re expected to put that language into practice. At the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, I work as a graduate research assistant. And in that role, a lot of my research that I do is conducted in Chinese.

In the field, being able to access documents and media reports in a foreign language, firsthand, directly from sources, is something that’s really important.

We’re learning the language, not just to learn the language, but how to use it in conversations of what we would use in our professional careers.

I haven’t taken a Spanish course since high school. It was intimidating at first, but I was able to catch up. Remember what I needed, just like conversational phrases, and eased right back into it with the grammar and the vocabulary.

There are a lot of great things about being in Monterey and being at the Middlebury Institute. While I’m in school, I’m able to build a portfolio of work using the target language to show to future employers, or if I wanna go to get a PhD. These are real world skills that I’ve put into practice.

Learning language is one step that students who wanna be leaders in this field in the future should take if they have the opportunity. And I definitely felt that going to the Middlebury Institute was my opportunity.

There are just so many benefits and advantages with having a second language, especially in this globalized world. Things are changing, the world is changing. So the Middlebury Institute is taking us on to new approaches, to new methodologies and tools that we can use.

We teach you to view language as a way to connect and facilitate dialogue between different peoples and cultures.

Degree Requirements

Please refer to your program of interest for specific language requirements for admission and graduation as they vary from program to program and in some cases within a program, depending on your specialization. 

For students interested in our translation, translation and interpretation, conference interpretation, translation and localization management (translation specialization), TESOL, and teaching foreign language degree programs, advanced language skills are central to your careers. Language courses are integrated into your degree program. Our rigorous and comprehensive approach has made our graduates highly sought after by employers around the world. 

Students in our policy and management programs have the opportunity to take content-based language courses as part of their degree, which opens up a wide range of global employment opportunities and sets you apart from the competition as your career progresses.

Language Studies: Content-Based Language Courses

These courses develop linguistic skills and also integrate specific content and specialized vocabulary based on the students’ fields of study, such as Green Business in China (in Chinese), Sustainable Development in Latin America (in Spanish), Public Health Issues in Sub-Saharan Africa (in French).

In these content-focused courses, the materials are all in language. Lectures, discussions, and assignments are all from current and authentic sources, providing students with relevant and timely opportunities for building professional proficiency. Professors frequently invite experts from around the world to participate in classroom conversations and share their firsthand knowledge.

Languages Offered

Upon request at the time of admission, other language study may be arranged to fulfill your degree requirements. Additional language courses offered in the past include Portuguese, Korean, German, Farsi, and Turkish.

    Professor Coly teaches a policy class in French.

    Choosing Your Language

    Ideally, your language of study is one that aligns with your career goals. We require at least a 200-level proficiency in all skills—reading, writing, speaking and listening—in your target language (except English, which requires a 300-level minimum).

    Proficiency is not determined by years of study but by your ability at the time of enrollment. While many of our students come to the Institute proficient in a second language, others build their second language skills prior to enrollment. We will work with you to help you meet the minimum proficiency level in your chosen language of study. This may include one of our summer language programs, for which scholarships may be available.


    The main focus of 200-level courses is on building skills through basic regional information and familiarizing students with customs, culture, current events, and issues in the parts of the world where that language is spoken. In these courses, students work on developing communication skills to participate in everyday social interactions with ease and confidence. Recent 200-level language courses:

    • Information Technology and Global Issues
    • Evolving Societies in Latin America
    • Arab Customs and Traditions

    Our 300-level courses solidify language skills so that students can engage in more complex discussions in their professional fields and support their ideas with detailed elaboration. Courses focus on topics of development, sustainability, business, and regional challenges. Recent 300-level language courses:

    • Challenges in Peace Building: Congo
    • Social Entrepreneurship
    • Environment and Sustainable Development
    • Current Issues in the Japanese Media

    In 400-level courses, students polish their language skills by participating fully and effectively in discussions on a variety of topics and in varied registers. Students practice structuring arguments, conducting research using first-hand resources, and preparing professional presentations. Recent 400-level language courses:

    • Models and Decision-Making for Positive Change
    • Human Security
    • U.S. Foreign Policy in Latin America
    • Comparative and International Education