Language Requirement

In order to satisfy the RSEA language requirement, students must either satisfactorily complete at least a third-year level East Asian language course at Harvard, or demonstrate the equivalent proficiency through a language placement test administered by the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations (EALC) prior to the beginning of classes each fall.  

All students entering the RSEA program with some East Asian language background who have not previously taken language courses at Harvard are required to take the language placement tests. These tests are designed to assist the teachers of the language programs in placing students in the most appropriate course level. In the case of students who qualify to take courses at the fourth-year level or above, this placement may be used to demonstrate fulfillment of the RSEA language requirement. 

Native speakers of an East Asian language who have received a high school diploma or a bachelor’s degree using their native language are exempt from the requirement to demonstrate proficiency, except in cases where the language of academic focus is not the student's native language (e.g., a native speaker of Japanese whose academic field is in Chinese studies should take the Chinese language placement test).

Students without prior background in a given East Asian language would ordinarily have to devote a total of six courses to mastering the East Asian language to the program-required third-year level.  However, in order to satisfy the language requirement and complete the AM degree within the standard two years, students often undertake an intensive second-year summer program between their first and second years, at the Harvard Summer School or another approved program.

Current students should refer to the RSEA Student Guide for additional details and specific policies.