CLASS College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences
Youngstown State University
Foreign Languages and Literatures
Why Major/Minor in a Foreign Language  
  • Job security:  

According to the 2003 National Survey of College Graduates, 81.5% of recent graduates who majored in foreign languages were employed (and 85.8% of them were employed full time). Moreover, employees are often paid more if they can speak another language.  (Profession:  MLA [2009])

  • Hiring advantage: 
At many of the top schools in the nation, it has become so popular to minor in a foreign language that they can barely keep up with the demand and in some cases (e.g. University of Virginia) they even have to restrict the number of minors.  How are you going to compete for jobs with so many people who have a degree in nursing, business, criminal justice or other such areas, as well as a minor in a foreign language?  In such a tight economy, doesn’t it make sense to do everything possible to give yourself an edge in the job market, especially when it may not require any more time or expenses than you are already investing? Also, once you learn one language, it is easier to learn another one, so you can multiply your employment opportunities.
  •  Demand in business:

1/3 of all the corporations in the US are either owned or based abroad. In a 2003 survey of US firms, 80% of firms said their sales would increase if their staff had more international experience.  By studying a foreign language, one can gain a high degree of cultural competence, thus better equipping one to penetrate foreign markets and work more effectively with people from different cultures both in the US and abroad.  (International Education and Foreign Languages:  Keys to Securing America’s Future.  National Research Council.  2007.)

  •  Demand in the government:
The demand for foreign language skills, particularly in Arabic, Korean, Chinese, Farsi, Russian, Urdu and Spanish, is so great that the government is willing to repay up to $10,000/year of your student loans, to offer competitive salaries and signing bonuses of up to $7500 for jobs in the National Security Agency, and to give away full-ride scholarships to qualified individuals through the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Program and the National Security Education Program. (“Foreign Language Jobs in the Federal Government.” MakingtheDifference.Org.)
  • Study abroad:

Proponents of international programs have long held that studying abroad not only enriches one’s academic experience but also positively influences the rest of one’s life.  A recent large-scale survey confirms this, with respondents indicating that their study abroad experience positively and unequivocally influenced their career path, world-view, and self-confidence.  Moreover, students who major or minor in a foreign language are often amazed at how quickly their language skills advance when fully immersed in the language and generally derive the greatest benefit from studying abroad.  Learning to communicate in the language of one’s host country allows one to develop intercultural understanding and the ability to view world issues from a variety of perspectives -- qualities essential to future global leaders.  Another advantage to spending a semester studying abroad for YSU students is that you may be eligible to receive a waiver for the Social and Personal Awareness General Education Requirement.

  • Cognitive development: 

Over 30 studies prove that there is a positive correlation between language learning and cognitive development, as evidenced by the overall higher academic performance of all students (including those from lower economic classes) who have taken foreign languages. Students who have studied foreign languages tend to perform better in other subjects like Math and English, as well as score higher on standardized tests. Not to mention the fact that studies show that the process of learning a foreign language (and not even necessarily having to master it) is known to help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Graduate in time:

A degree in a foreign language is designed to be completed in four years, without the need for taking an overload or summer classes. Check out our website or stop by our department to see how you can figure out a schedule that will help you to graduate in time.

  • Variety of employment opportunities:

Interpreters, Foreign Language Teachers, Health Care Professionals, Marketing Directors, Language Specialists, Lawyers, Border Patrol Agents, Foreign Affairs Specialists, and many other professions.  Also, the dramatic rise in enrollments in second language classes at the university level have opened up many new teaching positions. (Welles, Elizabeth.  Profession:  Modern Language Association of America (2004)

  • Did you take 4 years of high school French, Italian or Spanish?  You may be able to earn a minor with only four or five more courses.

5 courses:  If you take the YSU Foreign Language Placement Examination and place into 2605 (the third semester) and complete that course successfully, you can receive credit by examination for 2600 (the second semester) and will need only 4 more courses to complete the minor.

4 courses:  If you enter YSU with credit for 2605 (through CLEP, Advanced Placement or the College in High School program), you can receive credit by examination for 2600 and will need only 4 more courses to complete the minor.


The following links are to brochures provided by the Association of Departments of Foreign Languages

Knowing Other Languages Brings Opportunities

Language Study In the Age of Globalization: The College-Level Experience



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