Requirements and Credits


How do I complete a world language placement?

  • If you plan to take French, German, or Spanish at UWM, you will take the University of Wisconsin System Placement Exam. This test is required if you intend to enroll in one of these languages.
  • For all other world languages at UWM, you will use the UWM World Languages Self-Assessment Tool below.

What is the UWM World Languages Self-Assessment Tool?

This free, online UWM World Languages Self-Assessment Tool is a tool for you and your advisor to help determine the appropriate level in which you should begin your studies at UWM. In addition to questions about your language abilities, it also asks about your language learning experiences, whether in the classroom or beyond.

The UWM World Languages Self-Assessment Tool will be used to help determine a placement recommendation in the following languages:

Ancient Greek
Irish Gaelic

You will be able to complete the UWM World Languages Self-Assessment Tool on a computer or mobile device. It takes about five minutes to complete.

You will see your placement recommendation immediately at the end of the assessment and will receive a copy at your UWM email address. Together, you and your advisor can use the UWM World Languages Self-Assessment Tool and your transcripts to place you in the best language class for your level, or to help you meet with a languages coordinator to confirm your placement. You are not required to complete a world language survey before enrolling in your first language course in one of the languages included; however, we strongly recommend it, as it sets you up for success by being enrolled in the most appropriate course for you.

Click the yellow button below to start the process. If you log into the UWM World Languages Self-Assessment Tool site below and do not see the option to complete the survey, please email our Director of L&S Web and Data, Dan Siercks at to request access. If you have lost your epanther ID or password or have other issues logging in, please visit our epanther ID help page  or call our IT Department at 414-229-4040.

If you are an incoming freshman, you can learn more about all of your course placement requirements at

How to Earn Retro Credits

If you have already studied a language other than English, and you can place into the second semester of that language or higher, you may be able to earn retroactive credits. Retroactive credits award students with credits for previous courses in the language sequence. A student who places into second semester or higher, and completes that course with a grade of B or better earns retroactive credits.

For example, a student who completed a 5th semester French course with a grade of B or better could also earn 4 credits for 1st semester, 4 credits for 2nd semester, 3 credits for 3rd semester, and 3 credits for 4th semester French. Students can earn a maximum of 16 retro credits. Retroactive credits are only given in conjunction with the first language course taken at the university. Students should contact the appropriate foreign language program before the beginning of the semester to verify that the course that they are taking generates retroactive credits.

Please submit requests for Language Retro Credits after the grade has been posted in PAWS for the eligible course. Requests cannot be processed until the final grade is recorded.

Students can login to complete the form at: Student Form to Request Language Retro Credits .

Forms also may be submitted by advisors and language instructors on behalf of eligible students at:
Advisor/Instructor Form to Request Language Retro Credits .

AP Credits

A score of 3, 4, or 5 on an AP test gives the student credit in a given course or courses. If the student wants retroactive credits, s/he must take the next level course and meet the language department’s retroactive credit requirements in order to receive retro credits for courses preceding the one with which the AP score is associated.

Degree Requirements

Under UWM’s general education requirements , all undergraduate students must take the equivalent of 1 year of college-level foreign language instruction in the same language in order to earn an undergraduate degree. This requirement can be met in a number of ways, such as having studied two years of the same language in high school, taking two semesters of the same language at UWM, or placing in a higher level foreign language class at UWM and earning retro credits for preceding courses.

Some degrees, however, have greater foreign language requirements. For example, all of the Bachelor of Arts programs in the College of Letters and Science require, at a minimum, the equivalent of four semesters of the same language or three semesters of one language and two semesters of another.

Check with the individual program that you are interested in for details on its language requirement.

I can already speak/read/write a language other than English. Can I meet my UWM Language other than English General Education Requirements without taking any coursework?

If you are already proficient in a language other than English, or you have studied in a country where the language of instruction is not English, you may be able to satisfy the UWM GER Language other than English requirement without taking coursework.

  • If you are proficient in a language other than English but do not have formal coursework to meet the requirement, you can contact the Registrar’s office to determine alternative options to meet the requirement.
  • If you have studied in a country in which the language of instruction is not English, you may be able to provide educational records to meet the requirement.
  • You may also have the option to take an assessment through UWM in a language taught at the University or through an external assessment in a language that is not taught at UWM (fees may apply).

To inquire about these options, contact the Registrar’s Office through the Contact Us form . Choose the selection for GER.

Graduate Program Requirements

Many graduate programs require students to demonstrate reading knowledge in a language other than English. Some language programs at UWM offer reading knowledge courses to satisfy this requirement. Some language programs may also offer reading knowledge exams. Contact the language program directly for more information.