Foreign Language Courses

Because language knowledge is crucial to deeper historical, political and cultural understanding, as well as social and professional functioning in a variety of settings, the ICS major requires two years (four full courses) in one non-English language used in the Region concentration.

Fulfilling the Requirement

These courses may be taken at Duke, at UNC, in Study Abroad programs, or may be approved transfer courses taken after secondary school at another accredited college or university.

College Board, IB, or other pre-university language courses, knowledge, or exams cannot be counted toward this requirement.

Language courses can begin at any level.

Half-credit language tutorials can be combined, so that two tutorials equals one full course.


Students are encouraged to study a rare or indigenous language relevant to their region concentration if they have such an opportunity (e.g. in a study abroad program). Although such a language may be difficult to maintain, it may count toward the four course requirement in combination with another language that counts toward the region.

One advanced language course (taken on campus or during study away) may double count in the appropriate Region or Global category, but only if its content is determined to meet Region or Global criteria. Please see the FAQ on "Non-English language courses that may count or double count."

Barring other restrictions, up to four university content courses offered in a non-English language may count toward the Foreign Language requirement (these are typically NOT language training courses). 

Course Flexibility

While the Foreign Language requirement is not flexible, there is reasonable flexibility in regard to the courses used to fulfill it in certain cases, such as when a student is fluent in a non-English language widely used in the Region concentration. In such a case, one of the FL requirements can be met with a research methods or research analysis course. As needed, alternative approaches to satisfying one of the FL requirements can be developed in consultation with the student's ICS advisor and ICS DUS Adam Rosenblatt.

Applicable Languages

Languages listed below fulfill the ICS Foreign Language co-requisite. Specific information for Duke-courses can be found by following the links below.

Africa Region: Arabic, French, Portuguese, or any indigenous language.
China and East Asia Region: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, or any indigenous language.
Europe Region: French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, or any indigenous language. 
Latin America and the Caribbean Region: Creole, French (Caribbean), Portuguese, Spanish, or any indigenous language.
Middle East Region: Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Turkish, or any indigenous language. 
Russia and Central Asia Region: Persian, Turkish, Russian or any indigenous language.
South Asia Region: Hindi, Sanskrit, Urdu, or any indigenous language.