Is a Foreign Language Degree Right for You?

Students who are natural communicators and want to work to help connect people of different cultures should consider earning a bachelor’s degree in a foreign language. This degree gives students a basic education in English, mathematics, science, and social studies while also giving them plenty of opportunities to practice speaking, reading, and writing in the langue of their choosing.

Graduates of a foreign language program, such as Chinese or Arabic, can apply their degree to a number of growing fields in business and national security. Job prospects for most of these fields are promising, particularly for foreign language graduates with proficiencies in high-demand languages like Korean, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, or Spanish.

Advice for Earning Your Foreign Language Degree Online

Prospective students thinking about earning an online foreign language degree should make sure the school is accredited. Accreditation is awarded after an independent review of an institution’s academic programs and operations and is also mandatory if you want to take advantage of federal grant and loan programs. Also, immersion and practice are very important when learning a second language.

Online programs may be more limited in their opportunities to practice speaking and conversation. Before enrolling in an online program, consider what steps you’ll need to take on your own to master the language or what systems they have in place to simulate a real classroom experience.

Required Courses

Online Foreign Language degree programs include general education courses in English, like math, science, social science, literature, and more. Major courses will include grammar, conversation, literature, history, and culture classes on your language of choice. For example, in a Spanish degree program, required courses might include:

  • Elementary Spanish
  • Intermediate Spanish
  • Spanish Conversation and Composition
  • Intro to Spanish Literature
  • Mexican American Literature

Common Career Paths

Some potential careers for those with a bachelor’s degree in Foreign Language include:

Interpreter or Translator

  • Expected Growth: 42%
  • Average Annual Salary: $54,680

A bachelor’s degree in a foreign language can be directly applied to a career as an interpreter or translator if your target language proficiency is high. Interpreters and translators convert information from one language to its equivalent form in another language. They must be able to read, write, and speak fluently in their non-native language, and they must be proficient enough to understand tone and context.

Interpreters and translators work in a range of fields, from international business to military intelligence. The above salary and employment growth figures were gathered from the BLS, and represent median incomes.

Postsecondary Foreign Language Teacher

  • Expected Growth: 17%
  • Average Annual Salary: $80,615

An undergraduate foreign language degree can also be a step towards working as a foreign language teacher at a college or university. Foreign language professors plan curricula, choose textbooks and study materials, teach classes, provide students with academic advice, grade tests and other assignments, and supervise graduate students. A doctoral degree is typically required to teach at the university level, although some community colleges hire applicants who have only a master’s degree. Figures above were provided by the BLS.

High School Foreign Language Teacher

  • Expected Growth: 7%
  • Average Annual Salary: $59,125

Similar to their postsecondary foreign language teachers, high school educators create lesson plans, hand out and grade assignments and tests, and track each student’s progress throughout the class. They also communicate with parents to let them know how their child is doing in the course, prepare students for state-administered standardized tests, and provide classroom discipline if necessary. High school foreign language teachers are employed at public and private religious and secular schools. A bachelor’s degree and state licensure are required to work as a teacher in public schools in most states. Figures above were provided by the BLS.


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