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Another amateur question

  1. Jun 13, 2010 #1
    Are all prestige and good Physics/Math programs (graduate school) require you to know a foreign language? Another question is about admission in grad school.

    If it comes down to two people, like with the exact same grades and test scores, same merit of letters of recommendations, etc.., but the only thing that marks the difference between these two applicants is

    1. a foreign language(s)
    2. citizenship
    3. Finance.

    Thank you!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 13, 2010 #2
    You are not required to know a foreign language for grad school, but it certainly doesn't hurt.
  4. Jun 13, 2010 #3
    Don't they require you to translate papers?
  5. Jun 13, 2010 #4
    I have never had to do that nor encountered any peers doing this. I live in Canada though, so this may be different in other countries.
  6. Jun 13, 2010 #5


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    Graduate programs in the sciences in the US do not require knowing another language. Just English. No, you don't have to translate papers. Almost all the papers you need are already in English, or have been translated before. I have only once thought a paper might come in useful for my research and then found out it was in Italian and hadn't been translated. And it's not like I would have learned Italian for my research plan anyway.

    Also, grad school will pay YOU to attend in the US - you don't have to pay for it. Do not accept offers that don't come with a tuition waiver and an assistantship in return for you teaching and/or doing research for them. So neither knowing a foreign language or being rich is going to help you get into science/math graduate programs - citizenship usually isn't too much of an issue as long as you can get a visa.
  7. Jun 13, 2010 #6
    A lot of math programs do have 'foreign language requirements', but most are a joke-- often they give you a short math paper and a dictionary and ask you to translate it in a few hours.
  8. Jun 13, 2010 #7


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    Staff: Mentor

    When I was a grad student in physics at Michigan about thirty years ago, there was a language requirement which I satisfied by having already taken some German courses beyond the introductory level and studied in Germany for a semester as an undergraduate. Some people I knew met the requirement by demonstrating that they could read (at least extract information from) a paper written in either French, German or Russian.

    That requirement doesn't exist any more, according to the http://www.lsa.umich.edu/physics/graduate/requ [Broken].
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  9. Jun 13, 2010 #8
    I don't remember where I heard it, but I heard that some Ph.D programs require you to teach in another language, is that true?
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