School of Global Languages, Literatures, and Cultures
Proficiency Certification and Credit by Examination in Foreign Languages

Proficiency Certification and Credit by Examination in Foreign Languages

Information for Students and Advisors

Some students seek to satisfy language requirements by means other than taking coursework.  If their situations fall within the criteria established by Penn State’s Foreign Language Placement Policy, they may request that the relevant language and literature departments provide Credit by Examination or Non-Credit Proficiency Certification.

1. Credit by Examination (CRX):  this process can confer credits (not offered at University Park campus)

This is a method of graded credit acquisition.  It is officially defined by Faculty Senate Policy (see <> and <>):  “Penn State students may earn credits which are accepted to fulfill degree requirements through successful completion (C or better) of a comprehensive examination. This examination is a substitute for completing the usual requirements of a course. Credit by examination may not be used to earn credit for a course previously completed with a quality letter grade (including courses that were failed). Credit by examination may not be attained on the satisfactory – unsatisfactory grading system. Obtaining credit by examination may not be possible for some courses.”

A fee per credit is charged for CRX.   The Fall 2013 rate is $30 per credit—for instance, $120 for a 4-credit language course.  The credits and grades are entered on the student’s transcript.  Paperwork to request CRX can be obtained from advising offices and from academic departments.  Departments are not necessarily obliged to offer CRX.

In language courses, students are eligible for CRX only within the parameters of the University’s Foreign Language Placement Policy <>. This policy states, for example, that students may not receive credit for elementary or intermediate courses in their native language.

2.  Non-Credit Proficiency Certification:  this process does not confer credits

Sometimes the situations of students do not fall within the CRX opportunity.  Examples include the following:

  1. Graduate students who need certification of proficiency (but not necessarily credits) in order to meet doctoral requirements, apply for grants, etc.
  2. Undergraduates seeking documentation of their proficiency in a language acquired through means such as education abroad or other such programs, often to satisfy the 12th-credit-level B.A. proficiency requirement .
  3. Undergraduates who are native speakers of languages other than English.  Such students are not eligible for credit in the elementary or intermediate courses in their native language, as noted above, but they may be seeking certification that they have met the 12th-credit-level proficiency requirement for B.A. (and some other) degrees.
  4. Students seeking proficiency certification in languages not taught at their Penn State location.

Procedure:  Students seeking credits through the CRX option should obtain the CRX paperwork from an advising office or a department office and follow the instructions it provides.  The fee ($30/credit as of Fall 2013) must be paid before the examination is administered.

Students seeking Non-Credit Proficiency Certification in Foreign Languages should use the Non-Credit form available here.  Requests are to be submitted to the department that offers the language curriculum (as specified on the form) at least three weeks prior to the time when the certification will be needed.  It is not guaranteed that all requests will be fulfilled.  If the language department cannot fulfill the request, the student will be notified and can seek alternative means of documenting proficiency (such as taking an external standardized exam in the language).  If the language department can fulfill the request, the fee ($60 as of Fall 2022) must be paid before the examination is administered.  For questions about this policy, contact the relevant language department, or the School of Languages and Literatures (466 Burrowes, 865-1168).

Request for the Non-Credit Proficiency Certification in Foreign Languages: View and Print Non-Credit Form

PDF Form can be found here.