Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Higher Education Administration PhD

First Advisor

Edward A. Streeter

Second Advisor

Jerome D. Thayer

Third Advisor

Wilfred W. Liske


Problem. In the United States, a uniquely American situation exists in that there appears to be no uniform or consistent comprehensive rationale underlying foreign-language study and proficiency requirements for doctoral degrees. As contrasted to students in other parts of the world, especially in Europe--where compulsory basic requirements are usually met by language studies in elementary through secondary school--most American graduate students are ill-prepared for foreign-language proficiency examinations on the doctoral level.

Method. Historical literature was reviewed to gather information regarding the development of foreign-language requirements in the United States and in Europe. In addition, a request for information about current procedures in American institutions of higher learning was sent to the principal administrator of each school accredited by professional accrediting associations and offering doctoral degrees in education, business, music, and theology.A comprehensive rationale was synthesized on the basis of historical trends, current practices, and concepts expressed by administrators. The rationale was sent to a panel of forty randomly selected administrators for validation.

Results. The rationale addresses eleven issues: (1) the need for foreign-language requirements on the doctoral level; (2) the purposes for such requirements; (3) the number of languages to be required; (4) specific languages to be required; (5) function of language competence; (6) degree of competence needed; (7) needs for other tools; (8) relationship between general and specific requirements; (9) appropriate time for completing foreign-language study; (10) administration; and (11) institutional policies.

Conclusions and Recommendations. It was concluded that: (1) A comprehensive rationale must be flexible as needs vary; (2) There is a need to establish priorities as to which tool subjects are most useful in each discipline; (3) Basic foreign-language studies should be completed before doctoral studies are begun whenever feasible; (4) Foreign-language study should be strongly encouraged, but foreign languages should not automatically be part of doctoral requirements; (5) When there is a need for specific foreign-language competences in a discipline, these should be specified in the publications of professional schools; (6) When there is a demonstrable need within an individual program, any foreign language should be allowed to fulfill doctoral requirements; (7) Lack of an adequate foreign-language background may limit study options in some professional disciplines.

Subject Area

Doctor of philosophy degree, Languages, Modern--Study and teaching


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