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Substituting a 'method' for a foreign language


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Hey all.  I am applying next year (2021) to PhD programs with a Social Ethics focus (some have slightly different names, but looking at Chicago, Union, Yale, Vanderbilt, and BU).  Yale's program is highly specific about language req's (French and German); the others specify that modern language is the expected standard, and most allow a student, at least theoretically, to swap a language for a 'method,' ie stats, if it's relevant to their line of study.  Has anyone here successfully done this? 

The programs I'm looking at are structured major/minor and I'd like econ to be my minor--my prospective focus is social-gospel critiques of capitalism in the context of industrialism.  Given that, I feel less need to read Barth in his native language and more need for, say, calculus.  Which in an ideal world would contribute to progress toward degree rather than just adding more req's.  

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I would also love to know what others have to say about this - I'll be in a similar situation. I would also like to know whether languages (similar to the GRE) every improve your application in terms of competitiveness. Or are they only used to eliminate applicants who don't meet the requirements?

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3 hours ago, JDD said:

I would also love to know what others have to say about this - I'll be in a similar situation. I would also like to know whether languages (similar to the GRE) every improve your application in terms of competitiveness. Or are they only used to eliminate applicants who don't meet the requirements?

Yes, they increase your chances. But much of that depends on your subfield. If you work in the premodern world, a good amount of language training is simply required. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Agree it may be more helpful to ask the schools directly. In particular, get in touch with the department admin and see if they can put you in touch with a current student who has successfully done this, or if the admin can tell you about it.

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