Online Foreign Language Degrees

Foreign language degree programs are primarily offered in an on-campus format, though online classes or hybrid programs are available in certain languages. Learn about the differences between on-campus and online programs, what kinds of programs are offered and potential career opportunities. Schools offering Spanish degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Are Foreign Language Degree Programs Available Online?

In general, online foreign language programs are somewhat rare. The most commonly offered languages in online programs are German, Spanish, French and Italian. Some schools offer distance education courses in Japanese, Chinese, Arabic and Russian, but complete degree programs aren't usually available online. However, certain on-campus associate and bachelor's degree programs may offer online or hybrid courses in languages such as Spanish, German, Japanese, Italian or French. At the graduate level, Italian, French, German and Spanish tend to be the most common languages offered in online master's degree programs. Online doctoral programs in foreign languages are not currently available.

Online DegreesAssociate, bachelor's and master's degrees are available
Program DifferencesOnline programs utilize lectures, audio assignments and electronic communication; on-campus programs utilize skits, discussions and other in-person assessments
Career OptionsInterpreter, translator, businessperson, English teacher, foreign language teacher
Median Salary (2018)$49,430 (Interpreters and Translators)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)18% growth (Interpreters and Translators)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Are the Differences Between Online and Campus-Based Programs?

Most foreign language programs start out similarly, with lessons in grammar, vocabulary and verb conjugation. Many times, these lessons include relevant aspects of history and culture. Gradually, you'll learn to read and write in the target language. In languages such as Japanese, Arabic and Chinese, elementary classes start with an introduction to special characters or tones. Many language programs, both online and campus-based, use CDs or audio files to teach the language so you can hear and imitate it.

In campus-based programs, you're encouraged to speak in the target language as much as possible. This involves interacting with classmates and professors, as well as listening to and answering questions in the target language. Many classes incorporate hands-on methods for learning the language, such as writing and performing skits, completing language labs and participating in class discussions. Studying abroad can also help to further cement your language skills.

In online undergraduate programs, some courses or programs may be entirely online, but most include a blend of online lectures or activities and campus-based activities and discussions. Learning methods may include videos, assignments and online resources for vocabulary enhancement. For online graduate-level programs, you must already have an undergraduate degree or fluency in the language you're studying, so programs are more likely to be entirely online. Discussion primarily takes place through web chats and discussion boards, where you write in the target language as much as possible. Assignments may have a speaking component in which you are required to record yourself answering questions.

What Careers Are Available?

Foreign language competency can open the door to many career opportunities. Learning a second language can be beneficial if you're a businessperson, giving you the chance to cross cultural barriers to sell products or generate clientele. You could also become an interpreter, translator or travel guide.

Many foreign language programs include an education or teaching component. Those interested in this type of degree may choose to either teach English in a foreign country or teach a foreign language in the United States.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools