Competency Requirements

Overview of Requirements and Restrictions

All undergraduate students in the College of Arts & Sciences must complete three competency requirements: the First Writing Requirement, the Second Writing Requirement and the World Language Requirement. More information on these subject areas, their related credit requirements, competency exemptions and University restrictions can be found in sections below. Once a student matriculates, all area and competency requirement must be completed in the College of Arts & Sciences at U.Va.

All courses for these requirements must be taken for a grade and for credit.

Some restrictions apply to completing competency requirements. These requirements may NOT be fulfilled by the following:

  • Dual enrollment credit
  • College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests
  • Courses taken under the Credit/No Credit (CR/NC) option
  • Courses taken under the Audit (AU) option

To help students keep track of their earned competency requirements, Arts & Sciences offers a College Area Requirements Checklist.

First Writing Requirement (FWR)

Effective fall 2017, all first-year students (except Echols Scholars) must complete the first writing requirement in the College of Arts & Sciences at UVA. For detailed information on placement, go to the English Department's web site.

If you have questions regarding first writing requirement placement, please e-mail the writing program administrators.

A course used to fill the FWR may not fill any other requirement.

Second Writing Requirement


All students except Echols Scholars must complete a Second Writing Requirement with a grade of C- or better. To meet the Second Writing Requirement, a class must:

  • Assign at least two writing assignments in English totaling 20 pages or more independent of quizzes and final examinations
  • Have a student/faculty ratio no greater than 30/1

If the class used to fill this requirement is not coded as such in SIS the requirement is not complete until a Second Writing Requirement Completion Form in DocuSign has been submitted, approved, and the entire DocuSign process has been completed. You can find pertinent information about the Second Writing Requirement form and the link to the DocuSign form on The College Forms page.

Restrictions and Clarification

Any course meeting the above standards can satisfy the Second Writing Requirement but poetry and fiction writing classes are excluded from fulfilling the second writing requirement.

The Second Writing Requirement must be taken at the University and within the College. A course in another school of this University (e.g., Engineering), advanced placement credit, advanced standing, dual enrollment credit or credit transferred from another university will not satisfy this requirement.

Although it is not advised, you may take a course that meets the Second Writing Requirement before or during the semester that you complete the First Writing Requirement. However, completing the Second Writing Requirement neither exempts you from nor fulfills the First Writing Requirement.

A course that satisfies the Second Writing Requirement may simultaneously count toward your major or minor program. One course, in addition to meeting the Second Writing Requirement, may also complete area requirements (no more than two).

World Language Requirement


Undergraduate students must earn anywhere from zero to 14 world language credits, depending on their  world language placement examination scores. The requirement should be fulfilled before the seventh semester in the College. All courses MUST be taken in the same language.

Languages taught at U.Va. that count towards the requirement are:

  • American Sign Language
  • Arabic
  • Chinese
  • French
  • German
  • Greek
  • Hebrew (Biblical)
  • Hebrew (Modern)
  • Hindi
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Latin
  • Persian
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Sanskrit
  • Spanish
  • Swahili
  • Tibetan
  • Urdu

Placement and Exemptions

For languages taught at U.Va

The types of examinations for world language placement include:

  • SAT II Subject Test
  • Advanced Placement (AP) Exam
  • Higher-level International Baccalaureate Exam
  • College Summer Orientation World Language Placement Test

Check the World Language Placement Examinations page for details on these tests or the World Language Requirement FAQ for more specific inquiries and contact information. Click here for placement guidelines.

For languages not taught at U.Va:

If you master a language not taught at UVa at the native-speaker level, you may request an exemption from the World Language Requirement. Please note, you must demonstrate mastery across all four modes of langauge: speaking, listening comprehension, reading, and writing. 

For questions and information about languages not taught at UVA and the exemption request process, please contact Dean Melissa Frost, (434) 924-3351.

Completion of the Requirement

Students can meet the World Language Requirement by successfully completing one of the following courses of action:

  • Earn exemption if you place beyond the 2020 level by examination
  • Take 14 credits or four semesters of a language in the proper sequence
  • After placement, complete the remaining courses in the sequence up to the fourth semester (usually 2020)

Consult the World Language Placement Index to determine your exact placement.

Taking introductory language courses which duplicate credits earned from AP or IB tests neither give you credit nor count for the World Language Requirement.

Some or all of the requisite 14 credits can be earned by transfer students from coursework completed at a previously attended college or university if credits are earned prior to matriculation to the College. Dual enrollment courses, however, do not fulfill the requirement.

Furthermore, the College provides World Language Disability Accommodation when needed to satisfy this requirement.

Need Help?

Students with questions about testing, placement, etc., should contact the World Language Coordinator.

The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only. The Undergraduate Record and Graduate Record represent the official repository for academic program requirements. These publications may be found here.