PSU among top in nation for graduating most foreign-language majors
Author: Cristina Rojas, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Posted: February 14, 2019

Portland State University ranks in the top 4 percent nationally for graduating the most foreign-language majors, a testament to the strength of our language programs.

With 135 majors, PSU ranked 30th in the country out of 925 four-year colleges and universities in awarding the most bachelor's degrees in foreign languages, literatures and linguistics during the 2016-17 academic year, according to a new analysis by the Chronicle of Higher Education

Two of PSU's language programs made the top 10 for producing the most graduates: Russian ranked 6th with 12 majors, and Japanese ranked 9th with 19 majors. 

Russian professor William Comer said the program's broad course offerings, strong student mentoring, study abroad programs and opportunities to use Russian in the community help attract such a large number of language majors.

"While learning Russian is demanding, our classes are dedicated to helping students build their ability to communicate in the language and deepen their cross-cultural understanding," said Comer, who also directs PSU's Russian Flagship Program. "Having a Flagship Program on campus gives our majors extra opportunities to reach professional fluency in Russian."

The Russian Flagship Program, one of only six in the country, is an innovative undergraduate program that helps students become proficient in Russian while pursuing a second major of their choice. 

Meanwhile, PSU's highly structured program for Japanese learning has proven to be a leader in Japanese language education. PSU's Center for Japanese Studies complements the cultural and language courses by offering students curricular, outreach and exchange programs.

"Our Japanese program is noteworthy for team teaching of all language courses, for our performative approach to language learning, and for a wealth of courses in Japanese linguistics, pedagogy, literature, drama, and popular culture," Japanese professors Jon Holt and Larry Kominz said. "Whether one wants to learn kabuki acting first-hand, explore what manga comic books can tell us about life today, or become fluent in Japanese for personal growth or real-world business interactions, the Japanese program at PSU—our faculty, from professors to graduate TAs—invite students to come learn with us with and see how passionate we are about our teaching and our research."

Some of our other top-ranked programs include:

  • Spanish, 34th out of 771 schools (47 majors)
  • French, 56th out of 465 schools (11 majors)
  • German, 15th out of 260 schools (10 majors)

"This shows that, compared to schools across the nation, PSU students are in the top 4 percent for meaningful internationalization," says Gina Greco, chair of the World Languages and Literatures department.

DeLys Ostlund, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences' associate dean of faculty and a Spanish professor, called the rankings a mark of distinction for PSU.

"Learning another language teaches you to think differently and become more aware and appreciative of cultural differences, which is especially important in our world today," she said. "Students who want to major in a foreign language see the value that PSU offers."