Foreign languages: Good for your brain. Great for your career. Arabic • Chinese • French • German • Irish • Italian • Japanese • Korean • Portuguese • Russian • Spanish

Studying a foreign language:

  • Sharpens your logical and rational thinking
  • Builds analytical and creative skills
  • Improves your memory
  • Increases your attention span
  • Prepares you for an increasingly interconnected world
  • Develops empathy and appreciation for other cultures
  • Makes you more marketable
  • Expands career opportunities
  • Increases earnings potential
  • Broadens travel opportunities
  • Enhances research potential

In this video, A&L students share how learning a foreign language has opened doors for them in the classroom and around the world.

Demand for bilingual talent in major industries has more than doubled in the past 5 years — and high-prestige jobs are the fastest growing sector in need of foreign language speakers.

(Burning Glass, 2017)

Employers with the largest percentage of job listings requiring bilingual skills include:

  • Bank of America
  • H&R Block
  • Humana
  • U.S. Bancorp
  • Wells Fargo
  • T- Mobile
  • AT&T
  • BB&T

Graduates with second-language fluency can expect a 10–15% pay increase.

— U.S. News & World Report

“In whatever career I pursue — medicine, anthropology, or something else — making connections through Spanish will be key to truly understanding and sharing the best I have to offer with the people I work with.”

— Andrew Grose ’18

  • Language: Spanish
  • Preprofessional studies and Spanish major
  • Now: Medical school, University of Chicago
“Studying languages can have unexpected benefits years into your career. My knowledge of French and Japanese ultimately allowed me to shift from a career in educational publishing to one in conversational artificial intelligence, where I focused on communication between machines and people.”

— Michelle Gaseor ’11

  • Languages: French and Japanese
  • History major
  • Now: AI intent recognition designer, IPsoft
“I studied German so I could have a language that could add to my aspiration of being based internationally. After a few trial classes, I decided to make it my minor because it could be very helpful in an international career. Knowing German goes a long way toward assimilating into the local culture when you’re trying to not stand out as an American.”

— Mallory Brown ’06

  • Language: German
  • Political science major
  • Now: Principal, Egon Zehnder global management consulting firm

Your four years at Notre Dame are the best chance you’ll have to approach fluency in another language.

Here are some ways to get started:

  • Register for a 5-credit first-year course in your language of interest

Try other introductory courses, such as:

  • Introduction to Russian (1 credit)
  • Elementary Chinese or Japanese (3 credits)
  • Spanish of Business or French of Business (3 credits)

Take a class (taught in English, with no prereq) to learn more about a culture

  • European Culture and the Rise of Modern Capitalism (German and Russian)
  • The Italian Cityscape
  • Chinese Economy since 1800
  • Modern Japanese Literature
  • Folklore, Literature & Irish National Culture
  • Introduction to Arabic Culture and Civilization

After you fulfill your language requirement, consider furthering your language proficiency — and enhancing your résumé — by majoring or minoring in that language.


  • Arabic
  • Chinese
  • French
  • German
  • Irish
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Romance Languages & Literatures
  • Russian
  • Spanish

Supplementary majors

  • Chinese
  • French
  • German
  • Irish
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Russian
  • Spanish


  • Chinese
  • German
  • Irish
  • Italian Studies
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Mediterranean/Middle Eastern Studies
  • Portuguese & Brazilian Studies
  • Russian
  • Russian Studies

The Summer Language Abroad program offers funding to pursue coursework and cultural immersion in another country — hear what students took away from their unforgettable SLA experiences.

“Taking classes in the Irish department at Notre Dame gave me a framework for understanding the Ireland that I experience now. Even if I don’t need a specific fact to go about my day-to-day life, it’s great to be able to understand where people are coming from.”

— Rose Giglia ’17

  • Language: Irish
  • Neuroscience and behavior major
  • Now: Neurology research assistant, Trinity College Dublin