Good communication skills are of crucial importance to your success as a student and a citizen of the world. The College's programs in writing, speaking and foreign language provide you with many opportunities to enhance these skills.


Penn offers instruction in well over 50 languages, ancient and modern.

Students are especially encouraged to go beyond the Language Requirement and make further language study a part of their personalized curriculum by learning a new language, becoming more proficient in a language or delving deeper into the culture of a language.

In addition to languages offered through College departments, the Penn Language Center allows students to take less commonly taught and special-purpose language courses.

In addition to completion of the College's Language Requirement, students may choose a major or minor in a language and literature department or program, or they may choose to pursue a language certificate. The language certificate is intended to provide an additional incentive for students who may want to continue language study beyond the requirement, but who may not be able to include a language major or minor in their academic program.

Policies Governing the Language Certificate

Africana Studies (Offered through the Penn Language Center) Amharic, Swahili, Twi, Yoruba, Zulu, and tutorials in various African languages (currently Igbo, Setswana, Shona, Wolof)
Classical Studies Classical and Medieval Latin, Ancient Greek and (offered through the Penn Language Center) Modern Greek
East Asian Languages and Civilizations Classical Chinese, Classical Japanese, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin and (offered through the Penn Language Center) Cantonese, Tagalog, Taiwanese, Thai and Vietnamese
Francophone, Italian, and Germanic Studies French, Italian, Dutch, German, Yiddish and Swedish
Linguistics (Offered through the Penn Language Center) American Sign Language and Irish Gaelic
Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations Akkadian, Arabic, Avestan/Old Persian, Hittite, Modern and Biblical Hebrew, Sumerian, Syriac, Old Egyptian and (offered through the Penn Language Center) Persian and Turkish
Spanish & Portuguese  Spanish, Portuguese, and (offered through the Penn Language Center) Judeo-Spanish (Ladino)
Russian and East European Studies           Russian and (offered through the Penn Language Center) Czech, Hungarian, Polish and Ukrainian
South Asia Studies Gujarati, Hindi, Sanskrit, Urdu and (offered through the Penn Language Center) Bengali, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Panjabi, Pashto, Tamil and Telugu.

For a list of less commonly taught languages, see the list on the Penn Language Center's website.

The ability to express oneself clearly and persuasively in writing is fundamental. It is a skill essential for success across all academic disciplines, and throughout one's personal and professional life.

The Creative Writing Program offers workshops in fiction, non-fiction, poetry, journalistic writing, screenwriting and playwriting. It also offers minors in Creative Writing and Journalistic Writing; publishes a literary journal highlighting the work of students, faculty and eminent alumni writers; and provides qualified English majors the opportunity to earn honors in English by submitting a creative thesis. Throughout the year, the program invites visiting writers to Penn for readings and talks and sponsors a University-wide writing contest each spring.

Kelly Writers House is a historic house on Penn's campus that serves as a center for writers from Penn and the Philadelphia region at large. Each semester the Writers House hosts approximately 150 public programs and projects: poetry readings, film screenings, seminars, art exhibits and musical performances. Each week about 500 people work, write and collaborate in its many rooms and in the "Arts Cafe." Writers House also has a strong virtual presence through live interactive webcasts and dozens of listservs, web magazines and email discussion groups.

The ability to speak clearly and compellingly is an essential element in achieving educational and career goals.