Course Selection: Liberal Arts

First-Year Writing Requirement


Tips for Success

You should plan to register for 4.0 or 4.5 credits

  • First-Year Writing - 1.0 credit
  • Language - 1.0 credit
  • Two or three entry-level courses - 2.0-2.5 credits

First-Year Writing Requirement

Most new students will be required to take an English course in the First-Year Writing sequence.  If you’re a liberal arts student, you can fulfill one or both parts of the writing requirement if you have taken certain standardized tests.  Please review the English Department’s Requirements and Equivalencies to determine your placement.

If you place out of the writing requirement, consider taking a course that will stretch your writing abilities. For instance, a courses offered in any department with a reference to research or creative writing assignments in the description can help you build on your base of writing skills. 


Language proficiency is a core component of a Tufts education and opens up various options for you to study abroad. It also expands your post-graduation opportunities. The university requires students to demonstrate proficiency in a language other than English through the third or sixth semester level.  International Relations students must complete through the eighth semester level.

Language placement exams are held each year during Orientation Week. Once you arrive on campus you will be given a schedule of these exam times.

Who should take the placement exam?

Everyone is encouraged to take the placement exam. If you are fluent in a language taught at Tufts, if you are a heritage speaker and speak at home, or if you studied the language in high school. The placement exam is designed for your personal use to help you gage which course level is most appropriate for you to enroll in. Remember to speak to your professor within the first week of classes if you are unsure of the appropriateness of your placement.

What if I have pre-matriculation scores in a language?

If you took an SAT II, IB, or A-level exam those scores may also inform your language placement. Refer to the Bulletin for exam equivalencies page 31. Please keep in mind these equivalencies may change from year to year so double check here when you arrive on campus.

What if I speak a language not taught at Tufts?

Students who can speak, read, and write proficiently in a language other than English that is not taught at Tufts, and whose language of instruction was in this language up to 10th grade are eligible for exemption from the language requirement both Part I and II. Students who can speak, read, and write proficiently in a language other than English that is not taught at Tufts, and took the TOEFL exam are eligible for exemption from the language requirement both Part I and II.

If you believe you fall into one or both of these categories please reach out to your College Transition Advisor:

Proficiency in languages taught at Tufts must be evaluated by a Tufts faculty member. Consult the Language Coordinator for the relevant language in the Department of Romance Languages, International Literary and Cultural Studies or Classics.

For students who speak, read, and write a language not taught at Tufts there are several options:

  1. Those who have taken the TOEFL and sent their scores to Tufts will automatically be exempted
  2. Those who studied in a high school where that language was the language of instruction should contact their CTA for exemption.
  3. Those who need to be evaluated should visit the website of University of Pennsylvania Language Center to learn which languages are evaluated. If you are interested, you may request information about registering and taking the test by emailing

Tips for Success

Graduation requirements should not be your priority at this stage.

There will be time to complete all of your core and major requirements over the next four years. With the exception of first-year writing and language proficiency, you don’t need to worry about graduation requirements when selecting your first-semester courses. No matter what you take, you will be earning credits toward your degree and you may be eligible for pre-matriculation credits from AP and other exams.  Take a look at the equivalency charts for Liberal Arts, and Engineering.

Exploration is key early in your college career.

No matter the rigor of your high school curriculum, you will find courses at Tufts on topics you’ve never encountered in a classroom before. If a course sounds interesting to you – and you meet the listed prerequisites – think about giving it a try. You have until spring of your sophomore year to declare a major. This gives you time to explore your interests thoroughly before you commit to an area of academic concentration.

Balance is important to your academic success.

Most high school students take a similar set of courses each year: English, social science, natural science, mathematics, language. In your first semester at Tufts, think about balancing types of work – reading, synthesis of ideas in writing, quantitative analysis. Workload and scheduling are also key. Think about giving yourself enough time for homework, extracurricular activities and basic self-care. Your advisor and orientation leaders will be a great resource for building your ideal schedule.

Self-awareness will help you to approach your academics effectively.

If you know you struggle to arrive on time and well prepared for an 8:00 am class, your first semester of college may not be the best time to try and change that behavior. If you know you’re at your best when you can focus on a single topic for long stretches at a time, a course that meets once a week for three hours may be a great choice. Many introductory courses are large lecture classes with weekly small group meetings (recitations). If you do better in small classes, look for large classes with recitations.