Foreign Languages and Cultures

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Academic Building, HC 221
5151 Park Avenue
Fairfield, CT 06825

Department Chair

Mark J. Mascia, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

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The Department of Foreign Languages and Cultures is oriented toward developing students’ linguistic abilities as well as providing a broad knowledge of foreign cultures and literatures. Communicative competence and oral proficiency are stressed in language classes, but all skill areas (reading, writing, listening, and speaking) are developed. Multimedia tools (DVDs, CDs, internet sources) are integral to the methodology. The ‌program also provides offerings in literature (including comparative literature and literature in translation), culture and civilization, linguistics, history, and film. Students are trained to think critically about foreign languages and cultures. Courses incorporate textual and linguistic analysis, as well as the examination of the social, cultural, and historical context of the given country or countries.‌


Students can pursue a major in Spanish as well as minors and certificates in French, Italian, and Spanish.  Courses are also offered occasionally in Arabic, Chinese, Gaelic, Haitian Creole, Japanese, and Latin


The minor in French normally requires the completion of 18 credits at the level of French 151 and above. For students who begin study at the advanced level (French 201 and above), the minor requires 12 credits.


The minor in Italian normally requires the completion of 18 credits at the level of Italian 151 and above. For students who begin study at the advanced level (Italian 201 and above), the minor requires 12 credits.


The Spanish major requires the completion of 33 credits, beginning with SP 201. SP 201 & 202 are required. The remainder of the program consists of a minimum of: 3 courses in literature; 3 courses in culture, civilization, and contemporary issues; and electives. The Spanish minor requires the completion of 18 credits, which may begin either at the level of SP 151 or SP 201. SP 201 & SP 202 are also required.

*Students are encouraged to select two consecutive Foreign Languages and Cultures courses in the same language in partial fulfillment of their Humanities course requirements.

Placement into Language Courses

If you plan to take either Spanish, French, or Italian, and you have any previous experience in the language (junior high school or high school study, study abroad, experience speaking the language with your family), you will need to take a placement exam and provide specific information to the Foreign Languages and Cultures faculty. If you have no prior experience in the language at all, you may register for a first-semester course. The placement exam that we use is web based, so you may take it from any computer with an internet connection. It takes approximately 20-30 minutes. For Freshmen, we advise that you take the exam at least two days before you come to your Freshman Orientation. For upperclassmen, we advise that you take the exam prior to any scheduled appointment with your advisor for course selection. 

Study Abroad Opportunities

Study abroad is encouraged. Sacred Heart University has its own study abroad programs in Spain, Italy, Ireland, Luxembourg, France and Australia. The University is also affiliated with American‌ institutions that offer study abroad opportunities throughout the world, including locations in Canada and Latin America.‌‌ 

Sophomore Foreign Language students have the opportunity to study abroad during the fall semester at our SHU in Dingle campus in Ireland. Participants experience the culture and history of Ireland while also completing core requirements. For more information, visit the Office of Global Affairs website.

Students also have the opportunity to spend a semester at John Cabot University in Rome, either Freshman year or later.

Career Options/Job Opportunities

Teaching, Graduate School, Government, Foreign Service, Bilingual Programs, Translation, International Business, Peace Corps/Volunteer Work, Research (Languages, Literature, and Linguistics), Journalism, Interpretation, Literary Critic/Writing, History, Travel (agencies, airlines), Public Relations, Scientific Writing, Publishing, Hotel Management, and International Broadcasting.

SHU Embraces International Education Week

November 17, 2016

FAIRFIELD, Conn.—Sacred Heart University celebrated International Education Week Nov. 14-18, focusing on the various cultures of students from other countries. International Education Week is a nationwide initiative co-sponsored by the federal Department of Education and Department of State to promote programs that expose students to a diverse global environment. The week is dedicated to celebrating the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide.