This is a probably a simple question, but basically, I want to get my MA in International Relations, but one of the admission requirements for most programs is proficiency in a foreign language. During my time as an undergrad, I never thought to take any language classes(outside of a basic German I class).
My question is can I just take a few classes at a local university or college in say… Arabic, without having to actually having to enter a language arts program?
At most colleges or universities, yes, you could. College class schedules often don’t tend to be too convenient to the schedules of working people, though- most classes are during the work day. A community college or university extension program might be cheaper and easier to fit into your schedule.
Alot of people at my college HAD to get a “General Science” degree, because they had too many credits, without a degree, to continue receiving financial aid. So, they’d get their BS in GS, and continue taking classes towards a second BS. So the answer is yes, at least at some schools.
At many schools, yes, but with caveats. Each school will have slightly different policies. You will need to speak to the admissions office at a school that offers the subject you are interested in.
Austin Community College will essentially let anyone enroll in any class, perhaps after an appointment with an advisor.
The University of Texas offers University Extension, which is “real classes, real teachers, real credit” that only requires that you sign up for them.
UT and the private school I work at, St. Edward’s University, will admit “Degree holding, but non-degree seeking” students if space is available. You will have to apply for admission formally, and will generally be held to the same admissions requirements of any applicant. You will have the lowest priority at registration.
The local junior college, which now prefers to be called a community college, allows people to take courses for fun and/or credit. The tuition is very affordable. However, you do want to make sure that you’ll earn transferable credits from such a college. Some credits don’t transfer.
I just looked up languages at TCCC (my local junior college) and Arabic courses are $133 a semester. As I said, this is very affordable. Look up your local community college (in the US, it’s usually <county name> County Community College. They’ll be happy to send you a course description and class schedule. I might take a couple of non-credit courses there just for access to the library…they have a library for both research and pleasure reading.
My alma mater, Barnard does this, as does Columbia across the street. Alumni can’t audit seminars, labs, gym classes, and other limited enrollment classes, but most other classes are fair game as long as you have the permission of the instructor. (They’re told not to be too active in class discussion without permission from the professor so as not to step on the toes of students actually paying for classes.) Auditors don’t get any official notation anywhere on any sort of transcript; at Barnard, at least, we’re supposed to register with the office of Alumni Affairs by filling out a little card that the professor signs, but it’s not a big deal.
When I was in college, I took a bunch of classes with people affectionately dubbed ‘Lifetime Learners,’ retired alumni in their sixties through eighties who had come back to audit. Professors loved them because they were there purely because they were interested in the subject, and they always did their reading. It was a good sign if you saw them, in fact, because they knew which were the interesting and well-taught classes. I actually audited a few classes myself last year while I was too sick to be in grad school, but nobody noticed me as I’m only a couple of years older than the oldest seniors.
The real bottom line is to check with what the institution that you seek the MA from will accept. The transferability of credits is all over the map between institutions. Until you get it in writing you just don’t know. In my case I had a B.S. in Criminal Justice from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, and ten years later decided to get an Associates degree in computer tech from a community college in Illionis, they accepted everything from UWP except a communication course, public speaking. I had to retake that. Talking to classmates the experience varied greatly. Only way to tell is talk to an advisor and then get it in writing from the registrar.
Sure, the term for this can also be “special student” or “Non-Candidate for Degree.” Four-year colleges may have a special application for this status so you don’t need to go through quite the same rigamarole of sending test scores, getting recommendations, paying the app fee, and so on. However, the more selective ones may make you demonstrate that you meet the same general admissions requirements of their regular students. If admitted, you may find your course choices are restricted to those in which there is room after degree-seeking students have completed their registration. Community colleges may be less of a hassle (and will be cheaper to boot).
My former roommate did this when it turned out he needed another English class to meet med school requirements–he already had a bachelors degree. The course he selected at the local community college was so cheap, I ended up signing up for it, too.
I see after posting that someone has brought up transferrability to your MA degree. I think that isn’t an issue. You’re not planning to enroll in graduate level language courses at this point, are you? If you want these courses to meet prerequisites for admission, and they’re not graduate level, getting credit for them towards your MA seems to me to be a moot point. You wouldn’t have gotten credit for them if you’d taken them while still enrolled as an undergrad, so why would the MA program grant you credit just because you took them a year or so later?
It’s very easy to take classes at community colleges in California - fairly cheap also. For language classes I assume that a proficiency test can be taken, so the transfer of credits may not be that important.
For a while, this confused me (there’s an 80-year-old Doper?), until I realized you meant seniors as in 4th year students, not people over 65. (Which is really funny, because I’m in my fourth (and last) year of high school now.)