This is the preliminary (or launch) version of the 2024-2025 VCU Bulletin. Courses that expose students to cutting-edge content and transformative learning may be added and notification of additional program approvals may be received prior to finalization. General education program content is also subject to change. The final edition and full PDF version will include these updates and will be available in August prior to the beginning of the fall semester.

312 North Shafer Street
Box 842021
Richmond, Virginia 23284-2021
(804) 827-1111

Amy Rector, Ph.D.
Associate professor and director

The School of World Studies is an interdisciplinary unit that explores the diversity of the human experience and prepares students to contribute to a healthy, equitable and sustainable world. With training in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, school faculty conduct research on language, religion, film, literature, politics, economics and the environment, and their relationship to local and global movements for racial, social and environmental justice. The World School offer majors in anthropologyforeign languageinternational studies and religious studies, as well as a number of minors including European studies, Italian studies, Latin American studies, Middle Eastern and Islamic studies, Russian studies and world cinema. Course instruction is enriched by a range of opportunities to gain real-world experience. School of World Studies majors acquire the critical knowledge, analytic abilities, experience and communication skills to succeed in all aspects of life and participate in the project of building a generous world for all. 

See what SWS students and alumni are doing to make this vision of the world real.


Learning a language is incredibly rewarding because it increases mental acuity and global cultural competence and enhances opportunities for cross-cultural dialogue and collaboration. Language proficiency opens doors for personal as well as professional interaction from right here in Richmond to all reaches of the globe. The School of World Studies offers courses in:

  • Arabic
  • Chinese
  • French 
  • German
  • Italian 
  • Russian 
  • Spanish

In cases where the appropriate level of instruction is unavailable, or students are interested in pursuing languages not offered at VCU, the School of World Studies Advising Office will assist in identifying language study options at other U.S. institutions or abroad.

Foreign language courses

Students planning to take a foreign language course at VCU must take the placement test in order to determine proper course selection. Specific information about the placement test is available on the School of World Studies website. Placement scores determine at which skill level the students begins course work in the respective language. Students who test above a specific course level continue with higher level courses to fulfill degree or graduation requirements. 

Students transferring in credit for foreign language course work may continue taking courses at the respective VCU skill level without taking a placement test. Skill level progression is still required and upheld. Students who transfer in credits at a specific course level continue at that level or at a higher level to fulfill degree or graduation requirements. 

Students are required to consecutively complete 101, 102 (beginning), 201, and 202 or 205 (intermediate) levels, or be waived through placement or earned transfer credit. Once a student has reached the 300 level, they are expected to progress through 300-level course work or higher. Registering into a lower level once that skill level has been met is not possible.

Foreign language requirement and native speaker information

All students within the College of Humanities and Sciences are required to meet a foreign language requirement either through the 102 level for the college general education program or through a higher level as specified by the individual program. Specific information on assessment to waive the foreign language requirement is available on the School of World Studies website.

Experiential learning and study abroad

World ePass

The School of World Studies is committed to the premise that learning is best facilitated through engagement with the dynamic complexities and challenges of the world outside the classroom. As part of this commitment, each major within the school is required to complete a World ePass portfolio.

The intention of the World ePass is to highlight each student’s breadth of experience and skills gleaned beyond the core curriculum: cultural competencies, experiential learning opportunities, participation in student research, presentation at conferences, international engagement, multicultural campus activities, foreign language acquisition and academic achievements.

Students obtain initial information and guidance on creating their World ePass through an introductory video.

The World ePass portfolio content requirements include professional preparation, transferable skills articulation, academic career highlights, experiential learning experiences and global citizenship. Once students have started the process of ePass creation, they submit the site address through the World ePass submission site.

All experiential learning opportunities must receive prior approval from the SWS Advising Office. These include internships, service-leaning courses, certain noncredit options and study abroad. 

World ePass completion

Evaluation of the World ePass is on a pass/fail basis. Prior to graduation with a degree from the VCU School of World Studies, the World ePass must be reviewed and approved, with input from SWS faculty, by the SWS advising coordinator.

Study abroad

All School of World Studies students are encouraged to participate in a study abroad program. 

Opportunities range from a summer intensive program to a semester or academic year-length experience. Summer study-abroad programs provide students with opportunities for short-term immersion in the language, culture and civilization of the countries they visit. Information about all current study abroad opportunities can be found on the Global Education Office website. For more information about World Studies faculty-led study abroad programs, visit the School of World Studies website.