About Us

Department Overview | Mission | Student Types | Course Function | Department Resources

Department Overview

Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures at Wichita State is a medium-sized department which embraces diversity by its very nature. With the founding of Fairmount College in 1895, the department offered Latin, Greek, French, and German initially. Soon thereafter, Spanish was added and has grown to be our largest section, offering BA and MA degrees.

In addition, we offer the BA in French and Classical Studies, together with minors in French, German, Japanese, Latin, and Spanish. Courses are also offered in Arabic, Italian, and Chinese.


The BA in Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures together with the MA in Spanish form an integral component of the stated teaching, research, and service missions of Wichita State University. MCLL embraces at once a humanistic, general education mission and a technical/professional, applied mission. Our programs enable students to understand the nature and structure of foreign languages, their interplay with other humanities disciplines, and the significance of works of foreign literature. We also equip learners with tools of communication and provide specialized vocabulary and translation strategies for types of language frequently encountered on the job in non-English speaking countries.

An essential part of our institutional mission is to support a clearly articulated requirement for degree-bound students in liberal arts to achieve basic intermediate proficiency in at least one language other than their native tongue, as a necessary complement to courses in other areas of liberal arts or in conjunction with technical or professional fields such as business, aerospace, criminal justice or pre-law.

Student Types

As world language proficiency affords immense advantages when majoring in other humanities disciplines (English, history, philosophy, and religion; or in areas such as art history or music), students set out to learn a world language for four types of reasons that have come to define the various facets of our mission.

  1. Heritage speakers: a certain language and its culture are a part of one's family history; there's a deep-seated desire to perpetuate those traditions.
  2. Some students take one or two languages together with courses offered through the College of Education with a view to becoming teachers, generally PreK-12.
  3. Some highly motivated students plan to become researchers in an area of world language, linguistics, literature, or civilization. They pursue a program of study toward the BA with a specialization in French or Spanish, then progress to the MA in Spanish or the MALS including French. Ultimately the PhD, earned at another institution, will qualify them for a career as a professor.
  4. Undergraduates most often follow an applied track, taking one or two world languages (bilingual option) together with another discipline or major; this may involve a double major (within Liberal Arts) or double degree (across colleges), for example: world language(s) together with business, pre-law, criminal justice, social work, or engineering, to name only a few.

Course Function

All basic courses in the modern languages are structured around the principle of oral proficiency, in order to help learners acquire a usable level of fluency in the desired language. Grammar/translation (the focus of teaching in Classics) becomes an additional focus at the advanced level in the modern languages. When studying any modern language, learners at each level develop the four skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

Inasmuch as some graduate programs (e.g. MA in history, PhD in mathematics) maintain a requirement to demonstrate reading proficiency in a world language, our upper-division courses help students prepare to translate a text in their subject area to show they can conduct research in the other language.

Department Resources

Our instructors, whether adjunct or full-time faculty, are all dedicated to excellence in teaching. Several have received teaching awards and almost all have been nominated for such an award. Our ranked faculty are active researchers in their respective fields, bringing their insights and discoveries to bear upon the presentation of material in the classroom. Click on Faculty and Staff to check out our professional service and research accomplishments.

Through honor societies and clubs in the various languages, the department offers a wide range of organized student activities. These include theatre events, conversation groups, symposia, immersion days, movies, and culinary adventures.

We also devote considerable energy to public and community service activities, promoting cultural exchange and aliiances between Wichita and Sister Cities Orléans (France), Cancun and Tlalnepantla (Mexico), and Kaifeng (China). Diplomatic and academic ties interconnect through student exchange opportunities including scholarships benefiting WSU Students.