If you are already proficient in a language other than English, consider testing out of the lower-level courses by taking a College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) Test or a Challenge Exam.

College-Level Examination Program (CLEP)

CLEP exams are standard exams for French, German and Spanish only and, depending on the score received, can give a student credit for 101, 102, 201 and 202 (at NAU these courses are 4 credit hours each, maximum 16). Students must have graduated from a high school where the primary language of instruction was in English (see NAU Policy 100810) to receive 101 thru 202 credits at NAU by taking this exam and can do so instead of registering for and attending actual classes. Students who pass the CLEP exam are given credit only for the course(s) that are covered by the exam. Since these exams carry no letter grade, the student's GPA will not be affected. See the university policies and equivalency scores for CLEP (scroll down to the CLEP Subject Exams section; find the language you seek - tests are in alphabetical order). 

GREAT NEWS! CLEP exams are once again being administered by the NAU Testing Center in the W. A. Franke College of Business. Darren Choate, NAU Testing Center Director, is the proctor for this exam at NAU. Since, at the time of this posting, he is the only certified proctor of CLEP exams in Flagstaff they can only be administered once a month. If students wish to find a different AZ location to take the CLEP exam they can do so by clicking here: AZ CLEP Exam Locations. Contact that testing location FIRST to be sure they are still proctoring CLEP exams and ask them how much their proctoring fee will be. 

Once you have determined a viable location you will then go to where you will need to set-up an account and register for the exam (as required by the College Board). After you register for the exam you will receive a receipt for the amount of the exam (at the time of this website update the fee is $85) and a Ticket ID/CLEP Voucher. Once you have these, contact the testing location you have chosen to arrange a time to take your exam and to pay the required proctoring (fees vary by location). If you are going to take the exam at NAU then call the NAU Testing Center to schedule CLEP proctoring at: 928-523-2358 and get more information about their proctoring fee; you must bring the Ticket ID/CLEP Voucher to the testing center on the day of the exam. You can access their website here:

If a CLEP test is not offered for the language you wish to receive credits in, you should then consider retrocredits or challenge exams. Please keep in mind that students must have graduated from a high school where the primary language of instruction was in English (see NAU Policy 100810) to receive these 101-202 credits at NAU as well. However, challenge exams that are for 300 level course credit and above are exempt from this policy.


The retrocredits process allows you to receive credit for NAU Language courses by passing a higher language course with a grade of B or better. The process, policies, and application procedures are described here. HARD COPY APPLICATIONS ARE REQUIRED before the deadline (see the link for details). Go to the Placement Exams link and READ the directions very carefully for information on how to enroll in a class that has a pre-requisite.

Challenge Exam

Here is some basic information to get you started:

  • Currently enrolled NAU students may take Challenge Exams for credit.
  • Challenge Exams are locally prepared by NAU faculty.
  • Students must have met the pre-requisites for the Challenge Exams they wish to take and/or stipulate they wish to take the exam to show proficiency per their degree requirements. 
  • Challenge Exams cost $30 per unit (101-202 classes are 4 units so $120 for each Exam / 300 level and above are usually 3 units so they would run $90 for each Exam).
  • You must review the Credit by Exam Policies before paying for or taking an exam.

Challenge Exams Available: (please review current catalog for descriptions of courses offered or contact the name provided below for specific EXAM questions. Note: Some of the Challenge Exams are in languages not currently offered as courses at NAU. Procedure questions should be directed to Alexandria McConocha.)

  • Chinese 101, 102, 201, and 202 (Di Wu / 523-6401)
  • French 303W and 304W (Professor Erika Hess / 523-6676)
  • German 303, 304 (Third Year) and 403, 404 (Fourth Year) (Professor Marilya Veteto Reese / 523-9638)
  • Greek (Ancient) 101, 102, 201, and 202 (Professor George Rudebusch) / 523-7091)
  • Italian 101, 102, 201, 202, and 399 (NOTE: prior consent from the instructor is required) (Kevin Massoletti / 523-1236)
  • Japanese 101, 102, 201, 202, 299 (Special Topics), 399 (Third Year), and 499 (Fourth Year) (Sensei Makoto Negishi / 523-1268)
  • Latin 101, 102, 201, 202 (Professor Jeremy LaBuff / 523-4518)
  • Navajo 101, 102, 201, 202, 303, 304, and 311 (Ms. Inez Nez / 523-6319)
  • Portuguese 101 and 102 are posted as LAN 101 (4 credit hours) and LAN 102 (4 credit hours) (Professor Joseph Collentine / 523-7791) – Note: Foreign language requirement must be manually applied by an advisor in LOUIE. LAN courses do NOT meet cultural understanding unit requirements.
  • Russian 101, 102, 201, 202, 399 (Third Year), and 499 (Fourth Year) (Alexandria McConocha / 523-6237)
  • Spanish 303 and 304W (Alexandria McConocha / 523-6237) NOTE: The SPA 404 exam is NO LONGER an option.
  • Swedish posted as LAN 399 (Third Year / up to 6 credit hours = two semesters), and LAN 499 (Fourth Year / up to 6 credit hours = two semesters) - (Professor Marilya Veteto Reese / 523-9638) – Note: Foreign language requirement must be manually applied by an advisor in LOUIE.

Go to Credit by Exam Policies to Proceed