Undergraduate Major in Spanish

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The undergraduate major in Spanish is built on coursework in Spanish and Spanish American literature and culture and in Hispanic linguistics, while also providing continuing courses in language skills. The goal of the major program is thus twofold: (i) to study content areas related to the Spanish language, such as literature, culture and linguistics, and (ii) to continue developing proficiency in the Spanish language, in all four skills: speaking, listening, reading, writing.

Students majoring in Spanish may go on to graduate study in areas such as Spanish and Spanish American literature, comparative literature, or Hispanic linguistics. They may combine their Spanish studies with other areas to prepare for career opportunities in international business, government, travel or communications, where knowledge of a foreign language and of foreign cultures is essential.

They may also take coursework in the program in secondary education in the College of Education to prepare for positions in high school teaching (see below). Finally, a major in Spanish complements other majors or minors in the humanities or in the social sciences, or may be combined with work in a certificate program such as the Latin American Studies Program or the International Business Certificate Program.

The major in Spanish requires 36 semester hours (12 courses) beyond the level of the General Education Program, with at least one course in each of the core academic areas of the department: writing, Spanish literature, Spanish American literature, culture (Spanish or Spanish American) and Hispanic linguistics. The remaining seven courses of the major may focus on one or more of these areas or may include a broad range of courses within the department. 

These seven elective courses may also include coursework in Spanish language skills, including courses which focus on specialized language functions and purposes. Coursework in the Spanish major may also include up to two courses in Portuguese and/or two courses in related areas from other departments, such as History, Anthropology or Linguistics, subject to certain restrictions. Please refer to Undergraduate Major Program in Spanish.

Examples of courses

The department offers a broad range of courses; a complete listing can be found in the current University of Iowa General Catalog. Below are some examples of courses in the various areas of the major:

Culture: Spanish American Civilization; Spanish Civilization; Screening Latin America; Youth Culture in Democratic Spain; Arab Cultural Presence in Spain; Introduction to Caribbean Studies; Culture and Language in the Andes; Latino/a Popular Culture

Spanish Literature: Medieval Spanish Literature in Context; Spanish Golden Age Fiction; Don Quijote; Romanticism and Revolution in Spain; Spanish Literature of the Democratic Transition; Twenty-first century Spanish Fiction and Poetry

Spanish American Literature: Colonial Spanish American Literature; Spanish American Short Story; Voices of Latin American Poetry; Afro-Cuban Literature and Culture; Latin American Detective Novel; Contemporary Spanish American Fiction

U.S. Latino/a Literature and Culture: Chicano/a Literature; Borderlands Narrative; Generation X in the Americas

Hispanic Linguistics: Introduction to Hispanic Linguistics; Structure of the Spanish Language; Introduction to Bilingualism; Foundations of Sociolinguistics; Foundations of Second Language Acquisition

Spanish for the Arts and Professions: Spanish Writers Workshop; Advanced Spanish Writers Workshop; Business Spanish; Advanced Business Spanish; Journalism in Spanish; Narrative Journalism in Spanish

Each undergraduate major is assigned a faculty advisor who assists in course selection. Courses should be selected both according to interests and according to general level of difficulty.

Classes Satisfying Core Requirements

Information from the University of Iowa General Catalog features a list of courses that satisfy each of the five core requirements of the major. 

Study Abroad

Study Abroad: The Department of Spanish and Portuguese participates directly in several study-abroad programs both during the summer and the academic year.  Information on these programs can be found both on the Study Abroad page of this website and at the Office for Study Abroad, 1111 University Capitol Centre.

The Department strongly encourages all majors to participate in a study-abroad program. Research has shown that the strongest determining factor in significantly improving foreign language proficiency is a period of study and living in an environment where the language is spoken.

Students contemplating study abroad should start planning for the experience as early as possible, and should speak with the study-abroad advisers at the Office of International Education and Services in the International Center and with the departmental study-abroad adviser.

The most advantageous time to incorporate a study abroad experience into your undergraduate work is during your third year at the University.   Certain advanced courses in the undetgraduate major must be taken at the University of Iowa, and therefore we do not recommend planning on study abroad during your last semester as an undergraduate major.

There are various funding sources for assisting in meeting the costs of study abroad, and any federal, state and institutional financial aid awarded for the purposes of attending the University of Iowa can also be applied towards the costs of any approved study abroad program.

Spanish/Secondary education: Students who wish to prepare for high school teaching have their primary major in Spanish and must be admitted into the program leading to secondary education teacher certification in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the College of Education.

Four-Year Graduation Plan in Spanish

The following checkpoints list the minimum requirements students must complete by certain semesters in order to stay on the University's four-year graduation plan. (Courses in the major are those required to complete the major; they may be offered by departments other than the major department.)

Before the third semester begins: Intermediate Spanish I (or equivalent second-year, first-semester competence in Spanish) and at least one-quarter of the semester hours required for graduation

Before the fifth semester begins: two courses in Spanish beyond Intermediate Spanish II (or equivalent second-year, second-semester competence) and at least one-half of the semester hours required for graduation

Before the seventh semester begins: four more courses in the major and at least three-quarters of the semester hours required for graduation

Before the eighth semester begins: a total of nine courses in the major

During the eighth semester: enrollment in all remaining course work in the major, all remaining General Education courses, and a sufficient number of semester hours to graduate